Network automation is the science—or is it an artwork?—of automating totally different duties sometimes dealt with by community directors. As obscure as this definition could also be, it really is what community automation is. Sadly, such a obscure definition additionally signifies that what constitutes a community automation device is simply as exhausting to outline. The truth is, it looks like each vendor has his personal concept of what community automation is. Some confer with it as community automation techniques whereas others favor the time period community configuration administration techniques. One vendor even presents each instruments. That will help you shed some mild on this difficult topic, we’ve compiled an inventory of the perfect instruments for community automation and we’re glad to give you a quick evaluate of every of those.
Earlier than we reveal what one of the best merchandise are, we’ll begin off by discussing community automation in basic. We’ll attempt to higher outline what it’s, at the very least from a software program software standpoint. We’ll additionally talk about the several types of instruments obtainable. As we’ve hinted, some are referred to as automation instruments whereas others are referred to as configuration administration instruments. Are they totally different? In that case, what are the variations? As soon as we’re all on the identical web page as to what community automation is and what the software program instruments do and how they function, we’ll be prepared for the essential stuff, reviewing the most effective community automation instruments we might discover.
- 1 What Is Network Automation?
- 2 Totally different Varieties Of Tools For Network Automation
- 3 The Best Network Automation Tools
What Is Network Automation?
As we’ve talked about in our introduction, community automation is just using instruments to mechanically carry out community administration duties. This immediate the next query: which duties? The reply is just any process. Let’s see what the specialists should say about it. In line with Technopedia, “Network automation is the process of automating the configuration, management and operations of a computer network. It is a broad term that includes a number of tools, technologies and methodologies used to automate network processes.” Webopedia’s definition is just not a lot clearer and defines it as a “phrase used to describe the methodologies, processes, and technologies needed to help large organizations and enterprises automate the configuration and management of network devices, including hubs, routers and switches.”
One factor appears to be clear from these definitions. As we have been initially sating it, community automation is obscure at greatest. Any system or course of that mechanically executes some type of community administration activity may be referred to as community automation. So, as an alternative of making an attempt to offer a exact definition and clarify an idea that, in essence, could be just about something, let’s strategy the matter by wanting on the instruments themselves. Let’s take a look at what the totally different instruments that decision themselves community automation instruments do. And let’s not overlook about community configuration administration instruments as a result of, though they don’t seem to be all the time known as community automation instruments, most of them are.
Totally different Varieties Of Tools For Network Automation
Network automation instruments have quite a lot of options. On the very prime are absolutely built-in instruments which have all types of features akin to efficiency monitoring, visitors and bandwidth evaluation, configuration and change administration, change port and end-user monitoring and monitoring, WAN efficiency monitoring, and IP handle administration. These instruments are sometimes meant to switch most different instruments and supply an all-encompassing answer.
On the different finish of the spectrum are instruments that are far more focused comparable to instruments for configuration administration. Whereas such instruments will solely deal with system configuration, they’re nonetheless very helpful and are sometimes accent to complying with a number of regulatory requirements. In between are many various instruments providing totally different ranges of automation. Usually talking, instruments with extra options will are typically costlier—though this isn’t all the time the case. However don’t be tempted to let the worth affect you when assessing the worth of a device. A inexpensive device might very properly be a greater choice based mostly in your particular wants. As an example, if you have already got some monitoring device in place, you in all probability don’t want an automation software that features monitoring features. In any case, you’ve possible spent plenty of time configuring your monitoring instruments and don’t need to see your efforts go to waste.
The Best Network Automation Tools
It’s now time to take a look at a number of the greatest instruments for community automation. As anticipated with such an unclear idea, our listing consists of quite a lot of instruments. We now have instruments that are all-in-one packages which do (virtually) the whole lot and some which might be far more task-specific. A few of our prime instruments name themselves automation instruments whereas others are self-described as community administration or community configuration administration packages. We’ve chosen to disregard the denominations of the instruments and concentrate on their performance.
1. SolarWinds Network Automation Supervisor (Free Trial)
SolarWinds is a well known identify in the sector of community administration and uncommon are those that have by no means heard of it. In any case, the corporate has been making a few of the greatest community administration instruments for about twenty years. A few of its instruments, such because the SolarWinds Network Efficiency Monitor, are thought-about to be among the many greatest instruments in their respective class. To make factor even higher, SolarWinds additionally makes a handful or two of free instruments, smaller instruments every addressing a selected want of community directors.
The SolarWinds Network Automation Supervisor is likely one of the most full community automation answer out there. It’s loaded with nice and helpful options. Utilizing this software, you’ll be able to create customized, web-based community, visitors, WAN, and change port dashboards, views, and charts. It additionally options topology- and dependency-aware clever alerts which can reply to a number of situation checks, correlated occasions, community topology, and system dependencies. This product additionally options real-time configuration change notification and compliance auditing. It is going to present particulars and comparisons of configuration modifications to reveal compliance with regulatory requirements.
There are additionally a number of IP tackle administration features constructed into the SolarWinds Network Automation Supervisor. It has IP alerting, troubleshooting, and reporting which can let you already know about IP handle conflicts, depleted subnets and scopes, or mismatched DNS data. DHCP and DNS administration can also be included. The software’s handle administration options will provide help to discover an open IP tackle and make the DHCP reservation and DNS entries in one step from a single console. That is precisely what automation is all about.
There are just too many options to this product to element all of them. An entire article might be devoted to it. It has capability planning and forecasting. It has wi-fi and wired community monitoring and mapping. The device will monitor change port utilization to determine efficiency, customers, and units. It can monitor, alert, and report on key system metrics similar to temperature, fan velocity, and energy provide.
With so many included options, you possibly can anticipate the SolarWinds Network Automation Supervisor to be costly however nicely well worth the funding. Detailed pricing is obtainable by contacting SolarWinds’s gross sales. If you wish to attempt the software program earlier than shopping for it, a fully-functional 30-day trial is obtainable from SolarWinds.
2. SolarWinds Network Configuration Supervisor (Free Trial)
SolarWinds additionally makes the Network Configuration Supervisor or NCM. This can be a device of many makes use of. For starters, it could actually assist you make sure that all gear configurations are standardized. It’s also a device you need to use to push bulk configuration modifications to hundreds of community units. From a safety standpoint, the software will detect unauthorized modifications. They might be the tell-tale signal of malicious configuration tampering. This product additionally has some fascinating vulnerability evaluation options and its integration with the Nationwide Vulnerability Database lets it use to probably the most present Widespread Vulnerability Exposures to seek out vulnerabilities in your units’ configuration.
The SolarWinds Network Configuration Supervisor takes care of kit configuration backups and can be utilized to shortly recuperate from failures by restoring earlier configurations. Its change administration options can be utilized to shortly pinpoint and spotlight modifications inside a configuration file by evaluating it to a earlier model. One other use for this software is that will help you show compliance and cross regulatory audits because of its built-in, industry-standard stories.
Costs for the SolarWinds Network Configuration Supervisor begin at $2 895 for as much as fifty nodes and go up with the variety of managed nodes. Like with most merchandise from SolarWinds, a free fully-functional, node-unlimited 30-day trial is accessible.
three. ManageEngine Network Configuration Supervisor
The ManageEngine Network Configuration Supervisor is a complete package deal that may assist make sure the integrity of your community. It’s from ManageEngine, one other well-known identify in its subject and the maker of quite a few wonderful community administration instruments. This can be a highly effective package deal which can be utilized to handle the configuration of most networking gear, whatever the vendor. The product is compliant with the NCCCM (Network Change, Configuration, and Compliance Administration) requirements.
The ManageEngine Network Configuration Supervisor can mechanically deal with the backups of your units’ configurations regularly. However it doesn’t cease there. It’s going to examine every backup to the earlier one, spot configuration modifications and provide you with a warning of unauthorized or suspicious ones. You even have the likelihood to generate studies on configuration discrepancies between comparable units. Fairly helpful for those who care about standardizing your configurations
There’s additionally a logging perform. It should register each change made in addition to which consumer made it. Accounts from customers performing unauthorized modifications may be routinely suspended. The system may also provide you with a warning when it suspects that a consumer account has been compromised. So, in addition to automating the configuration of your system, it additionally handles safety.
The ManageEngine Network Configuration Supervisor installs on Home windows or Linux and it’s out there as a free model which is restricted to 2 units. For bigger installations, costs begin at $595 for as much as 10 managed units and range based mostly on the variety of managed units. A free 30-day trial is obtainable on paid licenses.
four. TrueSight Network Automation
Maybe you already know TrueSight Network Automation from BMC software program. It was generally known as BladeLogic Network Automation. BMC didn’t solely change the product’s identify, although, it additionally upgraded the software program and turned it into a reasonably good configuration administration system. Nice consideration was notably paid in the requirements compliance options of the product.
An idea referred to as insurance policies is because the core of the product’s compliance auditing. The system comes with a number of predefined insurance policies for such regulatory necessities as HIST, HIPAA, PCI/DSS, DIS, SOX or SCAP. Based mostly on the contents of the insurance policies, the TrueSight Network Automation system verifies gadget configurations for compliance. Configurations usually are not the one factor the software will verify. it can be used to implement requirements, mechanically modifying configurations as required.
The very first thing the software does after set up is to carry out an preliminary scan of the community to seek out all units, examine them for compliance and, if wanted, tweak their configurations. It then backs up their configurations and makes use of them as a baseline comparability level to detect future unauthorized configuration modifications.
With TrueSight Network Automation you possibly can create customers and teams and you’ll be able to authorize totally different consumer teams to entry totally different sections of the consumer interface. A function like that allows you to have totally different dashboards for various customers. One other highly effective function of the product is the likelihood to do bulk configuration modifications or firmware updates. The system additionally has patch administration capabilities. In all, there are fairly a number of duties that may be automated utilizing this device.
TrueSight Network Automation might be put in on Home windows Server, RedHat Enterprise Linux, and Ubuntu. Pricing info may be obtained by contacting the BMC Software program gross sales division. Sadly, a free trial doesn’t look like obtainable.
5. Internet LineDancer
Don’t let the bizarre identify of our subsequent product put you off. Regardless of that, Internet LineDancer, from LogicVein, is a wonderful software and it has all of the options that anybody might anticipate from any community configuration supervisor. This device can be utilized to handle hundreds of units via an automatic course of. All of it begins by discovering all units and taking a snapshot of their configurations. This establishes a baseline. This baseline will then be used to determine modifications to every gadget’s configuration. If this sounds vaguely acquainted, it may be as a result of most instruments use an identical method.
Internet LineDancer is totally different from many comparable software program instruments. Along with offering a backup of the configurations, the saved information can be used to configure gear in batches. This may be completed both by gadget sort or individually. Reporting is one other power of the product. It may—and this is just one instance—report on what consumer made what configuration change. Such a function is nice for auditing modifications and change administration course of.
Internet LineDancer can run on Home windows servers or on CentOS and RedHat Enterprise Linux. Additionally it is obtainable as a digital equipment for VMware ESX or as a cloud service. Pricing info could be obtained by contacting LogicVein’s gross sales and a 30-day trial is accessible.
6. LAN-Safe Configuration Middle
Maybe not as well-known as another merchandise, the LAN-Safe Configuration Middle is one other wonderful community configuration administration device which really deserves its spot on our record. It has all of the important options it’s your decision and then some. Like many comparable instruments, it initially scans your community to find community units and performs a backup of their configurations. The device will then allow you to take a look on the configurations and determine on the right insurance policies on your group’s wants and regulatory or contractual obligations.
The Lan-Safe Configuration Middle is an excellent versatile software which can be utilized to replace configurations or modify settings of all units, particular gadget varieties, or particular person units. It could actually additionally mechanically run periodical checks of gadget configurations towards the unique backups, on the lookout for unauthorized modifications. When such modifications are detected, an alert may be triggered. You may as well elect to have the device mechanically roll these modifications again to their preliminary state. You need to use this instruments to handle distant websites from a centralized location and it makes use of SSH to securely talk with distant websites, even over unsecured circuits.
The Lan-Safe Configuration Middle is obtainable in a number of editions. On the base, there’s a Workgroup model which may be bought for $99. It’s, nevertheless, restricted to managing as much as ten units. For extra units, there’s an Enterprise model which is on the market at costs various based on the variety of managed units. A free 30-day trial of both model is accessible.
We’re together with rConfig on our listing of the highest community automation instruments primarily as a result of we thought it wouldn’t be full with out a minimum of one free and open-source choice but in addition as a result of rConfig is a really fascinating product. By advantage of being open-source, you’re free to switch and adapt the product to your particular wants. And when the time involves get help, the product has a strong group. This is essential when contemplating open-source choices.
rConfig compares very properly to business options. It has customizable scripting and automation, compliance administration that’s absolutely customizable, bulk settings distribution, single-click choices for shortly downloading configurations, reporting, backups, a variety of system help and rather more.
Offered that this product’s options meet your wants, rConfig is definitely an choice to think about. Being open-source additionally signifies that so long as the group thrives so too will the product. This can be a free product so there isn’t a trial model however if you wish to see the product at work earlier than spending hours configuring it to your want, there’s a demo model operating immediately on their web site that you could attempt. That demo is even related to an precise dwelling community.