Saturday, February 28, 2015

rConfig - Open Source Config Backup, Change Tracking and Compliance

Ok - here's my vote of confidence in an open source product that has been growing for the last couple of years.

Any network engineers who have been in the game for a while know that config management is a critical component of daily operations.

In Cisco land, the go-to's for a long time have been RANCID and SolarWinds Cirrus (now known as Network Configuration Manager).

RANCID is great for backing up and performing config DIFFs but has been missing a pre-developed compliance module.

For those who are familiar with Linux find and grep commands, this isn't a major issue as you can easily enough construct the statements you need to find which devices either do or don't match a particular line(s) of configs.

At the other end of the scale, you have the highly polished and super expensive SolarWinds NCM.

It does exactly the same thing as RANCID and find / grep but all delivered through a polished GUI.

To some degree, NCM is easier, but can also cause you a lot frustration.

Now, finally, there is an open source contender that is a great middle ground.

rConfig provides a web based interface for backing up router and switch configs on any schedule you desire, pushing bulk configuration deployments to individual devices or groups and here's the party-piece: compliance that works.

The build is relatively straight forward.

I recommend CentOS as always.

The only issues I experienced while following the build guide (account needed) is that step 2 repository links didn't work at the time (just tested and all working fine now) and there's a typo in section 3 (a space character was left out) which should read:

yum -y install php-devel php php-domxml php-gd php-mbstring php-mysql php-ncurses php-pear php-cli php-common php-pdo

One thing to note is that the compliance modules use RegEx pattern matching so you may need to bone up on those skills to make sure you're ready to deal with special characters (like a forward slash) that you may want to match in a configuration search.

All in all, rConfig is a great product.

If you're a Cisco route and switch shop and you're not running any network configuration management tools at present, this is the way to go.

If you're using RANCID, this is a sound and worthwhile upgrade.

If you're using NCM you may well want to stick with it but I'd at least recommend giving rConfig a whirl.


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