Strengths: Easy-to-use web interface, role-based access control, simple policy creation
Weaknesses: Solution features seem to lean heavily in Cisco's favour
Verdict: A solution that is easy to use for managing network device configurations, good value for money
DeviceExpert 5.1 is a web-based configuration and change management solution for network devices. It helps manage change control as well as enforce policy through compliance auditing and reporting. This is achieved through a single web interface.
Installation couldn't have been easier. All components installed without a hitch and the software launches the management URL within a browser when the services are started. The web console interface is well organised and makes navigating tasks easy.
Devices can be discovered via SNMP or added manually to an inventory. Configuration files are extracted and compared against policies that are constructed and enforced via a set of compliance tools. We had a bit of trouble with device discovery. Once you create a job to sweep a range of IPs to automatically add to the inventory, the system seemed to cancel the job when we navigated away from the page. Some feedback whether the job was complete or not would be nice.
Policy management is contained within a three-tiered approach: rules, rule groups and policies. Rules are the most granular item. This is where you build items based on certain text strings that a configuration file should (or should not) contain and depend what conditions are met, violations and non-compliance reports are flagged. Rules are grouped and then added to policies, which are then in turn applied against devices. The use of severity levels as a risk-based tool is another nice feature.
The system can also deploy configuration files to groups of devices, as well as detect syslog events that are generated when a change is made to a device. The system is simple to use and comes with many useful compliance and configuration reports.
The documentation for this solution is online, accessed from the appliance. They are easy to read and nicely formatted, but we would have liked to see PDF files that we could reference while not connected to the device.
Pricing for the solution is based on an annual subscription and includes 24/7 email and phone support during weekdays. We feel this represents good value for organisations looking for a decent set of configuration management tools without spending a fortune.