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Which configuration management tools map connected network devices?

Are there network management tools that provide configuration management mappings of connected network devices? Our network administration expert, Lindi Horton, explains.

Are there any network management tools that provide a connected view of IT connectivity services being deployed in the enterprise network (i.e., employee desk network connectivity, VoIP phone service, printer service, storage/filer service, lab network connectivity, VPN or remote access service, etc.) to the actual network configurations that these services pertain to?

There are several companies in the wonderful land of IT network management that provide configuration management mappings. Traditionally speaking the maps tend to relate more to those focused on network management pieces. Configuration management lends itself to facilitating root-cause troubleshooting based upon the map. It's the seamless integration between the two components that I personally like when attempting to correlate performance degradations to configuration changes on devices. Because let's face it, who hasn't had one unintended fat-finger episode? Oops!

Once upon a time in a far away land of beautiful castles and IT infrastructure towns, there was this great utility that would map out the configured network devices. Fluke had a product called MapShot which has since ceased development. I loved that little tool. In today's market there are several products that provide the ability to map out the network infrastructure and provide access to their requisite configurations. For freeware, I would suggest SpiceWorks. They just released their new version which contains a 500-element monitoring solution. Unfortunately, it doesn't do the mapping but does provide some great analytical and troubleshooting tools. Other enterprise solutions provide some extensive mapping with configuration management options that include ManageEngine's Device Expert and SolarWind's Orion Network Performance Monitor. Both of these solutions provide comprehensive mapping and configuration management options. There are a few differences in usability and pricing. Since usability is tainted by my personal preference, I'll let you evaluate based on your environment to find the right solution for you and your environment.

This was last published in July 2009

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