Network Map Creation: 5 Simple Steps

As a managed services provider (MSP), you’ve likely had to deal with a device failing on your network—or worse, the network itself facing connectivity issues. When this happens, how do you respond? Is there a place you can easily access and analyze performance data to get things back up and running?

When dealing with a failure, MSPs need to act fast to restore availability. Each second that goes by without resolution has a direct impact on revenue, productivity, and customer satisfaction. To restore the network as quickly as possible, technicians need an easy way to get a comprehensive overview to identify the problem.

To do so efficiently, MSPs should consider using a topology map which can show you exactly where a device is located, as well as real-time data on network performance that can help diagnose the root cause of an issue.

What is network mapping? 

It provides a visual representation of your network’s connectivity, both physically and virtually. The phrase “network mapping” refers to a group of tasks that contribute to the creation of a network map. This includes diagrams, flow charts, device inventories, and topology detection. Maps are visual aids often used for maintenance purposes. They are also useful for sharing information between technicians, particularly those who are new.

How do you create a network topology map? 

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 need to be mapped

The first step in creating a map is identifying which 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 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 map needs to feature, you can move onto the next step. Remember that regardless of your organization’s size or requirements you need to show connections between devices. These may include servers, printers, customers, routers, switches, and more.

2. Pick a method to utilize

Next, you need to decide which platform or method you want to use. 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 layout.

Using network mapping software is a highly recommended alternative, which can save you a significant amount of time and potential headache. With a good topology mapper, the process can take minutes rather than days, updates are automatic, and any device issues are flagged in real time.

3. Optimize

At this stage, you should take time to adjust the colors, layout, and icons so the 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

Once you have finished optimizing the design, 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 map updated 

If you decide to use a manual method, the process of keeping your map up-to-date may be more difficult and time-consuming. You need an update each time you add or remove a device. Or, you will have to analyze your network periodically and redistribute updated maps. In the meantime, technicians may not have the most current view or competing versions of the 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 tool automatically discovers your environment and generates detailed, comprehensive maps that are dynamic and easy for anyone to engage with. N-central even automatically detects changes, like added devices, so keeping everything 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 app for Android and iOS, you can receive alerts pushed directly to your phone to run remote control sessions using Take Control.

In addition, the tool offers automation features to help you save time, including patch management, backup, multiple security features, report management, and endpoint detection and response.

Overall, N-central allows MSPs to manage complex environments from one consolidated location—including comprehensive remote monitoring and management capabilities. Give N-central a try free for 30 days.

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