Tool for mapping unknown Network/Data ports?

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Tags:
Network administration
Network Diagrams
Network mapping
Network mapping tools
Two recently acquired offices lack network diagrams and there is nothing to show which data ports are live or how anything matches to the patch panel. Besides manually visiting dozens and dozens of ports with a laptop -- what are the options? Surely there is a tool for this scenario. Would someone post what they use in a case like this or offer a suggestion or at least point me in the right direction? Many thanks. Moderator Note: This is a submitted question
ASKED: July 1, 2009  7:01 PM
UPDATED: July 2, 2009  10:32 PM

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You have to hope that whoever did the cabling, did this in a logical manner, that might make the job a little easier. Your question “Besides manually visiting dozens and dozens of ports with a laptop — what are the options?” I afraid that is really the only option.

What you could do is get a 48 port Cisco switch, or any switch that sends a message when a port comes up, connect a PC to the console port, and patch each ethernet port to the corresponding port on a patch panel (1 to 1, 2 to 2 and so on). Then you can go around and plug in another laptop into the ports in the rooms. The console messages will display when the ports come up as you connect the laptop. Then note down the corresponding port in the room to patch panel port number. It is better with two of you, and use walkie-talkies if the patch panel and room are to far apart to shout to each other. Then you will know when it has registered the port, and you know all are working. If there is equipment already plugged in, disconnecting will identify in the same way. Document and label as you go.

No real short cuts, unless you discover the logic, and no real tools to help. Maybe worth unscrewing a couple of the faceplates to see if the cable is marked, but I wouldn’t hold your breath.

At least you only have to do it once, and then you can mark up a set of building plans and the next time will be much easier.

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Check out the <a href=”http://www.solarwinds.com/products/LANsurveyor/”>LanSurveyor</a> tool from SolarWinds. Good stuff for network management!

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  • BrentSheets
    This user needs to provide more information about the switching architecture as some tools work better in some environments than others. Cisco has the Cisco Network Assistant that can populate a diagram of Cisco switches. It won't necessarily show downstream devices in a format other than MAC addresses. There may be other tools out there for this purpose but I am not familiar with them. I have heard of the Switch Port Mapping Tool from NetscanTools Pro but have never tried it. In the IT trenches? So am I - read my IT-Trenches blog
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  • Bjarcevic
    Brent, A few methods are available for documenting the switching infrastructure. If it is a Cisco infrastructure there is the Solarwind's Engineering Toolset. CDP is another good tools for documenting a Cisco enviroment if you have a few Cisco devices about. sh ip interface brief may be useful in your case too.
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