Over the last few years, a lot has been done to make the work of system administrators easy. Although to them, it may not feel like that’s the case. Compared to a while back there is a lot of manual processes that have been automated using the various networking tools.
This is especially great news for those managing large networks since have to manually monitor individual hosts is enough to make you hate your job. I am not exaggerating.
One such task that has been made much simpler by the networking software is the configuration of network devices. And to think that there are some organizations that still configure their network hosts manually? It’s not impractical but the process is susceptible to very many errors and worst of all you end up wasting a lot of time.
Also, sticking to manual network configuration does not encourage the growth of your network. That will just be too many settings to keep tabs on. So instead, why not opt for the dedicated configuration management software that will automatically generate the config settings for your devices.
Some of the other functions to look out for in a good config generator include, the ability to keep a copy of the configuration snapshot, detect changes in the configuration files and also allow settings rollback.
So, here are the 5 best configuration managers you can use to automatically generate configuration settings.
1. SolarWinds Network Config Generator
To say that SolarWinds has great Networking tools would be an understatement. Their tools and software are exceptional. And not just the premium tools but also the free ones like the SolarWinds Network Config Generator. A simple yet extremely useful tools that will make your life so much easier.
This tool automatically creates template-based configuration scripts for every device in your network as long as it has a command line. Additionally, it comes with already built-in templates that you can use to change interface VLAN assignments, reconfigure interfaces and enable NetFlow. You can also create custom scripts for the tool to run a limitless number of commands on your network.
On the downside, you will have to log into the Command Line Interface for each device to execute the configuration script. It would have been great if you could run all the scripts directly from the tool.
SolarWinds Network Config generator uses SNMP to communicate with the devices in your network. You will, therefore, need to enable SNMP on your host devices in order to receive the configuration templates.
But on the bright side, users of the tool will have access to SolarWinds Thwack online community where you can download countless crowdsourced templates to improve the tool’s functionality.
Also, some of these missing functionalities are available in SolarWinds premium Configuration manager. These include the bulk deployment of configuration files, detection of changes in the configuration, backing up configuration settings among others.
2. ManageEngine Network Configuration Manager
ManageEngine is also a giant in the Networking software niche so it’s not surprising that their Network Configuration manager is one of my top picks. It is a comprehensive Network Change, Configuration and Compliance Management (NCCM) tool that will work on routers switches, firewalls, and various other network devices.
It has a centralized web GUI from where you can monitor all the device settings and identify when any changes are made. But even better is the fact that the tool will notify you immediately there are unauthorized changes to the config settings. So no need to be on a constant look.
This tool allows you to apply configuration settings to all your devices at once and also saves you time by automating some of the repetitive configuration tasks that a system admin must perform every day. On top of that, this configuration manager tracks user activity which helps you to determine who changed your configuration settings and when it happened.
ManageEngine has even developed an iOS app which means you can automatically configure the devices in your network from anywhere using your iPhone.
But even with all the awesome features, ManageEngine’s Network Configuration Manager has one drawback that may be a major turn off. The free version is only limited to the configuration of two devices.
Why waste hours on top of hours configuring and maintaining your network hosts when you could automate the tasks using WeConfig. This tool was created by Westermo for use in the configuration of Westermo devices but can also be used to configure devices from other vendors as long as they are SNMP enabled.
It has one of the simplest and intuitive user interfaces that makes network configuration exceptionally simple. Some of the settings that the tool can be used to configure include SHDSL settings, VLAN interface, RSTP, RICO and FRNT configuration. The tool also generates a full report after configuring a network which can be used as a proof of compliance.
WeConfig has a network topology map that gives a visual overview of your network devices. This makes it easy to monitor the network and quickly identify devices with faulty settings. The tool allows you to organize the hosts on the map in a way that makes more sense to you.
GEN.IT is a great tool that you can use to generate configuration settings for numerous devices from multiple vendors. You can also use it to deploy the settings in masses in just a few minutes. No need to log into each individual device.
The tool also provides you with an easy way to maintain the settings after they have been deployed including the ability to change and update them. The program is quite lightweight and can be run on almost any Windows device. This simplicity is because the tool only focuses on automating configuration. And it does not even require access to your network to do this.
This is a good thing because then you don’t have to invest in expensive back-end infrastructure. Simply install it in your Windows system and it immediately begins working for you.
GEN.IT will be perfect in deploying WAN routers and switches in large scale and also automating repetitive configuration tasks to save time.
Unfortunately, the software does not have built-in templates. Instead, the user creates the templates and saves them to excel together with the necessary data variables. The software will then read the information from the excel spreadsheet and combine the variables and templates into useable configuration files. These files are then saved as text files which can be deployed on the network devices.
5. Netomata Config Generator
Netomata is an open source tool that can be used to generate Network config tools from a centralized model in your network. The fact that the config file generation is scripted and executed from a shared model, means that it will be consistent across all devices making it easier to troubleshoot network problems and scale your network.