Networks

Review: SolarWinds MSP N-central

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Overview

For the past few days, I have been running a trial version of SolarWinds MSP (Managed Services Provider) N-central on a test environment of 2 computers. I have been researching various company’s products in regards to network management and monitoring and found that SolarWinds meets all of my requirements, as well as make day-to-day IT operations more accessible and efficient. This product has a wide range of powerful features such as automation of MSP-related activities, patch management, advanced antivirus, backup and recovery capabilities, quick remote control, and also offers both on-premises or hosted deployments. From a business perspective, knowing what is happening in your network, as well as what your employees are doing, is crucial in maintaining a high-performing and stable revenue stream. Additionally, securing every aspect of your network is vital when dealing with online sales and the general upkeep of your IT equipment. By using the SolarWinds MSP N-central application, you can achieve all of this and more.

Backups

When it comes to IT, every part of the system, from an employee’s desktop computer to the server, are vital links in the chain. If just one of these fails, the overall system is in jeopardy. By implementing SolarWinds’s 24/7 performance and QoS monitoring, this information will always be at your fingertips, even if you are out of the office, thanks to remote monitoring. Also, having your data backed up in multiple methods is always needed to increase redundancy. Through SolarWinds, their Backup Manager is indeed state of the art. Offering both cloud and on-premises storage methods, this product provides virtual machine support, fast backup and recovery, as well as high security using private keys.

Automation

Automation is something we all strive for with today’s always-advancing level of technology. While having multiple IT technicians who are handy with scripting languages can achieve satisfactory outcomes with network management, utilizing a product such as SolarWinds’s MSP N-central allows you to obtain much better results at a cheaper cost and in less time. SolarWinds’s Automation Manager boosts efficiency, self-heals, offers detailed reporting, and provides users with complete control of all automation aspects of the product.

Patch Management

One of my most feared IT duties is patch management. A poorly timed or faulty patch can cripple a network if not planned for accordingly, thus halting business for an unknown amount of time as IT technicians scramble to find a solution. With SolarWinds’s Patch Manager, these patches and updates are automatically applied through a user-designed schedule, ensuring that software is always kept up to date; this maximizes efficiency, as well as ensures that network equipment is equipped with the latest security defenses.

Visibility

Visibility is everything in an MSP. Having an easy-to-use dashboard providing you with error reporting, employee internet histories, security overviews, device and capacity management, as well as help desk reports, empowers a business with the tools it needs to manage and direct resources to their entire system adequately.

Security

Above all, security reigns supreme in an MSP, and the SolarWinds MSP is quite the force to be reckoned with. Their Security Manager provides users with top-tier security features that are very simple to deploy and manage. Some of these features include rule, signature, and behavioral based scans, proactive notifications, an enhanced firewall, web content filtering, profiles and application controls, as well as reporting. Within a few hours of using this product, I found that its security was much more advanced than I had previously thought, allowing me to add many layers of protection that I didn’t have before.

Personal Pros, Cons

Now that I have given a rundown of the SolarWinds MSP’s features, I will describe some of my thoughts on actually using the product. I loved the remote-control sessions; they were seamless and very simple to use. Additionally, the amount of data that N-central gathers from PC’s gives insight into performance, thus making it very straightforward to diagnose simple RAM issues, etc. The deployment was a breeze as well, allowing me to spend more time configuring everything to how I desired. There were a couple of drawbacks I noticed when using the MSP. Navigation between screens felt a little clunky, as well as trying to keep multiple machine’s windows open. Additionally, the backup module seemed a tab unrefined as it did not support memory-based backups or hypervisor updates, which gave me the indication that it was more geared to individual workstations. Since my future plans for this product are for a small-medium size business, I feel that these issues will not impact me.

Bottom Line

Overall, I feel that the SolarWinds MSP is an exceptional product for a small to medium-size business. It has all of the features I both required and desired and provided an unparalleled level of functionality, security, and automation. As I only have the trial version on 2 PCs, my experience with the product might differ from when I advance my testing to a larger environment. However, I feel that the product will be more than up to the task. I recommend this product to anyone who wishes to strengthen the security and visibility of their network, but I would recommend running a test environment with the trial version first. Thanks for reading and feel free to check out more information on the SolarWinds N-central MSP here.

Photo credit- https://www.solarwindsmsp.com/products/n-central

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