SolarWinds has a thriving, 10-year-old community of users that you can find at www.thwack.com. The deep involvement of the SolarWinds community in the company’s evolution and product development impressed me when I spoke with Kenny Van Zant, SolarWinds’ chief product strategist, last week. As Van Zant says, “The term ‘community’ is a popular Web 2.0 word these days, but the difference at SolarWinds is that we actually have a community of customers who actively support one another. And we engage daily with our customers, not only to provide ongoing support but also to obtain ideas for the direction of the company.”

Community involvement has recently guided SolarWinds as it has extended the ease of use and deployment benefits of the company’s flagship Orion network-management suite—in particular, in the arena of large or geographically distributed networks. The new Orion Enterprise Operations Console (EOC) and updated Orion Network Performance Monitor (NPM) 9.0 deliver comprehensive fault and network performance management that scales with network growth and network-monitoring needs. “Customers asked for these enhancements,” says Van Zant, “and we’ve delivered.”

Ensuring optimal network performance while managing and troubleshooting the proliferation of new devices is no small task, particularly for administrators of large, geographically distributed networks. The latest Orion functionality directly tackles this challenge without adding to complexity: Users can simply download the software and typically be up and running in around an hour.

“Solutions built to manage networks for companies with hundreds of employees to tens of thousands of employees, in multiple locations, are usually expensive and difficult to deploy,” says Van Zant. “Our latest Orion additions deliver on the promise of enterprise-class performance and retain the same easy-to-deploy, easy-to-use, and easy-to-afford attributes that are the hallmark of SolarWinds’ products.”

The Orion EOC provides a consolidated command center from which users can monitor the entire enterprise network. Through a single dashboard, engineers can track as few as a hundred to more than several hundred thousand network interfaces, consolidating information from remote Orion servers running Orion NPM and any of its modules. The EOC’s WAN-optimized architecture enables large scale network monitoring without impacting WAN performance.

Orion NPM 9.0 provides enhanced overall performance and functionality as well as a new feature called Universal Device Poller, which lets users collect virtually any statistic available on an SNMP-enabled device. Also new is intuitive Web administration, with which users can add, delete, and modify nodes from anywhere in the network. The Web-based console lets users complete a range of node-administration tasks, such as assigning custom properties to a node or editing multiple nodes at once.

The Orion EOC and Orion NPM 9.0 are available now. Pricing for Orion EOC is $4,995 for any number of monitored Orion servers. First year maintenance is included free. Pricing for Orion NPM starts at $2,475 for 100 monitored elements, including first year maintenance. For more information, visit www.solarwinds.com/resources.

And as always, you can find a wide array of information and tips from SolarWinds company experts as well as peer support and perspectives on all the SolarWinds network-management products (including Orion EOC and Orion NPM 9.0) at www.thwack.com.

“Our community is what differentiates us dramatically from our competition,” says Van Zant.