There has been a lot of focus on security lately in the news and rightfully soSeemingly each week there’s news of companies being hacked, data being stolen, and mass DDoS attacks.  With the amount of news on this topic I sometimes wonder if companies are actually taking the steps to protect themselves.  Granted, taking the proper steps to protect your network can be time consuming and tedious work, of which most engineers don’t have time for.  Well times are a-changing and now with SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager 7.6 and the new Firmware Upgrade feature---Everyone Has Time for That!

 

Before I start to dig into the new features of NCM 7.6, let’s back up and talk about a previous version of NCM (7.4) where SolarWinds introduced the Firmware Vulnerabilities feature.   This feature leverages the National Vulnerability Database to notify NCM users when they’re running firmware that potentially has a serious vulnerability.

Network Configuration Manager Vulnerability Summary

 

Vulnerability Details

 

 

I’ve received a lot of really positive feedback about this feature but the obvious question that always comes up after I show it to customers is; “Can SolarWinds fix this for me?”.  Historically I would have said, Yes, using the Network Configuration Manager and the amazing scripting technologies you can upgrade your firmware.  Well, now I’m pleased to say I can answer that question differently.  Using the new Firmware Upgrade Wizard in NCM 7.6 you can upgrade one or many of your Cisco IOS devices.

 

According to Cisco documentation there are 11 steps needed to complete a firmware upgrade on your Cisco IOS devices.  While 11 steps don’t sound too bad there are actually several sub-steps which drag this process out to over 40 tasks users must complete to upgrade a SINGLE device.  Seriously, who has time for that?  We here at SolarWinds decided we could save our users time and the misery of completing these upgrades by simplifying this process while adding a bit of automation.

 

 

 

NCM Firmware Upgrade Wizard

 

 

The new Firmware Upgrade feature in NCM contains a 3-step process of upgrading your devices.  During this process, we will collect a wealth of data about the devices you want to upgrade, including several important settings and of course we will ensure there is enough free space to successfully transfer your new image.  In addition, we will automatically backup running and startup configuration files and do a comparison after the upgrade has completed.  We’ve taken the necessary steps to make this process as smooth and safe as possible.  

 

 

 

After you’ve verified all of the settings and options you can then proceed to run the upgrade immediately or schedule it for a later date.  You can always keep track of the upgrade process on the Firmware Upgrade Operations page.  Hopefully you’ll agree that this is a much-improved process to the standard method of upgrading your Cisco IOS devices.  Ready to give this a try?  You can find the Release Candidate in your customer portal if you’re under active maintenance for NCM.  Otherwise you’ll have to wait until the official release of NCM 7.6.

 

Everyone Has Time for That!