Configuration management is a key function of an Element Management System. An Element Management System with a good, friendly and easy to use configuration management engine can help increase the sales of the network element!
Traditional network administrators use scripts based on "expect" or TCL to automate day-to-day activities in the network.
These activities include periodic configuration backup and security key updates.
NetMan's configuration template framework has been designed to make execution easier across multiple devices and provide a flexible scheduling mechanism to help network administrators execute actions based on organizational needs.
Network administrators also enjoy the following benefits while using NetMan's configuration template whereas such benefits are not available while using simple expect-based scripts.
- Templates are available across protocols such as SNMP, CLI and NetConf.
- Dynamic substitution of command arguments based on the network element and its current configuration.
This option makes the template more practical since a single script can be used across network elements.
- Multiple paths are available, in contrast to a single path in typical expect-like scripting.
- Flexible scheduling and recurrence patterns are available. NetMan's configuration schedule provides all the flexibility that a user might need. The schedule's designs are similar to Microsoft Outlook's scheduling options. This provides more flexibility compared to "cron job" schedules.
- Network changes are rolled out in a topology-aware way, minimizing network downtime and avoiding truck rollouts. This feature capitalizes on a network's topology to schedule the order of execution.
Specific components are available for hierarchical networks (including mesh networks) and point-to-point wireless networks.
- Triggers are integrated with other actions in the EMS.
Using this option, a template can be executed by an alarm or when a new device is discovered.
This helps network administrators handle practical use cases such as automatic enforcement of security policies whenever a new device comes into the network.
It also allows administrators to automatically backup a network element's configuration whenever a critical alarm occurs.
- Ease of use in execution - these templates can be executed from a right click menu, making it easy for operators to use them as and when required.
In most practical scenarios, it is essential to have a custom GUI for most configurations or provisioning actions.
This offers the best possible user experience for network administrators.
NetMan is unique in helping device manufacturers choose the ideal option for each configuration action.
Discovery-triggered configuration actions are special templates that can be triggered by the discovery of a network element based on certain pre-defined criteria.
These templates are helpful for network administrators, especially those who were previously doing a lot of manual work in pre-provisioning network elements to make them adhere to network-wide security policies and network settings.
Alarm-triggered configuration actions are another category of special templates that can automatically be triggered by a pre-defined alarm condition.
With this feature, network administrators can schedule the automatic execution of a template (script) whenever an alarm that matches certain criteria occurs.
This capability helps network administrators execute scripts (templates) that can either fix the problem or act as a debugging engine.
This debugging engine could then collect the necessary details about what was happening in the network at the time of the problem and also create a backup of the network element's configuration to help the operators debug the problem later.
This is another useful feature for network administrators and helps them in identifying the root cause of several problems.
NetMan helps a network administrator manage the list of firmware for each product family.
Network administrators can schedule automatic or monitored upgrades.
Whenever required, they can do this for the entire network or for a group of devices.
NetMan's topology-aware upgrade engine has the intelligence to help network administrators schedule the order of upgrades based on the network's topology.
This helps minimize network downtime.
For example, NetMan's "hierarchical network upgrade component" helps administrators perform an upgrade for a mesh network in a leaf to root (edge to core) order.
Similarly, the "point-to-point wireless upgrade component" can first upgrade far end device before upgrading near end device.