In the past, I’ve used the Cisco SDM (Security Device Manager) GUI to build sample router configurations in a lab setting. Some complex tasks like IPSec VPN tunnels and ACL’s to limit management access are made easy. The IOS commands used can be shown (as well as a view of the running config). The biggest advantage for this tool is training and testing in the lab to develop “Cisco recommended” and “best practice” sample configs. It is a great learning tool for IT people who are new to Cisco.
One major problem with the SDM has been incompatibility with new versions of Java. In 2012, the latest browsers and Java packages will not work with the SDM. The solution? … SDM has been replaced by a stand-alone Java PC app called CCP (Cisco Configuration Professional). CCP is a free download available at cisco.com. I haven’t used it much, but in my limited testing it seems like a good drop-in replacement for the old SDM. This is not to be confused with CCP Express, a completely different product with a very limited feature set.