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Why back up device configurations?

Level 12

In the event of network failure caused by errors or discrepancies in device configuration, it is mandatory to have your device configurations backed up. A few examples of network downtime due to faulty configurations can be attributed to:

  • Outage duration in getting a failed device back on the network
  • Bad or unapproved configuration changes
  • Errors while making or executing configuration changes
  • Configuration changes triggered by unauthorized or rogue users

How can you thwart the impact of such problems and prevent downtime?

Device Hardware Failure

Problem: A critical device, like a core switch, has failed, and the switch has to be replaced. Your objective is to restore operations as quickly as possible typically by locating a spare from inventory, racking the replacement plugging-in and then configuring the switch. In addition to this, if there is a problem or error in the re-configuration, then further trouble awaits.

Solution:  The failed switch can be replaced with a spare from inventory. Quickly rack the switch, plug it in, and download the failed switch configuration from stored configuration backup database into the replacement switch and your good to go!

Bad or Unapproved Configuration Changes

Problem: Your network monitoring detects very high CPU utilization and packet loss on a particular node. After a lot of analysis you finally figure that the cause of the issue is from a particular switch. Further drilling down, reveals that the issue originated from a faulty line in the switch configuration. You did not carry out this change. Then, who did?

Solution: There exists a good baseline configuration of the device in place and you can immediately replace the faulty configuration with this last known good configuration. Get your network up and running in no time.

Human errors in executing configuration changes

Problem: You are engaged with the task of enabling NetFlow across the entire network. This involves executing at least 10-12 lines of code through the Command Line Interface (CLI). Having to do this on 20 or more routers is a cumbersome and error prone task. An ideal situation of erroneously executed configuration changes causing havoc in your network.

Solution: The best possible immediate solution for such a scenario is to revert to a previously working configuration from a backup. Making configuration changes with a tool that can help rollback the change for all the switches at one go would facilitate bringing back your network up quickly before any major damage is done.

Hacker in the network

Problem: Your network is under attack and the hacker gains entry and alters the routes and configurations to further access your network.

Solution: Have a system in place that would notify you in real-time of any unapproved changes made and by whom. On being notified verify and immediately revert to the good configuration or make changes to rule out any further access to the offender.

In short, backing up your configuration should be the No: 1 task on your checklist for network preparedness. SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager (NCM) provides you with features to efficiently execute bulk configuration changes, configuration roll back, configuration comparisons, real-time alerts and more. Additionally, the SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor (NPM) helps detect, diagnose and alert you of device or network performance issues enabling immediate remediation with NCM.

Device Management and Network Monitoring together help administrators combat network issues and also comply to and carry out routine device management tasks.

Take a look at what this happy SolarWinds NCM customer has to say!

1 Comment
Level 15

Excellent points.  Thanks for sharing.