Documentation forSolarWinds Platform

The need to manage networks to meet business goals

This paper will demonstrate how Service Groups and related features can be used in SolarWinds Platform products to simplify network and systems management. The reader should be familiar with SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor (NPM), Application Performance Monitor (APM), IP SLA Manager (IP SLA Manager), and the use of the Settings section of the Web Console.

At the most basic level, Network management involves monitoring network assets for metrics such as performance, availability, resource usage, configuration, and appropriate usage. For the smallest of networks, this level of management works well. As a network grows in size and complexity, new management needs arise. Perhaps a small network originally designed to support email and web access is now being used to sell items on the Internet. Customer-order web servers are added along with client, inventory, pricing, and fulfillment databases. As this business grows, new systems are added and the complexity of the network increases. When a network issue occurs, it could affect any portion or function of the network. For example, let’s say a customer submits a large order, but the fulfillment database has a full drive and cannot accept the order. The customer receives an error message after filling out two pages of order and billing information, abandons the site and buys elsewhere.

The person managing this system may notice that a drive has no available free space, and replace the drive with a larger one. Between the first failed customer order and the placement of the new drive, there was some unknown number of failed orders and customers who abandoned the site. There are two glaring issues in the scenario. First, the person managing the system is only applying break/fix management and has no insight into issues before something breaks. Secondly, this person has no insight into how these individual machines are working together to support the business process.

By adding a simple Network Management System (NMS), the network manager is able to see problems develop before they become outages and quickly determine what part of this simple network needs attention. As this enterprise continues to grow, each system becomes more complex and more reliant on other systems. While the NMS implemented can scale well, it does not have the ability to manage the network in a way that is congruent with business processes and business goals. In this complex network environment complex dependencies exist where individual systems and groups of systems are reliant on other systems or groups. Managing the network as a collection of separate entities is no longer sufficient.