Patch Manager and Firewall Security Manager from SolarWinds are two products that can be used together by administrators and security professionals to achieve a full picture of system patch policy and firewall policy auditing. Patch Manager features a large catalogue of third-party software that is updated consistently to work in tandem with solutions such as Microsoft Windows Update Services. Firewall Security Manager provides the ability to analyze and audit firewall security policy, and ensure that firewalls are compliant with organization policy, as well as secure.

We found both of these products to be easy to install and configure. Installation files for both had to be downloaded from the SolarWinds Customer Portal. Once we had all the necessary files downloaded, we were able to start the installation. To install Firewall Security Manager, we had to run the setup executable on our Windows Server. After a short installation wizard, we had the product installed and were able to launch the client application to begin managing our firewalls. Patch Manager was a similar install. 

Overall, we found both products to be quite easy to use and manage. We also found them to have an abundance of on-board features, as well as extendable features through integration with other products or applications. For example, Firewall Configuration Manager can integrate directly into Network Configuration Manager from SolarWinds to extend configuration management capabilities to include more auditing and compliance reporting, as well as change management and automation. Patch Manager also can integrate directly into Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager to streamline updates and patch management across the entire Microsoft infrastructure. While the integration of these products into others is great, they also stand on their own quite well and do not require other products to be good tools.

Documentation includes installation and administrator guides in PDF format. We find all the documentation to be well-organized and easy to follow with many step-by-step instructions for installation, configuration and integration. However, we did find the documentation to lack screen shots and visuals, which could have better illustrated more complication configuration steps.

SolarWinds offers customers a solid combination of no-cost and fee-based support options. All customers receive the first year of technical support as part of the purchase price of the product. After the first year, customers can choose to purchase additional technical support through an annual agreement for a fee. Customers also have access - at no cost - to a large online community, as well as documentation downloads and other resources.

With prices starting at around $3,000 for Patch Manager and $1,300 for Firewall Security, we find these products a good value for money overall. However, for some environments the value can go way up if some of the tools that can integrate with these products are already on hand. We find the true value in both of these products is how well they can integrate and add a large amount of functionality to other products.- MS