When it comes to managing a network, being able to log and track all the devices in your environment is essential for configuration management, security concerns and capacity planning. With WiFi technology, server visualization, and large-scale enterprise WANs becoming increasingly commonplace in today’s network environments, configuration management is a decidedly more complex task. For this reason, having access to a Network Discovery tool that is well-suited to the needs of your environment can make all the difference between being one step ahead of your network’s growth, or constantly struggling to keep up with changes and fumbling around in the dark for a handle on your environment. In this blog, we’ll look at some tips and best-practices for using a network discovery tool, and how to maximize your discovery tool’s productivity.
Use a vendor-neutral discovery tool.
When choosing a network discovery tool, it’s rarely the best idea to choose a vendor-proprietary tool. Heterogeneous networks are increasingly commonplace today, and using a vendor-specific network discovery tool could make discovering devices on your environment far more difficult. Open source network discovery tools can be configured to find and monitor devices on your network regardless of vendor, allowing you to keep informed of every device that enters your environment.
Be ruthless with your naming conventions to avoid confusion.
A heterogeneous network environment with devices of different vendors, models and types can be tricky to manage for another, simpler reason: naming conventions. Unless you’re renaming each device as it’s added to your environment, you’ll quickly end up with an indecipherable sea of letters and numbers that doesn’t do anything to speed up the process of discovering and identifying devices on your network. Come up with a simple but comprehensive naming convention that makes it easy to tell what you’re looking at from a glance. There are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers to how you approach your naming convention – just make sure you implement a logical system that is easy to follow, expand on and teach to IT staff newcomers.
Maintain a standardized topology across all devices on your network.
There’s only so much that your network discovery tool will do for you, and it’s vital to know its limitations as well as its capabilities. Keeping a standardized topology across your network will not only make it easier to discover devices and implement configuration changes, it helps make the layout of the network easier to understand when you have to manually audit or make changes. The best Network Management Software (NMS) includes visualization capabilities that provide a graphical display of your network’s layout, and this will only be easier to understand if you maintain a standard topology across it.
Be able to deploy to multiple devices on many sites without impacting performance.
It’s no good having a powerful network discovery tool that can pull all the information you need from the devices on your network if doing so impacts your performance. Key to this is configuring your network discovery tool to work in unison with your network, and automating discovery is a good way to do this. Never underestimate the value of customized, scheduled audits. Configuring your discovery tool to sweep your network periodically for new devices or device changes in an un-intrusive way saves you time and lets your engineers get on with more important tasks, while keeping you alert to any serious device issues.
Use cloud-based network discovery tools to get access to your environment from anywhere.
Monitoring your network from within your own environment is a little like competing in a one-man race: with no context, you don’t actually know how you’re performing. Cloud-based network discovery tools are lightweight on network resources, and provide an external context to your network for truly accurate monitoring of internet and Wide-Area Network (WAN) links. Cloud monitoring doesn’t mean you lose out on any of the immediacy of local network management, though, since you’ll be kept up to date of any issues or changes with notifications when and where you need them.
IRIS Core Network Management Software (NMS) is a comprehensive and lightweight NMS package that is delivered as a service that is easily deployed to your environment and starts collecting data within minutes. With wide support for a variety of networking devices and vendors and a low-touch technology capable of automatically recovering from errors, IRIS is a uniquely scalable and customization solution. For more information, feel free to view a demo of the IRIS NMS solution here.