SolarWinds Redefines Network Configuration Management

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Posted 2008-09-29 Email Print this article Print

Orion NCM 5.0 is a tremendous improvement over the previous product, Cirrus Configuration Manager, providing solution providers with a powerful tool for imposing change management over complex network infrastructures.

Network and IT infrastructure is getting more complex by the day. System administrators are constantly battling the demons of change management and performance degradation. SolarWinds’ latest release, Orion NCM 5.0, gives solution providers a powerful tool that will help their customers achieve network management nirvana.

Orion NCM promises to bring network device-configuration control to networks ranging from 50 to thousands of devices. NCM’s goal is to allow administrators to monitor device configurations, report on configuration changes and enforce device configurations based upon policies. The granular nature of the product allows administrators to manage and monitor devices individually or as a group and be alerted in real time of problems or unauthorized changes. While those capabilities are important from an IT management point of view, one cannot ignore what those capabilities may mean to the world of compliance, where granular control and reporting are critical.

Perhaps an oversimplification, NCM is all about change management for the network and offers the ability to monitor and plan (or even prevent) change. Change and configuration management is one of the cornerstones of best practices in network management. After all, if an administrator cannot visualize the current infrastructure configuration, how can that administrator address performance issues, maintain security, balance loads or even plan for the future?

NCM follows on the heels of a previous generation product named Cirrus Configuration Manager, which was designed with many of the same goals as NCM, but was lacking in several areas. Improvements include NCM’s ability to integrate into Orion Network Performance Monitor (NPM), allowing NCM to become part of a bigger network management solution. Improvements to the point-and-click interface bring new monitoring/control capabilities such as configuration health status, device details, configuration backups, scheduled job status, policy violations and event history status screens.


Orion NCM 5.0's point-and-click interface makes easy work of generating reports of security violations, network performance and change requests.

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at


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