Configuration Management Tool Comparison: Multi-Vendor Deep Configuration Analysis: Cisco-Focused
NetMRI was originally developed and sold by Netcordia, founded in 2000 by the world’s first Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE). It was created to help Cisco admins solve configuration issues in their network equipment by defining certain checks and ensuring that all switching and routing devices conform to the desired configuration.
NetMRI is a fantastic configuration management tool for Cisco admins – it’s got incredible visibility into Cisco configurations and the ability to dissect and analyze some of the most complicated setups of Cisco routers and switches. However, it falls quite short for other network devices, especially the non-Cisco ones and those for layers 4 and up. This includes Check Point, Fortinet, Juniper and Palo Alto Networks firewalls as well as F5 load balancers. For these, NetMRI supports pulling the configurations (see DSB list) but comes with no built-in configuration checks. As a user, you are required to teach NetMRI how to understand the configuration of these devices and what to look for. Quite a tedious task.
For example, consider the release notes for NetMRI 6.9.1 (released in 2014). The new features focus solely on switching and routing equipment. The same is true for other recent releases of NetMRI, such as 6.8.1. This is caused by Infoblox’s focus on DDI – (DNS, DHCP and IP Address Management) which are the company’s core business. DDI is tightly integrated with switching and routing, hence the focus on those devices by NetMRI as shown in a demo video of NetMRI.
Therefore, users who run a Cisco shop should consider investing in NetMRI and using that as their go-to tool for analyzing the configuration of their routers and switches. Even those running a mixed environment with a heavy investment in Cisco routing and switching gear, should consider using NetMRI to automate their IP address management and routing.
Users who require deep-visibility into their Cisco AND non-Cisco devices, specifically identifying common misconfigurations as well as pointing out which devices are not compliant with the organization’s gold configuration, should take a look at indeni. With indeni you will be able to identify known configuration issues in your Check Point, F5, Fortinet, Juniper and Palo Alto Networks gear, as well as your Cisco equipment.