Network Planning: Diagram Drawing

One of the most helpful techniques for creating a network plan is to draw a picture of it. The diagram can be a detailed floor plan, showing the actual location of each network component. This type of diagram is sometimes called a physical map.

If you prefer, the diagram can be a logical map, which is more abstract and Picasso-like. Any time you change the network layout, update the diagram. Also include a detailed description of the change, the date that the change was made, and the reason for the change.

You can diagram very small networks on the back of a napkin, but if the network has more than a few computers, you’ll want to use a drawing program to help you create the diagram. One of the best programs for this purpose is Microsoft Visio.

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Here’s a rundown of some of the features that make Visio so useful:

  • Smart shapes and connectors maintain the connections you’ve drawn between network components, even if you rearrange the layout of the components on the page.

  • Stencils provide dozens of useful shapes for common network components— not just for client and server computers, but for routers, hubs, switches, and just about anything else you can imagine. If you’re really picky about the diagrams, you can even purchase stencil sets that have accurate drawings of specific devices, such as Cisco routers or IBM mainframe computers.

  • You can add information to each computer or device in the diagram, such as the serial number or physical location. Then, you can quickly print an inventory that lists this information for each device in the diagram.

  • You can easily create large diagrams that span multiple pages.