Documentation forSolarWinds Platformand Orion Platform

How SolarWinds Packet Analysis Sensors work

This SolarWinds Platform topic applies only to the following products:

Hybrid Cloud Observability EssentialsHybrid Cloud Observability Advanced


SolarWinds provides two types of Packet Analysis Sensors to monitor and analyze your network traffic.

  • Packet Analysis Sensors for Networks (network sensor) collect and analyze packet data that flow through a single, monitored switch for up to 50 discrete applications per node.
  • Packet Analysis Sensors for Servers (server sensor) collect and analyze packet data of specific applications that flow through a single node.

After a sensor is deployed and configured, it captures packets and analyzes them to calculate performance metrics for the monitored applications. An included communication agent allows the sensor to send back sampled packet data to the SolarWinds Platform server, which includes statistics such as volume, transactions, application response time, and network response time for each application on a node. The packet data are then saved to the SolarWinds Platform database. The information is used to populate your QoE dashboard. You can configure how long you retain the packet data in the Database Settings section of the Polling Settings screen.

Network Packet Analysis Sensor (NPAS)

Your network administrator must create a dedicated SPAN, mirror port, or in-line tap monitor on the physical or virtual switch before you can deploy or configure a network sensor.

After you deploy and configure the network sensor to the node monitoring the switch, the sensor captures all packets that flow through the switch and categorize the packets by application.

Packets that correspond to monitored applications are analyzed for QoE metrics, such as response times or traffic volume. Data are then sent to the SolarWinds Platform server using the SolarWinds agent.

Server Packet Analysis Sensor (SPAS)

A SPAS can monitor:

  • packet traffic on a single node
  • up to 50 applications per node

A SPAS captures packets traveling to and from the node. It identifies packets that are sent to or from the monitored application and analyzes them for QoE metrics, such as response time or traffic volume. Data are then sent to the SolarWinds Platform server using the agent.