A Backup a Day Keeps the Technical Support Away
Can an NCCM solution make your Mondays better?
Do you often get “a case of the Mondays?”
Picture this: The traffic is bad, and you are already late (ironic?). Your coffee maker breaks, and the line at the coffee shop is wrapped around the corner. On top of that, you finally get to the office and the network is running slower than a turtle!
You say to yourself, “Oh crap, what changed since Friday to slow things down like this!?!?”
With this Geek’s help, you won’t need to have those stressful days. Here are my tips for managing your configuration changes effectively.
The Geek’s Top Five Tips for Network Configuration and Change Management (NCCM)
Configuration Backups and Restores (rollback)
First and foremost, it’s extremely important to frequently backup your configs. I recommend doing it on a daily basis (although, don’t do it during peak hours, unless you want to babysit your entire system).
Understand what fits into your time-table and stick to your schedule. This will help minimize the stress of manually searching for the problem or trying to re-do everything!
Also, remember to back-up BEFORE big changes. This is useful for compliance, rollback and comparisons. If one of your colleagues made some major changes, you should be able to see what changes were made and why.
Bulk Change Deployment
Bulk changes can be made on many devices at once or even in a short period of time (scheduled or on-demand). By allowing your NCCM solution to take control, it will avoid those frustrating typos or other human errors that can muck things up.
Change Notification and Tracking
Make your work less complicated by having the answer to everything at your fingertips. Pick a solution that is scalable, so you can track today and tomorrow’s network. A good solution should highlight the changes that were made and give you a comparison of the old config vs. the new one.
I spoke to a customer that didn’t really know how many devices he had out in the field. In some of these remote sites, users may go out and buy their own switches, wireless access points or a number of other devices. The network can grow uncontrollably!
The NCCM solution you choose should automatically discover and track new devices and movements of those devices. You should also be able to clearly understand the potential impact of your config changes.
Policy Compliance Management and Reporting
Whether you’re subjected to government policies like SOX, HIPAA, or PCI; DoD oriented policies like DISA STIGs, NIST, and FISMA; or internal policies for password encryption, access lists, and login banners – odds are that you have some “policies” that your network device configurations should comply with. Validating these configurations and updating them where necessary can be a huge pain. Be sure whatever solution you put in place does this out of the box and is extensible for custom policies and reports.
Follow the above tips, and you should have smooth sailing (unless it’s Monday AND your co-worker made the wrong changes AND you don’t have the right NCCM solution…)
If you are working without a good solution, feel free to check out the newest release of SolarWinds Orion Network Configuration Manager. More info can be found here.
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.