It’s astonishing to hear that some network configs aren’t regularly backed up. One assumes that the reason engineers don’t do this is for one of the following reasons:
- They think a configuration error is unlikely to cause any network issues
- They have other things on their minds
- They think that Network Change and Configuration (NCCM) products are too expensive
- They think that NCCM products are too hard to use
So, let’s tackle the most obvious objection first. Many network engineers either have other things on their minds, or they think that configuration issues are unlikely to cause problems. I looked around and it was easy to find several examples of exactly the opposite situation. First, Spiceworks has a community thread about Network Configuration Backup Horror Stories. Remember that Amazon Cloud outage that took down several large websites over several days? You guessed it – the postmortem identified that a configuration error was at fault. Intuit also experienced a major outage tied to a network configuration error. Gartner calculated that 80% of network outages can be tied to a configuration error. With evidence like that, you really can’t afford not to back up your network – if disaster strikes or a change doesn’t go as planned, you need to be ready to restore or roll back as necessary.
Ok, moving on to price. While NCCM products *can* be expensive, they are a bit like cars. It all depends on the model and feature set. Kiwi CatTools is a basic NCCM product in the SolarWinds Kiwi line, and is just $750 USD. For that, you can back-up your configs, do bulk change management, and run some basic reports. Its feature set lends itself to more basic use cases, but we have options if you need more power. Next in the lineup, we have Network Configuration Manager (NCM). NCM costs just a bit more (starts at $2495) and adds functionality like auto-discovery, approval flow, integration with the rest of the SolarWinds product line, and compliance. If you want something highly specialized, I’m sure you can find a way to spend more, but you usually won’t need it for the majority of devices and use cases.
Ok, last but not least – there is the perception that NCCM products are hard to use. This may be true of products in the ends of the spectrum: open source and highly specialized. Open source products that are more “do it yourself” can be truly complicated and hard to use, as can super specialized products that may be highly customized and built for certain specific use cases rather than streamlined usability. However, in the middle market, you’ll find that ease-of-use is a focus and evident in both NCCM products from SolarWinds.
Our advice – don’t put your network (and yourself) at risk. Give an NCCM product a try and sleep a little better from now on.