As many IT environments grow in size and complexity, keeping an eye on performance has never been more vital. Your company relies on network availability to conduct day-to-day business. Unfortunately, too many IT teams don’t have the right tools to help them proactively monitor network incidents, troubleshoot their cause, and fix them fast.
Visual maps are a go-to resource for IT teams who need to understand their network layout and how it’s performing. As technology has improved, creating these maps has become faster and easier. But rather than rely on Microsoft Visio or other static mapping tools, dynamic network mapping software is the best tool for the job. Here are six reasons why.
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1. You get the visibility you need.
Network mapping software gives you more than a simple device inventory. Like a Visio diagram or home-drawn map, it shows you where devices are sitting, so you can locate devices quicker as you’re managing your network. But it also displays each device’s status. Is it up? Down? Slow? Having this visibility helps you know where to focus first when there’s trouble on the netework.
Forty-two percent of IT professionals have said one of their top challenges is maintaining end-to-end visibility into LAN or WAN performance, according to a survey by Enterprise Strategy Group. You can’t fix what you can’t see. Network maps help you see exactly what’s going on so you can fix it.
2. You never waste time creating (and updating) manual diagrams.
We’ve all used Visio, Excel, or pen and paper to create a map. Maybe your boss handed you a list of IP addresses and told you to create a diagram to help everyone understand what’s connected to what. This is tedious work. And every time you make a change to your network, you must also update your map.
Dynamic network mapping tools find and map your devices automatically. As new devices connect to the network, you can find and add them to your existing maps quickly. That way, you never waste time creating or updating tedious manual diagrams.
3. You have all the data you need to troubleshoot fast.
Visio maps can only take you so far with troubleshooting. They may show you the network layout, but they won’t give any live information. And if you’ve made updates that didn’t make it onto the map, it’s harder to rely on them as 100% accurate when you need them—when time is of the essence.
Identifying issues as fast as possible is the key to effective troubleshooting. A network mapping tool shows you real-time information that a Visio map doesn’t provide. Dynamic maps help you capture information, see it in a single glance, and use it to solve problems faster.
4. You can help staff get up to speed.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my career, it’s that technology professionals are constantly coming and going. And learning the size and scope a new network, especially in a large organization, can be overwhelming. If you can make onboarding seamless for new network administrators, they’ll be able to get up and running more quickly and do the work you need them to do.
A lesser-known benefit of network mapping software is how it helps new team members get up to speed. Network maps show you exactly how your topology is laid out. Yes, Visio can do this too, but dynamic applications can also show Layer 2/3 connections, IP information, and the heaviness of traffic flowing between devices. As new staff train, they can get a sense of what normal looks like on your network from your network map. And the more data, the better.
5. You can make your maps intuitive to your environment.
Maps represent reality based on a certain perspective. They can be as sparse or as detailed as the map-maker creates them to be.
With network mapping software, you’re the artist and the application is your canvas. You can lay out your network however it makes the most sense to you. Then you can change the icons and background imagery to make it as intuitive as possible for everyone who uses the map—from your technical users to your less-technical stakeholders.
6. You can justify your recommendations to spend your IT budget.
As IT professionals, we’re always trying to justify spend. Without historic or live data to back up our recommendations, it’s hard to get our bosses on board.
Network maps give you tangible performance data you can present to higher-ups. With the details they provide, you can create a better case for upgrading hardware, re-configuring the network, or whatever you want to do.
All around, network mapping software provides far more benefits than Visio and other static tools. Along with its visual value, it helps you with network monitoring and network management, too. That’s why it’s a must-have resource for many network administrators, from small businesses to large. Once you try it, you’ll never want to live without it.