Orion Network Performance Monitor (NPM) v11 – Deep Packet Inspection

The latest version of Orion Network Performance Monitor (NPM) v11 dropped August 14th and in true SolarWinds fashion they beefed up the feature set and capabilities to help you more clearly identify root causes to problems our end users experience.

In addition to measuring your traffic, Orion’s new DPI provides Quality of Experience (QoE) details and a more robust application dashboard.  With v11, SolarWinds takes its first dive into DPI (Deep Packet Inspection), which provides the consumer with the ability to break down a data stream, whether that by way of using a TAP, switch port mirroring or spanning. This is a feature that previously, many of our clients had to enlist a 3rd party application to accomplish this task.  Many of these solutions are very pricey and as a result are typically used in response to a problem and cannot be used proactively due to the physical attributes of the solution and limited budget of purchasing hardware for multiple analyzation points in the network.

DPI, now natively included in your Orion NPM, will help the Orion NPM user to further breakdown what is causing the problem by evaluating the traffic back and forth between endpoints and resolving the response time both at the application level as well as the TCP Handshake and categorizing the data type.

Don’t confuse DPI with the SolarWinds Orion Netflow Traffic Analyzer (NTA).  NTA will provide a deeper insight into the individual conversations.  The value of the DPI is huge though. Where the Network engineer previously was left questions when an alert fired off by Server and Application Monitor (SAM) or Web Performance Monitor (WPM) or even a response time alert by NPM, we now have a way to truly isolate the standing question, “Is this a network problem or is it an application problem?”.

SolarWinds beautifully mastered the dashboards as well.  Starting with the QoE summary view, the traffic is broken down at a high level.  Nodes are listed for associated traffic sources and the traffic is summarized and broken down by multiple focus points.  From the summary view, an engineer can click on and drill into the Details for the QoE focus for that application.  One further click will either link you straight into the performance details about that node for further dissection (which could include netflow data) or into the application performance details gathered by Orion SAM.

 In summary the new DPI feature of NPM is a huge step in closing the gap on the information required to resolve problems in our network and creating a single pane of glass for the Network Management System (NMS).  I expect this tool will play a huge part decreasing questions and increasing MTTR for IT organizations across the board.

 Jason Henson

Director of Technical Services

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