A network tracking tool, also called a network device management program, is a program that helps a network administrator keep track of moves, additions, and changes (known as MACs) to the hardware infrastructure of a network. Some network tracking tools keep track of cabling MACs only. Others can keep track of all the devices connected to the network, and provide visual diagrams of the network configuration showing all the configurations the network has had since it was first put into use.
A network tracking tool allows an administrator to maintain an inventory of network devices, schedule device scans, and compile periodic reports on the status of each device. Some network tracking tools provide a wizard or Web-browser interface to make the program more user-friendly. A few network tracking tools can contact each new device and determine the make and model automatically (if the administrator chooses that option). Devices can be sorted and categorized according to manufacturer, model, make, status, and other user-defined criteria.
There are a number of advantages to the use of a network tracking tool. For example, if a cable is unplugged, an alarm can be triggered in the network operations center. Some network tracking tools allow work orders to be signed off and documentation on the physical layer to be updated automatically. A network tracking tool can help technicians resolve hardware problems by identifying the location in the physical layer where trouble occurs. By maintaining comprehensive records of all MACs, a network tracking tool can help an enterprise conform to the provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX).