From one person’s standpoint in the organization, viewing the network might never elevate beyond the level of searching for a company WiFi signal, but Network admins all understand just how deep that rabbit hole can go.
Especially when you’re considering organizations of 50+ employees spread over multiple locations, keeping track of every single access point, network switch, and connected device can be a painstaking task, but it’s critical for a secure and efficient network. Tracking and managing these variables is something we call Network Visibility, and in October 2014 Meraki introduced a very cool new tool to help navigate this infrastructure quickly and intuitively.
Meraki’s Network Topology Map
I won’t give you every detail here (those can be found on their blog), but what Meraki is bringing to the table is called their Network Topology tool. You can run the tool with or without a full-Meraki setup, but to enable the full potential of the tool, your network should be fully outfitted with Meraki MS switches as well.
At Newmind Group, we hold a philosophy that effective IT can and should play a strategic role in any business, and one way of achieving that is by streamlining and simplifying tedious and time-consuming tasks. This network topology tool is a great example of this, and it can allow a network admin to focus on actual troubleshooting and support, instead sinking time navigating and mapping their network entirely by hand.
Favorite 3 features of the topology tool
Aside from just a better interface and sense of order, the topology tool addresses a number of issues that an admin runs into on a daily basis. These are my 3 favorites:
Comprehensive alert system
My favorite feature is easily the comprehensive alert system you get from the map. Whenever a device, somewhere in your network is having an issue, it will become highlighted within the map. Depending on the particular device, the map can even give you more specific details, such as the part that is failing.
Automatic diagram generation
The next thing I love about the topology map is that it’s generated automatically—and with it, an inventory of every piece of network gear connected. If you’re staying on top of your network and equipment, inventory shouldn’t be an issue, but there’s a certain satisfaction in seeing your whole infrastructure cleanly unfurl on the page in front of you.
Traffic details at your fingertips
Another feature I find really useful is seeing the traffic information on each link in your network. The map gives a simple view of each connection running between your devices, and if you hover over that connection, it displays statistics like speed and usage. It makes it really easy to find bottlenecks, and then balance the traffic load as needed.
How do you map your network and equipment? Have you tried the topology tool yet, or anything similar?