SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager Review

Reliable, scalable, easy to use, good support, and offers the ability to script changes


What is our primary use case?

We use this solution to store and manage the configuration of Cisco switches and routers.

How has it helped my organization?

It significantly reduces the time required to make changes to routers and switches. A single script can be run on all the devices on the network at the push of a button. It also helps to enforce change management as change is implemented via the NCM interface and managers do not have the exec password but rather request for change via NCM which can be approved by those designated to.

What is most valuable?

The feature that I really enjoy is the ability to script changes across all of your devices.

For example, if you wanted to change the administrator password for all of your Cisco devices, you would simply put that config change in one window on the NCM, and with a push of a button, it sends it across to all the devices on your network.

What needs improvement?

The integration with the network performance monitor wasn't complete as at the last time I used it. 

It has a separate interface page within the web interface. I would prefer to have the NCM features on the same interface as the natural performance monitor device page.

For each device, when you open the network performance monitor, it will give you all of the information about the device, but many of the natural configuration management features are not on that page. You have to go to a separate page. It would be nice to have tighter integration with the NPM (Network Performance Monitor).

I would like to see NCM be more aggressive in adding new device support to the product.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for seven years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

This solution is very stable. I have never had any real issues with stability.

When you deploy it with an external SQL server database that is properly managed and properly tuned, you won't experience any issues.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We know that the SQL Server is scalable, and you can take it to large sizes.

NPM allows you to add pollers to scale it, but I am not sure that NCM has the ability to utilize the additional pollers in a NPM. I have never tried to scale it to thousands of devices. I have only scaled to a few hundred, and I know that it handles a few hundred devices with no issues in one box.

How are customer service and technical support?

Technical support is good. I have no complaints.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I have used other products and switched to SolarWinds NCM because of the ease of use. The design system is better with fewer bugs.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was very easy. There were no issues at all.

I was an integrator and would help to deploy the solution for some of the companies.

We have a team of three to manage and maintain the solution.

What about the implementation team?

Most of the companies would require an integrator to help them deploy the solution.

What was our ROI?

NCM pays for itself within the first 3 years of use as you do need less dedicated Cisco certified engineers fully on site once it is implemented

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The NCM is licensed per device. 

You have a base license for 50 devices, and then you can add more licenses as you go. 

It scales from 50 to a hundred and so on.

Also, they have an annual fee that covers upgrades. You have a 12-month license to download new updates.

What other advice do I have?

Larger organizations would be able to have people invest the time to learn how to use the system and deploy on their own. 

Smaller organizations would need an integrator to help them through the deployment process.

We definitely plan to continue working with this solution. 

There are less popular devices that are not directly supported by NCM. You have open-source Linux devices that you really can't support with NCM. They have their own tool that you have to use. We have a couple of those, but generally, NCM is a tool we use for the majority of the well-known brand network purposes.

My advice to others who want to use this solution would be to get it if you have a network with several departmental devices to take care of. 

Do an early set up of your approval process to make sure that change management is built-in. If you have several people with the admin password who are able to go in and make changes to all your devices at one time, it makes the entire system much less stable. You need to ensure that you put in all of the controls very early on, and have levels of authorization for change.

This should be done very early when you deploy the system.

I recommend using SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager.

I would rate this solution an eight out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Microsoft Azure
**Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Reseller
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