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Network Topology Discovery and Network Diagram Creation

Network Topology Discovery

The system administrator has to know where all the network devices are situated and how they are connected to the network in order to perform his high quality duties in time - to detect all failures, to upgrade the hardware, and update the software. That is why the system administrator's work in any company starts with the network topology discovery process and network diagram creation. Network topology is a schematic description of the network's arrangement, including its nodes and connecting lines. The network topology diagram allows an IT manager to view all the network structure: its devices and their connections with each other.

Today, it's almost impossible to find the standard "star", "ring", "bus", or "line" network topologies. Usually, local networks in large companies are so complex and difficult that network map creation turns into a real problem. There are two ways that are used for the network topology discovery:

1. You can manually track all devices' connections across the wire and then manually draw a diagram on paper. It is a routine and dusty work and takes a lot of time, especially if the company occupies a few floors or the whole building.

2. The second method is much easier and faster. You can discover the network topology with the specialized software. It takes only three simple steps to complete the process:

1) Firstly, the system administrator has to install the topology discovery software on his computer.

2) Secondly, the program will scan the whole network in order to detect all the devices that are in the network. If there are switches that support SNMP protocol, the program will be able to find and draw all connections automatically.

3) The final step is manual drawing of connections, if the topology discovery software did not manage to do it automatically due to some reasons.

After all these steps are finished, the system administrator will have the whole company's network diagram on his computer. Icons can be replaced or "placed" in offices and rooms in order to make the orientation process easier for IT manager if some failures or problems with the network devices occur.

Modern market offers the huge amount of network diagram creation software. As a result, in brings up the logical question: how to choose the best one? In this situation you should bear in mind the following advice (as while choosing any program for your organization):

1. Before everything else, the trial version must be available for any network topology discovery software in order to have an opportunity to evaluate its operation, and decide, whether its functionality fits your organization's demands.

2. The software's interface has to be friendly and comprehensible. It must be easy and comfortable to use the program.

3. Often, the price plays the key role in the process of choosing the right software. It is important to remember, that if you buy cheaply, you pay dearly. You must decide for yourself, what is more important for you: to purchase modern and good quality software with timely technical support, but pay a little bit more, or save money and get a mediocre program without any support. In any case, the price should be reasonable.

Any system administrator must have the network topology discovery and network diagram creation software. It does not matter if he works in a company constantly or he is sent by an outsourcing company to perform particular tasks. It is worth to keep in mind, that availability of the company's network topology sometimes allows the IT manager to avoid a lot of unpleasant moments, such as downtimes, due to device failures. If the system administrator has the network diagram, he always can view where the defective device is and fix the failure quicker and more effectively.

More Stories By Dmitriy Stepanov

Dmitriy Stepanov is a CEO at 10-Strike Software, Network Inventory, Network Monitoring, Bandwidth Monitoring Software developer. 10-Strike Software is a software developing company. They offer their high quality networking products since 1999. 10-Strike Software specializes in producing Windows network software for corporate users.

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