Having an accurate depiction of your network is a fundamental prerequisite to being able to successfully handle system management, troubleshooting and growth. With the advent of network mapping tools, this process has become more simplified.
At the dawn of computer networking, interconnected systems were often contained to a building, if not a single room. But today's corporate networks span cities, countries, and the globe. This complexity has made network management an increasingly difficult task.
There are three techniques that are used to gather network information:
- SNMP – data is retrieved from routers and switches
- Active – probes an IP address range using trace route type functionality
- Route – analyze routing protocols
Measurable improvements have been noted in the time it takes to perform network management tasks. You can easily track inventory, monitor host uptime and downtime, services, applications and a myriad of other options. In addition, administrators can better understand the relationship between devices and the transport layers that connect them. This aids in faster identification of potential network issues.
Network maps are also an excellent security tool, as they are able to provide a snapshot of who is connected to wired or wireless networks at any given moment. If a map reveals a suspicious connection or IP address, it can be monitored or disconnected. Mapping views are customizable, providing as much or as little information as you need.
It should be noted that network mapping is most effective when it isn't viewed as a onetime task. The dynamic nature of networks, demand this to be an ongoing, periodic activity. As systems change, software or operating systems updated, a new map will need to be created to reflect the changes. Some organizations employ a weekly schedule, others, more often. While frequency will largely depend on the size and complexity of your network, developing a consistent schedule is what's most important.
This guest post was provided by Veronica Henry on behalf of GFI Software Ltd. GFI is a leading software developer that provides a single source for network administrators to address their network security, content security and messaging needs. More information about GFI network auditing software can be found at http://www.gfi.com/lannetscan/network-auditing-software.htm
Talkback and comments are most welcome
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