How to Improve Data Center Network Documentation [Free Excel Template]
June 11, 2020

Modern data centers are complex, high-density systems with hundreds or thousands of interconnected devices. Today, effective data center management is reliant on your ability to easily document and understand these devices and how they are connected to one another.

What is Data Center Network Documentation?

Data center network documentation is the practice of maintaining records of computer networks to provide data center managers the information they need about the devices in the data center and how they are arranged. This information allows you to accurately plan capacity, perform failover analysis, manage virtual and physical connections, and quickly respond to outages. Good network documentation practices improve uptime and increase the speed at which you can deploy equipment. And if there is a network issue, you can quickly trace cables via your documentation to determine the root cause of the issue rather than having to manually trace cables while you’re in the middle of an outage.

With so many devices and connections to document, how do you start and what do you track? That’s where our network documentation template comes in. This free downloadable resource will help you organize your data and document what’s most important in your data center network.

Who is Involved in Data Center Network Documentation?

Nearly every aspect of your data center is affected by the network infrastructure. Therefore, data center network documentation impacts a wide variety of functional teams and roles. Data center managers and operators, IT teams, power teams, facilities teams, network engineering teams, server teams, infrastructure teams, cable installers, data center move teams, storage teams, and internal and external customers can all benefit from a properly documented network.

What Should Be Documented in a Network?

Based on our conversations with hundreds of data center professionals in our global user groups for our Data Center Infrastructure management (DCIM) solution, we’ve gathered feedback on what enterprise data centers track in their network and consolidated it into a free network documentation tool for anyone to use.

The data center network documentation template includes separate sheets for structured cabling, direct data connections, and data connections with hops, and it features everything you need track about your items, ports, cords, and hops to successfully document your network.

Common Challenges Resulting from Poor Network Documentation

Despite its importance to the data center, network documentation often takes a back seat to more prominent use cases, such as asset management and power monitoring. However, treating network documentation as an afterthought can lead to a host of problems, including:

  • Mismanagement of resources
  • Ineffective use of capacity
  • Inability to move or install equipment and new capacity
  • Missing or misused cabling and other components
  • Incorrect equipment installation
  • Inability to correctly document cabling installations
  • Unsafe operating environments for your IT equipment
  • Increased capital expenditures for new cabling and hardware

Top Benefits of Good Network Documentation

Our network documentation Excel template provides everything you should track in your data center network. By following best practices and accurately maintaining your documentation, you will:

  • Improve uptime. An accurately documented network can provide for quick diagnosis in the event of a potential network issues or planned maintenance of network equipment.
  • Optimize capacity utilization. If documented correctly and routinely, you will have an always-accurate picture of usage in your data center so you can identify stranded capacity, forecast when you will run out, and make the most of your existing resources.
  • Increasing people productivity. Leverage network documentation to make data-driven data center management decisions and save time troubleshooting issues and deploying new equipment. When everyone follows the same documentation processes and procedures, you will reduce problems, maintain important information when employees leave the organization, and onboard new hires quicker.

To ensure success, you should create a network documentation policy to help guide your organization. The policy should include:

  • The responsibilities for each employee
  • The documentation process and order of tasks
  • A process to verify the completeness and quality of the documentation
  • Consistent naming schemes for devices, cabling, etc.

Ready to start implementing proper network documentation in your data center? Download Sunbird’s network documentation template today!

Want to be a part of the process to help us create the perfect template? Let us know if you have suggestions of additional things that should be documented!

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