Documenting a network is a very important job as it explains how the network is created, functions, and also provides detailed instructions on how to troubleshoot problems, implement upgrades, and provide the proper blueprints needed for future network expansions. It should describe every section of the network in a simple to understand manner. Documenting a network is crucial for both troubleshooting and supporting the system. If a problem arises, this documentation can aid the network administrator in plainly understanding the network, thus taking a significantly less amount of time and effort in resolving the problem. Also, network documentation plays a substantial role in implementing changes to the hardware or software. The network documentation should comprise data about the server information, network map, anticipated and actual traffic loads, the types of traffic involved, network capacity, network topology, the various algorithms and techniques used, reliability statistics, and software information.
The network documentation is never complete as it should be a continuous process. Every time a new user, device, or protocol is presented, this information must be included and documented. Everything including the serial numbers of the devices or equipment used must be recorded and safeguarded. In the event of disaster or theft, this information will provide many helpful abilities. Network documentation should be secured in a location where it can be easily accessible, however, protected by high-security measures. If this documentation should fall into unauthorized hands, this person could possibly change the network’s settings, access sensitive information, or even disable the entire system. All this information should be regularly updated and saved into a log. Each log should be signed and dated by the network administrator.
A proper diagram of a network should always be an integral part of any network’s documentation. A network diagram demonstrates how a system or computer communicates with others. This is very useful when problems arise or creating and implementing new systems or networks. With the help of a network diagram, a potential problem can be easily traced and identified, as well as provide reliable information on how to fix it. Network diagrams can be created using many different methods ranging from a simple pencil and paper to an advanced diagramming tool that can be purchased or obtained for free online. When creating a network diagram, one should start with a focus; a single computer, network, or device. After this is done, it is recommended to place components that are connected to your focus, keeping in mind to not spare any details. Proper labeling of these devices and components is required to ensure that the diagram is as informative as possible. By drawing lines to each component of the network, you can show how they are all related and connected to one another. There are numerous free network diagram programs one can download and also many more advanced programs that are available for purchase. A network diagram is one of the most essential components of proper network documentation and should always be included, no matter the size of the network.
Another critical area in any network documentation is service-level agreements (SLA). These are contracts between internal or external customers and their service provider. These agreements outline what services the provider will provide as well as describe the performance obligations that the provider is required to fulfill. Some of the obligations that are included in SLAs are availability and uptime of the services provided, application response times, help desk response times, as well as usage statistics. Companies providing services such as cloud storage and computing, network providers, and managed service providers all require SLAs. SLAs are also often created within an IT department so that the services they provide can be measured, authorized, and compared to other outside vendors. In any SLA, proper documentation must be kept of all agreements as well as what they cover. A description of the service that is provided should be the main section, including criteria such as network connectivity, reliability, responsiveness, the proper procedure for reporting problems and who to contact when they occur, and most importantly, the consequences of not meeting the required service obligations. These consequences can include credit reimbursement or even the termination of the contract. Finally, escape clauses and constraints should be well documented and all employees should be knowledgeable will all aspects of each SLA. SLA’s often need to be renewed, and if this isn’t done, it can cause severe problems such as legal, financial, or productivity issues.
Network documentation should be a highly detailed and informative report of the many areas that are involved in designing, implementing, and maintaining a network. It should be updated continuously as new devices are added, different rules and regulations are created, and network topology changes. Network documentation involves creating a comprehensive disaster recovery plan that outlines what employees should do in every situation possible, such as fire, flood, or power outage. It also needs to have all SLAs and other binding paperwork safeguarded and constantly revised. Proper network documentation can also make updating contracts and subscriptions easier. By following these suggestions, one should be able to create a sufficient level of network documentation and therefore make future expansions easier as well as reduce the time it takes to diagnose and fix a problem.
“What is a Network Diagram.” Lucid Chart. Lucidchart.com. Web. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
Rouse, Margaret. “Service-Level Agreement (SLA). Tech Target. Techtarget.com. Web. Retrieved 19 July 2017.