Spider webs. That is what I call most network diagrams I see. A diagram is worth a thousand words when it comes to understanding the layout of your network. There are a few skills which help you get full value out of diagramming and it is the intent of this post to highlight a few. Most involve clearing the cobwebs and bringing clarity through visual cues.
I am using a diagram that comes from an administrator for whom I have a lot of respect. He has taken on challenges and kept to a tight budget while advancing the use of technology to propel growth. He is a tremendous asset to his business and they know it. He however, is like a beautiful woman who does not know it. All the more valued for the fact that they do not act as though they are special.
When it comes to diagramming here is what he said to me while waiting for my diagram. "I’m interested in seeing your Visio drawing. I might be better at them if I get to see a good example." I think there are a lot of administrators in this boat and therefore I choose this topics.
This diagram contains all of the information required to achieve the second diagram.
The second diagram is one I created and reuses the information from the first diagram and adds several techniques. It addes visual cues to highlight valuable bits of information.
You will notice in the second diagram that colors are used in at least four ways
- To differentiate internal and external networks as well as other network segments such as Public Internet
- To differentiate network speeds such as Gigabit, 10/100
For emphasis in text. Notice internal IPs are color coded Blue and internal network segments show connections in blue
The External resources hosted at the Washington Main Branch are grouped in a red patterned box indicating they are external resources.
Notice in the second diagram all of the branch resources are grouped in a box with a title. This creates organization which helps the reader understand the physical location of resources. You will also notice that servers are grouped and aligned in the main branch.
- Connectors should not cross even though some times it is very difficult to avoid it.
- Connectors should reinforce groupings and use similar colors to reinforce important information such as location, speed, and security level.
Well those are a few helpful hints. I hope this is valuable to those who are out there creating diagrams. Documentation is the first sign of professionalism and the process brings clarity. I wouldn’t worry if it is not perfect, it is the process of creating documentation which helps you understand and communicate better. Good luck and send me your examples!
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