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CiscoWorks Resource Manager Essentials

Resource Manager Essentials 3.4

Q & A


Resource Manager Essentials 3.4


Q. What is Resource Manager Essentials?

A. Resource Manager Essentials (RME) is a member of the CiscoWorks family of network management products. Its intuitive, browser-based interface streamlines the tasks associated with network administration. These tasks include building and managing network inventory, deploying configuration and software image changes, archiving configurations, and providing an audit trail of network changes. RME helps troubleshoot the basic connectivity status of critical network devices and provides information needed for hardware capacity planning. RME utilizes Internet standards and technologies for integrating network management with information on Cisco Connection Online (CCO), and other third-party vendors through the Cisco Management Connection. RME includes the following applications:

  • Configuration Manager—Maintains an "active" archive and provides easy access to and deployment of device configuration files; allows you to search for specific configuration attributes and compare configuration file contents
  • Change Audit—Provides a central point where you can view what network changes were made by whom and when, and whether they were made from a command-line interface (CLI) or a CiscoWorks application
  • Inventory Manager—Provides detailed reporting on the hardware and software characteristics of Cisco routers, switches, and MIB-II devices
  • Availability Manager—Measures reachability and response times for Cisco devices in the network; tracks and analyzes reloads
  • Syslog Analyzer—Collects specific syslog messages from Cisco devices; presents reports categorizing errors by device or severity, identifying probable causes and suggesting appropriate actions
  • Software Image Manager—Automates the upgrading of switch and router software images, including acquiring appropriate images from CCO, prerequisite checking, and downloading them to selected devices

Q. What is new in RME 3.4?

A. RME 3.4 includes the following:

  • SSH Support for downloading/uploading of device configuration via Secure Shell (SSH) protocol
  • SSL Support - Secure communication between the Client Browser and the RME server via Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) boundaries
  • NAT Support for configuration management for devices across Network Translator boundaries

Q. What is the current version of RME?

A. The current version of RME is 3.4. It is included in the LAN Management Solution, VPN/ Security Management Solution, and the Routed WAN Management Solution.

Q. Can the communication between the client and RME server be secured?

A. Yes, the administrator can enable SSL between the client machine and the CisocWorks Management Server.

Q. Can the device configs be downloaded from RME securely?

A. Yes, if Secure Shell (SSH) protocol is selected, device configurations are downloaded to the device securely

Q. Can RME archive existing device configurations in my network and automatically update that library as changes occur?

A. Yes. The Device Configuration Manager can collect all existing configuration files for devices you choose to be managed by RME. From this baseline, it will automatically detect modifications to configurations in these devices and store the original and subsequent configuration images in a central archive.

Q. Can RME search configuration files to discover all devices in the network that have a particular characteristic?

A. Yes. The Device Configuration Manager allows configuration files to be searched either by selecting specific devices or by entering text strings and searching configuration files for matches. After they are found, you can view the original configuration, the one currently running, or any of the recent archives. Configuration Manager can display side-by-side differential information related to the current and archived versions.

Q. Can RME be used to make changes to configurations in my network?

A. Yes. RME 3.4 provides an application called NetConfig for making global changes to multiple switches or routers in the network. In addition, RME provides a CLI tool that, though not from the browser interface, can be used to edit configuration files and distribute them to devices from the command line. Named CWCONFIG, the utility can be launched and run on the RME server.

Q. Can RME manage devices across NAT boundary?

A. Yes, RME can be configured to manage devices across Network Address Translators (NAT) boundaries.

Q. Does RME have a browser-based configuration edit tool?

A. Yes. A browser based Config Editor is part of RME 3.4.

Q. How are the configuration files stored in Resource Manager Essentials?

A. Each RME server stores the configuration archive for devices it is managing. Initial configuration files are collected for all devices in the RME inventory database. The configuration files are stored as snapshots of running images as well as in annotated form. As changes are made, Configuration Manager detects them and automatically stores the new versions in the archive. You can configure the number of the archive versions you want stored for devices before they are deleted. A shadow copy is maintained of only the most current running configurations.

Q. Can the Terminal Access Controller Access System (TACACS) information needed to do configuration management be stored in Resource Manager Essentials?

A. Yes. TACACS information is stored by RME as part of the specific information in the inventory of the device. If one-time passwords are being used, RME cannot use Telnet access.

Q. Can configuration changes be made off line and then pushed to individual devices?

A. Yes. Resource Manager Essentials allows individual device configuration files to be "checked out" of the archive. They can then be edited using command-line tools such as CWCONFIG provided with RME. CWCONFIG also allows you to push the updated configuration information to the device.

Q. Can I use the CWCONFIG command-line tool from anywhere on the network?

A. Yes. CWCONFIG must be run from the Resource Manager Essentials server, but it can be accessed via a Telnet session.

Q. Does Resource Manager Essentials aid in troubleshooting connectivity problems?

A. Yes. RME provides several tools to aid in understanding connectivity problems. Availability Manager quickly displays the up or down status of key devices in the network. Its drill-down option reveals the status of individual ports and their reload history. The Connectivity Tool quickly displays the protocols that the devices are responding to, such as: UDP, TCP, HTTP, TFTP, Telnet, and SNMP.

Q. Does Resource Manager Essentials allow me to make connections to my other Web-based applications or in-house-developed tools?

A. Yes. The Cisco Management Connection toolkit allows Web-based applications and intranet/Internet information sites to be linked to the CiscoWorks desktop menu system. You can quickly customize the desktop so that by a click of a button, you can move between CiscoWorks and third-party applications, your in-house Web tools, or various Web-based internal and external information sources. Web applications linked into the menu are governed by a five-level security system within the CiscoWorks management desktop, which will determine who can access them. Many third-party vendors have worked with Cisco to certify that their products will link properly with CiscoWorks. Many are providing prepackaged Cisco Management Connection links on the Cisco Web site that can be easily downloaded. For a current list of certified Cisco Management Connections, visit the network management products section of http://www.cisco.com.

Q. Who are some of the third-party vendors that allow their products to link into the CiscoWorks management desktop menu system?

A. CiscoWorks provides links to more than 30 third-party vendors who will have posted their certified Cisco Management Connections on CCO for customer download. These include Computer Associates Unicenter, Concord Communications Network Health, Hewlett-Packard HP OpenView, and Tivoli TME NetView.

Q. Are there other more advanced methods available to link other applications with CiscoWorks management desktop?

A. To enhance the level of integration between Web-based applications, The CiscoWorks menu system can accept a link (URL) from another application to display information on a specific Cisco product found in the device center of RME. This scenario is accomplished by passing the "context" (IP address or device name) of the Cisco device within the URL. For example, if users are in a service and support application and want to check what version of Cisco IOS® software is running on a router and who installed it, they would typically bring up RME in a separate browser and navigate their way through the product, collecting information. Now, with the ability of CiscoWorks management server to accept a link with the device context, users can directly launch the RME device center, where they will find detailed inventory, configuration, availability, and software upgrade history information for that specific device.

Q. Can RME archive Cisco IOS and Catalyst software images in my network, and automatically update the archive as changes are made?

A. Yes. RME maintains a central repository of Cisco IOS and Catalyst image software. This repository is used as a staging area for software images to be deployed to devices in the network. Additionally, RME can automatically collect copies of all Cisco IOS and Catalyst software running and store them in its archive to create a baseline of the device software of your network.

Q. Does RME provide tools to help plan for hardware upgrades that are required to accommodate proposed device software updates?

A. Yes. Prior to a software image deployment, RME can display the hardware and software prerequisites of targeted devices and highlight them if deficiencies exist. It can also display the number of available slots in chassis devices.

Q. Does RME allow me to query a potential set of devices and determine if a particular Cisco IOS or Catalyst image is compatible with its current configuration?

A. Yes. The Software Image Manager application allows you to select a specific device image from the software library and ask if it can be deployed to a target set of devices. The report details whether the current boot ROM, Flash memory, main memory, and Telnet access of the targeted device will allow successful deployment of the proposed image. If incompatibilities are discovered, the details of the required upgrade are displayed.

Q. After the Software Image Manager completes an upgrade, how does the device come back up?

A. RME allows you to reboot or have the device reboot as part of the update job.

Q. After a software image deployment job is complete, am I notified that the updated routers or switches are up and running?

A. Yes. After a job completes or fails, you are notified via e-mail and the message is logged into the job history database.

Q. Is the Software Image Manager intelligent enough to know if a device has sufficient memory (Flash RAM/DRAM) to do a particular update?

A. Yes. As the administrator selects which routers or switches are to be upgraded, detailed information about each device configuration is displayed. This information includes the device type, current version of ROM and software running, and the amount of Flash memory available.

Q. Can information from other Cisco network management products be leveraged by RME?

A. Yes. The Inventory Manager in RME keeps a database that contains information about routers, switches, access servers, and generic SNMP devices assigned to it. Information can be imported into this database from the following sources: CiscoWorks Campus Manager and Cisco WAN Manager. The Cisco Management Connection option within RME allows information passing and connections between RME and other Web applications.

Q. Can RME provide information about devices not provided by Cisco?

A. Yes. Although optimized to manage Cisco devices, RME can view MIB-II information from SNMP devices throughout the network. It gathers pertinent third-party device information such as device name, location, and general SNMP statistics, and includes this data in its availability and inventory reports. Can RME provide slot capacity planning in switches and routers?

A. Yes. RME Inventory Manager allows you to query the devices in the network to report on all devices with available slots broken down by device type, or to query specific devices. Information is displayed showing how many slots are free. Clicking on a reported device will open up detailed information on the specific device.

Q. Does RME autodiscover devices in my network?

A. No. Inventory Manager keeps a database containing only information about devices assigned to it. Basic device information is entered or imported into the RME inventory database. RME can be set to gather additional device information on a scheduled basis, including chassis type, firmware, RAM, Flash RAM, Cisco IOS/Catalyst software version, boot images, some serial numbers, and more.

Q. Can I remotely access RME management information?

A. Yes. RME creates a browser-interactive management environment accessible from any workstation. It is licensed as a server product and allows client access from any number of authorized administrators. RME can be accessed remotely as well over WAN or dialup lines. Speeds of 56 Kb or higher are recommended for proper application responsiveness.

Q. Can RME create a dynamic link between CCO and my network to assist in finding software images and risk analysis?

A. Yes. RME is unique in its ability to tie specific device characteristics of your network together with up-to-date information from Cisco on CCO. RME applications can access CCO information and integrate it directly into the network management process. While reviewing devices on your network, RME can show you new Cisco IOS releases available for a given device and tell whether your device has the prerequisites needed to support them.

Q. Do I have to be registered on CCO to use RME?

A. No. All the major RME applications provide solutions that do not require a CCO connection. Subcomponents such as inventory and software manager, case manager, stack decoder, defect analysis, and contract connection are enhanced by or may not function if a CCO connection is not available during the management session. Cisco customers with registered access to CCO can use RME to automate many of the steps required to find up-to-date, device-specific information from CCO. RME uses specific device information from Inventory Manager to guide you through CCO to updates and notices pertaining to your unique environment. To obtain more information on Cisco support services and access to CCO, contact Cisco at http://www.cisco.com/register/.

Q. Are there different levels of security and access rights I can assign to various users of RME modules?

A. Yes. RME features a job role-based access rights model and defines five categories of users. Each role has rights to specific applications within the RME suite of applications. These categories are defined as help desk, approver, operations, network administrator, and system administrator. This security model is used to enforce job authorization privileges and device software updates. Technicians can propose software deployment jobs, but a sign-off by an administrator must be electronically enforced before execution is allowed.

Q. RME allows passwords that are used for CCO access to be stored as part of a user's profile. Are these passwords encrypted?

A. No. They are scrambled and unreadable, but they are not encrypted. Can RME help me file and track a Cisco support case?

A. Yes. Using an Internet connection to CCO, the RME case manager utility can be used to submit and track the resolution of problems with Cisco equipment. Case manager simplifies the case submittal process by leveraging information in the RME inventory database and uses it to prepopulate the technical support form with accurate device hardware and software configuration information. The resolution status of open cases can also be accessed from the case manager tool.

Q. Are syslog, availability, and inventory information exportable to spreadsheets, databases, or other field-delimited applications?

A. Yes. RME can export information to other applications in a comma-delimited format. The Inventory Manager module can also import flat-file device information into its database. Neither direct application programming interface (API) nor schema access to the RME database are supported.