February 22, 2019
Score 8 out of 10
Overall Satisfaction with SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager
We use NCM to keep an archive of our running and startup configurations for our Cisco network devices. We also have begun to use it to ensure that our switches meet our standard configurations by creating configuration policies that compare our standards to the running configurations of our devices. When we have large-scale changes to make on several switches, we take advantage of the scripting available to run the commands on multiple switches simultaneously. There are several tasks that, without NCM or something like it, would take us hours or days to complete due to the number of network devices that we would have to manually touch.
- It is a central portal to administer global or site-specific changes.
- The capability to compare running configurations to standard policies that you can build yourself is very powerful. It does take some initial investment and follow-up on the part of the administrators, as we have found using the auto-remediation features a little bit dangerous.
- The out-of-the-box templates for industry standard policies are very powerful as well. We have not taken advantage of them, but I can see them being very valuable in highly regulated areas.
- The user community on THWACK is fantastic.
- As with all things SolarWinds, many things just seem like they could have a little more of an easy button. SolarWinds has made some great strides with this recently in UI improvements, but I think there is still room to grow. Most functionality you could want is there, it is just a matter of finding how to do it.
- I know that there have been several instances where NCM has saved my team a ton of time.
- NCM has also assisted us in keeping a standard switch and router configuration across our organization.
This is where NCM really shines. Sometimes there is some initial time investment in setting up the jobs or scripts that need to run, but once they are there, repeating them is easy. This can be done on a schedule if needed as well. I can not speak to the multi-vendor networks point, as I have only used them with Cisco devices.
We have begun to utilize this feature for our own compliance policies. This can be a major undertaking depending on how standard your configs are across your organization and how many groups you have controlling the infrastructure. We used some of the auto-remediation in the past, but we decided to stop due to the danger of accidentally automating something we did not want to happen.
I would say Network Configuration Manager is valuable in a network of any moderate size. In a very small network, maybe up to 25 or so network devices, it is probably unnecessary. However, if you have more than 25 devices and you have a security flaw that requires you to add a line of configuration to all of your network devices, you will be glad to have NCM to perform the legwork for you. I have also only used it with Cisco devices. I do not have any experience with non-Cisco gear, except for using it to backup an F5 configuration.