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Network Documentation software

By Titan62 ·
Hey all, first time poster here.

I'm looking into software to document and manage a WAN. I've visited a couple of sites and done some reading, but I'd like to hear what others think. Does anyone have any recommendations on what software packages are effective and which are not? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

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by LordInfidel In reply to Network Documentation sof ...

Is basically the god of the documentation tools.

For network diagrams, use visio.

For IP tracking, use excel or any generic spreadsheet program.

For notes, stick with the simple text document.

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What about ...

by Titan62 In reply to Visio

... a package to bring those facets together. For example, I've been reading up on netViz. Would an application like that be worthwhile? I know it's all subjective and situational, but I'd like to hear some input.

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Never heard

by LordInfidel In reply to What about ...

of NetViz....

So I can't really comment on it. I've never really searched for an "all inclusive" package.

Although visio 2003 pro does have a network discovery tool. I just prefer visio diagrams because typically if I have to share a diagram with another engineer, 10 to 1 odds says he has visio. That and their network images are are abundandt.

I like excel for keeping track of IP's because I can make a template, and then copy the worksheet over and over. And everyone has excel or something similar...

I guess what I am trying to say is not to go something that is so propietary that the only place you can use it is at that location.

If you save a NetViz drawing and then need to share that drawing with another engineer, will they have the program to open it?

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ditto.. on all 3

by road-dog In reply to Visio

Also, use adobe to turn drawings into .pdf. Park them on the intranet so you can get them on any desktop with a browser.

For internal use, don't bother with the equipment shapes. Rectangles work just fine. This approach will greatly help you with troubleshooting down the road.

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by LordInfidel In reply to ditto.. on all 3

FYI, instead of adobe, use CutePDF, it's free.

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All depends

by Oldefar In reply to Network Documentation sof ...

Document and manage a WAN is a wide open objective, Paul. You need to narrow the scope a bit.

First, what are your objectives?

Document - for what purpose or purposes? Who will use it, and for what? Are you recording information, or providing information? If the latter, what information and to who?

Manage - what do you want to include in this? Change control? Automated configuration? Fault identification, fault analysis, fault resolution? Disaster recovery? Trend analysis? Repair action assignment, status tracking, resolution record, trend analysis? In-house or outsourced?

Cost parameters - do you have a range, or value based on costs of not documenting and managing?

What constraints are you faced with for implementation, support, and use?

My recommendation is that you define your business objectives and business requirements first, and then set technical objectives to support these. The technical objectives will define your technical requirements, which you can then use to select the management and documentation package or packages that meet your needs in your environment.

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Yes, I unerstand it is very situational ...

by Titan62 In reply to All depends

... but this is where I'm at. I'm a junior analyst who has taken it upon myself to look into documenting our network. We have Visio images of various network segments, an inventory of our networking hardware, our help desk has an inventory of our client hardware, etc. We pretty much have all of the information about the network. However, it is somewhat scattered and I'd like to pull it together.

The users will be our networking and help desk staff. I guess the emphasis here would be on documentation over management. Its primary use would be that of a one-stop directory. At this point, I'm not interested in having it provide the status of the network. However, I would like for it to dynamically update the configuration (via SNMP?).

Again, I'm in the initial stages here. So, please forgive the lack of detail.


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by Oldefar In reply to Yes, I unerstand it is ve ...

Let me suggest you list the top 10 things you need from documentation/management and give them a priority - most useful thru least important.

What this provides is a smaller checklist of functions to deal from when looking at the various tools available.

For what its worth, I used Access for my inventories, linked it to Visio for my drawings, and then used Word master to create a site specific document for all 200+ locations. I did this because we could not easily print OpenView maps and I had Office and Visio available already.

I also established a couple of standard naming formats that supported moving data between databases and MIB. Made life much simpler. The same approach and Access database allowed new sites to be handled with a mail merge order form to our carrier, and a mail merge checklist to our implementers.

As for NetVis, it has its place. I have no particular problems with it and used it for several years.

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Network Engineer point of view

by ITmanTPC In reply to Network Documentation sof ...


I use SuperScan ( to grab all running servers/workstations anything with an IP address. Grab ports information just so I can do some security investigation once I am done mapping the network. Then I use Visio to document the network. I do not like the automated tools, sometimes, doing it by hand allows you to discover a potential problem or a rogue box which has happened several times for me.

SuperScan creates nice looking html reports for the network scan. In visio, you might beable to create an object and link the report to it. So say you create a PC in Visio, link the part of the report that has to do with that PC so when you dbl click on it it displays the port information and such.


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Forgot to mention

by ITmanTPC In reply to Network Engineer point of ...

Do this periodically to update the network and view port information.

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