Visio Network Diagram creation

Hi - I'm a Technical Writer in a new position. I've been asked to create network diagrams for a massive network that has lots of firewalls in it - thus cannot use autodiscovery. I'm looking for the most accurate example (working example) of a visio diagram that records a wan down to IP address, ports and the like. In particular, if anyone knows how I can get visio to auto create network diagrams from a database too... that would be closer to what I'm after maybe. Our Engineers probably like most others need to be able to quickly look at paths between boxes. There's probably software out there to do it - but as I mentioned I cannot use autodiscovery on our network system at all. If any of you guys could help it would be appreciated. Tristan

Answer Wiki

Thanks. We'll let you know when a new response is added.

Interesting problem – when you say that autodiscovery won’t work, that sort of implies that the firewall(s) are extremely tight.

Have you tried any programs like management and discovery apps? You can download a 30 day trial package – chief limitation being that you can’t save the results to a file – but then it still may give you enough structure and information to form the basis for an outline.

Since you say that you’re a tech writer, I don’t know just how technical you are (or are not), but even so, I’d ask the engineering group (or who ever owns/runs the network) for the output from a number of standard queries.

1) Get a copy of the routing tables – this will show you what networks are in use – whether they are directly attached or not.

2) If you use cisco routers, ask for the results of a “show cdp” command (cdp=cisco discovery protocol) from at least a key router at each site. This will also aid in describing the network.

3) Ask for a list of known sites of the organization. This will help you to possible build a hierarchical structure to your maps.

4) Be prepared to discover things that the engineering staff will tell you aren’t true, or didn’t know about.

None of these things will help you to build your base map automatically, but (speaking as a veteran of many mapping exercises)they will help you to get a flavor of what you’re facing.


p.s. Shameless self-promotion: If you need help, and are willing (your employer, I assume) to pay for it….

Discuss This Question: 2  Replies

There was an error processing your information. Please try again later.
Thanks. We'll let you know when a new response is added.
Send me notifications when members answer or reply to this question.
  • Imaginetsecurity
    If you are truly looking at a massive network and are doing this mapping so that the engineers can "quickly" see paths, I would definitely use netViz ( instead of Visio. You mentioned wanting to do a database import. With a couple of clicks you can link your database with netViz, and as the data in the database changes so do the graphics. With traditional documentation drawing tools (like Visio), you get a static flat visual of your system, and making changes to the document becomes a tedious, manual, and time consuming task. Typically lots of information about the network is maintained in databases. This data can, not only be visualized with netViz, but also can be modified using netViz as the graphical interface. The data in the database can refresh the graphics and the graphics can update the database. It is also very easy to search for items in the netViz topology such as devices matching certain criteria (end of life, cost, RAM, CPU, warranties expiring by..., etc.). As long as that information was in the dbase it would be in netViz assuming you link it to the dbases. I do not recall if they have an autodiscovery feature but at least they do have a great dbase import function. The feature I like best about it is the 3D rendering and viewing of the networks. You can go from a global view and drill down into an individual closet seeing all the levels as you go. Also, the enterprise version (nVista) allows sharing of enterprise information in a web-based, graphical, and collaborative environment. They have a demo you can download but I do not recall how limited it is. It can export to Visio if you need to have that for other reasons but I think that once you use netViz you will not use Visio again.
    15 pointsBadges:
  • Loubie
    As described in the previous answer, router tables describe a network structure accurately and in detail but its alot of data to sift through and you need to be able to interpret what you are looking at. Other methods.. DNS - A purview of the a-records and reverse-lookup listings for your internal network can reveal a number of things. It sounds like alot of work, but the very structure of a DNS reverse-lookup table reflects a networks subnet architecture. Also, computer/device names often reflect user or location names. These can be used to correlate subnets to location. Firewalls only block autodiscovery -across- networks. You can still run a discovery (ICMP-SNMP-TCP etc) on each side of every firewall and append the results together to get an accurate picture. Or even better, request the service or ports you require for autodiscovery be allowed through for the duration of your scan. Good luck. -Lou
    0 pointsBadges:

Forgot Password

No problem! Submit your e-mail address below. We'll send you an e-mail containing your password.

Your password has been sent to:

To follow this tag...

There was an error processing your information. Please try again later.

Thanks! We'll email you when relevant content is added and updated.


Share this item with your network: