Here at Graphical Networks, we see it every day: automatic network documentation and diagramming makes life easier for our customers. With automation, users can fix network […]

Totally Biased Guide to Documenting Your Network

Here at Graphical Networks, we see it every day: automatic network documentation and diagramming makes life easier for our customers. With automation, users can fix network […]

abstract network connections

Here at Graphical Networks, we see it every day: automatic network documentation and diagramming makes life easier for our customers. With automation, users can fix network outages faster, troubleshoot issues quickly, reduce expenditure on unnecessary IT stuff, and save time and resources managing changes to the network.

If you’re considering making the jump from no documentation, spreadsheets, Visio, netViz, or some other kind of documentation platform to something fully supported and automated (such as netTerrain), this guide is for you.

Introduction: Where to Begin? Find the Pain.

“I pity the fool..because there is gonna be pain!”

Back in the 80’s, no two words meant more to me than ‘pain’ and ‘fool’. Why? Because Mr T. could bring the pain and deliver fools like no other!

What does Mr. T have to do with mapping the network? Well…besides me being able to reference Mr T. here (and if you don’t know Mr T., here ya go) a main issue with network documentation is pain. Not pain as in you ‘just got your finger smashed while trying to rack mount a server’. No, I mean pain as in ‘my network documentation is not what it needs to be and is causing me real pain’.

Now there are degrees of real pain…there is the “well, we have been working for 20 years without documentation and it would be nice to have because it may have helped us save a little time.”

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say there is not a lot of pain in this statement.

So, before you wander on down the documentation road, you’ll save yourself some time and energy by first figuring out if there’s any real pain to solve in the first place.

Do any of these situations ring a bell?

“We have to keep up to date on documentation because my boss said so!”
Yeah, this kinda hurts…but it’s not a deal-breaker. I think the Notorious B.I.G put it best with, ‘it’s an everyday struggle.’

“We have to document the network because of compliance and if we get audited and fail it will cost us bigly…”
Ouch. R.E.M. may have put it best when they said, ‘Everybody hurts.’

“We cannot plan the adds and changes correctly because we don’t have good information about our network. This is wasting our time and making it hard to get projects done on time and under budget.”
In the words of Otis Redding, ‘that’s a pain in my heart’.

“We do document the network, but it is taking us too long to do it. Keeping spreadsheets and desktop tools like Visio up to date is no longer working. We are wasting time and it’s not getting done.”
This is definitely a pain. As Grandmaster Flash famously rhymed, ‘It’s like a jungle sometimes It makes me wonder how I keep from goin’ under.’

“We have to document the network because if we don’t have up to date information it takes us exponentially longer to troubleshoot issues which costs time and money and makes us look incompetent.”
Double ouch. As Stevie Wonder put it, ‘that’s no ordinary pain.’

“We don’t know where stuff is, and we keep sending people out into the field to find out the information was incorrect and it’s costing us time and money.”
Houston, we’ve got a problem. See the Johnny Cash version of ‘Hurt’ on this one.

So, my advice before you take one more step in the documentation process is ask yourself the question. “Do I feel lucky,punk” …oh, wait – wrong movie reference!

Do I have real pain or is this one of those things where I think this might be a good idea but really, it’s a “nice to have” …or is it one of those things that I know realistically won’t go anywhere?

In sum: if you know it’s cannon fodder, just skip it. Save your breath. Don’t start testing software and spinning wheels and gears. As Frozen’s Elsa wisely says, ‘let it go’. Now…if you do have real pain then get ready for the next chapter because now you want to figure out how to really do documentation and make it stick.

Jason Sherman
Jason Sherman
As Graphical Networks’ Sales Engineering and Support Services Manager, Jason Sherman leads the pre and post sales cycle with the entire Graphical Networks software portfolio, and ensures current customers are able to use the software to its fullest potential.

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