Do you own a swiss army knife? Maybe you even keep one on your keychain so it’s always handy when you need it? It’s a good […]

Need Network Documentation? The Top 2 Leading Tools May Surprise You

Do you own a swiss army knife? Maybe you even keep one on your keychain so it’s always handy when you need it? It’s a good […]

Do you own a swiss army knife? Maybe you even keep one on your keychain so it’s always handy when you need it? It’s a good tool to have: you can cut something, open a can, whittle a stick, and even start a fire with one tool. It’s an imperfect solution, most things take a whole lot longer with a swiss army knife, and efficiency is non-existent, but, hey, it’s better than nothing, right?

We make network documentation software called netTerrain and, believe it or not, our biggest competitor is not some other software company or solution. Our two biggest competitors are the IT equivalents of the swiss army knife: the spreadsheet and Visio diagrams.

Spreadsheets and Visio diagrams are the swiss army knives of the IT world because they’re an imperfect answer to the myriad IT problems facing today’s organizations. You have these tools, so you use them. It kind of works but….it mostly doesn’t. That being said, it’s better than nothing.

So, why would using tools that can kind of get the job done (even if it takes much longer and creates more headaches) be a problem? Well, having the right infrastructure in place is important but managing infrastructure in the right way is almost as important. You can’t manage infrastructure in the right way using tools that don’t do the job well, efficiently, or completely. You can’t manage the network efficiently, if you don’t know what you have, and spreadsheets and Visio make it impossible to do so. You can’t keep them up-to-date, you can’t drill down, you can’t track what’s been changed and what’s been tried (and by whom), and so on.

Sure, spreadsheets can get fairly complex. You can even manage connections using them. But getting spreadsheets to a level at which they truly work for managing the network amounts to a level of work for which most organizations simply don’t have the time or team to devote.

Are there enough issues and pains that will want you to make the move and find another solution, then using your spreadsheets and Visio diagrams? If the pain is not great enough, please do continue to use these tools. We are not knocking these tools down, it really comes down to what you’re your change management processes to make sure that anytime a network engineer makes a change to the network, add/remove cables, adds new cards to devices, add or remove devices from the racks, etc. that the changes are reflected in a daily basis in Visio and spreadsheets.

I’ve talked to many, many organizations and some of the people who show me their spreadsheets and I am like, “…wow, they keep it up to date and have lots of information. Why bother talking to us then?” These folks are, by far, the exception.

If the following are any of the issues you are dealing with, maybe it’s time to look for a better way to automatically map and document your network:

  • Losing valuable time on spreadsheets and Visio?
    Solution: Access up-to-date, real-time network diagrams in a centralized repository.
  • Sick of troubleshooting taking too long?
    Solution: Get the information you need as soon as you need it, through polling, searching, and circuit traces.
  • Spending too much time and money on cabling issues?
    Solution: Keep track of your entire inventory and all network assets and run SNMP with CDP and LLDP network discovery to view and manage connections.
  • Fed up trying to manage without the insights you need?Solution: Have one place to keep on network information, to collaborate with team members, searching and reports, and to lessen the impact of an employee leaving the company, with all of their network knowledge.

Bottomline? The more complex your network is, the more you need to retire your IT version of the swiss army knife and upgrade to an automated solution for diagramming and documenting the network. Want to try network documentation software like netTerrain for free? Have some questions? Want a demo? Click here to schedule a no-pressure 15-minute discovery call.

Fred Koh
Fred Koh
As a seasoned sales executive, Fred Koh serves as Director of Sales and is responsible for Graphical Networks sales and channel partner program, marketing strategy, and operations.

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