As you may already know I was selected to participate to Tech Field Day #7 as a delegate on August 11/12th and we toured the Austin, TX facilities of some interesting companies, like Solarwinds, where we spent a couple of hours with some top-notch people that presented their solutions to the Tech Field Day audience.

Solarwinds products are aimed at the mid-market and pose themselves in a slightly different way, providing free trial for every product and some interesting free tools they let everybody install and try them out without having to resort to complex design and implementation just to evaluate them as, they say, happens with other big-name products. They also sport a vibrant end-user community called Thwack where people can talk directly to PM and Engineers on their issues keeping a very close relationship with their users.

Solarwinds started off some 10/12 years ago as a network monitoring company, aimed at networking engineers and professionals, but they eventually evolved into a 360-degrees infrastructure management company with a broad portfolio of more than 20 products that were in part developed in-house and part came from a long streak of acquisitions (like Hyper9, Tek-Tools, TriGeo) that were absorbed during the last 2/3 years.

During Tech Field Day they demoed a bunch of their recently acquired products starting with Log & Event Manager (formerly known as TriGeo Security Information Manager) that focus on operation and security event management, the product looks neat, it has interesting features like real-time event correlation, a non-intimidating user interface (the presenter took a jab at Splunk saying that their search bar is awesome if you know what to put into it) and what's supposed to be a really good pricing model, lower than competition (although no prices were disclosed during the presentation).

Hyper9 has now become Virtualization Manager, if you regularly follow the Virtualization ecosystem you'll already know that Hyper9 used to have one of the best virtualization monitoring console in the market, it's very easy to setup and gives you immediate feedback via pre-configured dashboards. Now with the Solarwinds acquisition Virtualization Manager is being integrated with other Solarwinds' products (the first one will be Storage Manager) that will give you the ability, for example, to drill-down in vm-level latency issues down to the physical storage layout, resulting in a quicker root-cause analysis.

Another interesting feature of Virtualization Manager is the EC2 Cloud calculator, this nifty tool can calculate how much would cost running your current virtual infrastructure (or just part of it) on Amazon EC2 Cloud, there's also a free VM-to-Cloud calculator (less featured) from Solarwinds that can be downloaded here.

Synthetic End User Monitor is another tool that impressed me, especially for its ease of use, it's a web application monitoring software that lets you monitor multi-stack transactions in an extremely easy way (as in no scripting involved) by using a web transaction recorder that records the whole interactive transaction that can be replicated by the monitoring software at any time and on which you can apply threshold values to alert you if any of the transactions (or even just part of it) deviates from its normal behavior. This is pretty impressive, and even if the demonstration wasn't flawless, the tool looked solid and well integrated with the other monitoring products from Solarwinds.

Last but not least we got to see Storage Manager (formerly known as Tek-Tools Storage Profiler) that, as the name implies, is aimed at monitoring the whole storage infrastructure down to its nails, the product is already integrated with VMware vCenter so you can pull data from it and have a more VMware-oriented view of your storage estate. Storage Manager uses SMI-S or native storage APIs to communicate with the storage array so its support matrix is quite extensive, even though I saw more integration with NetApp filers probably due to the use of their native APIs. The product can also manage Fibre Channel switches providing reporting and monitoring for them as well.

I recognize that I barely scratched the surface with this article, in fact I'm in the process of setting up a small lab to try out them and write a more detailed review that will appear on my personal blog P2V It!, but in the meantime You can watch the whole Solarwinds Tech Field Day presentation here below.

DISCLAIMER: Solarwinds was a sponsor of Tech Field Day 7, and as such was partly responsible for my airfare and hotel accommodations. In addition, they provided breakfast and the use of their facility for our sessions. Solarwinds rewarded all the delegates with a cartoon drawing (a pretty cool drawing actually) and free stickers. Solarwinds did not ask for, nor did they receive any consideration for this article. The opinions expressed here are my own and were not influenced in any way by Solarwinds.