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SolarWinds SAM: Key Features, Pricing, Limitations, and Alternatives

Read Time: 7 minutes

What Is SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor (SAM)?

SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor (SAM) enables server and application monitoring in modern IT environments. It is an on-premise installed solution, which is offered standalone or as part of the SolarWinds Hybrid Cloud Observability platform.

SAM comes with over 1,200 out-of-the-box monitoring templates and more than 1,000 community-contributed templates. This enables tailored monitoring that can adapt to the unique demands of specific IT workloads. In addition to its monitoring templates, SAM allows users to build custom monitoring solutions using a REST API, WMI, SNMP, and PowerShell scripts.

The solution supports monitoring of application performance, availability, application dependency mapping, and cloud monitoring, and provides detailed reports and alerts that allow IT teams to respond to application issues.

Source: SolarWinds

What Can You Monitor with SolarWinds SAM?

SolarWinds SAM offers extensive monitoring capabilities that cater to various IT infrastructure components. Here are a few commonly used systems you can monitor:

  • Active Directory servers: Quickly troubleshoot health and performance issues in Active Directory environments.
  • AWS cloud instances: High-visibility, proactive monitoring tools optimized for performance across AWS cloud instance types.
  • Microsoft Azure: Includes comprehensive monitoring solutions for Azure IaaS and PaaS platforms, aiding in performance management and configuration.
  • Linux servers: Comprehensive management and performance monitoring across multiple Linux environments.
  • Apache servers: In-depth monitoring capabilities for Apache servers and services, ensuring optimal performance.
  • Docker containers: Monitor and improve Docker application performance through detailed container monitoring.
  • Domain Controllers: Get proactive notifications of service outages or performance issues.
  • Email and Exchange servers: Consolidate monitoring for security and performance across various email platforms, including Microsoft Exchange.
  • FTP services: Track FTP service performance and availability issues.
  • Java Virtual Machines (JVM): Detect performance bottlenecks and optimize Java application performance.
  • Microsoft .NET applications: Enterprise-grade monitoring for .NET applications, ensuring performance and availability.

Here is the full list of monitoring use cases supported by SAM.

Key Features of SolarWinds SAM

Application Availability and Performance Monitoring

SolarWinds SAM allows IT teams to detect, diagnose, and resolve application performance issues. By offering performance metrics in real-time, SAM ensures that administrators can quickly identify slowdowns or failures, minimizing downtime and improving service delivery.

Learn more in our detailed guide to prtg network monitor vs solarwinds

In addition to system health checks, SAM alerts users to availability issues across a range of platforms and environments, from data centers to cloud services. This helps maintain operational efficiency and ensures continuous system availability.

Application Dependency Mapping

Understanding the dependencies within application infrastructure is essential for maintaining optimal performance and facilitating trouble-free operations. SolarWinds SAM maps these dependencies visually, aiding in the swift pinpointing of root causes when issues arise. 

As IT infrastructures grow and evolve, keeping track of changes can be challenging. SAM’s automated discovery and mapping capabilities ensure that changes to the IT environment, such as adding new components or updating existing ones, are reflected in the visual map. 

Cloud Application Monitoring

SolarWinds SAM can also monitor cloud-hosted resources and applications, allowing teams to oversee and manage cloud environments. This feature is critical for achieving visibility and control over applications outside traditional on-premise environments.

SAM’s cloud monitoring tracks performance and also provides insights into cost-effectiveness and resource usage, helping optimize cloud deployments. Administrators can adjust resources based on demand, while maintaining control over cloud costs.

Cross-Stack IT Data Correlation

SolarWinds SAM provides a broad view of IT infrastructure, correlating data across multiple layers and technologies. This helps diagnose complex, multi-tier issues more efficiently, reducing the time taken to identify and rectify problems.

By integrating data from various sources including network, storage, and virtualization layers, SAM facilitates a better understanding of how different components interact and affect overall performance.

Customizable Reports and Alerts

SolarWinds SAM offers customizable reporting and alerting functions. IT administrators can tailor reports and alerts to reflect specific metrics that are crucial for their operational objectives, ensuring that they receive relevant and actionable information.

These tools aid in immediate problem-solving, and can also assist in long-term planning and performance optimization. With the ability to schedule and automate reports, as well as configure alerts for early symptom detection, teams can preempt potential issues and support proactive IT management practices.

SolarWinds SAM Pricing 

There are three options for purchasing SolarWinds SAM:

  • Free trial: For those interested in trying SAM with no risk, SolarWinds offers a fully functional free trial for 30 days.
  • Perpetual license fee: Starts at $1,886 one-time license fee (pricing may increase depending on component monitors used)
  • Subscription pricing: SolarWinds offers SAM at a subscription cost, with terms of 1, 3, and 5 years. Subscription pricing requires obtaining a quote from SolarWinds sales.

SolarWinds SAM Limitations 

When evaluating SolarWinds SAM, it is important to be aware of the following limitations, which were reported by users on the G2 platform.

Complex Maintenance and Scalability Challenges

Users of SolarWinds SAM report certain difficulties, particularly in large and complex environments. Updates and maintenance can become complex when multiple instances or extensive customizations are involved. 

Additionally, scalability is a significant concern in large deployments, where performance can sometimes lag behind expectations. Users have reported this impacts the overall effectiveness of the monitoring solution, especially when trying to scale operations across a sprawling IT infrastructure.

User Interface and Customization Limitations

Another notable limitation is the SolarWinds SAM user interface, which many users find initially cluttered and challenging to navigate. The tool also lacks sufficient customization options that many users seek, limiting the tool’s utility for certain operational contexts.

Cost and Licensing Constraints

The cost of implementing SolarWinds SAM can be prohibitively high for some organizations, primarily because the pricing structure is based on the number of monitors used. Each component monitor, whether it measures server performance, processes, or scripts, adds to the overall cost, potentially making it an expensive option for comprehensive monitoring. 

Additionally, recent changes in the licensing model have increased the cost for many users. This can limit the accessibility of SolarWinds SAM for smaller enterprises or those with limited budgets.

Limitations in Templates and Monitoring Capabilities

SolarWinds SAM also exhibits limitations in its monitoring options. Some out-of-the-box templates do not allow users to remove specific components, restricting flexibility in monitoring setups. In addition, the SAM module lacks advanced application performance monitoring (APM) capabilities, which are important for in-depth application insights.

Limitations in Application Mapping Capabilities

SolarWinds SAM has several important limitations related to application dependency mapping:

  • Relies on scheduled scans for dependencies, does not update in real time.
  • Recommends using SolarWinds Platform agent for best results, although it does support agentless operation.
  • Requires credentials of every system monitored to obtain a full picture.
  • Core package only monitors certain IT infrastructure: Cisco UCS, Nutanix, VMware hosts, Linux/AIX on-prem, AWS and Azure cloud. Hyper-V scanning is an add-on module priced separately.
  • Requires multiple modules for application dependency mapping, or the full Orion Suite Platform which is resource-heavy.

Notable SolarWinds SAM Alternatives 


Faddom is an real-time application dependency mapping solution. It is a lightweight alternative to Solarwinds SAM, which can be set up in under an hour and does not require credentials or agents. It’s also much more affordable, starting at $10K/year.

Key features of Faddom include:

  • Real-time scanning: Updates 24/7, does not require scheduled scans.
  • Fully agentless: Provides all application dependency capabilities without requiring installation of agents.
  • No credentials needed: Can perform full scanning and mapping with full details of all IT systems without requiring credentials.
  • Can monitor the entire IT environment: No limitations on the type of systems monitored, unlike SolarWinds which is limited to certain systems like Cisco UCS, Nutanix, and VMware hosts in its core.
  • Integrated, lighweight solution: Does not require add-ons, multiple modules, or resource-heavy systems like the Solarwinds Orion Platform to perform application dependency mapping.

Learn more about Faddom for application mapping or start a free trial to the right

Learn more about Faddom or get a free trial to the right

ManageEngine Applications Manager 

ManageEngine Applications Manager is a tool designed to monitor the performance and availability of applications, servers, and database systems. It is tailored to meet the demands of IT operations in complex and dynamic environments.

Key features of ManageEngine Application Manager include:

  • Broad application support: Supports a variety of application platforms, including web apps, databases, and servers.
  • Real-time performance metrics: Delivers real-time analytics on application health, facilitating quick troubleshooting and response to issues.
  • Automated application discovery: Automatically discovers and maps application dependencies, aiding in efficient management and monitoring.
  • Advanced analytics: Features advanced analytics for performance optimization and capacity planning.
  • Customizable alerts: Allows users to set up custom alerts based on specific events or thresholds, ensuring timely responses to potential disruptions.

Source: ManageEngine

PRTG Network Monitor

PRTG Network Monitor is an integrated monitoring solution that offers capabilities for tracking network performance, ensuring systems are running smoothly and efficiently. PRTG is designed to monitor all types of IT infrastructure elements, from networks to applications.

Key features of PRTG Network Monitor include:

  • Network monitoring: PRTG can monitor every aspect of a network, including bandwidth usage, device health, and traffic flow.
  • Application monitoring: Monitor the health and performance of databases and other business applications.
  • Flexible alerting system: Users can customize alerts to notify them via email, SMS, or push notifications based on predefined thresholds.
  • Detailed reporting: Generates reports that provide insights into network performance, helping identify potential issues before they escalate.
  • Multi-site support: Capable of monitoring multiple locations, making it suitable for businesses with dispersed geographic infrastructures.
  • Customizable dashboards: Offers customizable dashboards that display key metrics, enabling quick assessments of network status at a glance.

Source: Paessler


SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor (SAM) provides comprehensive monitoring capabilities aimed at optimizing IT infrastructure efficiency and reliability. It provides real-time performance monitoring, automated application mapping, and advanced alerting. 

However, SAM’s limitations, such as complexity in maintenance and scalability challenges, usability issues, and limited customization, have led some organizations to seek alternatives. Faddom stands out as a lightweight, lower cost, yet powerful alternative for application discovery and application dependency mapping.

Learn more about Faddom or get a free trial to the right

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