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Review of SolarWinds Network Config Generator Tool

SolarWinds Network Config Generator (CG) - Free ToolReview of Solarwinds Network Config Generator

Config Generator (CG) is a free tool from SolarWinds, which puts you in charge of controlling changes to network routers and other SNMP devices.  You can get started without having to learn complex syntax.

In addition, SolarWinds say that CG can provide benefits such as tracking policy enforcement, making consistent change-control procedures, and complying with Federal regulations like FISMA.

Get your Free Copy of Network Config Generator
Download SolarWinds' Free Network Config Generator

Topics for SolarWinds Network Configuration Tool

The biggest benefit for newbies is that this free product will provide the impetus to learn more about configuring the SNMP service with its 'Traps' and 'Communities'. SolarWinds Call Detail Record Tracker

Solutions That Config Generator Could Achieve for YouFree network config generator download

  • Configure VLANs and modify access lists.
  • Enable advanced features on network devices such as NetFlow, IP SLA and EnergyWise.
  • Quickly change a device's configuration without looking up commands.
  • Create a template so that you can re-use standard configs across all similar devices easily.
  • Handy Cisco config generator.
  • Network Experts Config Generator Download

Key Features and Benefits of Config Generator

These were the highlights of my review of the Network Config Generator:

  • Investigating advanced features of network devices then controlling their configuration with a GUI.
  • Saving time by running advanced network scripts with pre-defined templates.
  • Boosting network performance by activating network device features that I've already paid for.
  • Create alerts run a VBScript.

SolarWinds Config Generator Video

A good way to review this free tool is watch this YouTube clip.

How to Install the SolarWinds Network Config Generator

I find the hardest part of the install is remembering where I downloaded the zip file!  Otherwise I just followed the standard procedure, I extracted the application, which is a single file, click the licence agreement, and let the InstallShield Wizard perform the setup.

After the install completes, the Config Generator launches, and you are ready to begin.  If you need 'find' the application later look on the start menu, or if all else fails navigate to:

C:\Program Files (x86)\SolarWinds\ConfigGenerator

Should you need to uninstall, then go to the Control Panel, Programs, scroll down to 'S' for SolarWinds Network Config Generator.  It's a sign of a good freeware program that it uninstalls easily and completely.

Recommendation: Get extra templates for your Network Config Generator from the Thwack forum.

Example of NCG in Action

The Network Config Generator is handy for automatically configuring Cisco routers, which usually have 3000+ lines of code.

Example Templates for Your NCG

/*
.CHANGE_TEMPLATE_DESCRIPTION
This is a base change template to act as a starting point for other templates.
.PLATFORM_DESCRIPTION
TODO - replace with details of the device platform the template is targeted at.

.PARAMETER_LABEL @ContextNode
NCM Node
.PARAMETER_DESCRIPTION @ContextNode
The node the template will operate on. All templates require this by default. The target node is selected during the first part of the wizard so it will not be available for selection when defining variable values.

.PARAMETER_LABEL @SomeVariable1
SomeVariable1 Label
.PARAMETER_DESCRIPTION @SomeVariable1
Enter variable description and helper text here.

.PARAMETER_LABEL @SomeVariable2
SomeVariable1 Labe2
.PARAMETER_DESCRIPTION @SomeVariable2
Enter variable description and helper text here.
*/

script BaseChangeTemplate(
NCM.Nodes @ContextNode,
string @SomeVariable1,
string @SomeVariable2 )
{
//TODO - insert details of change template

//Enter CLI commands
CLI
{
configure terminal
//Use variables in commands sent
@SomeVariable1
}

//Optionally iterate through list of interfaces
foreach (@interfaceItem in @ContextNode.Interfaces)
{
if (@interfaceItem.InterfaceAlias contains 'sometext')
{
//Send these CLI commands
CLI
{
interface @interfaceItem.InterfaceDescription
@SomeVariable1
@SomeVariable2
//Add other CLI commands here
}
}
else
{
//Do something else
}
}

/*
For more script examples appraise the thwack content exchange at
http://thwack.com/media/
*/
}

With Orion Network Configuration Manager You Can:

  • Run scripts on more than one device simultaneously.
  • Create nightly backups of configs.
  • Receive automatic change notification.
  • Detect config policy violations.
  • View an inventory of your network device hardware.
  • See more about the big brother: - Orion Network Device Manager.

List of Router Config Changes Supported Out-of-the-box:

Small Brother (NCG) -v- Big Brother (NCM)

There is a growing trend amongst manufacturers of expensive network utilities to also provide a free version.  These free tools have no time limitations, and they contain all the features that a small network needs.  One benefit is that you can try before your buy.  I also like the idea of big companies in effect subsidising their poorer brethren.  But most of all, I like this new breed of free utilities because they help me learn more about computer networks.

For small networks the free Network Config Generator (CG) has all the features that you require - thank you very much SolarWinds.  However, if your network grows, or you have a complex network right now, then consider the extra features of the main man, namely the Orion Network Configuration Manager (NCM).  Lookout for a copy of this and other free utilities as you download the free Network Config Generator.

Possible Problems Using the Server Config Generator

Throughout this appraisal I keep stressing that CG is a free tool, great for getting you started, it still requires a machine with the SNMP service running, and an active 'Public' community.  If you have any problems then sign up for SolarWinds Thwack forum, that's where the experts on Config Generator (and Orion) hang out and they will answer your questions.

For 'Cisco Kids', those with CCNA qualifications, they may face different problems, namely that CG only monitors one device at a time, and to them I say, 'try the big brother Orion Network Configuration Manager'.

One Solution Configuration Backup
SolarWinds also have the Kiwi CatTools for storing current and previous versions of your hardware configuration settings

Help From Thwack Forum

SolarWinds have a thriving Thwack support forum.  Once you have registered you can get answers to your questions.  This is one of the best run forums on the internet, join the geeks at SolarWinds NCG forum here.

Summary of SolarWinds Free Network Config GeneratorReview of Solarwinds Network Config Generator

This SolarWinds freeware utility puts you in charge network routers and other SNMP devices.  If you have paid for the features of a router, then make sure that you check out the settings and adjust them to suit your network.  Remember to customize the CG by creating your own templates.

Download SolarWinds' Free Network Config Generator

Additional Free and Trial Network Software

Here are my reviews of tried and tested applications to monitor your network.  Most of these utilities are free, while the others are the full program, but time restricted.  SolarWinds are a great source of free specialist tools.  A constant theme is a free gadget for testing, backed-up with a comprehensive suite for programs for larger organizations.  I like the way that big companies subsidise their smaller brethren... until they become large companies!

Network Traffic Analyzer Freeware  • Free Log Viewer  • Review of Log & Event Management

SolarWinds NPM Review  • Network Device Manager Review  • SolarWinds Product Review

Free Network Config Generator  • Review of WOL Gadget  • Review of Web Transaction Watcher

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SolarWinds' performance monitor is designed for detecting network outages, making it easy to see what's working, and what needs your attention.

This utility guides you through creating network maps; it also helps identifying whether the root cause is faulty equipment, or resource overload. Give NPM a try.

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Author: Guy Thomas Copyright © 1999-2016 Computer Performance LTD All rights reserved.

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