Solsoft ChangeManager 7.4
Strengths: Powerful drag-and-drop policy creation, many features for deploying network policies on a large scale
Weaknesses: Disparate look and feel, interface of the project designer has a steeper learning curve than most
Verdict: Good policy creation features, but as an overall tool it misses the mark
Solsoft ChangeManager 7.4 is a suite of client-server and web components primarily used for network-security device-configuration management, as well as auditing to support change management. The suite allows for several staff to centrally create, authorise and deploy policies to different types of routers, switches, firewalls, VPN and IPS devices.
Initial installation could have been smoother. The system uses MySQL, and it must be installed on the same host as the database. We configured our licence file and database in the initial steps of the install, but not all components installed on the first pass, and our licence file had to be located in a specific directory before we could continue. After a complete reinstall we were up and running.
The tool consists of a project designer, a project report server and the overall server configuration component. The project designer, the heart of the solution, is a client application for stakeholders tasked with creating, editing and managing configuration files and policies. The designer's interface has an "engineer" look and feel rather than a user-friendly interface. However, the drag-and-drop policy creation and the sheer number of features makes up for any aesthetic shortcomings.
The solution clearly shines in larger organisations, where policy management for disparate devices is often time-consuming. Policy creation also comes with built-in support for around 20 different models from vendors such as Cisco and Check Point. There is also a nice policy setup wizard for those not accustomed to the many items you can drag into the GUI. The project report server separates the duties for stakeholders who are less involved with the policy design but have to manage the overall deployment and change to devices. Since all tasks are driven on a project basis, the reporting mechanisms fall short because it only reports on each project.
Overall the product performs well when it comes to creating and deploying network policies at a very granular level. As an overall solution, the components all have a dissimilar interface, as the tool suffers from a tremendous lack of cohesive look and feel.
Available support packages include a standard option at 20 per cent of the cost on an annual basis. We feel only larger organisations would reap the cost benefit.