The Different Flavors of Network Documentation & Network Diagram Software

As the Sales Director for a software company specializing in IT visualization (Graphical Networks), I’ve come across all different aspects of network documentation and network diagram solutions.

What exactly do I mean? There are so many different possibilities that it’s kind of an overload trying to find the right solution to document your network. There are the basics…Visio network diagrams (network engineers use this along with spreadsheets to manage their networks). Eventually, though, I’ve found, everyone who uses Visio to manage the network eventually comes to a crossroads at which they must find an alternative.

Why is this inevitable?

  • Networks are always evolving and changing
  • Too many hands touching the network
  • People come and go and take with them all their knowledge about the network
  • Employees want to go home at a reasonable hour to spend time with the family or hobbies (imagine that..)
  • Too much money is being spent on IT clutter that’s not necessary

If Visio and spreadsheets are on one end of the pendulum, what’s at the other? Network monitoring/management tools! Applications such as CA Spectrum, Solarwinds Orion, and NetBrain — and CMDBs like Service Now, and BMC Remedy.

Do these tools really help document your network? Somewhat…these tools do a great job in network performance analysis, network discovery, and monitoring, with alerting capabilities.

So…if you don’t have six figures to spend, what are the other alternatives?

Meet netTerrain: our automated network documentation and network diagram software. One of our oft-repeated phrases here is that netTerrain won’t break the bank.

What is it?

netTerrain is a centralized, web-based, and collaborative application that has SNMP discovery, is vendor-agnostic, and will find your devices and connections (we discuss automating your network diagrams in many articles here). Automation happens via our discovery engine. In addition, netTerrain’s Collector, also houses its adapters to 3rd party apps via Web Services API to the leading NMS and CMDB tools, such as Solarwinds Orion, Spectrum, and ServiceNow.

We have many customers who already have Solarwinds and Spectrum, but they’ve found that they also need netTerrain. Why is this?

Enterprise-grade network monitoring does a fantastic job of monitoring the network and network analysis, but does a poor job understanding how all of this actually impacts business. For example: is this server under warranty, is it under maintenance, who can I contact, where is this network device located? Which data center room and rack number are the devices?

The truth is: there’s far more to network documentation then just seeing if the device is up or down.

With netTerrain, you can view and manipulate your network diagrams to best fit your model, organization, and stakeholders. Want to see just network topology maps? Check. netTerrain goes beyond just network topology maps. We marry logical network maps with physical views. Want to see telecom rooms with the racks and equipment inside? Yep, netTerrain can do that. Need to see your entire data center floors and all of the devices inside racks and in its right location? Check. See office floor plans and see where the wall jacks are located in each room? Yes, you can do that in netTerrain. Also, do you have outside plant/fiber plant elements that need to be documented? You guessed it: you can do this in netTerrain,too!

netTerrain is not a monitoring tool, nor does it do bandwidth utilization rates, or traffic workflows (if you are looking for those types of solutions, contact CA or Solarwinds). If, however, you are looking for an application to see what is on my network today, pass audits and compliance and have an automated, centralized way for users to collaborate, and view your infrastructure in real-time, either from discovery or data from my existing application, feel free to test drive netTerrain…your favorite new automated network discovery solution. With netTerrain, you can have updated network diagrams — and a way to see them physically as well.

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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