I inherited a network that is a total mess. I would like to do a cable plant and device map. Can you give me advice and maybe you recommend a good tool that will make it easier?

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There are several network management tools that will provide you with a device map of active components. On the physical side (cabling) it is a bit different as it is a passive system and if it was not labeled properly or the labeling was not kept up to date, tracing a blob of cables can be tricky. I would suggest having a Certified Infrastructure Auditor come in and do an inspection for you. If you want to do it yourself, about the best you can do is do an auto-discovery with a tool that supports that. It will lay out your network devices for you, but you will have to trace where the end device is in relation to the switch. A CIA can come in and do both the network components as well as the cable plant layout for you and update your labeling/documentation at the end. This is a requirement if you fall under any of the new compliance legislation such as Sarbanes/Oxely. There is also intelligent patching that can be added so that you will know everyone that connects or disconnects in real time. Products like MapIT will allow you to maintain an accurate layout of your network with some pretty cool security features added.

This was first published in February 2005

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