Network documentation 101 ! How? When? Why?

Documentation is an extremely important rule when building a network. You will know what has been done in your network. With a good network documentation, the network support and maintenance procedures could handle the incidents in a more professional and organized way.



Without a good network documentation, there is no map, topology or information to troubleshoot your network step by step.






When time passes and memorizing previous tasks becomes hard, you could hardly remember what you or others have done without documenting a network. You should exactly know how your network works, where every item is, and how traffic is forwarded on your network and this is only done by a proper network documentation.



As a Network Engineer, a Member of a Support team or even a Network Designer of a Company, you need to have a document for the network to be able to track the configuration of all your items and the relationships between them.





Within time by time, the Network engineers, Technical Support Teams, Network Designers usually change in the company or project and if network documentation is not done in the proper way, all these information, experience and … will go out with the engineer, So other collogues could hardly understand and know what was designed and implemented in the network.



Documenting the network also helps network engineers to find out if they have done any mistakes or even if they have forgotten any tasks, configurations, protocols, etc. so they can go back and fix, add, replace, edit any part of their design and configuration.




Engineers are mostly in a more protected side when they document their network. Meaning that when they touch a network, reconfigure it or even start to resolve incidents, new incidents and failures could happen, so with a proper network documentation, you can easily proof what the failure reasons was based on all the previous documents .



Network documentation can start with a simple map with the network topology and IP Addresses and more information being added to it and based on the scale of the network , adding more information to it.





For troubleshooting a network that has no network documentation, you actually don’t know exactly where to start, how to start, were to finish, what is the path to check, which devices or protocols to check, what are the rules or functions of each link and device , the primary and redundant paths that traffic flows, which path do the traffic flow based on which policy and etc.



Without any of these information’s being documented in the network, diagnosing and resolving faults will take much longer or even in many cases cannot be done.



For newer employees that are being added to the company, less time is needed to be spend for other engineers to explain the network to them(this is if they can find anyone to share the information with them). This will decrease the time and cost and bring efficiency for the company. Think about how much time it gets for a new employee to understand the network. How much interruption, how long (days? weeks? months? ) it will take for them to understand and finally, how much will they will really understand are only some considerations.






As a network engineer, you can make extra revenue for your company by documenting your companies network, your companies customers network, or any project that you are working for .


Also , Based on the documents that you have done, it can help you find areas in the network that can be fixed, upgraded, or even optimization and redesign a part if required .





This network documentation is one of the most important items for your disaster recovery procedures. So it’s very important to evaluate your network documentation to be sure if it completely covers your all areas of your network, otherwise searching all your handwriting papers and trying to memorize back what has been done , will not work at disaster





So, if you have decided to document your network , its better to do a proper network documentation and document all the items that are in your network. Some items including :



  • Physical locations of the Network
  • Layer 1 diagram
  • Layer 2 Mapping of the network , documenting features such as vlan, spanning tree information, link aggregations, trunks… and relationship between them
  • Layer 3 information such as IP Segments, redundancy mechanisms as HSRP,VRRP,…
  • Route patterns of the network
  • Map of the layer 3 protocols in the network
  • Routing protocol diagrams such as routing domains, IGP, BGP, Autonomous Systems, , Internal Areas, Redistribution points,…route tagging and filtering
  • IP Addressing , Rack Layout , Wireless Wi-Fi Layout , Cabling
  • Security Diagrams security policies, physical and virtual firewalls, security zones, VPNs, …
  • Load balancers,
  • Network Topologies , Network Devices
  • License, Operating systems, software’s, hardware’s
  • Configuration description
  • Traffic patters
  • Failures and Recovery scenarios
  • Send/Receive traffic of the network, Traffic Flows directions
  • Links and resource Capacities in the network



All these information plus a lot more, should be written down for the network documentation.






Now let’s see some of the effects of not having any network documentation.

  • Having no network documentation will cause more downtime when trying to resolve network incidents and failures which would completely and definitely effect the business .There is no way to do maintenance and support, do migration plans and upgrade plans without any network documentation. And every troubleshooting step is done blindly.


  • Security would be a big concern without having a network documentation, because there is no information of how the network is connected, to where the network is connected, ingress and egress of the network traffic, policies etc.


  • Even the most experienced and knowledgeable engineers in networking cannot solve your network faults and incidents fast or in the expected time without any documentation. They need time to understand what is the network and start drawing a first picture of your network map and protocols to start troubleshooting the network, and this absolutely takes much time.






Documenting the current state of the network may be needed in several ways:

  • For Migration Plans
  • For Analyzing the Network and Optimizing and Tuning the Network
  • For Monitoring Maintenance and Support Tasks
  • For Network Consultants as starting a project





As you definitely know, all these tasks need network documentation and based on each task, doing them manually are time consuming with mistakes…


Actually, documenting a network, drawing the maps, writing down the traffic pattern, drawing the layer 2 and layer 3 protocols that are building the networks traffic patterns, and… all are hard or even headaches for some Network Engineers, Network Maintenance and Support Teams. This comes even more, when the network changes time by time and Network Engineers need to keep the documents update all the time.



Especially in complex networks where several layer 2, 3 and… Protocols and Traffic patterns, QoS, Traffic engineering and … exists in the network, this becomes more and more complex.


When it comes to documenting a network or documenting the changes and updating the network documentation, it becomes the less exciting part of a project, so most engineers find excuses for trying to skip from handling this task or being accountant for it.







What Network Engineers mostly say, as an excuse for documenting the networks are:

  • “We don’t really have time”
  • “We are so busy that we prefer to put more of your Time and Energy to Focus on more Critical Jobs”
  • “We need to concentrate on newer projects, tasks,…”
  • “This can be handled to Lower Level Engineers”
  • “It doesn’t worth spending time on it”
  • “Our Network would be published everywhere and it’s a security concern”
  • “We will do it later at our free and rest times”







Finding a way to handle these issues were always an expectation from network engineers that software developers would bring a software to do it automated and automatic without any manual tasks. When it comes to automation and automatic documentation, a large amount of time is saved for the network Engineers and Companies.



This brings

  • Time Saving
  • Money Savings
  • Less Error or Mistakes
  • Generating Updated documents per any request






There are Network software’s that automate the network documentation procedure and removes all the manual tasks required to document the network. One of the most famous software’s is the NIMPEE Network Infrastructure Intelligence software produced by IPFABRIC.






As the Technical Advisory Board of IPFABRIC , I would like to introduce you a great Network Infrastructure Intelligence software that does “Network Documentation” in an automated and automatic way. Actually, this is only one of the features of this great software, but relating to this Article, I would like to explain some capabilities of this software based on “Automated Network Documentation”.







Some of the Benefits that you can get from the automated Network Documentation procedure of NIMPEE are:



  • Reduce Time Consuming and Continuous Updates
  • Prepare Proper Documentation with Detailed Technical Parameters for Reporting and Planning
  • Fulfill internal and ISO process requirements with Automatic Network Documentation Generation
  • Save Significant Amount of Time for Engineers Documenting the Network
  • Decrease Time Consuming Tasks on Updating Network Documents and keeping Up to Date Documents and History for Maintaining and Requiring Continuous Effort.
  • Generating Historical and Current Network Documentation
  • Generating Network Analysis Reports, Supporting Change Management Processes, Team Communication and Reporting.







If you’re interested in saving 10’s or 100’s of hours of time on documenting your network manually and want to do it in a fast and easy manner without human errors and mistakes , you can check “Network Infrastructure Intelligence” software produced by IPFABRIC on the following website.


You can contact our sales team for more information about NIMPEE and request a demo !





about NIMPEE and request a demo !

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