Do you really need network documentation? In this blog post, Jason Sherman weighs in with his David Letterman-style top 10 list of reasons you definitely need network documentation software.
Network documentation - you can’t live without it, you really can’t live …. without it.
For today’s blog, I could write a few boring paragraphs outlining the benefits of network documentation - and especially, of automated network documentation….however, this is a blog - not a white paper - and we try to keep things entertaining around here. So, I’m drawing on some inspiration from David Letterman, and his famous top ten lists: I’m creating my own top ten list of reasons why you need network documentation in your life (aka your data center).
As Letterman would say, “without further adieu - I bring you tonight’s top ten list from the home office here in Gaithersburg, MD”....
Network documentation...you can't live without it...you really can't live without it."
1. Because...A Place for Everything & Everything In Its Place
The old adage is true when it comes to your data center documentation. Whether it’s that you need to build out or move or consolidate, you won’t get far if you don’t know where everything is and where it goes. With network documentation, you aren’t just documenting the network: you’re bringing order to your data center and designating where things go.
2. Because…You Can’t Secure Your Network if You Don’t How It’s Connected
This one is simple enough: how could someone in charge of their network be able to secure the network if they have no idea how the network is connected, or what’s on the network, or the equipment being used to run the network or……and the list goes on...
3. Because…Accidents Will Happen
Elvis Costello may have said it best, but I’ll say it again here: things go wrong from time to time - accidents will happen - and sometimes you really need to access key information fast. If it’s all in Bob’s head, for example, and Bob is on vacation unwinding on some remote tropical island without cell service, who are you gonna call? Properly documenting your network saves you valuable time and money in resolving problems.
4. Because…Nothing Lasts Forever
As much as we’d like to think all that expensive equipment in your data center will last forever, or at least, as long as you’re employed there, the truth is: nothing lasts forever and your equipment will, at the very least, be due for servicing from time to time. Without documentation in place, it’s virtually impossible to stay on top of your equipment servicing before it becomes a problem - or, when a problem does surface - even more complicated when you need to track down tech or vendor info STAT.
5. Because…Nobody Stays Forever
Remember when Bob went on vacation to that remote tropical island? Well, it turns out that while he was there, he decided the simple life was for him - so he put the house on the market and handed in his resignation. Nobody stays forever, and while it’s not a shock that Bob’s leaving, it’s a problem for you. What happens to all that information in Bob’s head? How can you document all of it in the next two weeks? You can’t - but if you have a network documentation system in place, you can breathe a lot easier and focus on giving Bob a proper farewell party.
6. Because…Google Doesn’t Have All the Answers
We’ve talked about the importance of keeping vendor and tech information in an easy to access place - and you might think, well, “there’s always Google.” Fair enough, but the problem is that Google - regardless of what it’s current price per stock share might be - doesn’t have all the answers. You can probably find a vendor phone number easily enough with Google, but when it comes to the right extension or department, you could just find yourself out of luck.
7. Because…History Repeats Itself
In the past when there’s been a malfunction, you’ve found a solution. With network documentation in place, when that same malfunction occurs again, you can quickly read about past issues, its symptoms and its resolutions.
8. Because…Network Documentation Can Be Easy
While properly documenting a network is a big task to tackle, it doesn’t have to be all Visio’s and spreadsheets. Automated network documentation, depending upon your needs and the size of your network, could be just what you need to document your network - and keep it up-to-date.
9. Because…Your Corporate Network Doesn’t Fit in a Shoebox
It’s imperative that you be able to track the configuration of items and relationships in an organized system that any appropriate stakeholder can access concurrently.
10. Because…You Can’t Manage What You Don’t Know
I saved this for last because it’s at the heart of the matter (and we say it a lot at Graphical Networks): you can’t manage what you don’t know. Get busy documenting and find a system or platform that works for your data center’s unique needs. Don’t expect magic overnight: it takes dedication to the task. Network documentation needs to be a priority, and an ongoing task: outdated documentation won’t get you that far.