NOTE: If you'd prefer to view this information as a blog post, check out this entry in our Five Apps blog.
At some point, every administrator will need to diagram a network. For some, it's their primary duty -- and they tend to rely on powerful, expensive tools like Microsoft Visio. But for those who need to use a diagramming tool only occasionally, a cheaper solution is best. Luckily, there are several free apps that handle the task well.
Here are five tools that can help you diagram your network without breaking your budget. Some are Windows-only, while others are cross platform.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for Techrepublic and Linux.com. As an avid promoter/user of the Linux OS, Jack tries to convert as many users to open source as possible. His current favorite flavor of Linux is Bodhi Linux (a melding of Ubuntu and Enlightenment). When Jack isn't writing about Linux he is hard at work on his other writing career -- writing about zombies, various killers, super heroes, and just about everything else he can manipulate between the folds of reality. You can find Jack's books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. Outnumbered in his house one male to two females and three humans to six felines, Jack maintains his sanity by riding his mountain bike and working on his next books. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website Get Jack'd.
Jack, Thank you for providing a link for the Blog Version of this article. Some of us have a real hard time with Slide Shows. I have to pass them up completely, no matter how important the subject matter is to me. Thank You.
I've used THE DUDE for a about a year now and have been satisfied with it. Also, it is free. Network Mapping And Monitoring The Dude is a unique network monitor that incorporates an interactive map of your network layout, that helps you visualize the structure of your network and provides direct access to network functions specific to each item. It can automatically discover your local network and draw a preliminary layout that can be further customized and saved. You can manually add items, customize the icons and captions used for each device and connect nodes with lines and other drawing tools. The program supports various network monitoring tasks from simple ping checks to port probes and service checks. Other features include history logging, outage notifications (email, beep, popup, eventlog), SNMP support, map export to PDF or PNG as well as customizable interface layouts and more.
It doesn't have fancy icons or shapes, but it has 'connectors' so you can move objects around with the lines attached. I haven't used it much so maybe it's more capable than I know.
While I am no stranger to network admin, I will admit the networks I deal with most are much smaller than what a lot of people deal with. That said, the need for diagrams has never been critcial, but that does not mean someone should not have them, so for a person who has little to no experience creating them, what would be best to start with? Obvously ease of use or at least ease of figuring out would be most important for starting out, but also the ability to get everything needed. Fortuantly, the "everything needed" would be very basic items as they are not very complex. Thanks, Rob
I think Dia is very easy to use and learn. Many cisco and network objects, besides it is free and multi plataform. You can export, import, create objects, etc.