These five steps will help you create an accurate and useful network map that features all the necessary elements and can be shared with your team. Using a network topology mapper tool can simplify and centralize this process, increasing your team’s productivity.
1. Identify which areas of your network need to be mapped
The first step in creating a network map is identifying which network elements need to be mapped. For example, do you want visibility of your complete distributed network, an individual subnet, or simply an IP address range? While some organizations will employ complex network maps that reflect their extensive requirements, others may find that simple network maps with just a handful of elements are capable of meeting their needs.
Once you have determined what your network map needs to feature, you can move onto the next step. Remember that every network map, no matter your organization’s size or requirements, should show connections between devices. These may include servers, printers, customers, routers, switches, and more.
2. Pick a method to utilize
Now that you know what you want your network map to include, you need to decide which platform or method you want to use to create your map. Some organizations may choose to draw their maps by hand, which will take a lot of manual effort but can be suitable for a simple network.
Using network mapping software is a highly recommended alternative, which can save you a significant amount of time and potential headache. With a good network topology mapper, network mapping can take minutes rather than days, updates are automatic, and any device issues are flagged in real time.
3. Optimize your network map
A network map should be visually optimized to make interpreting it quick and easy. At this stage, you should take time to adjust the colors, layout, and icons so the network map’s design is intuitive and easy for all viewers to understand. Keep in mind that this map is likely to be viewed by stakeholders, who may not have a technical background, so the design should reflect this.
4. Distribute the network map
Once you have finished optimizing the design of your network map, it is time to share it with all relevant parties. Avoid printing or sharing your map as an individual document, because this could lead to outdated versions being accidentally utilized in the future. Instead, consider uploading your map to a location that can be accessed securely from anywhere, like a shared cloud storage platform.
5. Keep your network map updated
If you decide to use a manual method of creating your network map, the process of keeping your map up-to-date may be more difficult and time-consuming. You will need to update your network map each time you add or remove a device. Or, you will have to analyze your network periodically and redistribute updated network maps. In the meantime, technicians may not have the most current view or competing versions of the network map. A network mapping tool can add all devices for you automatically, ensuring everyone has the same view and the most current information.
Choosing the right network topology mapper
SolarWinds® N-central® delivers a fully automated network mapping experience. The network topology mapper tool automatically discovers your complete network and generates detailed, comprehensive maps that are dynamic and easy for anyone to engage with. N-central even automatically detects changes in your network, like added devices, so keeping your network topology map up-to-date is effortless.
N-central is easy to use and helps you rapidly troubleshoot issues in your customers’ networks, servers, and workstations—even while you’re on the go. With the mobile app available for Android and iOS, you’re never out of the loop. You can receive alerts pushed directly to your phone, which you can use to run remote control sessions using Take Control.
In addition to the network topology mapper, N-central offers additional automation features to help your MSP save time, including patch management, backup management, security management, report management, and endpoint detection and response.
Overall, N-central is a powerful, customizable IT solution that allows MSPs to manage complex networks from one consolidated location—including comprehensive remote monitoring and management capabilities. Give N-central a try free for 30 days.