What is network configuration management?
In the past, network configuration management was a labor-intensive process that required manual efforts entering changes in a command-line interface (CLI) to configure network devices. Naturally, this introduced many configuration errors. Additionally, there were no provisions to roll back to an earlier version.
Network configuration management is the process of monitoring, maintaining, and organizing the information pertaining to your organization’s network devices. It is responsible for the setup and maintenance of network devices along with the installed firmware and software.
The main purpose of configuration management is to allow you to quickly configure and replace the functionality of a network device after a failure. If you don’t have a recent backup of that device, you’ll be starting over from scratch to configure that new device.
Features of a Network Configuration Management System
1. Network device discovery and diagramming
Having an accurate account of your network inventory and its status is a critical to network configuration management. The first step is to map the network elements, including physical, logical, and virtual components, to create a high-definition network diagram. These automated network diagrams highlight new and modified devices, as well as devices with configuration errors.
2. Configuration backup
Configuration backup is the process of extracting configuration settings from a device and storing it to disk. The configuration restore process uses backup configuration data files for the system to restore a specific system configuration, whether on that same device or similar devices.
3. Configuration change management
Obviously, your network change management solution must be designed keep track of any changes anyone makes to your devices or systems. This is crucial to avoid any errors or unauthorized changes that might bring about unfavorable consequences. It also speeds the troubleshooting process immensely by automatically comparing before and after configurations and highlighting differences.
4. Policy compliance and reporting
Network configuration management helps ensure compliance with regulatory, organizational, and security policies, like FISMA, SOX, HIPAA or NIST 800-53, SAFE, PCI, DISA STIG. Out-of-the box templates make sure devices and systems are configured correctly to confirm to organizational and regulatory policies. Leverage fully customizable rules to validate against a “gold-standard” configuration.
Benefits of Network Configuration Management
One of the biggest benefits of network configuration management is its ability to reduce network and application downtime. Instantly identify issues due to erroneous changes made to the network, components, or software. Network configuration management compares yesterday’s configuration to today’s and immediately highlights all differences, making it easy to identify issues. Network configuration management also lets you create and customize audit policies to support compliance to industry standards, such as SOX, HIPPA, PCI, etc.