I'm just about to build out a new dual datacenter platform, we know what we're doing for servers, storage, DWDM, backup, apps, DB etc. and we're firmly a Cisco house for 98% of our networking.

All of our other platforms use Ciscoworks but we've questioned every other component in the new environment so why not question this one. So my question is - what other management/support platform can support lots of Cisco boxes (Nexus 7k/5k, 6513, 9513, ACE etc.) and is genuinely 'enterprise ready'.

It's not that I don't like Ciscoworks but I think it's important to question these things periodically.

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Well I cant say I have had much experience with any of the closed source solutions, but for my network I used seomthing called rancid, it's very nice and flexible, runs on a CVS repo for catalogging changes and emailing diffs, for SNMP and Avalability I use Cacti and MRTG as well as Nagios, each is administrative nightmare to set up correctly and tune for your infrastructure but well worth it in the end.

There is also a nice plugin for Cacti/MRTG (havent tried with MRTG) called network weathermap, its a map of your network with links represented as variable colour pipes, they change colour based on utilization. (yes very cool :D)

For log management have a look at splunk, I am in the process of implementing it at the moment.

  • Great answer thank you, I'm going to go off and try all of those parts you've mentioned - thank you. – Chopper3 May 22 '09 at 9:52
  • Netdisco could be a good complement for the tools mentioned in this answer. See my answer on a related topic: serverfault.com/questions/15862/… – cstamas Jun 1 '09 at 19:41

Opsware seems to be a popular option for management, although I don't have any first hand experience with it.

I know you mentioned having a Cat6k, but if you decide to go with only NX-OS devices (Nexus, MDS), check out Cisco's DCNM product. Obviously, it has very good integration for both MDS and Nexus, and has been a better solution for us in the data center bringing both the SAN and Ethernet Fabric under one management suite.


What I'd question is what you use Ciscoworks currently to achieve. I think if in you're current deployment, if for configuration, logs, troubleshooting, etc you always turn to ciscoworks first and foremost, it's a good option since it's something you're already familiar with, and is actually usefull.

Personally I'm fine without it, we have it deployed in our network, but I've only ever logged in maybe 3 or 4 times, and just find generally doing stuff takes longer then my ad-hoc stuff. We're a fairly big shop, so we have HP Openview for SNMP alarming, fed to our Control Center, Openview Performance Insight for SNMP polling stats and generating statistics. For my equipment, we have all logs sent to a solaris box, and I basically just have a tail that follows the logs on one of my screens all day. We do nightly backups in a script, with a script to grab all current configs, so finding differences in config is easy using unix diff tools. And we do all configuration directly by logging into the box. So for me it's ultimatly a useless tool that I've never had an enticing reason to get into.

On the other hand, some of our backbone team love the thing, but that was mainly because they could deploy a config change such as a new vlan to be trunked to every switch in one go. That was never my responsibility so I could care less.

This brings me back, if it's a tool you use every day, and everyone is already familiar with it, it's a good thing to get. If it's there and you use it once a month, and everything you use it for at that time can easily be done using simple scripts, then don't bother.

  • Thanks for your response, it makes a lot of sense - better the devil you know etc. I'm just interested in questioning ourselves to see if there's something better/cheaper that would be worth the relearning. Cheers. – Chopper3 May 15 '09 at 7:40

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