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WHITEPAPER: APPLYING AUTOMATION TO MAINTAIN ACCURATE NETWORK DIAGRAMS
Table of Contents
1. Executive Summary.................
WHITEPAPER: APPLYING AUTOMATION TO MAINTAIN ACCURATE NETWORK DIAGRAMS 1
1. Executive Summary
Accurate network diagrams are...
WHITEPAPER: APPLYING AUTOMATION TO MAINTAIN ACCURATE NETWORK DIAGRAMS 2
emerged in the 2000’s in the form of static diagra...
WHITEPAPER: APPLYING AUTOMATION TO MAINTAIN ACCURATE NETWORK DIAGRAMS 3
Figure 2: Network Map with Device & Interface Data...
WHITEPAPER: APPLYING AUTOMATION TO MAINTAIN ACCURATE NETWORK DIAGRAMS 4
Task Input Output (Map)
1. Troubleshoot a
slow app...
WHITEPAPER: APPLYING AUTOMATION TO MAINTAIN ACCURATE NETWORK DIAGRAMS 5
Dynamic Network Overview
Just like zooming into Go...
WHITEPAPER: APPLYING AUTOMATION TO MAINTAIN ACCURATE NETWORK DIAGRAMS 6
Automatically Updated
Google uses a combination of...
WHITEPAPER: APPLYING AUTOMATION TO MAINTAIN ACCURATE NETWORK DIAGRAMS 7
Qmap as a Data-Driven Diagram
NetBrain collects a ...
WHITEPAPER: APPLYING AUTOMATION TO MAINTAIN ACCURATE NETWORK DIAGRAMS 8
Qmap Integration with Visio
Network teams don’t ne...
About NetBrain Technologies, Inc.
Founded in 2004, NetBrain set out to pursue a new vision: automate time-
consuming tasks...
[White paper] Maintain-Accurate-Network-Diagrams
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[White paper] Maintain-Accurate-Network-Diagrams

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A 12 page paper describing the challenges of diagramming enterprise networks and the benefits of Dynamic Mapping. The paper draws analogies between Dynamic Maps and Google Maps.

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[White paper] Maintain-Accurate-Network-Diagrams

  1. 1. WHITEPAPER: APPLYING AUTOMATION TO MAINTAIN ACCURATE NETWORK DIAGRAMS Table of Contents 1. Executive Summary.............................................................................................................................................................1 2. Why Legacy Diagramming Fails Our Businesses.......................................................................................................1 3. Dynamic Mapping – A Fresh Approach........................................................................................................................2 Data-Driven Mapping.........................................................................................................................................................2 Diagrams On-Demand (Simple Input, Visual Output) .............................................................................................3 Dynamic Network Overview ............................................................................................................................................5 Automatically Updated......................................................................................................................................................6 4. NetBrain: A Fully Dynamic Network Mapping Solution..........................................................................................6 Qmap as a Data-Driven Diagram....................................................................................................................................7 On-Demand Mapping with Qmap .................................................................................................................................7 Qmap Integration with Visio............................................................................................................................................8 Export Qmap Data to a Design Document..................................................................................................................8
  2. 2. WHITEPAPER: APPLYING AUTOMATION TO MAINTAIN ACCURATE NETWORK DIAGRAMS 1 1. Executive Summary Accurate network diagrams are the Holy Grail in enterprise network management – most network teams know they should be documenting their networks but haven’t found a universally good way of doing it. Today’s manual diagramming methods are prohibitively time-consuming and ‘static diagram generating software’ has not lived up to expectations in easing the burden. With enterprise networks evolving rapidly, existing ‘static’ diagramming solutions can’t keep up with the constant changes. A more dynamic mapping solution is needed. Dynamic mapping is a leap forward in diagramming technology, replacing gigabytes of static diagrams with the right diagram, created the moment it’s needed. Dynamic maps are built from live network data, accessible on-demand, and updated automatically. By implementing dynamic mapping technology, enterprises are equipped with up-to-date diagrams that accelerate troubleshooting, drive safe network changes, and mitigate security risks. 2. Why Legacy Diagramming Fails Our Businesses Network diagrams are the go-to visual aid engineers turn to when troubleshooting connectivity problems or considering design changes. Even so, conflicting priorities prevent network engineers from maintaining their diagram repository. The static diagrams that result are best described as historical snapshots – accurate when created, but increasingly untrustworthy as time goes by. Network engineers are appropriately skeptical of static diagrams, often choosing to create brand new diagrams instead of referencing old ones. Accurate network diagrams have become the ‘Holy Grail’ for most network teams. Traditional network diagramming is extremely manual, broken down into two phases: data collection and drawing. There are conflicting schools of thought regarding how much data is too much, but at a minimum engineers need to collect hostnames, interface IP address definitions, and routes from devices before they can begin drawing. With a limited amount of room for stencils and labels on a single diagram, too much detail clutters the document. The industry has tried a variety of approaches to improve on purely manual diagram creation, but with limited success. In the 1990’s, Microsoft added an SNMP-based discovery function to Visio so that users could automate the creation of network diagrams, but the sophistication of the tool couldn’t match the complexity of most networks. Several 2nd generation mapping tools  Without visual aids, the ability to understand complex networks begins to break down.  Accurate network diagrams have become the ‘Holy Grail’ for network teams.  2nd generation ‘static diagram generators’ have failed due to scalability and usability problems.
  3. 3. WHITEPAPER: APPLYING AUTOMATION TO MAINTAIN ACCURATE NETWORK DIAGRAMS 2 emerged in the 2000’s in the form of static diagram generators. The main technology behind these tools – many of which still exist today – hasn’t changed. Second generation diagramming tools still use SNMP to scan the network and generate batches of static diagrams. The biggest challenge for these 2nd generation tools is scalability; these tools just can’t generate usable diagrams of large networks, as the result is a chaotic mess of lines and icons. 3. Dynamic Mapping – A Fresh Approach Dynamically changing enterprise networks require a dynamic mapping solution. But what characterizes a network diagram as ‘dynamic’? The best way to examine this question is to study a similar problem that was solved by dynamic mapping technology: the introduction of online mapping services to solve the problem of outdated road atlases. Google Maps is a good example of an online mapping service we can use to draw analogies to network diagramming. Data-Driven Mapping Google Maps are ‘data-driven’, which means that Google uses a mathematical model of Earth’s geography to render the data displayed on each map. That’s how every landmark and road on a Google map is more than just an icon and label; each is backed by real data (e.g. street view images, business names, and phone numbers), guaranteeing accuracy. Similarly, a truly dynamic network map represents a live rendering of a mathematical model derived from the live network. The data elements behind each device icon and interface label on the map are part of that model (e.g. device images, properties, config data, etc.). All this data needs to be dynamically accessible so that it doesn’t congest the map with its complexity. Figure 1: Google Street Map with Landmark Data Elements  Truly dynamic maps are driven by mathematically modeled, real-world data.  SNMP discovery is not enough to build an accurate, data-driven network model.
  4. 4. WHITEPAPER: APPLYING AUTOMATION TO MAINTAIN ACCURATE NETWORK DIAGRAMS 3 Figure 2: Network Map with Device & Interface Data Elements In a network environment, SNMP discovery alone is insufficient for collecting this level of data – other methods need to be in place to dig deeper into the network’s configuration and design. Further, systems need to be in place to guarantee the fidelity of the data over time so the diagrams always reflect the latest network changes. Diagrams On-Demand (Simple Input, Visual Output) Most enterprise network diagram repositories have too many diagrams to sort through. By way of example, let’s say a poorly performing application traverses the network across three data centers. To troubleshoot the issue, a single diagram with the relevant devices from the three data centers is required, not three separate diagrams with all devices in each data center. In other words, the diagram should adapt to the task at hand. Google Maps handles this problem by allowing a ‘filtered’ view of the global map, for example by searching for a landmark and mapping the area around it, or mapping directions between a starting and destination address. Similarly, dynamic mapping focuses on creating a tailored diagram containing just the critical elements related to a specific need – precisely at the moment it’s needed. The table below describes some scenarios that demonstrate how a tailored map could address common network tasks.
  5. 5. WHITEPAPER: APPLYING AUTOMATION TO MAINTAIN ACCURATE NETWORK DIAGRAMS 4 Task Input Output (Map) 1. Troubleshoot a slow application Input source and destination addresses to map the application flow 2. Find and disable an infected server Search for the server and map adjacent LAN environment to see where it connects 3. Troubleshoot multicast video issues Map related Downstream Source Tree 4. Troubleshoot OSPF routing issues Map targeted routing domain (e.g. OSPF 200) 5. Document a Data Center Open Layer-2 Map of Data Center Figure 3: Diagramming On-Demand (Simple Input, Visual Output)
  6. 6. WHITEPAPER: APPLYING AUTOMATION TO MAINTAIN ACCURATE NETWORK DIAGRAMS 5 Dynamic Network Overview Just like zooming into Google Earth to see a particular region or city on the globe, a dynamic mapping solution should provide a single global view of the network which a network engineer can drill into site-by-site. By zooming into a network site, detailed layer-3 topology and design data should be immediately accessible, and the connections between each site obvious. Figure 4: Dynamic Global View of Earth Figure 5: Dynamic Global View of a Network Topology
  7. 7. WHITEPAPER: APPLYING AUTOMATION TO MAINTAIN ACCURATE NETWORK DIAGRAMS 6 Automatically Updated Google uses a combination of crowdsourcing and manual data collection to maintain the accuracy of its map data, ensuring map viewers don’t go the wrong way down a one-way street. With a dynamic network map, this level of data integrity is equally important. Dynamic maps should rely on a system of data which is automatically maintained and updated. That way, diagrams can be created from live data the moment they are needed. In special cases, when diagrams need to be defined ahead of time, they should be updated automatically every time they are opened – ideally with the changes highlighted for you to see. Figure 6: Visualize Recent Network Changes on a Saved Map 4. NetBrain: A Fully Dynamic Network Mapping Solution NetBrain Technologies was founded on the principals of dynamic mapping to address the challenges of inaccurate network documentation. NetBrain’s unique ‘Qmaps’ are fully dynamic in nature and serve as the primary network management interface for documentation, troubleshooting, and change verification.
  8. 8. WHITEPAPER: APPLYING AUTOMATION TO MAINTAIN ACCURATE NETWORK DIAGRAMS 7 Qmap as a Data-Driven Diagram NetBrain collects a deeper level of data from the live network than any other network mapping tool on the market. The unique discovery and benchmark engine leverages Telnet/SSH in addition to traditional SNMP to login to every device and extract configuration and design data. This data is compiled into a mathematical model of the network. Every Qmap represents a rendering of that mathematical model, making all the data visually accessible. Figure 7: Live Data Extracted during Discovery/Benchmark On-Demand Mapping with Qmap There are several methods of rendering a Qmap within NetBrain, depending on the requirements of the task-at-hand. Refer to the following table for examples of real world tasks that can benefit from on-demand mapping. On-Demand Mapping Applied to Real-World Tasks 1. Troubleshoot Slow Applications Map out a slow application instantly and diagnose performance issues from the map 2. Migrate Data Centers Automatically discover and document a data center before/after migration 3. Assess A Network For VoIP Readiness Map out potential VoIP paths and measure advanced performance metrics along the paths 4. Troubleshoot Multicasting Issues Instantly map a downstream source tree and monitor multicast traffic on the map 5. Meet Compliance Mandates Automatically create network diagrams of every site to satisfy regulatory compliance needs
  9. 9. WHITEPAPER: APPLYING AUTOMATION TO MAINTAIN ACCURATE NETWORK DIAGRAMS 8 Qmap Integration with Visio Network teams don’t need to abandon their existing Visio diagrams altogether, NetBrain’s dynamic mapping solution can integrate them. Once a Visio diagram repository is indexed by NetBrain, all of the Visio diagrams become searchable. Both Qmaps and existing Visio diagrams integrated with NetBrain are listed in search results. Qmaps are both forward- and backward- compatible with Visio. Visio diagrams can be imported and translated into the dynamic Qmap format. Conversely, Qmaps can be exported to the standard Visio format and maintained automatically on a set schedule. Even if policy mandates an updated Visio database, NetBrain users don’t have to worry about manually updating the diagrams. Figure 8: Export from Qmap to Visio Format Export Qmap Data to a Design Document Diagrams aren’t the only form of documentation that network teams use to collaborate. Many teams generate MS Word documents for internal design reviews or for compliance reporting. With NetBrain, engineers can automatically export data directly from a Qmap to a pre-defined template in MS Word. Figure 9: Export from Qmap to MS Word Document
  10. 10. About NetBrain Technologies, Inc. Founded in 2004, NetBrain set out to pursue a new vision: automate time- consuming tasks associated with network documentation, design, and troubleshooting. NetBrain’s customers are using map-driven automation to eliminate manual network documentation, automate troubleshooting tasks, and mitigate security risks. NetBrain is headquartered in Burlington, MA with offices in Sacramento, CA, New York, and Beijing, China. To learn more about NetBrain’s dynamic mapping solution, contact us at 781.221.7199 or download free trial of NetBrain’s Enterprise Suite from www.netbraintech.com/trial. SHARE THIS WHITE PAPER NetBrain Technologies, Inc. 65 Network Drive | 1st Floor Burlington, MA 01803 +1 800 605 7964 info@netbraintech.com www.netbraintech.com

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