Friday, July 4, 2008

Managing small(er) Cisco networks

Not everyone out there managing a network is a service provider and until recently I never had the pleasure of working in an environment where I wasn't using literally the largest routers and switches Cisco manufactures. Nowadays I am working with networks that may only have a few dozen devices per site. For managing these smaller networks that may not have the resources to purchase a suite such as Ciscoworks, Cisco has a free tool called Network Assistant which can be downloaded here (Free CCO Account required).

Unfortunately it doesn't support much of the older (or larger) equipment that you may have deployed, but odds are if you purchased it within the last couple of years this software can manage it. Additionally it can only manage 40 devices however you can pick and chose what you are going to manage with the software.

The list of features feels like reading those of its much more expensive Ciscoworks relative:

Configuration management
Troubleshooting advice
Inventory reports
Event notification
Network security settings
Task-based menu
File management
Drag-and-drop Cisco IOS Software upgrades
Even if you don't want to use all of the features, the interface graphing option can be helpful if you need to quickly see the utilization or errors on an interface. Additionally the configuration backup and restore can be very helpful. In short, if you have a Cisco network, its a small and free download that may save you some headaches.

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