Installation In a Snap

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  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.

Built specifically on the Windows platform, NCM is designed for installation on a Windows 2003 Server with SQL Server 2000 SP4 (or later), IIS V6 (or later) and uses the .NET 3.5 framework. The product can also be used with SQL Server 2005 Express, but that limits the database to 4GB and will only work with a single processor. For smaller networks with 50 or less devices, the SQL Server 2005 Express configuration should prove adequate.

The wizard-based installation is relatively straightforward, but there are very few caveats. Installers will need administrator privileges and will have to make decisions on how the product is to be integrated with Active Directory authentication and a few other Windows networking features.

Configuration takes a little more effort and is driven by a series of wizard-based dialog boxes. For proper configuration, installers will need to make sure SNMP is properly configured and the appropriate user accounts are configured.

To truly leverage the power of NCM, installers will want to integrate the product into Orion NPM. SolarWinds has reduced the integration process to a few simple steps and allows administrators to quickly integrate NCM into NPM and then use NPM as the superset for configuration management. Most installers will want to pursue that integration route to offer the best administrator and management experience.

After the initial setup, administrators will use the product to discover devices on the network. That discovery process leverages SNMP reporting and that is why it is so important to properly configure SNMP on the network and the associated devices. The network discovery builds a basic device inventory list, which administrators can add details to for additional information. The device inventory becomes the path to the management experience and is especially important for the product's real-time point-and-click interface. The product also offers a built-in Syslog Server and SNMP Trap Server, if an administrator does not want to rely on Microsoft’s network services.

Orion NCM provides built-in configuration management support for network devices from more than 16 different hardware vendors, including Cisco Systems, Nortel Networks, Motorola, Extreme Networks, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Adtran, Riverbed, 3Com, Aruba Networks, Juniper Networks, Foundry Networks and more. Additionally, users can easily modify or build device templates, enabling Orion NCM to work with products not already included and to manage highly heterogeneous environments. For devices that can be natively managed by NCM, the point-and-click interface makes quick work of any changes or policy definitions. Native device management also enables administrators to view real-time device status and statistics and build alerts around changes or problems.

NCM’s real power comes from the product’s network configuration policy management capabilities, which can be defined using wizard-like tools to simplify policy creation and deployment. Policies can ensure that device configurations comply with regulatory requirements, corporate policies or internal standards.


The reporting module brings additional management capabilities in to the mix by providing scheduled and automated reports that identify devices that have configuration issues or policy violations. Those reports help administrators to identify security risks, such as devices that may be accessed by unauthorized users. SolarWinds provides several canned policy reports that were designed specifically for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Cardholder Information Security Program (CISP) and Cisco Security Audit.






Orion NCM 5.0 policy creation and alerting features provides administrators with real-time alerts on security violations and unauthorized configuration changes.



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 frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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