Network diagram tools play a crucial role in all professional network environments, helping administrators to keep track of everything that is important to them.
Here we give a brief and illustrative overview of what network diagrams can do, how to build them, what they look like, and especially how to create informative, visual network diagrams with PRTG.
About network diagrams
Custom network diagrams provide vivid and essential information about which devices are on a particular network, what their addresses are, which other components they communicate with directly (and when), what communication methods they use, and much more.
Always up to date
An up to date and detailed network diagram is indispensable for most IT professionals. Such diagrams also help with successful network troubleshooting and targeted tracking of network configuration changes, should the need arise.
Advantage of custom diagrams
Custom diagrams are more useful than automatically created diagrams for reasons we will mention. They are also convincing in their clarity, as we will show below with some network diagram examples.
This is what makes a good network diagram
Great network diagrams are easy to edit; they should also provide the ability to add additional information, such as detailed documentation about existing devices, and some reporting features.
The ability to include unmanaged devices such as switches in the diagram is more than just "nice to have". Drill-down functions and the ability to create groups further help to improve clarity.
But there's even more: Tools such as tracerouting between devices, port scans, pings, or sending wake-on-LAN packets should complete the feature set of a strong and functional network diagram tool.
The various ways of creating a network diagram
Two different ways
Generally, there are two different kinds of tools for creating network diagrams. On the one hand, there are diagram applications that provide the administrator with symbols for switches, servers, printers and the like, thus enabling them to draw a custom diagram of their network. So-called asset scanners, on the other hand, can independently scan corporate networks, find existing components (for example, via ping and ARP scans) and then query them via SNMP, for example. They then use the information gained from the scan to automatically create a diagram.
The diagram tools, which focus on custom customization, have a very large feature set but require IT staff who either know the whole structure of the network in depth or have access to all the information needed to create the diagram. Custom diagrams created with these tools are usually of excellent quality and accurate because they are reviewed by a human. However, their creation and maintenance are very time consuming, as all changes must also be entered manually. Moreover, manual maintenance is a potential source of errors.
Automation vs. human interaction
The advantage of asset scanners, which work more independently, is that the final result can theoretically be created without any human interaction. If administrators configure the scan job as a recurring task using a scheduler, the tool will automatically and reliably keep their network diagrams up to date, and they do not have to worry about this task again. In addition, asset scanners often offer the option to display live device status and link status in the diagram. However, there is neither a guarantee that all components will actually appear in the network topology diagram nor is it certain that the asset scaners will actually correctly identify all systems involved. Human intervention is therefore required if a correct representation of the network is to be achieved. Thus, the quality of the machine's "preliminary work" is crucial.
Using PRTG for better network diagrams
With PRTG Network Monitor, you can build your own custom network diagram
with an individual focus on your business or infrastructure. Here's how it works:
PRTG scans the network during operation and displays the discovered devices in a clear, visually appealing tree topology. Using a drag-and-drop editor, you can easily create concise custom network diagrams. Thanks to its comprehensive monitoring functionality, PRTG also adds in-depth information about device health and traffic in the diagrams. HTML can be used to enrich the custom diagrams with additional information such as weather and traffic services.
PRTG is, at least in its basic functionality, not able to "layer to map" – for that, you would have to use the UVexplorer integration via the PRTG API. But it offers a helpful, visual representation that, unlike other tools, is clear, minimizes alert information overload, and is customizable. The ability to customize is the strength of PRTG diagrams because, where other diagrams of complex structures can quickly become overwhelming, the custom diagrams of PRTG can be reduced to the essentials if necessary.
Other benefits of PRTG
Over 500,000 system administrators rely on PRTG every day. With PRTG, you
- are able to monitor all the systems, devices, traffic, and applications in your IT infrastructure
- have everything included right from the start; there is no need for additional plugins or downloads
- have found a powerful and easy-to-use solution, which is suitable for businesses of all sizes
You can test PRTG without any obligation for 30 days through our trial and have access to all our features, including the creation of appealing custom network diagrams.
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