“Application performance and the digital experience of users have a direct and significant impact on business success and digital transformation,” said Christoph Pfister, Executive Vice President of Products at SolarWinds. “With the stakes so high, the ability to monitor across the three pillars of observability—logs, metrics, and tracing—is essential.”
Don’t assume that understanding performance is only for the big guys though, said Joe Kim, Executive Vice President of Engineering and Global CTO for SolarWinds, in a recent interview with DATAVERSITY®. “We offer solutions to the littlest of guys that are out there, the kind of ‘mom and pop’ IT departments, all the way up to Fortune 500-level companies.”
Smaller companies can use SolarWinds’ ‘disruptively affordable’ Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) portfolio to get the level of monitoring usually only available to large companies:
“Hundreds of thousands of different customers out there use SolarWinds’ products. Not only do we give customers options to monitor and manage all infrastructure components, like storage, network, compute, etc., but we also let users monitor their business services and application service themselves.”
Founded in 1999, SolarWinds provides “powerful and affordable IT management software to customers worldwide,” focusing exclusively on IT, MSP, and DevOps professionals, while striving to “eliminate the complexity that customers have been forced to accept from traditional enterprise software vendors.”
According to Kim:
“Our key focus hasn’t changed that much from  until now. It’s our belief that you should provide capabilities to really help that IT practitioner, that IT professional, or the developer, and not try to get something that will take several times to implement, or be too complicated to implement at all We want to be able to give back that capability into customer hands so the value-add can come from day one.”
SolarWinds’ approach has evolved in response to a change in how IT departments are run, he said. In the past, most companies had a centralized organization with a set of IT professionals or tech experts that managed everything. Recently, he said, there has been a significant change going on. “What’s happening with almost all businesses out there is a sense of digital transformation, where the way that most businesses now interact with their customers has changed to be much more technology focused.”
He used an example of booking air travel as an illustration. In the past, booking a flight was usually done by calling a travel agent. Now most flights are booked online directly, using the technologies that are available today. Although some IT departments are still centralized, “in terms of their core competencies and capabilities, it’s moving more toward being able to manage the hybrid environment,” he said.
They’re now also utilizing Cloud capabilities to more quickly be able to develop applications and deploy something to the customer base so they can make money faster. IT employees are now often distributed throughout the company, he said.
“The IT professionals [who work] in what was kind of a central IT department, [are] now in multiple different parts of the organization. They might be part of a centralized organization, they might be decentralized and now they’re reporting and doing technical work for the marketing department.”
SolarWinds’ commitment to solve problems for their user base drives product expansion, he said. “Because of our core promise to our user base – which is to help you do the things that need to be done as an IT practitioner/professional – a we have to expand our portfolio as well.”
Software as a Service (SaaS)
For companies with limited technological expertise, SaaS can be an advantage because it’s implemented quickly and the infrastructure doesn’t need to be managed, he said. Depending on whether a company wants to charge IT costs to operational expense or to capital expense, SaaS can also have advantages:
“Technologies have been changing pretty rapidly, and you want to offshore or offload some of that infrastructure management. And if you really care about more of the services that a specific provider or a piece of technology might give you, you might want to pump that up to a SaaS solution.”
Mostly recently, SolarWinds acquired Loggly,® a SaaS-based, unified log monitoring and log analytics product that aggregates, structures, and summarizes log data so users can analyze and visualize their data to answer key questions, spot trends, and deliver actionable reports. The acquisition complements the company’s existing portfolio of SaaS-based Cloud monitoring solutions.
SolarWinds Cloud: SaaS Full-Stack Monitoring
In response to a desire to help make smaller companies more responsive to digital transformation, SolarWinds has developed a suite of new products to help level the playing field. According to a SolarWinds press release:
“The latest evolution of the SolarWinds Cloud portfolio is designed to enable developers, DevOps engineers, and IT professionals to simplify and accelerate management and troubleshooting, from the infrastructure and applications layer to the end user experience, with solutions built upon a disruptively affordable, seamlessly integrated, SaaS-based platform.”
SolarWinds Cloud includes three components to help with full-stack monitoring: AppOptics, Papertrail, and Pingdom.
The portfolio enhancements will allow customers to focus less on troubleshooting and maintaining performance, and more on building the innovative new capabilities businesses need to succeed in today’s on-demand environments.
- AppOptics: AppOptics is a new application designed to monitor infrastructure health. It includes unified dashboards, management features, and alerts.
“AppOptics addresses challenges customers face from being forced to use disparate solutions for applications and infrastructure performance monitoring. To do so, it offers broad application performance monitoring (APM) language support with auto-instrumentation, distributed tracing functionality, and a host agent supported by a large open community to enable expanded infrastructure monitoring capabilities and comprehensive visibility through converged dashboards.”
AppOptics’ supports over 150 integrations, open community plugins, languages, and allows users to understand performance messages throughout a system, whether centralized or distributed. Kim said AppOptics can also provide an understandable context for information gleaned from your system:
“If you get a type of capability and it gives you a button that just says ‘reporting,’ you can do tons of wonderful things, but it becomes really difficult for you to use. You need a lot of contextual data – a lot of knowledge, and I think that’s one of the things that we have been really successful with with AppOptics.”
- Papertrail: A Cloud-hosted solution for log management, has been updated to provide faster search, and new analytics, giving users smarter troubleshooting capabilities. The most recent version includes lightning search and log velocity analytics, which can search millions of log messages as well as “instantly visualize log patterns and help identify anomalies,” such as a sudden increase in log events, or the number of logs sent, indicating a server needing attention.
- Pingdom: The Digital Experience Monitoring solution has also been updated, offering new dashboard views, and simplified troubleshooting and performance management:
- Sites View: Customers can quickly locate a user experience issue on any monitored website.
- Experience View: Customers can filter users and identify those affected by performance issues.
- Performance View: Customers can explore the technical cause of an issue and quickly and easily identify opportunities for performance improvements.
These improvements in Pingdom allow customers to quickly know when website issues affect visitor experience so that issues can be addressed and solved:
“Collectively, the new SolarWinds Cloud portfolio gives customers broad and unmatched visibility into logs, metrics, and tracing, as well as the digital experience. It will enable developers, DevOps engineers, and IT professionals to simplify and accelerate management and troubleshooting, from the infrastructure and application layers to the end-user experience. In turn, it will allow customers to focus on building the innovative capabilities businesses need for today’s on-demand environments.”
As customers’ environments become increasingly ‘complex and distributed,’ SolarWinds Cloud provides a single unified experience for metrics and infrastructure monitoring, Kim said, “so we can really help identify and solve issues very quickly.” Stressing the low risk, low cost nature of the product, Kim encourages potential users to jump right in: “Just go out and try it; start working with it. Internally, our goal was for users to be able to get this thing up and running, and get value within minutes.”
Photo Credit: klss/Shutterstock.com