The 6 Essential Automation Tools For the Enterprise: Page 2

Automation tools help with everything from account maintenance to system monitoring – not to mention greatly assisting the system admin.


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SimpleWAN’s simplicity comes about because the firewall device comes preconfigured and self-provisions on your network. Its simplicity also originates from its automated two-way network traffic monitoring, alerting, and updating. SimpleWAN’s automation also covers automated configuration backup and automated maintenance that includes firmware updates and upgrades.

The complete list of automated SimpleWAN services:

· Random port-hopping security

· Dynamic WAN routing

· Remote and local logging

· Random remote client termination

· Real time monitoring

· Real time alert notifications

· Configuration backup

· Maintenance

· Firmware updates and upgrades

SimpleWAN’s automated updates aren’t limited to firmware and maintenance releases. Your device receives rules and security updates resulting from known attacks and threats occurring in other customer environments. SimpleWAN makes its devices and services available through value added resellers (VARs) and managed services providers (MSPs).

Network Configuration Manager - SolarWinds

SolarWinds builds and supports dozens of enterprise tools, but the focus of this post is its Network Configuration Manager (NCM). NCM includes an array of automated and automatic features including automated network discovery that scans your entire network and imports discovered devices into its database. Its automated device association features automatically maps routers, firewalls, switches, and load balancers regardless of vendor and then matches the device with an NCM device template for automatic configuration backups.

The Network Configuration Manager’s automation features:

· Automated network discovery

· Automated device association

· Real time change detection

· Instant notification of configuration changes

· Automatic logging of all changes

· Automatically generated device inventory

· Automatic configuration backup

· Vendor-neutral configuration change automation

NCM’s built-in Syslog and trap server provides instant notification of any changes to a configuration. This feature provides information that’s valuable during troubleshooting because you’ll have a list of all changes for a specific device available to you. SolarWinds tools are quick to setup and easy to use. For example, you can install NCM, discover your network devices, and start backing up network configurations in under an hour.


Spiceworks is a free, automated inventory tool for your systems and their software. It scans all network-connected devices, without using agents, and reports that information back to a central repository. Spiceworks is a non-agent discovery tool that uses standard network protocols to discover and report on all your devices. The one limitation that it has is that it requires Windows XP Pro SP2 and newer or Windows 2003 Server SP1 and newer. You can run Spiceworks on a virtual machine (VM), but it requires at least 4GB RAM and should be dedicated to running this single service. On a physical system, you can run a limited number of other services with only 4GB RAM. For more than 50 discovered devices, you should increase your RAM to at least 8GB for either a physical or for a virtual machine.

Spiceworks can scan multiple networks as long as the Spiceworks server has network access to those systems, otherwise you’ll have to install the application on a server or VM in each network.

Spiceworks doesn’t use agents to monitor your systems, but you must setup your network devices to allow SNMP connectivity, provide Administrator-level access for Windows systems, and root-level access for Linux systems. Providing this information doesn’t compromise security, but it allows Spiceworks to collect valuable information on software, filesystems, services, and applications running on your systems.

Spiceworks is community-driven software, which means that free support is available through the user community that boasts membership in the millions. Alternatively, for enterprise installations, you can purchase subscription support. The Spiceworks community also provides many modules for the product that extend its capabilities beyond its original inventory-oriented scope.

Automation tools are indispensable elements in every system administrator’s arsenal to which they refer on a regular basis. The lazy system administrator knows that automation is the key to a more productive infrastructure and a more productive system administrator. Management also knows the value of automation. It lowers costs, increases revenue, and maintains a smoother operating environment that requires fewer human hands. Automation isn’t just a good thing; it’s an essential thing.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Tags: automation, Enterprise IT, Automation software

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