Painless IT administration is easier than you think

IT administration can be a daunting task, and require hours of additional work to ensure a deployment is operating properly and at peak efficiency. Oftentimes, administrators are faced with overly complex administration software that takes months or even years to figure out.

Worse yet, this software is "built in the bubble"; that is, developers create the platform based on what they think the administrator needs rather than what he or she wants. This results in software that does not mold to the needs of its users, and further adds to its complexity.

That's where Austin, Texas-based Solarwinds comes in to the picture. Founded in 1999, the software maker serves about 93,000 customers from small business up through Fortune 500 companies. Solarwinds' focus is what it calls "user-centric software", and the company has built its suite of products around this premise.

Making IT Work for You

"We believe that the IT pros who use our products everyday should be excited about them", the company says. "That's why we put our users first in everything we do, and strive to deliver powerful functionality while making their jobs easier". This should be music to an IT administrator's ears, given the state of most of the software out there today.

Solarwinds prides itself in building flexible software to meet the diverse needs of IT, while keeping in close touch with professionals to ensure the software is meeting the needs of the administrator. Since Solarwinds' products are built by administrators themselves, better software is the result.

A better equipped IT department means a more efficient enterprise, especially these days where a company's use of technology is a major key to success. "IT departments looking to stay competitive should ask themselves what direction their company is heading, identify the goals and determine IT's strategic role", Solarwinds senior product management director Jonathan Reeve says. "The good news is that IT departments already have the upper-hand in understanding the unique requirements of the businesses they support".

How can this company help you maintain a competitive edge? Below, we take a look at three of Solarwinds' most compelling products.

Staying Fast and Nimble

The larger the deployment, the more difficult it is to make sure everything runs in tip-top shape. Having the capability to measure performance of both the applications you run and the servers that power them is the first step in trouble-free IT administration.

Solarwinds' Server & Application Monitor does that, offering reporting and alerting to issues in your environment. The setup automatically detects active servers and applications in your deployment, monitors for issues with Microsoft's Exchange and Active Directory and performance issues with Java applications, for example. Compatibility with Dell, HP, and IBM System X servers allows for extensive reporting and diagnosis of problems on the server side.

Solarwinds' expertise also shines in that Server & Application Monitor includes built-in suggestions on optimal performance for popular apps and servers to assist in diagnosis and remedying of detected issues. The company also includes a "knowledge base" including broader tips on how to run efficient IT environments to further optimize your deployment.

Server & Application Monitor licensing begins at $2,495, with a 30-day free trial available.

Tackle Issues Before They're Problems

There’s always room for trouble in any IT environment, thus an established system in place to warn of potentially serious issues is vital. Such a system should be able to warn you of negative events and be able to isolate the issue quickly with ample time to react.

Log & Event Manager is Solarwinds' answer to this issue, and will provide that key line of first defense. Say a running service in your environment begins to malfunction. Log & Event Manager's console warns of this, and presents the administrator with options to mitigate the issue, such as restarting the service.

Active Response & Threat Mitigation is a key feature of this product. Quick action is key in today's world where an administrator can be dealing with any number of security threats. Log & Event Manager automatically quarantines infected machines and IP address without user interaction, preventing significant security issues well before they become serious problems.

Solarwinds offers a 30-day free trial of Log & Event Manager, as well as offering licenses starting at $4,495.

Don't Get Caught in Patch Hell

Making sure apps and tools across your environment are up-to-date can be a serious undertaking. But not keeping on top of it is equally serious; any unpatched issue in apps in use by your users could be opening the network up to potential security risks. Developing a solid updating strategy is a vital step in ensuring network health.

So what should you look for in a service to help you stay on top of such an important facet of IT administration? Your selected solution should have the following features: the ability to deploy patches automatically and dynamically, which allows for minimal disruption in your IT deployment; the ability to scan the entire network to locate unauthorized and unpatched machines; and the capability to ensure the patch was installed right the first time.

Solarwinds' Patch Manager includes these features. This service catalogs third-party patches from a host of vendors including Adobe, Apple, Google, Mozilla, and Sun. It also pre-tests these patches, which ensures a problem-free installation when you are ready to apply them.

Patch Manager automates the process of patching and allows for the control of its rollout. This is a good thing, as applying a patch everywhere at once can be disastrous. As any administrator will tell you, Murphy's Law is always in effect when it comes to network administration. By staggering the rollout through Patch Manager IT administrators will be able to monitor and adapt based on the results.

Knowing is half the battle, they say. Patch Manager offers the capability to quickly see across your environment who is unpatched, improperly patched, or worse yet unauthorized. This further tightens up your environment, ensuring all users are using the latest and safest software.

Like all of Solarwinds offerings, Patch Manager is available for download as a 30-day trial, and begins at $2,995.

Editor's Note: Solarwinds sponsored this post.

Photo Credit: .shock/Shutterstock

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