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On March 1, SolarWinds® Network Configuration Manager (NCM) was recognized for being the Best Policy/Risk Management Solution by SC Magazine for the fourth straight year. Other finalists for this years’ award included Bay Dynamics, TraceSecurity, Trustwave, and Venafi.

 

SC Magazine wrote, “Managing, monitoring, and auditing configuration policies on network devices are the top three reasons why IT pros select and use SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager.”

 

Risk management is a central element of IT governance for most organizations, even if they don’t have to comply with information privacy regulations. The purpose of IT risk management is to identify the business impact caused by the loss of IT services, and take measures to reasonably avoid or reduce this impact. Since the network is the very foundation for all IT services, and the function and suitability of the network is defined by the configurations for its constituent routers, switches, controllers, access control devices and more, then it makes sense to carefully manage, monitor, and audit these configurations. This is why NCM plays such a critical role in IT risk management and operations.

 

So how does NCM manage, monitor, and audit device configurations?  Here is a quick overview.

 

Manage

 

Device access  – Perhaps the first place to start is by removing ad hoc and remote access to devices. NCM lets you centrally manage device passwords, and even require configuration changes to be made using the change management features in NCM.

 

Backup and recover – Hardware failure and human error can break your network. Recover from these disasters quickly with the ability to schedule, back up, find, and restore device configurations.

 

User roles and permissions – Want to control who has access to network devices and what they can do? Use NCM user roles and permissions to determine who can access specific devices and what actions they can perform.

 

Configuration templates – Have a big network change looming, or need to standardize your configs? Use NCM configuration change templates. Change templates save you time making consistent changes across many devices by providing powerful device- and vendor-neutral automation using control logic and variable-based attributes stored in the device profile. 

 

Change approval – Want complete visibility on all changes? Use NCM workflow to review and approve changes before they can be applied.

 

Job scheduling – Want to control when changes are made? Use NCM scheduling to execute changes during maintenance windows.

 

Monitor

 

Change detection – Want to know whenever any change is made and who made the change? Detect configuration changes in near real-time, and even take automated actions, like archiving a configuration, writing a changed configuration to flash memory, or issuing an alert.

 

Change analysis – Want to know exactly what changed? Compare two configurations side-by-side and see exactly where statements have been added or removed.

 

Audit

 

Policies – Want to help ensure your configs contain (or don’t contain) specific configuration statements? Use NCM policies to define what is expected (or forbidden) in a configuration. NCM delivers out-of-the-box policies for PCI, DISA STIG, FISMA, SOX, and HIPPA, or you can build or customize your own.

 

Audit – Want to help ensure configurations never drift from your standards? Automatically audit your configurations as frequently as you like using the policies you have selected to use.

 

Report – Need to know when a violation occurs? Use interactive reports to see violations organized by policy or device, and then interactively drill into the details.

 

Remediation – Correct violations fast with remediation scripts (defined as part of the policy), that right violations quickly and consistently. Scripts can be manually executed from within interactive audit reports, or automatically when a violation is detected.

 

Summary

 

Managing, monitoring, and auditing are just three ways NCM helps you protect your network configs and manage IT risk. To learn about the SC Magazine 2016 awards and other category winners, read this article.  To learn more about Network Configuration Manager, visit our product page. To learn how to write a NCM policy, read this thwack® post.

 

How you are using NCM to manage, monitor, and audit your network configs? Use the comments below to share your stories.