It is with great pleasure that I am able to introduce you all to the new release of Network Configuration Manager, 2019.4! This time around we have further enhanced the existing NCM framework to specifically improve vendor support for firmware upgrades, further visibility into Palo Alto Networks firewall policies, and improve web performance. Specifically we are including:
Panorama Pushed Policies
In the v8.0 release of Network Configuration Manager we added Network Insight for Palo Alto Networks firewalls and the ability to see the local policies of each firewall. In this release, we are expanding that functionality to cover policies that originate from a Panorama management server. To get this additional functionality you simply need to ensure your Palo Alto firewalls are managed, in NCM, and that the configuration has been backed up (ideally at a regular cadence). Once the configs are backed up, NCM will parse and display the policy information much like it would before, but it will now pull in the policies set in Panorama. On the policies list view, we added an additional column to highlight the origin of the policy so there is no confusion if it is local or not. If you happen to have a great many policies you are also able to use the origin field as a way to filter the displayed list. Each Panorama policy can be drilled into, just like the local ones, so you can navigate and review the critical details relevant to you.
New Firmware Upgrade Templates and Setting
We are continuing to focus on providing expanded vendor support for Firmware Upgrades and in this release are introducing new templates for both Lenovo and EtherWAN devices. They are available 'out of the box' and show up when you create a new firmware upgrade operation, simply open the one you want to use and go through the steps in the wizard. As with all templates, you can make modifications to these and share them on THWACK.
In addition to expanding the available templates, we realize that not all devices operate the same after being upgraded and specifically some devices require multiple restarts before coming completely back online. In recognition of this, we have added a new setting to control how long NCM should wait before attempting to verify if the device is back online. For most templates this will be default to 0ms, but can be changed as your environment and device requires, meaning all your custom templates will be set to 0ms (as it operates today) so that there is no disruption. This setting can be modified by navigating to the "Manage Firmware Upgrade Templates" settings page and from there select the template you wish to modify. Once you open the edit window for the template, you will see the new setting slider under the 'Upgrade Options' section that can be modified to the value that fits that device and your network.
More Config Change Templates!
In addition to the Firmware Upgrade template updates, there are also new Config Change Templates for Lenovo Campus NOS and EtherWAN devices. These out of box change templates allow for faster and easier execution of changes to devices ranging from passwords to community strings to VLAN information and much more. If you are not familiar with the Config Change Templates, this functionality allows you to build a framework that will automatically build the scripts to change configs. I wont go into all the details here but more can be read in the Admin guide.
Web Performance Enhancements
When you engage with our products your time is critical and that you reduce the time that it takes to see the information critical to you at that point in time. That is why in this release, we introduced enhancements into NCM to improve how quickly web pages load. Specifically we have set out to ensure NCM loads multiple page resources in parallel and specifically improves how quickly the information above the fold is shown to you, the user. The improvement will vary from large to small depending on your setup and environment, but we expect you will find the experience to be much improved.
Here at SolarWinds we have all been working hard to bring you the features and improvements you need and have been requesting and want to hear your feedback as you upgrade. So be sure to head on over to the customer portal to download the RC and check out all the new releases from each of the modules!
If there is anything you think that we should consider in a future release please be sure to go create new feature request to let me know about the additional functionality you would like to see!