Five challenges in managing configuration changes

Networks form an integral part of our technology-driven era. Configurations in networks play a critical role as they keep networks fully functional and free from any downtime. It is also challenging and hectic to manage them. As a result, a lot of errors and downtime occur because of misconfigurations or unauthorized configuration changes.

Almost 80% of network downtime is due to configuration-related errors. A small change to a configuration could cause an entire IT infrastructure to fall in a minute, leading to huge losses in terms of money and time. Here are five key configuration management challenges that a network admin faces in managing configuration changes and how ManageEngine Network Configuration Manager helps you overcome them.

1. Identifying major security flaws and their criticality

Security is the key to everything. Leave one gate open, and an entire empire falls. Blocking unauthorized outside traffic from the internal network and using only firewalls for safety is no longer adequate for protecting data as many threats will still make it into the network. Security misconfigurations made it onto the 2021 OWASP Top 10 list of most critical web application security risks.

For example, imagine that in a huge organization with multiple teams and networks, an unauthorized change makes it into a network. Imagine the loss of time and money it could cause. The organization may not recover. If an authorized network operator in this same organization makes an unwanted change, it would cause the same impact as the unauthorized change.

Three major security concerns arise: who, what, and when. Whoever makes the change, be it authorized or unauthorized, needs to be tracked along with what the change is and when it was made.

2. Making configuration changes at regular intervals and measuring their impact

Technologies are always changing along with networks. Network admins need to stay up-to-date with the latest improvements and features, which tends to be difficult and tedious. If there is a stable configuration, network admins tend to make changes to it on a hunch, which may lead to a positive change or a negative change. Sometimes, even bulk changes are made.

A change made to a good configuration can be for various reasons, such as to improve security or to make the configuration feasible. If it becomes a negative change, network admins should be able to tackle it, even when it is severe and of unknown technological use.

3. Comparing configurations without automation

A lot of changes take place when configurations are constantly updated, and in most cases, admins want to refer to previous configurations to see what kinds of changes are needed. In some cases, when a change turns out to be unwanted, comparing all the configuration changes made in that version with an old, stable version will help admins analyze the situation better and pinpoint unwanted changes during troubleshooting.

If there are numerous configuration changes made in a network, network admins cannot manually compare them all line by line. It would be nearly impossible, tedious, and a huge loss of time. Some organizations still do manual configuration comparison, which takes a toll on their admins since it involves a lot of time and effort. This needs to be rectified immediately with automated configuration comparison.

4. Validating every change made to configurations

Network operators reporting to network admins make necessary changes to configurations for agile performance. These changes, though authorized, need to be validated by network admins. Validating every change is a time-consuming task, and if something is not validated, it could lead to an unwanted change and downtime. Thus, this is a major challenge of configuration change management to overcome.

5. Keeping tabs on real-time changes without change notifications

Whenever an unauthorized change is made and gets into a network, it is because the network admins were not aware of it. Without real-time change notifications, admins will not know what changes are made or when. When an unauthorized change is made, it needs to be tracked and should not be let in.

With a change notification feature, you get real-time notifications when a change is made, and the admin does not even need to be logged in to a network automation tool. When this feature is not provided, it is a tedious challenge for admins to keep track of changes 24/7.

How Network Configuration Manager helps you surpass all the above challenges of configuration management and makes your network a safe haven

  • Network Configuration Manager has multiple security layers to keep track of unauthorized entries and block them. It also has alarms if anything suspicious occurs.
  • Network Configuration Manager provides flexibility by automating tasks. Admins will not have to learn difficult technologies or programming. On top of this, it separates positive changes and negative changes to save your network from downtime proactively.
  • Network Configuration Manager has a feature called Diff View that provides side-by-side comparisons of two configurations on a single device or two configurations on two different devices. It is also color-coded for swift, agile comparisons by admins so they can easily see what has been changed and by whom.
  • All changes need to be validated, even those from a reliable, authorized source. Network Configuration Manager has configuration change management, consisting of role-based access control, giving admins full authority to validate and even reject changes. No change made by operators goes past admins undetected. Thorough validation is done before changes are implemented.
  • Everything in Network Configuration Manager is user-friendly, with no visibility challenges. It tracks all changes and keeps admins updated with real-time change notifications. It supports notifications via email, SNMP traps, syslog, and tickets. Unless an admin ignores a notification, there is no chance of an unauthorized change occurring.

For more information on the operational challenges of network change and configuration management, read our white paper.

For detailed pricing information on Network Configuration Manager, view our store or get a personalized quote.

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