How to Start Your Network Documentation Project

Where do you begin?

Network documentation. The words alone strike fear in the hearts of men and women everywhere. Tedious. Starting from scratch? Even more so. Beyond the tedium, however, one thing rings true: network documentation is crucial.

With network documentation on your side, you troubleshoot problems quickly, onboard new employees easily and save significant amounts of time and money while cutting the expenditures on consultants. Bottomline? It pays to document your network.

When you’re first cutting your teeth on a new network documentation project, it’s all too easy to get overwhelmed. From cabling to circuits to IP addresses, you start looking at everything you’ve got and think, “where on earth do I begin?” Well, at least I do.  What’s my answer?

Ok, take a deep breath. I realize that’s not earth shattering. That being said, start by doing high-level thinking. Take some photos of what it is that you want to document. Hey, even take a selfie with your favorite router (and don’t we all have a favorite router)!

Pictures are truly worth a thousand words - especially when it comes to proper network documentation. You can look at them and get up-close details of your data center, lab and wiring closet...start thinking “what do I need to know about my equipment?” What is most important? What will you most need to access in a certain scenario?  Look closely at that chassis...is it speaking to you? Maybe it’s saying this, “you want to know blah-blah-blah about me.”

But...what stuff do you want to know about that chassis? Maybe I’m going out on a limb here, but: serial number, model number, IP address, physical location and which power it consumes could all be good to know.

Regardless of where you start, the point is to start looking around at what you have and developing a game plan on what it is that you hope to achieve.  The concept of network documentation is high-level and sounds good, but you really need to roll your sleeves up and start working out the details.

>Once you’ve identified what it is you need to document, you’ll want to figure out where you’ll get the information you need. Where to start with that? Assemble a search party, perhaps? Check out your network management and asset management systems, random pieces of paper, sticky notes on racks, your fancy excel spreadsheet or even Mike’s brain.

Getting your network documentation isn’t simple. Once you’ve started your network documentation, however, you’ll find that your day-to-day workflow gets a whole lot more simple.

Hannah Ash
Hannah Ash
Hannah Ash is a marketing specialist who loves thinking, writing and speculating about the future of the data center.

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