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  • As networking continue to evolve and increase in size, the configurations are becoming more complex and challenging to manage using conventional manual methods.

    Besides the traditional local and wide area networks, we now have the cloud infrastructure, Internet of Things (IoT), software-defined networking, and other technologies that widen the coverage and the number of connected devices.

    Organizations must have the right tools to manage the growing complexity, scale, and dynamic nature of the modern infrastructure. These tools should ideally enable admins to make changes on hundreds or thousands of routers, switches, controllers, and other networking devices across different on-premise and cloud environments.

    In particular, the network configuration management (NCM) solutions allow the organizations to continuously monitor their networks, track configuration changes and restore to previous states when there are misconfigurations. An organization can also use the tools to push firmware updates to the network devices remotely.

    While some tools provide just basic features, others have additional functionalities such as reporting, alerting, the ability to enforce security, audit, and compliance across multi-vendor devices, and more. Besides the above features, an NCM tool that enables you to set a baseline or best working configuration to fall back to when your network fails is desirable.

    The depth of each function, as well as presentation, may differ from one tool to another. Similarly, the cost, scalability, or capacity may vary accordingly, and it is best practice to select a tool that addresses the current and future requirements.

    Below is the list of the best network configuration management solutions to help you make the right choice.

    rConfig

    rConfig can detect all the devices on your network and simplify configuration management tasks. The tool includes automation, custom scripting, compliance management, configuration backup, reports, and more.

    rConfig dashboard

    Key features

    • Easy-to-use configuration management and compliance tool with great logging options that allow you to pinpoint and address various network issues
    • Highly customizable with the ability to take snapshots of arp tables, mac address, routing tables, and other devices’ status on demand.
    • Great reporting, notifications, and alerting options in addition to enhancing the security of your network assets.
    • Allows you to take frequent snapshots of your network devices
    • Schedule the recording of the configurations of individual or category of devices. You can then use the information to have a view of the status of any.

    You can get it started with a free plan.

    Batfish

    The Batfish is an open-source network configuration analysis tool that helps admins automate configuration changes for both the Cloud and on-premise networks. It helps teams to establish the impact of the configuration changes before committing them.

    Consequently, this enables the teams to proactively resolve network issues that can compromise security or lead to outages.

    Batfish validation

    Key features

    • Gain visibility into the network behavior on your cloud or on-premise infrastructure.
    • Make the necessary changes without compromising the network performance, availability, and security.
    • Continuously monitor the network to understand the security posture and uncover vulnerabilities.
    • A real-time network map with detailed and accurate network status information
    • Establish and visualizes the network paths across the cloud, on-premise, and hybrid networks
    • Sandbox feature that allows you to test the configuration changes before committing them.

    SolarWinds

    SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager is a comprehensive feature-rich, intelligent tool that automates the network configuration tasks such as managing changes, backups, restores, compliance, and more. The NCM tool allows you to harden the network, change configurations, back up the settings, compare settings, discover and retract misconfigurations with little effort.

    SolarWinds NCM- network audit

    Key features

    • Monitoring configurations, detecting changes, and quickly roll back to recover from a misconfiguration, unauthorized modifications, or device failure.
    • Auditing configurations to ensure security and compliance with various predefined and custom regulatory standards and policies
    • Builds and maintains a searchable inventory of all the network devices.
    • A scalable platform can manage up to thousands of multi-vendor devices while maximizing their network services’ uptime and reliability.
    • Configure daily email reports to identify unauthorized changes and the time of modification
    • Push configuration changes to multiple devices hence save time and minimize errors. Provides monitoring, error reports, alerts, and corrective action when there are issues such as failed backups.

    ManageEngine

    ManageEngine Network Configuration Manager is a powerful tool that provides automated end-to-end network configuration, management, and compliance features. The tool allows admins to detect configuration changes as well as non-compliance across different network devices.

    ManageEngine network configuration manager compliance check

    Key features

    • Enhances network configuration management through a web-based GUI that allows you to track user activity, detect changes while providing instant notifications.
    • Automated backup of the configurations settings and rollback when there are misconfigurations, failures, or unauthorized changes
    • Remote configuration and management – use a mobile app to monitor your network and identify configuration changes.
    • Centralized secure storage with encrypted configuration files
    • Perform bulk network operations on multiple devices from a central place.
    • Audit the device configurations to ensure compliance with HIPAA, PCI, SOX, Cisco IOS, as well as with custom policies
    • Search, examine and manage devices configuration from over 200 different vendors
    • Automatically suspend compromised user accounts.

    WhatsUp Gold

    The WhatsUp Gold is an all-in-one configuration management suite that supports all sizes and types of networks. It comprises all the necessary functions, including management, automation, backup, auditing, regulatory compliance, and more.

    Whatsup Gold device status analysis

    Key features

    • Automates a wide range of network management tasks such as configuration, monitoring, adding and removing the network devices, monitoring, etc.
    • Automatically discovers and creates a detailed and interactive network infrastructure map of the devices, configurations, servers, virtual machines, traffic flow, etc.
    • Provides monitoring and full visibility into the servers’ performance and status, network devices, and applications on on-premises and cloud environments.
    • Audit and enforce compliance with PCI, SOX, HIPAA, DSS, FISMA, and other regulations.
    • Backup network configurations and automatically roll back to the previous working state when a new or existing setting fails.
    • User-friendly web-based GUI and customizable dashboard
    • Enhanced reporting, notifications, and timely and accurate alerts on configuration changes.

    TrueSight

    The TrueSight Automation for Networks from BMC, formerly known as BladeLogic Network Automation, is a powerful tool that helps you to automate the management of network configuration changes. It has additional features to enhance network security, efficiency, and compliance. Further, it enables admins to easily and quickly discover network configuration changes at lower costs.

    TrueSight Automation for Networks compliance check

    Key features

    • Perform faster configuration changes or updates across multiple network devices.
    • Track configuration changes and automatically rollback when there are problems.
    • Analyze, detect and respond to threats through the automated vulnerability management feature. The feature enables admins to gain visibility and quickly respond to any security threats across different network devices.
    • Monitor device configurations in real-time, generate reports and view the status. It also allows you to perform the compliance audit and troubleshoot the network configurations.
    • Enforce compliance with standards such as NIST, DISA, CIS, PCI, HIPPA, SOX, SCAP, DISA, and others by deploying pre-configured policies and automatically remediating non-compliance.
    • Push out updates and patching of network devices with zero downtime. It also allows you to retract problematic changes and restore good ones from the backup.
    • Supports secure multiple logins, hence suitable for use by teams.

    WeConfig

    WeConfig is a network configuration management and maintenance tool for ensuring easy and safe configuration changes, device updates, and upgrades. The solution eases the configuration management tasks while making them simple, efficient, and reliable. Automation and bulk deployment eliminates the time-consuming installation, maintenance, and housekeeping manual tasks, saving time for the teams.

    weConfig NCM interface

    Key features

    • Monitoring prevents misconfigurations, non-compliance, and other issues, allowing teams to resolve problems and minimize risks and downtime.
    • Test new configuration before applying it, and roll back to a working state if changes cause malfunction.
    • Reduce configuration errors and roll back to previously good working conditions in case of issues.
    • Enhanced event logging and alerts
    • Integrates with other diagnostic tools to detect and address network performance and reliability problems.
    • Gathers and presents all network information in one place.

    Netline LineDancer

    Netline LineDancer (NetLD) is an easy-to-use, feature-rich NCM tool with all the basic features and a simple interface. It enables you to manage your network devices’ configurations and detect changes while providing you with their hardware and software details, inventory reports, and more.

    Netld configuration recovery

    Key features

    • A simple, powerful web-based user interface enables you to perform all the tasks simultaneously and easily make bulk configuration changes.
    • Automated detection of changes in the configurations
    • Easy to integrate with other network management tools
    • Good reporting, alarms, and alerting features
    • Scan the network, identify and log all the compatible devices while taking snapshots of each device’s configuration settings.
    • Scalable and easy to install tool with flexible subscription plans

    Pulseway

    Pulseway is a scalable, multiple account network configuration and management tool that works across a wide range of devices. You can host the network management platform on the Pulseway server, on-premise, or cloud data center. It works on the major operating systems of Windows, Linux, Mac, and other systems that support the Pulsaway API.

    Pulseway network monitoring

    Key features

    • Customizable rules and instant alerts on configuration changes, violations, or other issues
    • Compatible with the majority of the desktop as well as mobile devices
    • Allows you to remotely manage your switches, routers, firewalls, and other devices
    • Built-in reports with detailed network status information
    • Integrates with other tools such as Slack for notifications.

    Conclusion

    The network configuration management and monitoring tools improve the reliability, availability, and consistency of the network configurations and services. Generally, the solutions enable admins to manage configuration changes, device firmware updates, monitoring the settings, and more.

    When looking for a reliable tool, ensure that it allows you to set a baseline, back up the configurations, and restore to previously saved settings when there is a misconfiguration or failure.