What is a network map?

A network map is a visual representation of devices in the network, their interconnections, and the transport layers that provide network services. Not only should it include switches, routers, firewalls, virtual LANs (VLANs), and access points, but it should also include hosts on the network.

Network maps are one of the most fundamental tools in a network admin's toolkit. The network's physical architecture and associated data provide a lot of information that would be impossible to access through other means. These maps are used to locate network bottlenecks.

These network maps are often created by network admins using tools like Visio. The challenge in manually creating network maps is that due to the dynamic nature of modern networks, with network devices frequently entering and leaving the network, maps soon become out of date.

Networks are becoming more distributed as well. On top of this, devices on the same network are frequently split into various VLANs to enable data flow separation or security. This emphasises the importance of an automated network map in comprehending all of the devices and their connections on a network.

Automatic network mapping

SNMP-based approaches, active probing, and route analytics are the three basic approaches for creating an automated network map.

SNMP-based maps: SNMP is a widely used industry standard protocol that is created to help locate faulty devices. The SNMP-based approach gets data from router and switch MIBs in order to construct the network map.

Active probing: The active probing technique uses a sequence of traceroute-like probe packets, or special data packets or frames, to generate network maps. These packets or frames report IP router and switch forwarding paths to the destination address.

Route analytics: The route analytics approach uses routing protocol data for creating a network map through passively listening to Layer 3 protocol exchanges between routers. This information is not only useful for network mapping, but also for network discovery, real-time network monitoring, and routing diagnostics.

ManageEngine OpManager: Automatic network mapping software

ManageEngine OpManager is designed to help you map all the devices in your network, so you don’t have to spend hours manually creating and updating your network diagrams. OpManager generates a real time network map automatically, reflecting the changes you make to it in real time through a periodic Layer 2 network discovery.

With OpManager's network mapping software, you can:

  • Automate the discovery process and connection of devices to the correct switch port, allowing you to have a granular view of your network connections using the auto-discovery feature.
  • Detect new devices and topology changes automatically with scheduled network scanning.
  • Maintain a full inventory of all equipment to understand the effect of changes. Understand the overall picture of your network, so you can keep it running smoothly and avoid business-critical issues.
  • Identify any network issues at a glance. With an easy-to-view network map, you can quickly locate the faulty device.

OpManager helps in the graphical representation of your company's network architecture for easy visibility. You can represent your network in a variety of ways using OpManager's automated network mapping software, such as:

  • Layer 2 Maps : Using OpManager, when a Layer 2 discovery is completed, you can map Layer 2 devices automatically. As a result, you won't have to bother creating or editing a Layer 2 Map every time a Layer 2 device is discovered or added.
    Network Map - ManageEngine OpManager
  • Business Views :This is one of the visualization formats available in OpManager's network mapping tool; with this tool, you can graphically arrange your network's devices depending on the business goals they serve. You can also see the status of a live link between two network devices.
    Network Map Software - ManageEngine OpManager
  • Maps :Maps are a format that can be used to describe the geographical position of your servers and other essential devices. OpManager's network maps offer a clear picture of your network's geographical spread by embedding essential network equipment into real-world locales using Google or Zoho Maps. OpManager also allows you to import and export devices along with their coordinates. If the CSV file contains the device name, IP address, latitude, and longitude, OpManager will plot the devices automatically.
    Network Map Tool - ManageEngine OpManager
  • Hierarchical mapping :It can be difficult at times to consolidate all of the important devices you monitor into a single screen. To avoid crowded maps, divide them into dependent network maps and build a parent view that contains all of the dependent network maps as a shortcut.

    If a device in a dependant view is in critical status, it is immediately propagated to the parent view's shortcut icon, similar to device status. The network maps in OpManager give a hierarchical view of device groups by department, depending on the service they deliver.

Download a free, 30-day trial or schedule a demo to learn more about how OpManager's network mapping tool helps you view your network.

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