Network Documentation Examples

Documentation is an important aspect of Network Management and should be done from the planning, through the implementation and modification phases. A network administrator will store this documentation so it can be recalled and updated when necessary. Provided below are some examples of how and why data is documented.

1.Vendor and Manufacturer Data: A great deal of documentation can come from the vendor or manufacture.  Documentation an administrator may secure from a vendor includes readme files, administration guides and manuals, and online knowledgebase and forums.

2.Network Maps: Network maps will give a visual representation of the physical and logical network structure. The physical structure refers to the hosts routers, switches, and workstations and the logical structure refers to the conceptual models, VLAN’s, and Identity Access Solutions such as Active Directory, and Quest. Microsoft Visio is one of the more common programs used to represent network maps.

3.Wire Schematics: Wire schematics provide the path and location of all wires that interconnect systems within a network. Wire schemes provide a way through the maze of cables which can lead to more efficient uses of time and money.

Many companies with data centers contract cable management to third – parties, who bill by the hour. Having a wire map for these third – party companies to follow will save money and time. Often wires or cables will be color – coded or tagged. This makes findings where different sets of wires lead, more manageable. It is helpful to know the wiring standards, T568A or T568B, to address compatibility issues before they occur.   

4.Cable Management: Cable Management aligns with wire schemes and mapping.  There are various ways to manage cables either by twist ties, Velcro, PVC conduits, or plastic wrapping coil. By coming up with a proper cable management plan it will be easier to map and modify when changes occur. 

Cable management is also related to proper care of the cables which means making sure cables are terminated correctly. This includes verifying that the  ‘bend radius’ is not exceeded, cables are not squeezed tightly together, and they are located away from where physical damage or EMI are likely to occur.

5.Baselines: Baselines are measurements of when your network and servers are running on a normal load. By documenting this “baseline” measurement it enables a network administrator to identify issues before they become catastrophic.  Baselines will also show the impact of additions to the network such as introducing more servers and network appliances.

6.Asset management: Asset management is concerned with identifying and tracking hardware and software assets. All assets are added to an inventory database and this database is updated over the life cycle of the asset.

It is common to see asset tagged or branded with an Identification number specific to the organization that purchased it. This ID is cross referenced to the model, serial number, location, and user that possess the asset. Asset management also keeps track of vendor support contracts and software licensing.

7.Change Management: Change Management addresses the need to document why a change is needed, when the change is set to be scheduled and when the change is executed. Servers that are managed by several administrators or impact a wide range of business units must have the approval of all stakeholders. 

For instance, you would not want to take the website down for maintenance on the day a new product is set to be released. Also, the government under Sarbanes – Oxley Section 404 requires assessment and internal controls over IT systems. Change management is required to be in compliance with federal law.

Federal law also requires telecommunications companies to provide surveillance capabilities under the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA).