Wed, May
2 New Articles

Tell Your Life's Story with Network Diagramming Software

  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

The question is, were you born with--or without--talent?


Since your life is inextricably intertwined with the enterprise network, isn't it true that if you created a diagram of the network it would be almost the same thing as telling your life story? Of course it would! Besides, then you would have something to show the missus and the rug rats to explain what it is that you actually do all day long. A network diagram could be the very proof you need to show you really exist.


Many IT professionals use Visio as the preferred tool to communicate their network's life story and to diagram the wonderful complexity that earned them so many gray hairs. They fondly recall that Visio 2000 Enterprise Edition included Discovery Wizard, which allowed administrators to diagram large network segments automatically. Discovery Wizard could detect and diagram a network and automatically diagram a Novell Directory Services structure or a Microsoft Active Directory. Discovery Wizard could even build a database schema, making it possible to reverse-engineer a database.


With Visio 2002, Microsoft split the product into Visio 2002 Standard and Visio 2002 Professional, which had additional tools to create technical diagrams. Visio Enterprise Edition was discontinued and replaced with Visio Enterprise Network Tools, an add-on to Visio 2002 Professional. But guess what? Visio Enterprise Network Tools wasn't a big enough money-maker for Microsoft, so they canned it. That brilliant accomplishment meant that no matter how much you wanted it, you couldn't buy a version of Visio that contained the AutoDiscovery feature of Discovery Wizard. What to do? Some have said it's relatively easy to write your own scripts for Visio to do various sorts of network AutoDiscovery. All you need is a product that allows you to make SNMP queries from VB scripts. One person recommended System Scripting Runtime, which can be downloaded from http://www.netal.com. Solar Winds offers a Visio plug-in called LANsurveyor Express that will restore Visio's lost AutoDiscovery features. At $499, it's a little pricey, but the company has been known to offer promotional specials.


WhatsUp Gold from Ipswitch offers automated device discovery and network mapping, real-time network monitoring (including SNMP and SMI monitoring), alerting, notification, and reporting functions. This clearly is more than just a networking mapping tool by a long shot, and prices start around $600 for a small network and go up from there--way up. But you get what you pay for, right? The Ipswitch solutions, including the WhatsConnected plug-in, are in use at more than 70,000 locations and have received great reviews. In fact, the company even has a promotion going now in which a limited number of people (they say the first 20) will receive a free copy of Visio Professional 2007 when they buy the WhatsConnected plug-in (requires WhatsUp Gold V12.3.1).

Other auto-discovery products include 3COM Network Supervisor and NetCrunch 5 from AdRem Software, and if you don't need auto-discovery, then LanFlow, SmartDraw 2007, and ConceptDraw are popular replacements for Visio.


A Russian software company that has distributors in Europe and parts of the Middle East (but hasn't caught on in the U.S. just yet) is 10-Strike Software. Russia has a lot of very good programmers, and I remember that when I was learning QuickBASIC, the best book I could find on the subject was written in English by a pair of Russians. Just this week, 10-Strike Software released a new product they're calling 10-Strike Network Diagram, which scans a network by IP address and automatically generates a graphical diagram that you can export over to Visio, save as a vector or raster image, or print. It detects computers, routers, and printers and supports pinging over ICMP. You can also use the program to manually design a network diagram and forget about Visio. 10-Strike Network Diagram runs on Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Windows Server 2003, and Windows Server 2008. The nice part about it is that it's only $149.95.


Now we get down to recession-era affordable software--as in free. You see, it was worth it to wade through the last 600 words in order to get to the good, free stuff. Dia is an open-source diagramming software package inspired by Visio. Though targeted at more informal diagrams, it can be used to draw many different kinds of diagrams and has special objects to help draw entity-relationship diagrams, UML diagrams, flowcharts, network diagrams, and many others. It can export diagrams in a variety of formats, including EPS, SVG, XFIG, WMF, and PNG as well as print them.


Network Notepad is a mature piece of freeware that has a collection of more than 100 object Library2 and Library3 icons, a donated hubs and switches library, as well as links to places like the Cisco Systems Web site, where you can download even more objects.


So that's a wrap, and if you can't tell your life's story--or your network's story--with any of the above tools, then you might wonder if maybe you were born absent any artistic talent whatsoever and, in pondering, reconsider why laying that nice gooey slab of cement on the weekends feels so frighteningly satisfying to the inner self.

Chris Smith

Chris Smith was the Senior News Editor at MC Press Online from 2007 to 2012 and was responsible for the news content on the company's Web site. Chris has been writing about the IBM midrange industry since 1992 when he signed on with Duke Communications as West Coast Editor of News 3X/400. With a bachelor's from the University of California at Berkeley, where he majored in English and minored in Journalism, and a master's in Journalism from the University of Colorado, Boulder, Chris later studied computer programming and AS/400 operations at Long Beach City College. An award-winning writer with two Maggie Awards, four business books, and a collection of poetry to his credit, Chris began his newspaper career as a reporter in northern California, later worked as night city editor for the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, and went on to edit a national cable television trade magazine. He was Communications Manager for McDonnell Douglas Corp. in Long Beach, Calif., before it merged with Boeing, and oversaw implementation of the company's first IBM desktop publishing system there. An editor for MC Press Online since 2007, Chris has authored some 300 articles on a broad range of topics surrounding the IBM midrange platform that have appeared in the company's eight industry-leading newsletters. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



Support MC Press Online

$0.00 Raised:

Book Reviews

Resource Center

  • SB Profound WC 5536 Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application. You can find Part 1 here. In Part 2 of our free Node.js Webinar Series, Brian May teaches you the different tooling options available for writing code, debugging, and using Git for version control. Brian will briefly discuss the different tools available, and demonstrate his preferred setup for Node development on IBM i or any platform. Attend this webinar to learn:

  • SB Profound WP 5539More than ever, there is a demand for IT to deliver innovation. Your IBM i has been an essential part of your business operations for years. However, your organization may struggle to maintain the current system and implement new projects. The thousands of customers we've worked with and surveyed state that expectations regarding the digital footprint and vision of the company are not aligned with the current IT environment.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT Generic IBM announced the E1080 servers using the latest Power10 processor in September 2021. The most powerful processor from IBM to date, Power10 is designed to handle the demands of doing business in today’s high-tech atmosphere, including running cloud applications, supporting big data, and managing AI workloads. But what does Power10 mean for your data center? In this recorded webinar, IBMers Dan Sundt and Dylan Boday join IBM Power Champion Tom Huntington for a discussion on why Power10 technology is the right strategic investment if you run IBM i, AIX, or Linux. In this action-packed hour, Tom will share trends from the IBM i and AIX user communities while Dan and Dylan dive into the tech specs for key hardware, including:

  • Magic MarkTRY the one package that solves all your document design and printing challenges on all your platforms. Produce bar code labels, electronic forms, ad hoc reports, and RFID tags – without programming! MarkMagic is the only document design and print solution that combines report writing, WYSIWYG label and forms design, and conditional printing in one integrated product. Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Request your trial now!  Request Now.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericForms of ransomware has been around for over 30 years, and with more and more organizations suffering attacks each year, it continues to endure. What has made ransomware such a durable threat and what is the best way to combat it? In order to prevent ransomware, organizations must first understand how it works.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericIT security is a top priority for businesses around the world, but most IBM i pros don’t know where to begin—and most cybersecurity experts don’t know IBM i. In this session, Robin Tatam explores the business impact of lax IBM i security, the top vulnerabilities putting IBM i at risk, and the steps you can take to protect your organization. If you’re looking to avoid unexpected downtime or corrupted data, you don’t want to miss this session.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericCan you trust all of your users all of the time? A typical end user receives 16 malicious emails each month, but only 17 percent of these phishing campaigns are reported to IT. Once an attack is underway, most organizations won’t discover the breach until six months later. A staggering amount of damage can occur in that time. Despite these risks, 93 percent of organizations are leaving their IBM i systems vulnerable to cybercrime. In this on-demand webinar, IBM i security experts Robin Tatam and Sandi Moore will reveal:

  • FORTRA Disaster protection is vital to every business. Yet, it often consists of patched together procedures that are prone to error. From automatic backups to data encryption to media management, Robot automates the routine (yet often complex) tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAManaging messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. Messages need a response and resources must be monitored—often over multiple systems and across platforms. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events? Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAThe thought of printing, distributing, and storing iSeries reports manually may reduce you to tears. Paper and labor costs associated with report generation can spiral out of control. Mountains of paper threaten to swamp your files. Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing. Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAFor over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i. With batch job creation and scheduling at its core, the Robot Job Scheduling Solution reduces the opportunity for human error and helps you maintain service levels, automating even the biggest, most complex runbooks. Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:

  • LANSA Business users want new applications now. Market and regulatory pressures require faster application updates and delivery into production. Your IBM i developers may be approaching retirement, and you see no sure way to fill their positions with experienced developers. In addition, you may be caught between maintaining your existing applications and the uncertainty of moving to something new.

  • LANSAWhen it comes to creating your business applications, there are hundreds of coding platforms and programming languages to choose from. These options range from very complex traditional programming languages to Low-Code platforms where sometimes no traditional coding experience is needed. Download our whitepaper, The Power of Writing Code in a Low-Code Solution, and:

  • LANSASupply Chain is becoming increasingly complex and unpredictable. From raw materials for manufacturing to food supply chains, the journey from source to production to delivery to consumers is marred with inefficiencies, manual processes, shortages, recalls, counterfeits, and scandals. In this webinar, we discuss how:

  • The MC Resource Centers bring you the widest selection of white papers, trial software, and on-demand webcasts for you to choose from. >> Review the list of White Papers, Trial Software or On-Demand Webcast at the MC Press Resource Center. >> Add the items to yru Cart and complet he checkout process and submit

  • Profound Logic Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application.

  • SB Profound WC 5536Join us for this hour-long webcast that will explore:

  • Fortra IT managers hoping to find new IBM i talent are discovering that the pool of experienced RPG programmers and operators or administrators with intimate knowledge of the operating system and the applications that run on it is small. This begs the question: How will you manage the platform that supports such a big part of your business? This guide offers strategies and software suggestions to help you plan IT staffing and resources and smooth the transition after your AS/400 talent retires. Read on to learn: