Solarwinds NCM saved my job (and my network)
James Harrison, CISSP | TrustRadius Reviewer
Updated July 17, 2020

Solarwinds NCM saved my job (and my network)

Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source

Overall Satisfaction with SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager (NCM)

Gone are the days of looking for that most recent configuration of your firewall, router or network switch. As an engineer, I can do so many things with SolarWinds NCM, without having to worry if the configuration backup is currently being archived, and when or where it has been stored. As a company subjected to audits, I have the ability to verify that changes were made correctly, and by whom. This makes management very happy. It also provides a "rollback" point should a change be made that causes things to break.
  • Automated change manager. I can build my configuration change, schedule it for dark-30.
  • I will be notified of any change in real-time. I also see the before/after view of the change, and track failed commands.
  • I can snapshot my configuration, and later run a before/after report to ensure the correct change was deployed.
  • The configuration module could use some additional canned reports.
  • The configuration comparison between two devices is not working for me. The previous versions were on the server, but since moving to a WebUI, some of that functionality is more difficult to use.
  • More training videos are always beneficial.
  • On more that one occasion, I have needed to roll a config back. In the past, I would spend precious time looking for that config, only to find that is was months old, not reflecting the most recent archive. Other times, there was no backup. NCM is my most reliable assistant, backing up every device, on time, and storing those configs in an organized and logical manner.
  • Last year, I needed to implement a NAC solution, and needed to inventory all the firmware on 35 devices. I launched a report and 4 minutes later had all the information I needed to move forward with the project.
  • Real-time notifications keep me informed that things have changed. This reduced the time to firefight should that change cause things to break.
We have automated our configuration and asset change backups to run nightly, before the change window. That provides a fail back point for those manual changes, where the tech connects directly to a system to implement a change.

When assessing a new technology, we use NCM to validate the hardware and OS will support the new environment. An example is this.
Running Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE v1.x), we wanted to move to 2.x. After running the inventory, we discovered that our switch IOS version would need to be updated PRIOR to the upgrade to 2.x. This saved many hours of troubleshooting for a preventable cause.
Our SLA includes the clause that our infrastructure will be current -1 on software versions. NCM can quickly snapshot the environment and provide the recommended current version for the platform in question.
  • SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager
  • SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor
  • SolarWinds Netflow Traffic Analyzer
It is nice to have that "single pane of glass" when gathering, assessing and acting to keep our networks in sync. NTA provides us a real time view of traffic, apps traversing the network and that pesky top 10 bandwidth users view.

NPM gives us the ability to monitor all configured links between devices, showing interface details, bandwidth and other information to help maintain and isolate issues quickly.

NCM, as stated previously, keeps the team honest in tracking all changes, authorized or otherwise.

For the last 8 years, SolarWinds has been our solution in network management and monitoring. We run Network Performance Monitor, NetFlow Analyzer and Engineers Toolset. We evaluated WhatsUp Gold, ManageEngine and Service Desk. We use Nagios for our alerting system and Service Desk for ticketing, but neither are used for configuration management.
SolarWinds NCM is beneficial if there are more than a few network devices needing configuration management, archiving and restoration. It would not be much help if there are only one or two devices to manage. I have managed networks in excess of 250 devices and without this tool, I would not be able to perform blank changes, run "down to the blade" hardware and version inventories on the fly or scheduled.