Review: DeviceExpert 5.1

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Review: DeviceExpert 5.1

ManageEngine DeviceExpert 5.1 is a web-based configuration and change management solution for network devices.

The solution helps to manage change control as well as enforce policy through compliance auditing and reporting. This is achieved through a single web interface.

Installation of the product couldn't have been easier. All of the components were installed without a hitch, and the software launches the management URL within a browser as soon as the services are started. Immediately upon login, the interface of the web console looks well organised (not to mention aesthetically pleasing) and simple enough that tasks are easily navigated.

The product performed as expected, in part because it's fairly simple in nature. Devices can be discovered via simple network management protocol (SNMP) or added manually to an inventory.

Configuration files are extracted and compared against policies that are constructed and enforced using a set of compliance tools. We had a tiny 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. At one point, we expected some SNMP devices to be discovered, but nothing was imported.

Because of the lack of feedback on the screen, we were left wondering if the job ran correctly, or if our devices simply weren't discoverable. Policy management is contained within a three tiered approach: rules, rule groups and then 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 depending on what conditions are met, violations and out-of-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 a nice feature as well.

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. Aside from a couple of small device discovery issues, the system is very straightforward to use and comes with many useful compliance and configuration reports.

The documentation for this solution is online and contained with HTML files that are accessed from the appliance. They are easy to read and nicely formatted, but we would have liked to see the availability of PDF files that we could reference while not connected to the device.

Pricing for the solution is based on an annual subscription that starts at US$795 for 25 devices. 24/5 email and phone support is included with the subscription price model.

We feel this represents a good value for organizations that are looking for a decent set of configuration management tools without spending tens of thousands of dollars.

For:Easy to use web interface. Role-based access control. Simple policy creation. Against:Solution features seem to lean heavily in Cisco’s favour. Verdict:Solution that’s easy to use for managing network device configurations. Good value for the money

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