Network Assessment Documentation

Recent technology advancements have broken down the barriers associated with network audits, especially of large networks.

  • With automation, network audits have become much more affordable
    Network assessment is traditionally done manually. Automation technology has significantly lowered the cost.
  • Network audits can now be done without outside help
    New technology makes it simple enough for enterprises to execute network audits themselves.

Check the following seven (7) technology advancements related to network audits.

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Technology Advancement #1

Large-Scale Network Discovery

It has been said that the first network management tool is a discovery tool. Indeed it is hard to find a network management software that doesn’t include discovery functionality, but the reality is still far from ideal. We still count on manual methods such as “show-commands” to figure out what you have.  Network discovery, especially for large networks, has remained an unsolved problem.

NetBrain offers new technology that is now available to discover large and complex networks.  It uses our unique neighbor-walking discovery logic, which emulates a human engineer.  This algorithm utilizes known network devices as agents to efficiently walk through the entire network hop-by-hop.  The results are:

  • Improved discovery accuracy – nearly 99% for very large networks (success includes discovery of 20,000+ device network, excluding end systems).
  • High speed – up to 3,000 network devices/hour.
  • Versatile Deployment – discovery can be launched from anywhere in the network and it will discover across MPLS clouds, DMZs, etc.
 

Traditional Network Discovery Techniques

  • Ping Scan
  • SNMP Scan
  • LLDP, CDP, JDP

Challenges of traditional Network Discovery

  • The need to find the "perfect" spot to launch discovery from
  • Poor Accuracy
  • Networks with MPLS, DMZ…

All three NetBrain product lines include our powerful discovery engine.  NetBrain Consultant Edition’s discovery engine is designed for portable network discovery, ideal for network consultants; NetBrain Enterprise Suite ’s discovery engine is best for enterprise discovery and re-discovery.  The NetBrain Discovery Appliance is designed for network service providers.

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Technology Advancement #2

Automate Network Diagramming

Most of us are still using the original 1st generation network diagramming tool – Microsoft Visio.  While it is easy to use, the process is painstakingly slow and manual.

The 2nd generation tools such as Opnet NetMapper and SolarWinds LANsurveyor have introduced a network discovery component to enable automated creation of diagrams.  However, these tools require can only support the diagramming of manually-defined areas and become static once created.

Recent advancements have resulted in the introduction of a 3rd generation tool from NetBrain based on Dynamic Network Diagrams.  A dynamic network diagram is driven by an underlying data model, and can self-update when network changes occur.  Diagram creation is automated based on simple inputs by users in real-time.  What’s special is that the tool has the most powerful discovery application, its unique Dynamic Diagrams, and is still as easy, if not easier to use than Visio.

NetBrain offers two solutions in support of dynamic network diagrams: stand-alone Consultant Edition (for network consultants) and server-based Enterprise Suite (for enterprises).

 

Dynamic Network Diagram

Powered by underlying data model, dynamic network diagrams are automatically created and self-updating. With one click, they can be converted to static Visio diagrams instantly.

Check out multiple ways to create dynamic network diagrams on-the-fly.

See some examples of dynamic network diagrams below:

Instant Network Diagram of L3 VoIP Path

Instant Network Diagram of L3 VoIP Path

Instant Network Diagram of L2 VoIP Path

Instant Network Diagram of L2 VoIP Path

Instant Network Diagram of Data Center after Discovery

Instant Network Diagram of Data Center after Discovery

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Technology Advancement #3

Automate Assessment Documentation

Has technology advanced to the point that you don’t need to write an assessment document? Absolutely not. But new advancements now allow you to edit on top of automatically created documents, and save you countless hours.

The technology is again based on dynamic network diagrams.  Each dynamic network diagram is an instance of a network assessment topic.  The built-in documentation engine will extract network design data out of one or more diagrams and create a Word formatted assessment document.  Consultants can choose to use the default content template, or create their own.  The power lies in the Dynamic Diagram’s data-driven network model.  For example, you can include serial number, routing configuration, and QoS configuration information in the automatically created assessment document.  View an example by clicking the icon on the right.

 

Network Documentation

Click to View a Sample Document
network documentation

Sample Pages of an Automated Network Assessment Document

Automated network documents are ideal for security compliance requirements, such as PCI, HIPPA and Sarbanes-Oxley compliance.

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Technology Advancement #4

0 Touch Network Assessment

As a network expert, you are sometimes asked to audit a customer network with limited network access or no access at all– all you have is a set of configuration files or some show-command text.

NetBrain’s technology advancements have made this task much easier.  Simply drag and drop configuration files into NetBrain to produce a network diagram instantly.  Because this is a dynamic network diagram, you can execute many network assessment tasks right from the diagram, including generating inventory reports and design assessment documents.

With NetBrain, “show-command” results collected by other means can also be imported to perform deeper network analysis such as assessment of L2 network topology.

 

Did You Know?   

You can import “show-command” data collected else-where into NetBrain and execute a network audit.

You can use NetBrain to automate the execution of “show-commands” across an entire network.

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Technology Advancement #5

1-Click Inventory Report

With the investment made to purchase most network management tools, you would think that building a network inventory report would be simple.  But in reality it’s not.  If you need a list of devices inside one key data center, and would like to have the serial number and IOS version next to the device name and IP, most tools require writing a custom script.

Advanced technology from NetBrain makes tasks like this one, and even more complex ones, easy.  After a controlled discovery of a data center, a full-inventory report is only one-click away.  Available detail data includes:

  • Hostname & IP
  • Interface or Port
  • Serial Number
  • IOS version
  • Port-to-port connectivity
  • VLAN configuration per port
  • Routing configuration per interface
 

Inside NetBrain, an inventory report is associated with a workspace in CSV format.

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Technology Advancement #6

Visual Performance Assessment and Capacity Planning

Are there hot spots in your network? Why are certain applications slow? Is the network VoIP ready?

A visual performance assessment tool like NetBrain can help answer these questions much easier than before. It starts with mapping out a network automatically with dynamic network diagrams. From within the dynamic network diagram, you can:

  • Launch HeatMap to detect performance hotspots

    HeatMap allows network professionals to quickly discover over-utilized circuits and devices directly from the map.  See an example below.

    HeatMap

    HeatMap Detects Over-utlized Links or Devices

  • Launch IPSLA or IP accounting to analyze slow applications or network readiness for VoIP. See an example below.
    HeatMap

    The IPSLA Toolkit Measures and Assesses Network Readiness for VoIP

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Technology Advancement #7

Automated Configuration and Design Assessment

When it comes to hard-core network security or readiness assessments, you will have to look into network configuration files – line by line for tens of thousands of lines. Technology has drastically reduced the difficulty of this process.

NetBrain’s patented design reader technology can help decode network design based on network configuration files, annotate design in a Dynamic Diagram, and even run batch analysis across multiple devices for multiple technologies.  Network professionals can now spend a fraction of the time analyzing large network’s configuration.

Design Reader contains over 100 built-in design filters – a technology template used to analyze network design.  Seasoned engineers are able to write their own design filters to decode any network design, any way they like.

instant network diagram

Design Reader Dissect Complex Network Design

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