Credit union clears up configuration woes with Configuration Auditor

Find out how one IT manager discovered a way to scrap manual monitoring processes.

Wouldn't everyone be happier flying economy class if they didn't know that first-class seats existed? Scott Svingen, CIO of Portland-based Oregon Telco Community Credit Union, was scraping by with his economy-class network monitoring system. When he stumbled across a first-class alternative to manual system monitoring, his eyes were opened.

The credit union's network administrators lacked adequate auditing tools. As a result, determining if backup processes were storing network data regularly took a lot of guesswork, Svingen said. Oregon Telco's network administrators were not thrilled about constantly auditing the network and re-documenting should the configuration change. Oregon Telco is a Windows NT shop with 10 servers and 150 users.

Though not completely happy with the network monitoring processes at Oregon Telco, Svingen didn't think a management tool existed that could help. So, Svingen and his administrators chugged along with painstaking manual documentation.

Meanwhile, one worry plagued Svingen: "What if we have to start from scratch after a complete failure?"

One day Svingen happened on an ad for a product that promised to solve his network auditing problems. Ecora Software's Configuration Auditor handled all the automated tracking, identification and monitoring of configuration changes.

So, Svingen ordered a test Linux kernel from Portsmouth, NH-based Ecora with Configuration Auditor installed. After testing and evaluating the product on one of Oregon Telco's scaled-back servers, he knew he had to look no further. "We didn't find anything lacking, and Configuration Auditor was very reasonably priced."

Ecora recently released version 2.0 of Configuration Auditor, which includes baseline reporting, change tracking functions and full scheduling capabilities. Configuration Auditor is now completely software-based.

"We predominantly use Configuration Auditor 2.0 for disaster recovery and business continuity," Svingen said. He runs Configuration Auditor on all Oregon Telco's Windows NT servers and its Exchange server.

Now that Oregon Telco's configuration is fully documented, Svingen can use monthly reports to compare configurations and see where changes occurred. Further, Svingen has all backups burned to a CD and stored off-site. Backup is also stored online, where administrators can see it when needed. "The goal is that if the whole building disappeared, we could get everything back," said Svingen.

Configuration Auditor came in extremely handy during a recent audit by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), Svingen noted. The NCUA sets the security standards for state-chartered credit unions. It audits credit unions like Oregon Telco, which is chartered by the government of Oregon, about every 18 months to "make sure they're not going down the drain," Svingen said.

After Svingen completed a required NCUA questionnaire, NCUA examiners visited Oregon Telco to see if security was up-to-date. Svingen showed a Visio diagram that Configuration Auditor had created of the network, clearly showing firewalls and other security measures. "With Configuration Auditor, we didn't have to worry about proving our security configuration," he said. The examiners took one look, Svingen recalled, and said, "Wow!"

Had Svingen not found Configuration Auditor, proving to the NCUA that Oregon Telco was up-to-date on security would not have been easy. "We probably would have just bobbed along with inadequate documentation." Now, NCUA audits and daily system monitoring are a piece of cake.

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