Need software for network documentation? Ideally, if you need to document the network this is what happens: you go out and buy network documentation software, install, […]

Tales from the Net: Network Documentation Woes

Need software for network documentation? Ideally, if you need to document the network this is what happens: you go out and buy network documentation software, install, […]

Need software for network documentation? Ideally, if you need to document the network this is what happens: you go out and buy network documentation software, install, implement, and bam: you click, view network, fix, and go home early. That’s the goal, right?

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

Recently, a member of my team dived into a popular Internet discussion website to check out the various problems folks who’ve bought network documentation software have had to deal with post-purchase.

Problems?

We have written a blog series about how to find the right documentation software for your organization’s needs (
you can visit that by clicking here
). If you end up purchasing the wrong software, there can be big headaches that result…We’ll take out any identifying info about the various software that the commenters reference, but we’ll keep the basic idea below:

1. “Little More Than a Broken Toy”

That’s how one commenter described a
freemium network documentation software
they are using. Sure, the price is right…wait: but is the price, right?

There is a lot more to the cost of the software than just money: you are investing your time and manpower into a solution that you end up not being able to use. Make sure freemium software has all of the features you are looking for to help solve your network issues; if not, you should look elsewhere.

2. “Good if Your Network is Small”

Some Cloud-only solutions are great for small networks but just can’t deliver when it comes to larger networks. If you have a small-ish network currently, that may be just what you need. Beware, however, as networks have a tendency to grow (and grow and grow) and are ever becoming more complex, will a Cloud-based software scale for larger networks?

Some network documentation vendors (like us,
ahem
) offer both a Cloud-based and an on-premise solution which organizations with smaller networks and enterprise large networks can utilize and scale. If you currently have a small network, finding a vendor that offers both may be a good option. Try to avoid getting pigeon-holed into a solution that won’t be able to scale up alongside your network.

3. “Everything…and the Kitchen Sink”

Some folks use a mashup of various tools that aren’t exactly meant for documentation; things like spreadsheets, Visio, Google Drawings, internal wiki sites, and so on. This is better than using nothing…but long term, things can get messy. If there aren’t strictly followed and documented procedures for keeping these tools updated, you end up with a hodge podge of documentation that won’t help you save the day when something goes wrong on the network.

One of the biggest benefits for having a central network documentation tool like netTerrain is the ability to search for information quickly, instead of trying to find information that is scattered and all over the place. If you’re currently dealing with a hodgepodge situation, Is it time to move from the chaos of tools into just one solution?

4. “Price Too Steep & Learning Curve Too Steep”

Sometimes in software, the steeper the price, the steeper the learning curve. This seems to be true with certain network documentation software packages; the software can, on paper, accomplish a great deal. In reality, though…yikes. Why is that? Too many features: it makes it more expensive and more difficult to use.

Keep in mind, many vendors have a whole laundry list of features that will cost you extra! Ask yourself this: do you really need all the features that the network documentation vendor is selling you? Keep focus on what is really needed. A huge learning curve means projects never get off the ground: we have seen this before…especially if the software vendor isn’t known for providing excellent support, so…(do your research).

In sum, the ultimate goal of “click, view network, fix, and go home early” is achievable…however: not every software that purports to offer network documentation is going to fit the bill. Be careful. Get references. Test drive the software. Don’t get taken in by too much sizzle and dazzle during a demo. Ask hard questions like: how will this feature actually help? If you have questions about network documentation software, want a free trial of our software netTerrain, or would like a demo, click here now.

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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