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Free Tool and Free Tips for Network Configuration Management (by Josh Stephens)

Josh Stephens Nav_logo Author Profile - Josh Stephens is the Head Geek and VP of technology at SolarWinds, a leading provider of network management software based in Austin Texas. Josh has extensive experience in network management systems, network engineering, and software development. His 15-plus years of experience in technology include designing and deploying advanced networks and network management systems within organizations including the US Air Force, Sprint, MCI/UUNET, and WalMart. He has received several industry certifications including those from Cisco Systems, Microsoft, and HP.


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Opening – by Tim O’Neill - I am always on the lookout for cool tools for the Lovemytool readers, especially when they are FREE!

I had recently received an announcement of this new tool that could save you some of your valuable time. Plus as I get older I realize that one simply cannot remember everything including Configurations and I HATE Scripting ... It seems to me that as advanced as we are, everything should be visualized and controlled by simple, traceable, change management focused, safe and secure GUI’s. Well, that is not the case so here is a sweet tool to help every one of you command config people save some time and burning up those “little grey cells”!

I remember meeting the Younce brothers at Walmart when I was with the original Network General Team as the CTM – That is “Chief Trouble Maker”. Then they started Solarwinds and WOW has it come far and done well. I had used their very cool and advanced Engineering Tools for years, until I lost my license.

Well back to the subject - Check out this new Free Tool and look over their exciting Orion technology. I have often wondered why companies do not give away more solutions to prove that their Technology is the best and that they want to be part of THE SOLUTION?

Many Thanks to SolarWinds and Josh –

I wish you less Stress and More Success - Oldcommguy



Josh Stephens was kind enough to write some tips and the following description of the New Free Tool -

Engineers spend a fair amount of time manually typing in command line interface (CLI) commands to configure network devices. Common tasks like configuring VLANs and enabling NetFlow require them to develop detailed scripts specific to their environment. While this is not a difficult task, the command can be easily forgotten and is a pain to rebuild. It’s just one of those “there’s got to be a better way” tasks. Network engineers are already a time-pressed bunch, so despite our love for all things CLI, SolarWinds took a look at the problem and came up with a solution.

We built a free tool called Network Config Generator to allow engineers to create network configuration change templates that they can apply to any CLI-based network device. With Network Config Generator, network engineers can create a change template to re-use for future configurations, saving time and frustration as well as ensuring consistency in configurations across devices. They can download new change templates created by the community and share their own, all without leaving the tool.

One common example is configuring NetFlow on a Cisco ASA. While this is a standard configuration change, there are a few variables that change depending on your environment. Here’s a quick walkthrough of how you might configure this change using our new free tool:

  1. Download and install a free copy of SolarWinds Network Config Generator.

  2. For additional content that SolarWinds’ community members have already created, visit www.thwack.com. As a thwack member, config change templates can be automatically imported and exported directly from the tool.

  3. The config change template for enabling NetFlow on Cisco ASA devices is already included out of the box.

  4. The tool will prompt you for a few inputs specific to your environment, such as the target device’s IP address and community string as well as your NetFlow collector’s IP address and export port.

  5. Network Config Generator will automatically generate a config specific to your environment that enables NetFlow on the Cisco ASA that you specified. Simply copy and paste the output config into your favorite CLI client to execute the change and enable NetFlow on your Cisco ASA device.

  6. Check out the following video explaining the process:



For novice users, Network Config Generator simplifies advanced configuration change tasks by leveraging community-generated templates in a step-by-step GUI. These users can quickly enable advanced network device features, configure VLANs and change interface descriptions with just a few clicks of the mouse. We hope that some of the more advanced users will continue to create and share more templates to help the junior community.

For advanced users, this is a great tool to build a few common templates that you can save and execute on specific devices. The tool also works with SolarWinds Orion Network Configuration Manager (NCM) if you want to execute changes on multiple devices simultaneously.

Happy Config Generating,


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