SolarWinds is an example of how dramatically lower price points and faster time to value are catching on in a sea of more complex, costly, and albeit usually more richly functional network management products.
SolarWinds isn't the only example. AdventNet and Ipswitch come to mind, and AdventNet in particular will be worth watching in the coming weeks and months as it brings its broader portfolio together. And there are plenty of mid-tier solutions with unique and worthy advantages such as Netcordia, CITTIO and Apparent Networks.
But SolarWinds, which just went public earlier this year, has emerged from being a "lifestyle" company in its earliest instantiations, to one of the fastest growing product sets in the network management marketplace. With US$62 million in sales in 2007, 60% net operating margin, and 40,000 customers, SolarWinds would seem to be doing something right.
One of the things SolarWinds seems to be doing right is providing low-cost, fast-time-to-value software to mid-tier and small enterprises. With a portfolio in which no single component has a starting price of more than $3,000 - its price point stands out in contrast to many implementations that can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. But SolarWinds is also selling into larger enterprises -- not necessarily as a replacement for other, more pricey competitors, but more often as a quick-start, nimble adjunct, especially in branch offices and remote locations.
Within SolarWinds' portfolio, the dominant product relevant to these adoptions is Orion, which SolarWinds describes as a "modular, web-based Fault and Performance Management Platform for networks and enterprise systems." Orion can be expanded to support NetFlow traffic analysis, application monitoring, wireless monitoring and VoIP monitoring.
SolarWinds also offers Cirrus for network configuration management and LANsurveyor for diagramming networks and networked devices. This July, SolarWinds introduced an Enterprise Operations Console to support a more scalable, three-tiered deployment of Orion targeted at the enterprise buyer.
Interestingly enough, I stumble onto SolarWinds customers fairly often in doing research and consulting with IT organizations otherwise unrelated to SolarWinds in any respect. To be honest, this, even more than SolarWinds' significant growth, has made an impression on me -- especially when the dialog is with a large enterprise or service provider, accounts where I had pretty much assumed no one ever considered low-cost solutions as a matter of culture and politics.