The process of network diagram creation is well-known for the most network administrators. In this article, we will try to answer the question: why an IT manager must know the network topology and always should have it in front of his eyes. Also, we will review all the process of the network diagram drawing using the specialized software.
First of all, it is worth to mention, that the choice of network hardware and software used in a company depends on the network topology. But the topology, in its turn, depends on the company’s needs and requirements. Thus, the competent network topology increases the efficiency of all the organization and allows you not to distract your colleagues if one of the LAN components falls out. In addition, the intimate knowledge of the network topology allows the IT-manager to evaluate its bottlenecks, and to plan further connections of the network devices and PCs better. Apart from everything else, the system administrator has to detect and recover any network failure as fast as possible. But if the company’s network is complex and consists of dozens or hundreds PCs, servers, switches, printers, and other devices, it is not always possible to understand what the problem is and where to go to recover the failure. With the network diagram you always could view and try to understand where the defective device is, on which floor, in which office, etc.
But what if you are a newbie in the organization or have been sent by outsourcing company to solve specified problems? In this case, discovering and building the network diagram topology can take more than an hour, and if the network is rather complex, this procedure can take even a few days. Are there any instruments that allow drawing the network diagram effortlessly? If there are switches supporting the SNMP protocol on the network, the system administrator can use the specialized network discovery software that is available on the market. This software allows creating network diagrams automatically. All the process will take a few steps:
1. Install the network diagrammer program on the admin’s PC.
2. Scan your entire network in order to detect all the network devices. If your switches support the SNMP protocol, the program will detect connections between devices automatically.
3. If some connections between devices have not been detected because of some reasons (for instance, the existing security policy does not allow using the SNMP protocol on some devices), the system administrator can complete and draw the diagram manually using the internal diagram editor. Also, he is able to arrange devices by groups as they arranged by the rooms and offices in the company’s building, draw areas, and add necessary labels.
The network topology diagram is ready. All the devices that are connected to the LAN, and links between them are located on the map.
So, the network mapping process takes three steps only, but these 3 steps can help you to improve your LAN reliability, your employees and the entire organization. Creating a network topology diagram will save system administrator’s nerves and time, allowing him to solve more important issues related to the network operation, such as, optimizing and upgrading the system, analyzing the LAN structure, maintaining the technical documentation, etc.
Dmitriy Stepanov, Network Topology expert