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Network documentation

Discussion in 'Networks' started by nugget, May 28, 2009.

  1. nugget
    Honorary Member

    nugget Junior toady

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    Network documentation! Do you do it and if so what do you include?

    I'm not really a fan of documentation, generally because there's always more important stuff to do so it never gets done. I'll be starting my new job next week and one of the major things I need to do is, you guessed it, document the whole place. I didn't do it for the last company because I already knew it all because I set it all up from A to Z. Now I'm walking into a new company that has had it all set up (and without any documentation) from several parasites (sorry, consultants).

    I found this little article here (Techrepublic) from a guy that is in a similar position and just wanted your opinions about it. I know there are some software tools that would help (like The Dude and Spiceworks). Any other advice would also be appreciated too.
     
    Certifications: A+ | Network+ | Security+ | MCP (270,271,272,290,620) | MCDST | MCTS:Vista
    WIP: MCSA, 70-622,680,685
  2. greenbrucelee
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    greenbrucelee Zettabyte Poster

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    My place didn't until I started doing the server builds and installing new cables into the cisco stuff.

    The first thing I asked is how the hell do you remember where to put everything? and one of the guys said "err we don't, it's trial and error" :blink

    So I made a list of what cable goes into what port etc etc I also made diagrams of how the whole network setup works in my department along with workflow diagrams to make it easier for people to understand how things work in the department,
     
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCDST, Security+, 70-270
    WIP: 70-620 or 70-680?
  3. zebulebu

    zebulebu Terabyte Poster

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    I document everything - EVERYTHING - that I do. From procedures for creating new user accounts right the way up to network architecture and instructions for using our SANs. This way no-one can ever accuse you of trying to protect your job by ensuring you keep everything secret and known only to yourself.

    For network documentation I generally use Visio for mapping and good old Excel for things like patch scheduling and switch port assignments. Regarding network discovery (for LANs you don't know anything about) I use an IP sweep and ARP table lookups on switches for low-level stuff and NMap to figure out what those 'unknown' devices are. Another absolutely awesome tool for this is McAfee's EPO - the Rogue System Detection element is like a low-level NAC system that costs nothing on top of the cost of the McAfee licensing.

    Funnily enough I've just changed a load of the VLANs in our data centre this morning and have the switch schedule open in front of me right now!

    Documentation is your friend...
     
    Certifications: A few
    WIP: None - f*** 'em
  4. Gingerdave

    Gingerdave Megabyte Poster

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    Much like Zeb we document everything, its all in 1 protected excel sheet and is currently about 40 tabs and 38mb!

    It really is necessary, the head office's IT was run in a very adhock way with no full time IT presence until 18 months ago, and we are stil trying to get everything on an even keel. To the point where we are in over the next bank holiday to rewire everything.

    Documentation, well it isn't much fun but it is a necessary evil.
     
    Certifications: A+,MCP, MCDST, VCP5 /VCP-DV 5, MCTS AD+ Net Inf 2008, MCSA 2008
    WIP: MCSA 2012
  5. BrizoH

    BrizoH Byte Poster

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    Like Zeb I document everything - from patch/switch ports to assets/serial numbers to network diagrams etc

    One reason is that I'm getting old and can't remember everything the way I used to, also I think it shows a level of professionalism - what I aim for is that if I leave the company then someone with the relevant skillset can come in and get up to speed quickly.
     
    Certifications: CCNA, CCNA Security
    WIP: CCNP
  6. jk2447

    jk2447 Petabyte Poster Moderator

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    Absolutely agree with Zeb and Dave. Our place has everything documents even down to where electrical sockets are in a room. Your documentation is a great talking point in an interview as I've found most companies strive to have good documentation and are impressed if you've mapped your network and could do it for them :biggrin
     
    Certifications: BSc (Hons), HND IT, HND Computing, ITIL-F, MBCS CITP, MCP (270,290,291,293,294,298,299,410,411,412) MCTS (401,620,624,652) MCSA:Security, MCSE: Security, Security+, CPTS, VCP4, CCA (XenApp6.5), MCSA 2012, VCP5, VCP6-NV
  7. nugget
    Honorary Member

    nugget Junior toady

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    Thanks for the info guys.

    The next cheeky question is, does anyone have any handy templates available?:p
     
    Certifications: A+ | Network+ | Security+ | MCP (270,271,272,290,620) | MCDST | MCTS:Vista
    WIP: MCSA, 70-622,680,685
  8. jk2447

    jk2447 Petabyte Poster Moderator

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    Ha ha I like your style Nugget. I'd love to send you ours only I think (not 100%) that our place would sack me! :blink Their a bit funny over that in here. Sorry mate :rolleyes:
     
    Certifications: BSc (Hons), HND IT, HND Computing, ITIL-F, MBCS CITP, MCP (270,290,291,293,294,298,299,410,411,412) MCTS (401,620,624,652) MCSA:Security, MCSE: Security, Security+, CPTS, VCP4, CCA (XenApp6.5), MCSA 2012, VCP5, VCP6-NV
  9. Sparky
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    Sparky Zettabyte Poster Moderator

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    Im sure the guy\gal who took your previous job is well impressed. :rolleyes: :biggrin
     
    Certifications: MSc MCSE MCSA:M MCSA:S MCITP:EA MCTS(x5) Security+ Network+ A+
    WIP: Exchange 2007\2010
  10. onoski

    onoski Terabyte Poster

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    Yep! documentation shows an organised personality as well as professionalism on the job. Gone are the days where people keep the info to themselves thinking it would make them indispensable on the job:)
     
    Certifications: MCSE: 2003, MCSA: 2003 Messaging, MCP, HNC BIT, ITIL Fdn V3, SDI Fdn, VCP 4 & VCP 5
    WIP: MCTS:70-236, PowerShell
  11. zebulebu

    zebulebu Terabyte Poster

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    They are? That's news to me - I'm the only one I've ever met who documents things properly. I estimate that 90% of jobs and contracts I've been on have had at least three people who know sod all about IT except about five pieces of absolutely essential information that you'd need to beat out of them with sticks before they coughed it up because they think that makes them unsackable. This is especially prevalent in the public sector - where there isn't as much of a 'survival of the fittest' culture as in the private sector.

    When I worked for the gavvers a while back, out of a department of thirty-odd people, maybe five of them knew what they were doing. The rest of them were Knowledge Weasels of the highest order.
     
    Certifications: A few
    WIP: None - f*** 'em
  12. craigie

    craigie Terabyte Poster

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    So true!
     
    Certifications: CCA | CCENT | CCNA | CCNA:S | HP APC | HP ASE | ITILv3 | MCP | MCDST | MCITP: EA | MCTS:Vista | MCTS:Exch '07 | MCSA 2003 | MCSA:M 2003 | MCSA 2008 | MCSE | VCP5-DT | VCP4-DCV | VCP5-DCV | VCAP5-DCA | VCAP5-DCD | VMTSP | VTSP 4 | VTSP 5
  13. MLP

    MLP Kilobyte Poster

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    Yep, seen that before, where a member of staff may have passwords or settings info re: some obscure module, which no amount of Technical know-how would help. I especially like the term ' Knowledge Weasel'. I'll be using that when I get back to work monday.

    A nice touch with documentation is to get all the necessary passwords together, put them in a sealed envelope, and ask Finance or Management to store them somewhere safe, such as locked in a safe. A sort of 'In Emergency, break glass' type of thing. Not only does it ensure that if something were to happen to you, the info would be there for whoever comes in, it shows that you have thought about disaster recovery, and the welfare of the network.

    Maria
     
    Certifications: HND Computing
    WIP: 70-680, 70-270, 70-290
  14. greenbrucelee
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    greenbrucelee Zettabyte Poster

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    Yep as I said my place didn't doucnebt things as people kept things secret in the hope that it would give them some sort of power or ahead of others.

    So enter me and I document everything as I came to realise that the people keeping things secret were actually forgetting themselves how things worked :D
     
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCDST, Security+, 70-270
    WIP: 70-620 or 70-680?
  15. sunn

    sunn Gigabyte Poster

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    As mentioned, document everything!
    The reasons listed above are true, but also if you’re the only one that knows the information, then how can you be promoted? Worse, if you are, then you’ll still need to keep a foot in the old role since the new skip has nothing to reference.

    Also, documentation is a sign of maturity. I don’t expect a Junior position to be as keen about documentation, but a Senior (experienced) professional should know better.
     
  16. LordMoolyBap

    LordMoolyBap Nibble Poster

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    I use Visio and with some Automation behind with Access aswell. Don't need anything more powerfull as generally not many people are updating it.

    The most important thing no matter what you use is keep it up to date. Make changes as soon as you have done them and don't leave it. I have made that school boy error many a time and all the hard work becomes useless in a year! ugh.

    Dom
     
    Certifications: HND (Comp) MBCS
    WIP: Msc Intelligent Systems
  17. Gingerdave

    Gingerdave Megabyte Poster

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    There are two pitfalls to watch out for though. Firstly if you have people who do keep secrets getting the information out of them to begin with can be difficult (one of the current batles at work) secondly is people not updating it, or not making it clear what has been updated so I advice putting in a change control sheet that gives you name, date and things changed.
     
    Certifications: A+,MCP, MCDST, VCP5 /VCP-DV 5, MCTS AD+ Net Inf 2008, MCSA 2008
    WIP: MCSA 2012

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