SolarWinds Threat Monitor – REVIEW 2019 (Advanced Threat Detection and Monitoring)

One of the services often offered by Managed Service Providers (MSP) is security services. And for those MSPs offering this type of service, it’s nice to be able to support it all using a single integrated tool.

The SolarWinds Threat Monitor is one such tool. It is an integrated tool that provides several different security services and that specifically targets Managed Service Providers or large organizations.

SolarWinds Threat Monitor: REVIEW

Today, we’re happy to bring you our review of this great product. As you shall soon see, this is a perfect solution for those who want to accomplish a lot with as little software as possible. Generally speaking, using an integrated tool such as this one is way easier than using individual tools for each function.

We’ll start off our exploration by first introducing SolarWinds MSP, a division of SolarWinds specializing in tools for Managed Service Providers. We’ll then introduce the SolarWinds Threat Monitor which we’ll follow with a description of the tools most important and significant features. Next, we’ll briefly review some of the most important benefits of the tool to your business and have a look at what little we know about the product’s pricing before we conclude.

About SolarWinds MSP

SolarWinds MSP was born by bringing together SolarWinds, SolarWinds N-able, and LOGICnow, three major players in the MSP tools market.

Before the creation of SolarWinds MSP, LOGICnow, and SolarWinds N-able provided outstanding software such as Remote Monitoring and Management, Backup and Disaster Recovery, Remote Control, Help Desk, Mail, and Risk Intelligence, all aimed at helping Managed Service Providers make the most of their business potential. The two companies served their clients in complementary ways. One served small and mid-sized MSPs beautifully, while the other was perfect for mid-sized and large MSPs.

Noticing how well the two companies fit together, the smart people at SolarWinds, a leading provider of products designed to make network and system administrators’ lives easier, brought the two together to form SolarWinds MSP. The result is a scalable, end-to-end IT service management platform built for MSPs of all sizes—from the one-person shops all the way to 100+ employee powerhouses.

Introducing the SolarWinds Threat Monitor

As a managed security service provider, your customers expect you to safeguard their businesses from security threats no matter what they are and where they are coming from. The SolarWinds Threat Monitor empowers managed security service providers of all sizes by reducing the complexity and cost of threat detection, response, and reporting. You get an all-in-one security operations center (SOC) that is unified, scalable, and affordable all within one tool.

SolarWinds Threat Monitor - Main Dashboard

Benefit from a powerful security center to offer a better value to your client with an all-in-one solution created to watch threats, automatically react to incidents, and generate compliance reports. Try the SolarWinds Threat Monitor and find out how you can stand out among the Managed Service Provider crowd with a tool designed with Managed Service Providers in mind.

Centralized Cloud Security Monitoring

Watch for potential threats, process them and generate reports from almost anywhere and at any time.

Unexpected Simplicity

A powerful and intuitive cyberthreat engine to help you resolve issues quickly.

Shared Architecture

Efficiently provision and manage several clients from a unique user-friendly workspace.

Simple And Highly Scalable Deployment

You can easily modify the tool’s functionality as your clients’ activities grow.

Features Of The SolarWinds Threat Monitor

As an integrated security suite, the SolarWinds Threat Monitor is so rich in features that this post could be twice as long as it already is. There is so much to say about the product that we’ll have to limit ourselves the best and most important and significant features of the product. So, let’s see what the product has to offer in terms of features.

Threat Intelligence

The idea behind the threat intelligence built into the SolarWinds Threat Monitor is to help you make smart decisions. The threat intelligence is continuously updated from multiple sources so you always have the most recent information. It is designed to help you find and respond to threats across your on-premises and hosted data centers as well as your public cloud environments like Microsoft Azure or Amazon AWS.

SolarWinds Threat Monitor - Threat Intelligence

Security Information And Event Management (SIEM)

Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) tools are in a class by themselves. They offer protection against various types of threats by analyzing logged events from your devices. They go well beyond just reacting to specific events, though. SIEM tools correlate data from various sources and can analyze the trail left by an attacker on your devices, allowing you to locate and block it.

SolarWinds Threat Monitor - SIEM dashboard

It is particularly complicated in the context of Managed Service Providers as correlation has to remain within each client’s domain. The Security Information and Event Management features of this platform can give you a centralized view into near real-time log notifications from your customers’ networks. The tool collects log-file information from several disparate sources and helps you hone in on the most critical threats by rapidly assessing intent and severity.

Log Correlation And Analysis

The SolarWinds Threat Monitor is designed to help discover threats for you, enabling you to focus on real threats, not sifting through logs. The system will correlate logs from your customers’ systems in near-real-time and analyze them against multiple sources of continuously updated threat intelligence.

When it comes to providing security-related services like threat detection to their customers, Managed Service Providers face challenges when gathering and correlating log data. For instance, applications running on customers’ networks may have different log output formats. Additionally, existing text search tools can have limitations that could potentially lead to key log data being overlooked or omitted. Furthermore, manually gathering and correlating log data can be complex and time-consuming. Many MSPs don’t have the time or the in-house expertise to accomplish this which can lead to event logs piling up while potential cyber incidents remain undetected.

The SolarWinds Threat Monitor is designed to reduce complexity by automating the log correlation and normalization process. This can potentially help reduce time spent gathering and analyzing logs, so you can focus on identifying threats to your managed networks.

This feature alone provides many benefits such as:

Streamlined Management Via Log And Data Collection In One Tool

Network logs are less useful for understanding cyberthreats when kept in isolation. You can often only recognize attacks when logs generated across your managed networks are analyzed side-by-side. This tool was designed to automatically collect logs and data feeds from nearly everything on your managed networks—including networking equipment, firewalls, servers, and more and organizes this information into a single solution.

Actionable Insights Via Automatic Log Normalization

As a Managed Service Provider, you may be responsible for managing networks that generate thousands—if not millions—of events in a short period of time. Manually identifying, categorizing, and making sense of these can be challenging and costly due to the amount of incoming data. This tool automatically correlates and normalizes logs to help you better identify the relationships between ongoing events.

Help With Demonstrating Regulatory Compliance

Many organizations must adhere to regulations for networked systems and security. The SolarWinds Threat Monitor was designed to help you gather information during the log correlation process that can be used to assist in demonstrating a strong security monitoring policy, which could help in demonstrating regulatory compliance.

Greater Visibility To Your Customer

This tool was also designed to help Managed Service Providers provide additional value via strong reporting. They can send reports to stakeholders that itemize security-related events and threats identified within a specified period. These reports can also help demonstrate the steps taken to address the risks.

Network And Host Intrusion Detection Systems

This feature is designed to pinpoint unwanted traffic and software across your managed networks and systems. It will alert you to unusual traffic patterns on the network and malicious software on systems. Small- and medium-sized businesses have at least two crucial assets to consider—their networks and their customer data. Both are connected in terms of security compromises. If a network is breached, the attackers will likely have a direct line to valuable data. The SolarWinds Threat Monitor can spot anomalies and it is designed to sound the alarm only when needed.

SolarWinds Threat Monitor - Intrusion Detection

As an MSP, your customers trust you to keep their assets secure and help them avoid breaches. To keep that trust, you need a solution that, like the SolarWinds Threat Monitor, can help you proactively monitor your managed networks for malicious traffic and suspicious activity patterns as either of these could lead to a breach or threaten business continuity.

This excellent tool provides sophisticated threat detection capabilities that are kept current with a global threat intelligence feed. It was built to help you easily analyze network traffic and identify advanced threats across on-premises and hosted data centers, as well as public cloud environments like Microsoft Azure or Amazon AWS. It was truly designed to help you earn and keep your customers’ trust.

This is another feature of the product which provides extensive benefits such as:

Greater Visibility Into Network Intrusions

The SolarWinds Threat Monitor was built to help you determine the types and frequency of attacks against your managed networks. It can assist you in optimizing your security protocols to help safeguard your customers. In addition, this information can be helpful for creating risk assessment reports.

Increased Productivity

The tool was built to help improve efficiency by automating the complex processes of intrusion detection. The SolarWinds Threat Monitor deploys network sensors dedicated to detecting and analyzing threats and suspicious patterns to help you reduce wasted time running manual tasks.

Decreased Security Blind Spots

Just like when driving a vehicle, blinds spots should be avoided at all cost. When used in conjunction with the latest threat intelligence information, an intrusion detection solution can help you gain a more complete view of the evolving cyber threat landscape. This can, in turn, potentially make you better equipped to fight back against cyber threats.

Advanced Log Search

The SolarWinds Threat Monitor offers high-speed log search which can be of great help for post-incident forensic analysis. The tool will rapidly normalize, search, and analyze thousands of logs to help understand the nature of threats and attacks.

Automated Responses

This is another super-useful feature of the SolarWinds Threat Monitor. It helps you react faster by setting the system to automatically respond to threats. You can, for instance, automate intelligent action steps to help remediate security incidents, reducing the need for constant user interaction. This feature gives you a sort of set-and-forget advantage. It might require some extra configuration but your efforts will be well-rewarded when a security event is automatically addressed—and resolved—by the system.

Alarm Engine

Nobody—not even Managed Service Providers—want to spend much time sitting in front of a dashboard, waiting for something to happen. This is where the tool’s Alarm Engine can come in handy. It will let you set rules to help make sure you receive only relevant alarms. The SolarWinds Threat Monitor was designed from the ground up to alert you to only relevant threats. It will distinguish benign activity based on user-configured thresholds and rules and ignore it. In addition, the system will help you identify and summarize important events.

SolarWinds Threat Monitor - Alarms

Compliance Reporting

Many of your clients must be subject to various regulatory compliance requirements. Even your organization, as a Managed Service Provider, might be. The SolarWinds Threat Monitor can help you simplify your compliance efforts—and your clients’—with detailed reports. You can start with some of the many pre-built report templates which are available on the system or create and/or customize your own reports to help with your efforts in passing regulatory and compliance audits

Custom Branding

While this might not be the most useful feature of this platform, it certainly is one of the coolest. It allows you to custom-brand the tool’s interface with your own corporate image and logo. This is a simple measure but it goes a very long way into making your organization’s professionalism stand out.

Even more important than the custom branding of the tool’s user interface, the feature is also present in the tool’s reporting engine. This lets you deliver professional-looking reports that emphasize your organization’s service rather than the tool it’s using. It also helps reinforce the value of your services.

Log-Event Archive

Not all security events are of short duration. Some will last a rather long time and sometimes leave a trail of evidence. The SolarWinds Threat Monitor will archive log events for up to one year. This lets you easily view threats over time to help identify and troubleshoot short-term issues, spot patterns and longer-term trends so that you can begin forensic investigations after a breach.

Benefits For Your Business

Reduce Noise With Centralized Security Monitoring

As you are probably aware, there’s simply no silver bullet in cybersecurity. Any security strategy worthwhile requires an all-encompassing approach. This can present a challenge, however. As the security tools you need to manage increase, so does your overhead. The SolarWinds Threat Monitor was designed to give you a central command hub to help you monitor for threats, respond to them, and generate reports from anywhere at any time

Cover Your Customer Base With A Multitenant Solution

As a managed security service provider, your security solution must be able to handle multiple customers at multiple locations. The SolarWinds Threat Monitor was built from the ground up with managed security service providers in mind, helping you seamlessly cover your customer base from a single, centralized dashboard.

Reinforce Your Value With Custom Branding

What your customers need from you is to keep them secure. Yet, one of the challenges with cybersecurity is that when you do your job well, customers don’t hear from you often. The SolarWinds Threat Monitor was designed to help remind your customers of your value by enabling you to custom-brand the tool’s interface and its reports.

Onboard New Customers Quickly With Simple, Scalable Deployment

It shouldn’t take you too long to set up a threat monitoring solution. And when you want to expand your business, onboarding should also be quick and hiccup-free. The SolarWinds Threat Monitor was built to be easy for Managed Security Service Providers of all sizes to set up and to scale. In a nutshell, the tool is automated threat hunting that’s designed to accommodate both your and your customers’ growth.

Licensing and Pricing

Pricing for the SolarWinds Threat Monitor starts at $4 500 for up to 25 nodes with 10 days of index and goes up from there based on the number of nodes and retention period. You can contact SolarWinds for a detailed quote customized to your specific needs. And if you prefer to see the product in action, you can also request a free demo from SolarWinds.

Bottom Line

The SolarWinds Threat Monitor was designed to hunt threats and automatically correlate logs in real time from your customers’ ecosystems, analyzing them against multiple sources of continuously updated threat intelligence. It was created by a Managed Security Service Provider for Managed Security Service Providers and for any security-minded service providers.

The platform was built from the ground up to be fast, scalable, flexible, and most of all, to deliver efficiency when dealing with security events. Threat intelligence, alarms, and log correlation work, via a set of multi-conditional rules, helping remove noise and providing actionable notifications in real time. Extensive alerting keeps you ahead of threats and comprehensive reporting helps meet compliance requirements.

For a Managed Security Service Provider or a Managed Service Provider looking to grow their business, SolarWinds Threat Monitor is the cloud-based platform that can help you detect, respond to, and report on security events for your customers’ networks. In simpler terms, it gets the job done and this is what is most important.

Read SolarWinds Threat Monitor – REVIEW 2019 (Advanced Threat Detection and Monitoring) by Renaud Larue-Langlois on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

The Best Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) Tools

Our research will guide you through the best Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) tools and the handful of factors to consider when choosing one. We’ll give you a brief review of each tool and tell you about its main features.

Managed service providers (MSP) are organizations that are contracted to remotely manage other organizations IT environments, typically on a proactive basis and under a subscription model. To accomplish this task, most of them use what we call Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) tools. As the name implies, an RMM tool’s primary purpose is to allow the remote monitoring and management of an MSP client’s infrastructure. The monitoring part is not much different from any other type of device and system monitoring but the management part is where RMM tools differ the most. It can range from simple remote control to a broad platform that handles most management tasks. Today, we’re having a look at some of the best Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) tools.

Before we get to the interesting part of this post, we’ll spend a little bit of time first explaining in deeper details what remote monitoring and management is. We’ll also give you an overview of some of the characteristics of RMM tools. That will give you a better idea of what to look for when comparing and selecting the best tool for your specific needs. Our hope is to help you with the process of selecting your best RMM tool.

Remote Monitoring And Management In A Nutshell

The basic definition of Remote Monitoring and Management is rather simple. It is defined as the process of supervising and controlling IT systems (such as network devices, desktops computers, servers and mobile devices) by means of locally installed agents that can be accessed by a Managed Service Provider. Remote Monitoring and Management gives Managed Service Providers the ability to install new or updated software remotely (including patches, updates and configuration changes), to detect new devices and automatically install the appropriate agent and configure them, to observe the behavior of the managed devices and software for performance and diagnostic tasks, and to perform alerting and provide reports and dashboards.

It is a highly specialized type of software created to address a highly specific need. But while RMM tools are almost always created with Managed Service Providers in mind, some large organizations use them as well. It makes sense as there are not many functional differences between a Managed Service Provider offering services to several small and medium businesses and a large corporation offering service to several small- or medium-sized branches or units. We’ll try to keep this dual clientele in mind as we review the different tools. For now, let’s concentrate on the important characteristics of RMM tools.

What To Look For In RMM Tools

Remote Monitoring and Management tool vary greatly in their feature set. There are, however, some characteristics are present in each one of them. They are the must-haves and they are, therefore, the features you should be looking for—and comparing—when selecting a tool. In the next paragraphs, we’ll introduce these characteristics, tell you why they are important, and explain, when needed, how they can be compared.

Ease of Deployment

Although your chosen Remote Monitoring and Management solution will most likely become your eyes and hands in the environment of your clients, before that happens, you’ll need to deploy the solution. Most RMM solutions nowadays—and all of those on our list—are cloud-based so you don’t have any software to install. Or do you? In fact, they often require that you install client apps—called agents—pm the computers and servers that you want to monitor and manage. These agents handle most of the job and take care of tracking, monitoring and allowing you to perform the needed management tasks.

Auto-discovery combined with “push-installation” features should be preferred. With these two, you can simply select a newly discovered system in the management console and begin the remote installation of its RMM agent. Otherwise, you will have to deploy a client installation file using some third-party tool such as Windows Active Directory GPO, scripts, PSA tools, etc. Big MSPs can manage thousands of devices so not having to manually install an agent on each one is more than welcome.

Built-in Remote Desktop Application

When you manage computers located miles away from you and there are issues with them, accessing them in person is rarely an option. This is why one of the most important modules of each and every RMM solution is some sort of remote desktop application. And even if the defective device is located nearby, it could be in some sort of hostile location—such as a very cold server room—where it is preferable to use remote access.

Remote desktop applications let you easily connect to a remote system and perform any necessary action as though you were accessing its console. This is far better than giving instructions to someone over the phone, never certain that they are carried out correctly and that you’re getting proper feedback as to what appears on the screen.

Remote desktop systems typically use lightweight technologies to carry only the bare minimum amount of data over the network. They typically only send keystrokes from the local keyboard to the remote system and screen updates the other way around. Sending only screen updates rather the whole screen at every frame (30 times per second) greatly reduces the amount of transmitted data.

Dashboard Functionality

It seems like everyone in the network monitoring field is designing their products with “single pane of glass” dashboards. More than just a fad, it is a way of putting as much relevant information on the screen as possible. Rather than manually checking the status of multiple remote systems, you can take a glance at your dashboard and typically see the status of new systems, systems that require actions, the lists of last issues found, etc.

One needs, however, to remain careful when reviewing the actual function of the dashboard of a potential RMM solution. Sometimes, too much information is not better than not enough. You and your team will spend a lot of time working with the dashboard. You’ll need it to suit your needs and your environment perfectly. The best tools come with highly customizable dashboards. Some will even let you built different dashboards for different team members.

Integration with PSA

If your organization is using a Professional Services Automation (PSA) tool, you might want to select an RMM tool which can integrate with your PSA. In fact, the deeper this integration the better. For example, wouldn’t it be nice if your chosen RMM tool automatically created trouble tickets in the PSA tool whenever an issue is discovered? It could also create PSA tasks when it finds that some maintenance activity is required.

The level of automation provided by this type of integration can save you and your team a lot of time. Furthermore, it lets you proactively solve issues prior to the customer’s report and it helps to meet your SLA for common issues. You might need to spend some time configuring the RMM-PSA integration but doing it will most certainly pay off rather quickly.

In the world of today, it is simply not efficient enough to spend time and money on the outdated systems, that should be controlled by a human being. The time that you spend on implementing the top-notch automated RMM-PSA system will be paid off in the first weeks if not days of your work.

Alerting And Reporting

No matter how good and uncluttered a dashboard your tool may provide, you possibly have better things to do than sit in front of it and watch it. This is why alerting is often an important component of RMM tools. It is also an area where there are many differences between various products. The simplest ones will simply send out an email whenever something odd is detected. Better systems will have automatic escalation features or even the ability to automatically run remediation scripts.

In a Managed Service Provider context, generating periodic reports is a must. Using your RMM reports, clients can check their system’s health and whether the service level you provide meets the contracted SLAs. But different clients will often have different reporting requirements. This is why customizable reports are important. You need to be able to build reports containing the information your clients need. As a bonus, some RMM tools will let you brand the reports with your corporate identity.

The Best Remote Monitoring And Management Tools

We’ve scoured the market looking for the best Remote Monitoring and Management tools we could find. There are a lot of products available we’ve shortlisted the best ones and here’s a brief review of each one.

1- SolarWinds RMM (FREE TRIAL)

SolarWinds is a well-known name with network and system administrators. The company has been making great tools for them for about twenty years. Its flagship product, the SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor, is recognized as one of the best network bandwidth monitoring tools. The SolarWinds MSP division—created by merging activities from SolarWinds, N-able, and LOGICnow—specializes in building tools for Managed Service Providers. One of its product is a very complete Remote Monitoring and Management tool aptly named SolarWinds Remote Monitoring and Management.

The primary purpose of SolarWinds Remote Monitoring and Management is to let you manage the assets of clients on remote sites, either via direct contact or through automated procedures. Patch management and antivirus update coordination are two strong features of this tool. Furthermore, the Risk Intelligence module greatly improves the security features of the tool, which include malware protection as well as website protection. The system also protects against the possibility of infected websites being used as an entry point to the network.

SolarWinds RMM - Network Discovery

SolarWinds RMM is also an excellent monitoring tool which covers a wide range of devices, both physical and virtual. The tool enables administrators to keep track of system status on client sites from one console. Several built-in reports help you monitor the performance of your staff as well as the condition client’s sites. One of this product’s greatest assets is the simplicity of its interface as it enables support staff to get to the most frequently-used tools quickly.

This product is so rich with features that describing them all would require a whole post. To give you an idea of all that’s available, here’s a list many of the product’s features:

  • Remote Monitoring
  • Network Device Monitoring
  • Remote Access
  • Active Network Discovery
  • Automation And Scripting
  • Patch Management
  • Reports
  • Mobile Applications
  • Backup And Recovery
  • Managed Antivirus
  • Web Protection
  • Service Desk
  • Risk Intelligence
  • Mobile Device Management

Pricing for SolarWinds Remote Monitoring and Management is not readily available but can be obtained by requesting a quote SolarWinds MSP. The good thing about this is that you’ll get a price that exactly matches your specific needs. If you want to give the tool a test run and see for yourself what it can do for you, a free 30-day trial is available.

2- Datto RMM

Datto RMM, formerly known as Autotask Endpoint Management is a well-integrated RMM platform. It claims to be “The easiest, cloud-based Remote Monitoring and Management platform for MSPs who are looking to scale and improve service delivery operations”. The tool features comprehensive auditing to get complete visibility of every device and pinpoint areas for action. It also features patch management to automatically maintain every device with flexible, native OS and application patch update policies.

Datto RMM WebPortal

Real-time monitoring is another important feature of Datto RMM. The feature allows you to implement system-wide monitoring with intelligent alerting, auto-response, and auto-resolution. An RMM tool wouldn’t be complete without remote control and this product can provide instant support with one-click access to any of your managed devices. And last but not least, the tool’s flexible reporting features can help you prove the value of your service as well as help your customers make informed decisions with a wide array of fully configurable reports.

Pricing information is not directly available from Datto’s website. A free trial is mentioned but clicking the link takes you instead to a page where you can register for a demo.

3- Comodo One

Comodo One is a mostly free RMM platform with paid security modules. The system can monitor LANs, Cloud-based services, and hybrid systems. It is also particularly strong at protecting web applications. The key element of Comodo One is the Comodo Remote Monitoring and Management (CRMM). This module offers endpoint access, remote desktop sharing, and professional services automation (PSA) which includes ticketing, task allocation, policy enforcement, and logging. As such, it can be viewed as a combined RMM and PSA platform.

Comodo One Screenshot

The tool’s central console communicates with an agent module which needs to be installed on each remote endpoint. The agent software can be installed remotely. Once a monitored site is connected through its gateway, the network monitor built into the package automatically seeks out and logs all of the assets on that network. The Comodo One system monitors networks, servers, and application performance as well as risks to the network, with 18 different tests to detect security flaws. Once the RMM connection is established, you have the option of adding other Comodo services, such as edge security for web servers. The console also gives access to a task manager for support staff and a patch manager for the systems administrator.

The Comodo One RMM service is cloud-based, but it can monitor on-premises assets that run on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS. The service can also include mobile device management and software distribution. If a free RMM from a reputable source like Comodo seems too good to be true, just remember that you will have to pay for some modules in order to assemble a complete MSP system.

4. Pulseway

Pulseway is a cloud-based network management system with a feature set that can certainly appeal to Managed Service Providers, giving it a lot of RMM functionality. The tool’s scalability and its pricing model makes it very easy to expand the service as you acquire new clients.

The online Pulseway dashboard lets you perform remote desktop control, patch management, software deployment, update management, and application monitoring. In addition, some of the tools built into the dashboard provide advanced automation, operative monitoring, customer SLA reporting, and custom management information reporting.

Pulseway Screenshot

The system allows for multiple logins and group account which let you adapt the dashboard to each employee’s role. You can also customize the system monitoring alert settings and direct service alerts to different team members by email. You can also create automated workflows that get triggered by specific events.

Pulseway offers a base subscription package to Managed Service Providers that includes all of the RMM functions that they will need to support their clients. In addition to the standard RMM, there is also an extensive array of add-ons available to enhance the system, covering many of your client interactions. Additional modules include web server protection, virus protection, cloud data backup service, and a PSA module.

Pulseway is available in a free version for very small businesses. It only allows one user account and gives you the ability to manage just two endpoints. For the full package, prices are $3.95/month per server and $1.85/month per workstation with a minimum charge of $47/month. The full version is also available as on-premises software. A free trial of the product is also available.

5. Kaseya VSA

Our last entry is an MSP support platform that excels at task automation called Kaseya VSA. It also incorporates a remote control module, called Live Connect, allowing you to implement bulk updates as well as remotely connect to and administer any end device. The tool also provides automated network monitoring with built-in alerts, patch management, and service auditing, making it a very complete RMM solution.

Kaseya VSA - Live Connect Screenshot

Feature-wise, Kaseya VSA has everything you’d expect from any RMM tool. It has remote control, patch and vulnerability monitoring, audit and inventory, network monitoring, virus protection, unified backups and compliance management. The built-in AssetIQ is a contextual documentation management system made to ease the task of Managed Service Providers. It can, for example, be structured as a script for Help Desk agents to work through an incident and eventually direct problems to back office staff.

Kaseya VSA will cover most, if not all, of your Remote Monitoring and Management requirements. Pricing for the product can be obtained directly from Kaseya. Both a demo and a 14-day free trial are available so you can see for yourself what this great product has to offer.

Read The Best Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) Tools by Renaud Larue-Langlois on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

5 Best Email Security Tools (2019 Guide)

Today we get to the core and we’ll review some of the best email security tools on the market, what they are and how to can help protect you.

Ask almost anyone and they’ll tell you that email is the single most important service in their organization. From humble beginnings back in the seventies, it has grown to be the foundation of most modern communications. But being able to send email to anyone and to receive email from anyone is both a blessing and a curse. By opening our inbox to the general public, we also open it to unwanted correspondents. Some of them don’t have any ill intentions and they’re just trying to make a living by sending us some publicity but others have more somber objectives. And while the former is nothing more than an annoyance—albeit a huge one at times, the latter can pose a real threat. To better protect ourselves against the risks of email, let’s have a look at some of the best email security tools.

Before we get to reviewing the best email security tools, we’ll first discuss email security in general. It will help us identify what we are up against. We’ll introduce the different types of threats typically associated with email. They include spam, viruses and other malware, phishing attempts and ransomware.

About Email Security

You’d most likely gather from our introduction that email security is about protecting ourselves from any threats which use email as their vector. That would, however, be only partially right. In fact, email security is a two-way street and is it often as much about outgoing than incoming email. Why so, you may ask? Mainly because your email system could be used by malicious users to send out nefarious communications. How often have we heard of viruses that send malware-infested emails to one’s list of contacts? There is also the remote yet true possibility that a malicious user is present in your organization. This is not unheard of.

So, the goal of email security is that no dangerous email reaches you and that none leaves your email infrastructure. In a nutshell, that’s all there is about it. If we look at it in deeper details, it can get a tad more complicated, though. There are several different types of threats we need to protect against. Let’s have a closer look at the most common ones.


What is spam, exactly? At its origin, Spam is a brand of luncheon meat from Hormel whose name is a contraction of “spiced ham”. How it came to be used in the context of email is a funny story; literally. The origin of the term comes from a 1970 Monty Python’s Flying Circus sketch. In it, all the restaurant’s menu items devolve into SPAM. When the waitress repeats the word SPAM, a group of Vikings in the corner sing “SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, lovely SPAM! Wonderful SPAM!”, drowning out other conversations. It is well documented that the first instances of using the word “spam” for unwanted messages were referring to the 1970 Monty Python sketch where SPAM singing was drowning out conversation and SPAM itself was unwanted and popping up all over the menu.

Spam is any unwanted email. It is the email equivalent of all those flyers and delivery menus that make it to our mailboxes on a weekly basis. Most of them are legit advertising. Some could even be for interesting products and services although a good deal is for junk such as all sorts of virility enhancements gimmicks. The key to spam is that it is unsolicited and it generally pollutes our inboxes

Viruses And Other Malware

We all know what computer viruses are. They’ve been around for ages—in computer years—and we’re all too familiar with virus protection tools. And everyone knows that email is one of the primary methods of delivery for viruses and other types of malware. In fact, several different methods can be used to insert a malicious payload in an email message or to lead unsuspecting users to some malicious site. Virus-ridden messages are the primary reason why we’ve always been told to never open email attachments from unknown people or attachments that were not specifically expected. Since users are now very aware of viruses, they might not be as popular as they once were but one should never let their guard down.


Phishing attempts are one of the most common types of undesirable email. They are used to collect confidential information from people. I’m pretty certain that you’ve at least once received an email that appeared to come from your bank and told you that your account had somehow been compromised and that you should verify that all is in order an immediately report any suspicious activity. These emails always contain a direct link which claims to take you to your bank’s website.

What it does, in fact, is take you to a fake bank website—one that closely resembles that of your bank—where unsuspecting users will enter their banking username and password, thinking that this is their bank’s site. Once you do that, they have your bank account access credentials and are free to transfer funds out of your account.

This is just one example of phishing. The technique is commonly used to try to gather all sorts of personal and confidential information. We’ve heard of examples where it was used to acquire corporate usernames and password, for example.


Ransomware is not an email threat per se but it uses email so we felt it had to be included. This is especially true when you consider that most email security tools do offer some protection against it. Here’s how it typically works. Note that each case is different and this is just an example. It starts with some kind of virus—often a remote access trojan—which is used to encrypt documents stored on your computer. You are then required—by email—to send a certain some funds to an unknown and unidentifiable destination in order to gain back access to your document(s). The payment is often demanded in cryptocurrency as it is normally untraceable.

Another for of the same threat is when you receive a ransom email stating that they’ve activated your computer’s website and filmed you doing some illicit activity and that they will send the captured video to all your contacts and/or the authorities. While the former type of ransomware is usually real, the latter is, most of the time, made of bogus claims. If someone really had a video of you doing something “wrong” and wanted to blackmail you with it, don’t you think they’d send you a copy of the video to prove they are not joking?

Email Security Tools

Email security tools are complicated tools with a difficult task. They are made to protect you from all the threats mentioned above and then some. The goal of most of these systems is to either remove the dangerous elements of suspicious emails or to delete them altogether. In fact, many systems do offer both types of action which they pick depending on the specific situation. They will typically intercept each and every incoming email before it reaches your email server. They scan messages and strip them of any nefarious content before forwarding them to your organization’s mail server(s).

The best systems will also work the other way and scan every outgoing message after it leaves your server and before it reaches the Internet, ensuring that you are not unknowingly sending dangerous emails to your correspondents.

The Best Tools One Can Find

Much like any other type of tools, email security tools do vary greatly on their feature set. They also vary in their implementation. Some are delivered as a piece of software that you typically install on your local network. Others are offered in the cloud on the Software as a Service model. Let’s have a closer look at some of the best email security tools we could find.

1- SolarWinds Mail Assure (FREE TRIAL)

SolarWinds Mail Assure is a product of SolarWinds MSP, a division of SolarWinds that specializes in tools for managed service providers and large organizations. It was born from the union of SolarWinds, SolarWinds N-able, and LOGICnow, three major players on that market. SolarWinds, in case you don’t know the company, is the maker of some of the very best monitoring tools. For example, its flagship product, the Network Performance Monitor has received rave reviews and is considered to be one of the best network bandwidth monitoring tools. SolarWinds is also famous for its many free tools, each addressing a specific need of network or system administrator. The Advanced Subnet Calculator and the SolarWinds TFTP server are two excellent examples of these free tools.

SolarWinds Mail Assure Screen

Getting back to SolarWinds Mail Assure, the tool is a true multi-functional product that can address most—if not all—email security concerns. Here’s a quick rundown of the tool’s primary functions. The tool can help protect your business against spam, viruses, phishing, malware, ransomware, and other email-borne threats by using collective threat intelligence gathered from all Mail Assure customers. The tool’s intelligent email protection engine is continuously updated with data about threats detected by over 2 million secured domains in over 85 countries. The service also features tamper-proof mail archiving, email continuity and complete support for Office 365 and Exchange from Microsoft.

Mail Assure uses sophisticated threat detection methods to protect against malware, phishing, and other cyber threats. The continuously updated Intelligent Protection and Filtering Engine checks every incoming, outgoing, and internal email. A threat identified in one mailbox updates the detection algorithms for all other users in near real-time, providing incredible protection for your customers, no matter where they are or what email service they use. The system’s email continuity feature lets users log in to a branded email portal, even if their core mail service fails, helping ensure uninterrupted productivity.

Mail Assure’s email archiving protects crucial information and intellectual property and helps ensure availability and chain-of-custody in the event of a legal proceeding. All inbound and outbound email and attachments are compressed and encrypted to provide a cloud-based impenetrable vault.

SolarWinds Mail Assure is one of the best-rated email security systems. It is available as a cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) offering. The pricing structure is rather flexible and complex. You need to contact SolarWinds’ sales to get a quote matching your specific needs. If you want to give the platform a test-run, a free trial of the systems can be arranged.

2- Avanan Cloud Security Platform

The Avanan Cloud Security Platform is very different from other products on this list. The company doesn’t offer a product but rather a platform that positions itself between the Internet and your cloud email provider and adds various security services to it. The security tools are from some of the best providers in the field such as Check Point, Symantec or McAfee. What you get is really a best-of-breed approach.

Avanan Cloud Security Platform Screenshot

Concretely, the Avanan team seeks out innovative security technology from the industry’s top vendors, as well as small, innovative startups that offer next-generation tools to prevent tomorrow’s threats and then they “cloudify” their products. The company doesn’t just run the third-party applications in the cloud, it takes its partners’ best software and wraps the core technology in the Avanan API, standardizing all their user, file, event, and policy information. Its cloud-native versions are not available anywhere else.

The Avanan Cloud Security Platform is available in three levels: anti-phishing, complete malware and complete could security at prices starting at $3, $5, and $6 per user per month, respectively. Prices are a bit lower when paid on a yearly basis at $2.50, $4 and $5. There is also a custom-priced “a la carte” option where you can choose the exact protections you want. If you want to test the service, a free 14-day trial is available on all packages.

3- SpamTitan

SpamTitan from TitanHQ is a leading business anti-spam filter that controls, cleans, and protects against unwanted emails while blocking spam, viruses, and malware. It claims to be able to block 99.9% of spam, viruses, and other threats that come through email. Despite its rather high catch rate, the product only has a 0.03% false positive rate.

SpamTItan Screenshot

SpamTitan detects spam and other threats through multi-layered analysis including real-time blacklists, SURBLs, sender policy frameworks, and Bayesian analysis. It effectively filters your organization’s email traffic to stop undesirable content from reaching users. It allows you to rest easy, knowing your users never lose genuine email while remaining protected.

The cloud-based platform offers a real-time blacklist, virus and malware detection, and outbound mail scanning. Installation is quick and easy and free support from live technicians is available. The subscription-based service starts at $17/month for 10 users and a free trial is available.

4- Agari Advanced Email Security

The Agari Advanced Email Security solution from Agari Data is AI-based and it claims to understand the human relationships, behaviours, and identities behind email. Equipped with innovations such as the Agari Identity Graph and years of expertise in modelling relationships and behaviours, each incoming email is carefully inspected in a way that no human or legacy security control can approximate. Good emails pass through to the inbox while suspicious communications get discarded or held in quarantine.

Agari email Security - Sample

Powered by over 2 trillion email messages analyzed annually, the platform can find patterns hidden deep in the data to model good emails and sender behaviours. And because its global data set grows larger every day, the solution becomes smarter and more effective as well – even for zero-day attacks.

The tool’s integrated attachment analysis and detection of account takeover protect your organization from the latest malware-borne threats hidden deep within attachments. Furthermore, its incident response, remediation, and breach containment can reduce the necessary investigative work.

The Agari Advanced Email Security is a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution that is compatible with cloud-based, on-premises, or hybrid email environments. Out of the box, it can protect Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Exchange, a Google G-suite environments.

Pricing information for this product is not readily available. You’ll need to contact Agari Data to get a formal quote adapted to your specific need. A free trial does not appear to be available but a live demo is.

5- Zerospam

Canadian-based Zerospam offers more than spam filtering despite its name. The solution offers complete protection against all forms of harmful and undesirable email messages. This includes ransomware and all other types of malware, spear phishing, phishing, DOS attacks, messages containing dangerous links and harmful attachments, good old-fashioned spam and rogue newsletters.

Zerospam Screenshot

In addition to successfully blocking dangerous messages, Zerospam also offers a complete set of security features. This includes built-in redundancy, confidentiality, automatic mail queuing if the server goes down, on-demand email continuity, optional outbound filtering, TLS encryption by default and effective protection from your own users. The platform uses a unique, proprietary and multi-layered filtering architecture based on state-of-the-art technology and constantly evolving detection techniques.

Pricing for Zerospam is very reasonable, starting at just $0.75/month/user, Furthermore, monthly or annual billing is available based on minimum volume. Detailed pricing can be obtained by requesting a formal quote. A 30-day, no-commitment trial is available and it offers the exact same service and support as you would get if you were a paying customer.

Read 5 Best Email Security Tools (2019 Guide) by Renaud Larue-Langlois on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

SolarWinds Mail Assure – REVIEW 2019

Mail Assure from SolarWinds MSP is a multi-function tool which addresses most email security concerns of Managed Service Providers.

The tool offers email protection and archiving solutions that can help protect businesses from spam, viruses, phishing, malware, ransomware, and other email-borne threats, all at an affordable price. Mail Assure is designed to provide excellent email service stability and user experience. Today, we’ll be doing an in-depth functional review of this product.

We’ll start off by introducing SolarWinds MSP, the company that brought us this great product. We’ll then introduce Mail Assure itself and give you a brief overview of its abilities. Then, we’ll get deeper and describe in greater details many of the product’s features. As you’ll see, there are quite a few of them. We’ll then discuss the service’s infrastructure before presenting you some pros and cons that have been reported by users of the tool. And we’ll finish with some details about the tool’s licensing and pricing.

About SolarWinds MSP

SolarWinds MSP is a division of SolarWinds that specializes in tools for managed service providers. It was born from the union of SolarWinds, SolarWinds N-able, and LOGICnow, three major players on that market. As for SolarWinds, the company makes some of the best tools for system and network administration. Its flagship product, the Network Performance Monitor, has received rave reviews and is considered to be one of the best network bandwidth monitoring tools. SolarWinds is also famous for its many free tools, each addressing a specific need of network or system administrator. The Advanced Subnet Calculator and the SolarWinds TFTP server are two excellent examples of these free tools.

SolarWinds MSP empowers IT service providers with technologies to fuel their success. Solutions that integrate layered security, collective intelligence, and smart automation—both on-premises and in the cloud, backed by actionable data insights, help IT service providers get the job done easier and faster. SolarWinds MSP helps its customers focus on what matters most—meeting their Service Level Agreements and delivering services efficiently and effectively.

Introducing SolarWinds Mail Assure

SolarWinds Mail Assure is a true multi-functional product that can address most—if not all—email security concerns. The tool primarily targets Managed Service Providers and it can help protect their client against spam, viruses, phishing, malware, ransomware, and other email-borne threats by using collective threat intelligence gathered from all Mail Assure customers. Its intelligent email protection engine is continuously updated with data about every threat detected in over 2 million secured domains spread over 85 countries. The service also features tamper-proof mail archiving, email continuity and complete support for Office 365 and Exchange from Microsoft. More about these features in a moment.

SolarWinds Mail Assure - Email Protection

Mail Assure uses sophisticated threat detection methods to protect against all sorts of cyber threats. Its continuously updated Intelligent Protection and Filtering Engine checks every incoming, outgoing, and internal email. A threat identified in one mailbox updates the detection algorithms for all other users in near real-time, providing incredible protection for your clients, no matter where they are or what email service they use. In addition, the system’s email continuity feature lets users log in to a branded email portal, even if their core mail service fails, helping ensure uninterrupted productivity.

Mail Assure’s email archiving feature protects crucial information and intellectual property, and it helps ensure availability and chain-of-custody in the event of a legal proceeding. All inbound and outbound email and attachments are compressed and encrypted to provide a cloud-based impenetrable vault.

Exploring SolarWinds Mail Assure’s Features

Feature-wise, SolarWinds Mail Assure is a very complete product. Let’s have a deeper look at what each of the product’s main features has to offer. As you’re about to discover, there is more than meets the eye when you start digging.

Email Protection

Email is an essential component of professional communications. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most-used vectors of cyber attacks against enterprises. SolarWinds Mail Assure uses an advanced threat detection engine which is constantly updated with data obtained from over 10 million secured mailboxes in more than 85 countries. Suspicious emails or attachments detected in one corner of the world instantly update the threats database, thus providing an increased level of security to Mail Assure clients worldwide.

Threat Detection

Detecting threat before they even get to users is one of the most reliable ways to protect against them. Here’s how this tool can help.

Efficient Threat Detection

Mail Assure’s threat engine uses statistical algorithms to process and analyze results from SMTP behaviour, reputation checks, content checks, user data from quarantine management and several other filtering data. The threat engine is constantly updated ensuring you always get the most up-to-date protection.

Suspicious Attachment Blocking

The most dangerous files are often transmitted as attachments to messages. To protect against them, Mail Assure administrators can define exclusion rules based on file extension.

Undesirable Mail Reduction

Reducing—or even eliminating—undesirable emails such as spam and other junk is another important aspect of this product. It does it using four different techniques for the best results.

Email Fingerprinting

Mail Assure compares incoming messages to characteristics of undesirable mail messages to identify undesirable mail, phishing attempts and other malicious emails.

Advanced Analysis

The advanced analysis technology evaluates the authenticity of a message by analyzing headers, encoding, formatting and other features of emails that are typically hidden from users to try to determine who sent the email and how.

Real-time Message Source Analysis

Mail Assure constantly verifies trends and mail flow volume coming from the source messaging servers to detect if anyone is actively trying to send undesirable emails to the organization.

Abuse Management

Mail Assure includes full support for the Abuse Report Format (ARF – Standard IETF RFC 6650).

Easy Administration

Its one thing to have an efficient tool for protecting against threats but it should also be easy to manage. Here are a few features of the product that are instrumental in making it more manageable.

Blacklisting And Whitelisting

You may add email addresses to your own blacklists and whitelists to block or allow messages coming from specific senders.

Secure Cloud-based Email

All emails are remotely scanned in the cloud. This permits blocking undesirable messages and attachments even before they reach an organization’s internal network.

Email Archiving

Email archiving protects organizations against disputes and ensures that intellectual property stored in email is secure and easily retrievable. In addition, organizations in heavily regulated industries such as finance, medical, and legal are often required by law to keep copies of all their incoming, outgoing, and internal email communications. In the event of a legal dispute, keeping these copies of email files in a folder or in a backup solution isn’t enough. Legal procedures require a clear chain of custody if email evidence is to hold in courts. SolarWinds Mail Assure’s archive solution provides this chain, offering you security, compliance, and peace of mind.

SolarWinds Mail Assure Mail Archiving

Maximum Security

Secure off-site storage

Mail Assure stores archived email in the cloud, backing it up across multiple secure, geographically distributed data centers.

Security as a priority

The archive capability stores emails using AES encryption to protect them from prying eyes. Additionally, all transfers of messages in and out of the archive use Transport Layer Security (TLS) communication protocols for maximum security.


Mail Assure compresses emails when archiving them, electronically calculating a unique checksum that makes them tamper-proof. This verifies the authenticity of the emails, helping establish the integrity of messages within the archive.


Archived messages are stored in multiple data centers either in North America or Europe, depending on the location of your company. This geographic clustering enables European customers to comply with EU-based regulations on message processing and storage.

Search And Retrieval

Search indexing

Mail Assure indexes content and attachments on demand, saving ingress time.


When messages are found, they can be exported or forwarded out of the archive as attachments. These activities are carefully logged, which helps to preserve the chain of custody and satisfy legal obligations.

Third-Party Integration

Office 365

Mail Assure’s cloud-based model allows it to add features to Microsoft’s online Office 365 service via a fully independent archive with message retention capabilities that can extend beyond Microsoft’s own.

Microsoft Exchange

Mail Assure also integrates easily with Microsoft Exchange, helping provide outstanding enhanced security, reliability, and performance for Exchange servers. It also supports SMTP journaling for all internal emails.

Compatibility with both cloud and on-premises archives

Mail Assure’s archive feature integrates with any on-premises or cloud-based email service including Gmail, Zimbra, Postfix, Exim, qmail, and Lotus.

Mailbox Continuity

For many organizations, a single missed email can mean the difference between taking advantage of or missing an important business opportunity. Your clients rely on you to keep email up and running. It is, therefore, critical that you have an email service you can count on. SolarWinds Mail Assure‘s cloud-based secure email gateway exists independently of an organization’s email systems, analyzing and filtering emails before they ever reach the primary mail servers. This allows users to access their email via Mail Assure‘s web portal even during an outage of the mail servers.

SolarWinds Mail Assure Mailbox Continuity

Support During Local Network Outages

Even if an on-premises mail server is working, various issues on local networks can cause problems and interfere with access to email. A cloud-based email continuity service protects email against any problems affecting the local infrastructure.

No Need For Expensive Fault-tolerant Hardware

On-premises systems need failover-capable hardware and multiple sites to be truly protected which can turn out to be costly. Because Mail Assure operates in the cloud, it eliminates that email infrastructure cost.

Lower Risk

By using an additional service provider to supplement the primary email service, you eliminate the risk of having a single point of failure.

Distributed Infrastructure

Mail Assure uses multiple distributed data centers around the world to process and queue emails and protect users from server or network outages.

Support For Office 365 and Exchange Server

When it comes to the integrity, availability, and security of email, relying on a single provider may not be such a good idea. With so many businesses using the cloud-based Office 365 or the on-premises Microsoft Exchange server, these services have now become key targets for cybercriminals. SolarWinds Mail Assure offers an extra layer of security to protect you against the hackers. On top of that, the tool’s web portal provides email continuity in case Office 365 or your Exchange suffers from an outage.

SolarWinds Mail Assure - Office 365 Support

Enhanced Office 365 Protection

Deep defense

Mail Assure improves the default security in Office 365 via its sophisticated threat engine that is continuously updated using data from over 2 million secured domains around the world.

Improved spam protection

Boost your spam protection using SolarWinds’ spam filters that incorporate automated input from all users’ “train or release” determinations.

Scalability and security

The tool processes and stores all email at SolarWinds’ secure data centers located in four countries. This helps you meet regional regulations surrounding message storage locations.

Comprehensive storage

Deploying Mail Assure alongside Office 365 will help ensure that emails can always be stored regardless of space restrictions in Office 365.

Simple integration

Setup is a breeze. Office 365 users can start using Mail Assure by simply redirecting their MX records to SolarWinds’ systems.

Support for Microsoft Exchange

Improved continuity

Mail Assure provides a cloud-based interface for those running Microsoft Exchange. This allows users to continue sending and receiving email even if physical servers crash.

Capacity management

Email can take up a lot of space—not just from email volume, but also—and even more so—from the size of attachments. Adding a cloud-based solution such as Mail Assure helps ensure the live Exchange platform does not run out of space.

Better server performance

Mail Assure handles spam and malware filtering, freeing up resources on your Exchange email server.

Improved bandwidth and extended server life

By handling email processing using an external vendor, internet usage decreases and bandwidth and speed improves for the rest of the organization. And by keeping the processing load low, you’ll also increase the lifespan of your email servers.

Manage data

Transferring older data out of your live email environment to a service such as Mail Assure reduces the overall size of the Exchange information store, increasing your Exchange platform’s performance.

Predictable costs

Costs are linked to the number of mailboxes used. You pay only for what you need.

Service Infrastructure

A cloud-based messaging gateway service eliminates many costs, issues and complexities associated with on-premise messaging solutions, such as the configuration, the administration and the monitoring of secured messaging servers. SolarWinds Mail Assure does not replace your main mailbox. The solution offers a cloud-based complement to an organization’s messaging service, adding an extra layer of security and redundancy that modern organizations need.

SolarWinds Mail Assure - Sservice Infrastructure


Multiple data centers

Mail Assure’s off-site secured infrastructure uses several data centers to protect corporate messaging against threats and major outages.

Reliable infrastructure

Mail Assure’s network and software architecture have been designed for maximum efficiency and reliability. Multiple MX entries, redundant load balancers and fault-tolerant server clusters are used.

Easy configuration

Mail Assure makes the installation, the configuration the monitoring of a secure on-site messaging server easy.


Secured access

The security of on-premise solutions depends on the physical security of the building where they are located. Mail Assure uses data centers with strict physical and virtual access control as well as several electronic means of preventing unauthorized individuals from accessing the organization’s data.


Mail Assure encrypts all its emails with 256 bits AES (Advanced Encryption Standards) encryption for static data et it uses the TLS (Transport Layer Security) protocol for data transfers.

Cost Effectiveness

Simple no-surprise billing

Mail Assure uses a simple and easy pricing structure, much more so than complex software license costs and unknown long-term hardware costs which are typical of on-premises solutions

Modular Functionality

New services (such as archiving functionalities) can easily be added at an easy-to-figure cost without requiring complex project management that would be needed for an on-premise environment.

Pros and Cons of SolarWinds Mail Assure

Here’s a summary of the main pros and cons of SolarWinds Mail Assure as reported by users of the platform and by other reviewers as well.


  • Despite the tool’s learning curve, you can configure the dashboard to suit your needs.

  • Very easy to use after initial configuration.

  • The overall filtering speed is quick and reliable

  • The product offers more flexibility as compared to other vendors.

  • Lots of available features, tools, reports and settings.

  • Support is brilliant and there is a very good knowledge base.

  • An efficient anti-spam product which also offers business continuity at an affordable price.


  • Some settings are hard to find.

  • The terminology used can be hard to follow.

  • It can take a while to find your way around the dashboard and to find the exact setting you’re looking for.

  • The console can be a little confusing for first-time users

  • There is no provision for multiple admins to access all the domains

  • Issues with Mail Assure have been reported to cause bounce backs to user’s clients.

  • Escalation on support calls is not fast enough when the SolarWinds engineering team has to participate

  • Some users have reported that the tool’s dashboard can be slow to respond.

Licensing and Pricing

SolarWinds Mail Assure is available as a cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS). The pricing structure is rather flexible and complex. You’ll need to contact SolarWinds’ sales to get a detailed quote matching your specific needs. If you want to give the platform a test-run, a free 30-day trial of the tool can be downloaded.

Read SolarWinds Mail Assure – REVIEW 2019 by Renaud Larue-Langlois on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

SolarWinds ipMonitor – Functional REVIEW 2019

Knowing what’s going on on the network is probably one of the primary goals of many network administrators. After all, don’t we all want to know what’s going on with all the network devices, servers, and applications? To keep on top of what’s happening with all the component of your network, you need some easy-to-use and reliable monitoring solution that tells you what’s up, what’s down, and what’s not performing as expected.

SolarWinds ipMonitor is designed to deliver instant visibility into essential availability and performance metrics of your network environment. In addition, ipMonitor includes a built-in database and web server, so you don’t need to install anything but ipMonitor itself—making it fast, lightweight, and affordable. Today, we’re reviewing this great little tool from SolarWinds.

We’ll start off by telling you about SolarWinds, the publisher of ipMonitor, in case you don’t already know the company. Next, we’ll briefly introduce the SolarWinds ipMonitor and give you a very brief overview of what it can do to whet your appetite. In the next part, we’ll review in greater details most of the features of the product. We’ll then discuss the pros and cons of ipMonitor as reported by users of the product. We’ll follow with the system requirements for installing the product and provide you with some information about the tool’s licensing and pricing. After that, we’ll give you a tour of the product’s installation and share our experience with you and conclude by giving you our impression of using the SolarWinds ipMonitor

About SolarWinds

SolarWinds is a common name in the network and system administration fields. The twenty-year-old company enjoys a solid reputation as a publisher of some of the very best network and system administration tools. and its flagship product, the Network Performance Monitor, consistently scores among the top SNMP monitoring tools. Most other tools from SolarWinds are among the very best in their respective class. And as if that wasn’t enough, SolarWinds also makes a handful of free tools, each addressing a specific need of network administrator. The Advanced Subnet Calculator and the SolarWinds TFTP Server are two examples of those free tools.

Introducing ipMonitor

The SolarWinds ipMonitor is a relatively simple integrated tool which offers essential up/down and performance monitoring for networks, servers, and applications. The tool will quickly discover infrastructure and will recommend SmartMonitor settings which are designed to make setup simpler and faster. It also provides an easy-to-use web interface and network maps for clear, at-a-glance views of your environment. The tool can send customizable alerts and reports to help ensure you are the first to know about issues such as a down device. In addition to alerts, it also has automated remediation capabilities to minimize downtime.

SolarWinds ipMonitor - Dashboard

On the application monitoring front, the system can simulate end-user experience for web and other applications and it uses standard protocols such as SNMP and WMI for agentless, monitoring of applications and systems. The system includes its own embedded web server and database and it is designed for a simple, integrated installation experience without the need for installing separate components.

The SolarWinds ipMonitor web-based interface offers centralized and customizable summary views. It helps provide visibility into the health of your IT infrastructure. The tool supports drag and drop, and is designed to make it easy to add and remove elements from the view and help ensure you have the reports, statistics, and gauges you need—right at your fingertips. ipMonitor’s dashboards make it easy to identify problem areas at a glance, letting you resolve issues quickly

Product’s Highlights

  • Quickly discovers infrastructure and recommends SmartMonitor settings—designed to make setup simple and fast
  • Provides an easy-to-use web interface and network maps for clear, at-a-glance views of your environment
  • Sends customizable alerts and reports to help ensure you are the first to know about network issues or application failures
  • Minimizes downtime with automated remediation capabilities » Simulates end-user experience for web and other applications
  • Uses standard SNMP and WMI for agentless, monitoring of applications and systems » Includes an embedded web server and database, designed for a simple, integrated installation experience without the hassle or expense of installing separate components

Features of SolarWinds ipMonitor

Being an all-in-one solution, ipMonitor’s feature set is impressive. While we can’t give you all the details about each and every feature of the system. Here’s a detailed overview of some of the most important features you’ll find in the SolarWinds ipMonitor.

Easy-to-Use Web Interface With Centralized Dashboard Views

The ipMonitor web-based interface offers centralized, customizable summary views that can provide visibility into the health of your IT infrastructure. With support for drag and drop, it’s designed to make it easy to add and remove elements from the view to help ensure you have the reports, statistics, and gauges you need—right at your fingertips. ipMonitor dashboards also make it easy to identify problem areas at a glance so that you can resolve the issue quickly.

Built-In Reporting with NOC Dashboard

ipMonitor is intended to deliver a full-screen NOC view that will knock your socks off, providing easy-to-view status reports with drill-down into groups and monitors in your environment. Additionally, from the ipMonitor reporting interface, point and shoot zoomable reports can give you the ability to view data for a specific time period or event—a feature that is particularly useful when you are trying to troubleshoot issues and identify the root cause of failures.

SolarWinds ipMonitor - Sample Report

Lightweight Installation

ipMonitor includes a fully integrated database and web server, helping eliminate additional costs that can be inherited through a dependency on third-party databases or web servers. ipMonitor is designed to be a self-reliant monitoring solution that preserves the integrity of your data and makes sure that you are the first to be alerted of service interruption before it affects your end users.

Wizard-Driven Setup & Express Device Discovery

It’s hard to believe, but true. ipMonitor can be installed and operational in typically in minutes, using a slick Startup Wizard that guides you through the automated discovery and alert configuration process so that you don’t have to lift a finger. Plus, the new and improved Discovery Wizard is intended to provide a multitude of scanning methods, including IP address range, DNS zone, host import, and network neighbourhood. The Discovery Wizard is designed to enable faster network scanning and discovery and returns detailed network data, including device classifications and layer-3 topology information. ipMonitor can make getting started automatic, fast, and easy.

SolarWinds ipMonitor - Device Discovery

Out-of-the-Box SmartMonitor Recommended Settings

The ipMonitor solution’s unique SmartMonitor technology suggests optimal monitors and data collection settings for almost everything on your network—which can save you time and help reduce the need for you to navigate the murky waters of configuring settings by hand. SmartMonitor technology leverages the collective experience of our SolarWinds engineers to help ensure that you receive network coverage quickly, and with the most advantageous network monitoring settings.

Dynamic Network Mapping

ipMonitor can auto-discover network devices and create rich network maps that can be customized to show the connection between elements or to add nested elements. Maps help to enable you to visually monitor network health with dynamically managed status indicators that offer drill-down capabilities for quicker problem resolution.

Enhanced Device Grouping for Easy Management

ipMonitor helps to make it painless to manage lists of devices and their logical organization with enhanced grouping and nested grouping capabilities. Plus, SmartGroups is designed to allow dynamic grouping of devices and monitors based on user-defined filters. A centralized view of device and monitor groups is displayed in an Explorer-style tree format that offers one-click navigation to the properties and settings for that element, helping to make it easier and faster to manage groups of devices.

Automatic Alerting

ipMonitor offers more than 14 different types of notifications to help ensure that you are the first to know about network issues or application failures. Alerts can be as simple as receiving an email or text message on your cell phone, or as comprehensive as writing to Windows Event Log files.

SolarWinds ipMonitor - Alert Action

Automatic Recovery

ipMonitor can be easily configured to take corrective actions to restore services if a failure occurs, including restarting failed applications, restarting Windows services, rebooting servers, and executing scripts. ipMonitor helps minimize downtime by automating remediation steps.

SolarWinds ipMonitor - Automation

True Remote Administration

SolarWinds ipMonitor is designed to be a safe web-based interface that allows users to scan their network, configure monitors, or take corrective action from any supported browser. You can monitor your infrastructure from virtually anywhere with an internet connection —freeing you from the office.

User Experience Monitoring

ipMonitor can show your users the love—even the high maintenance ones. Going beyond basic availability checking, ipMonitor is designed to give you complete visibility into the quality of an end user’s experience. In fact, ipMonitor can mimic a user’s behaviour by performing synthetic transactions. You’ll be alerted to issues before your users notice a blip in the availability of business-critical applications, like email, web, or database services.

Pros And Cons Of The SolarWinds ipMonitor

We’ve searched the web to see what other users of the SolarWinds ipMonitor thought of the product. We’ve assembled this list of the most common pros and cons as reported by users of the product.


  • Configuration is simple and easy.
  • Menus are clear and simple to follow.
  • Alerting is straightforward to configure.
  • The product leverages SNMP to monitor the up/down status of all components.
  • It has a simple and easy to use interface.
  • Log file capture and analysis are quick and accurate.


  • Distributed roles and responsibilities can be a little too confined to a determined box.
  • The product could benefit from a feature-rich reporting tool.
  • The user interface looks a bit antiquated and could use a revamp
  • More complex types of monitoring would be welcome

System Requirements

The system requirements for this tool are rather simple. It should be installed on a computer with at least a 2.0 GHz CPU. A single core will be enough. The machine’s memory should be at least 512 MB and it should have 240 MB of free hard disk space. This package will run on almost any computer.

Software-wise, most modern versions of the Windows operating system are supported, including Windows 8, Windows 2012 (.net Framework 3.5 required), Windows 10, Windows Server 2012R2, and Windows Server 2016.

A web browser is required to connect to the user interface. Any version of Microsoft Internet Explorer version 11 or later will work as will the two most recent versions of Firefox and Chrome

Licensing And Pricing

Prices for the SolarWinds ipMonitor start at $1 495 for up to 500 monitors. This one-time cost includes the first year of maintenance. For those who’d prefer to try the tool before purchasing it, a free 14-day trial is available.

Our Installation And Configuration Experience

Installation is done using a simple wizard and it takes only a few minutes to complete. Once you’re up and running you simply point a browser at the proper port (as chosen during the setup process) and then go through the SolarWinds ipMonitor Getting Started wizard, the second part of the setup process.

The easiest way to go is with the automatic device discovery process. In addition to the usual IP address range search, you can also tell the SolarWinds ipMonitor to search a DNS zone (thereby interrogating a DNS and try to contact all hosts mentioned therein) or the Windows Network Neighbourhood. Alternatively, you can also give it a static hosts file.

Once you’ve chosen how to search, you can provide the various sets of credentials–such as Windows logins and SNMP community strings–that the SolarWinds ipMonitor will need in order to poll the various systems it comes across. Something worth noting at this point: to enter credentials you must either be connected by HTTPS or have the browser running directly on the ipMonitor server. It won’t let you enter credentials over a non-secure link. Despite understanding the desire to be seen to be secure, we found it perhaps somewhat of an overkill to forbid connections from machines in the same LAN subnet.

Once you’ve provided all the necessary credentials, the SolarWinds ipMonitor uses them to do its magic and scan each machine it finds and to see what services are running on each and what system parameters are available for monitoring. Although the graphical user interface is entirely browser-based, it makes good use of dynamic HTML to make it feel very much like a desktop application, with spinning progress icons and all the bells and whistles. While this is not at all uncommon these days, it still shows in a very eloquent way how SolarWinds cares about its users.

The Bottom Line

The SolarWinds ipMonitor seems to make an excellent job of finding all there is to find out about servers. For example, it found that a multi-purpose server had FTP, HTTP, IMAP, POP, SMTP and SNMP services running and that it had a single CPU, 4 Gb of RAM and a single hard disk. Needless to say that it is precisely what was actually present on the server. For each service it finds, The product defines a monitor. Once the discovery is completed, you can select which monitors you actually want and disable the ones that you don’t. Every device discovered is then added to the All Managed Devices list.

From this point on everything is super simple and very intuitive. Consider it like being on cruise control or autopilot. You have a familiar two-pane display, with a hierarchical list of things on the left-hand side and a detail pane on the right. The latter can be viewed as a simple list or, if you prefer a nicer view, as a dashboard which gives a much more graphical (and therefore intuitive) picture of what’s going on.

While we’re talking about the dashboard let’s dig a bit deeper. The SolarWinds ipMonitor‘s dashboard is the product’s home screen. This is where you’ll usually start working with the tool. It is a collection of user-definable widgets that you can add, remove and move around as you see fit. This is a very popular approach these days, and quite rightly so because it lets you customize your monitoring tool to better fit your needs instead of forcing you to use the arbitrary design-time opinion of a developer who has no clue about what it is that you’re trying to do.

As expected, the SolarWinds ipMonitor can report on the state of your network both in real time via automated alerts and on-demand through an extensive list of built-in reports. The alerting system can be configured to send different types of alert to different individuals. It can even take account of individuals’ working hours which can be very useful. Like the dashboard, the reporting engine is highly customizable and it generates attractive and informative results. The only issue we had with it ts the impossibility of emailing PDF reports although both PNG and GIF are available.

We liked the SolarWinds ipMonitor mainly because it does what it’s supposed to do. Its GUI is very attractive and usable, and it has clearly been designed in consultation with system and network managers. Clicking on something takes you to where you’d instinctively think it should take you, and it’s very simple to change the settings to better suit your needs.

Read SolarWinds ipMonitor – Functional REVIEW 2019 by Renaud Larue-Langlois on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter