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Posted By: Pete Largo visual inventory of switch room and pbx - 11/26/08 10:29 AM
Does anyone know of any software that can keep track of pbx and data equipment and their respective connections (cables and ports)? It would be nice to have it visually instead of in a spreadsheet format...
You could use Visio to make a diagram. Not sure about any programs that would do it automatically.
Posted By: sph Re: visual inventory of switch room and pbx - 11/26/08 11:20 AM
There is software that (sort of) automatically creates so-called "network maps". In order for devices and capabilities to be discovered, the devices have to support management standards (these days, almost all PBXs and KSUs worth their salt do, but not all of them by default. With end-user terminals such as phones and faxes etc the picture is more unclear. IP phones all support SNMP though). By far the most common standard is SNMP, now in version 3.
The downside is that management applications have a steep learning curve due to complexity. There is software that does just network mapping but in my experience the price is too expensive, might as well get a full management app and be done with it. There are freebies though. I've used the following:

The Dude from Microtik software. Nice maps with some configuration options. Version 3 is in beta, which seems stable. You can download version 2 otherwise.

Spiceworks version 2. This is a browser-based program. Like the Dude, it's free, but you gett banner ads.

Good luck.
Posted By: Kumba Re: visual inventory of switch room and pbx - 11/26/08 03:08 PM
I've spent the last two weeks (or most of it) going over network management and equipment record systems. The problem I found is that something simple almost always ends up being un-usefull. Something that is very usefull almost always ends up being overly-complex. There was no happy medium. It is somewhat understandable given the complexity of the task at hand.

I ended up using Nagios but my needs are somewhat different from yours. I was looking for a solution that could do active, passive, and SNMP monitoring of networks. It also had to be able to give me dependency and relationships up and down for incident ticketing. In other words, if it detects a problem with a server, it creates a ticket for just that server/client. If it detects a problem with a switch, it creates a ticket for the switch and all servers/clients attached to the switch.

Most of the stuff I know for mapping is equipment records in network monitoring programs. Don't really know of anything to parse an excel spreadsheet and make them.
I'm with NFCPhoneman - Visio. It's especially useful diagramming complex circuits.

Sam
I also prefer using visio, but I've heard that Bentley Inside Plant is a nice program.
Posted By: mdaniel Re: visual inventory of switch room and pbx - 11/26/08 05:55 PM
We also use Visio.
Mike -

That (Bentley) looks pretty slick! Any idea what it costs? (Not that it matters - my days of buying that sort of stuff are long since gone, but still.....)

Sam
I have no idea, Sam..but just from looking at the system requirements, it must cost a fortune. It's probably geared towards network planners, design engineers, etc.

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS
• Server: Multi processor or dual-core, 2GB RAM
• Operating System: Windows 2003 Server
• Workstation: Processor - Intel Pentium-based or AMD Athlon-based PC, 1GB RAM
• Operating System: Windows XP, Vista, MicroStation XM and Oracle Spatial
• Hard Disk: 200MB minimum free disk space
• Input Devices: Most industry-standard devices are supported. Works with output devices supported by Windows
• Video: Supported graphics card. Dual-screen graphics supported
Posted By: sph Re: visual inventory of switch room and pbx - 11/27/08 02:40 PM
Wow. Just looking at the PC requirements I very much question whether the program will even START with just 1 GB of memory. Microstation will just barely run on 1 gig. Oracle on top of that!? I assume these are minimums. I can't even imagine what installing all this complicated software will entail.
On the other hand I thought that Pete Largo was looking for something to keep track of equipment graphically. The Bentley software, as noted, seems to me like a design tool. Not that I wouldn't love to get something like that for Christmas...anybody? smile
Kumba, I've used Nagios too, but I think Pete would find he'd need to devote quite a bit of time to get up and running with it. I tried to suggest something simpler even if it's not as robust. As for monitoring, my personal favorite is Intermapper. It's not free. It's not cheap. But it does work as a charm. I started using it on Appleshare networks many years ago (anybody remember those?), and before they came up with a Windows version I used to tote an Apple laptop just for that - using it to get a look at all kinds of nets. There are addons for help desk, trouble ticketing, reporting etc, but its strength is in active realtime network maps and network flows.
I just downloaded (for free)The Dude. After fooling around with it for about an hour---I printed out a map of our small network here (11 devices). It was rather painless---and 95% of the mapping was done automatically. Not bad.
Wow! I didn't expect so much intrest in this thread.

I really appreciate all the responses guys.

So far it looks like Bentley is the best match.
Posted By: Yoda Re: visual inventory of switch room and pbx - 12/03/08 07:23 AM
I use Smartdraw, and I love it.
https://www.smartdraw.com

I call it a "poor man's Visio", but it's very easy to use and get started quickly. They have free 30 day downloads.

Jim
Had to deinstall The Dude from our system. Seems it would constantly ping all of the terminals even when it wasn't on. It saturated the network with traffic, and made our IP system go nuts.

We could re-do the system parameters, but we decided just to undo The Dude.

We liked the diagrams and it was fun to fool around with, but the hassle with the phones was too much. Had to reset some of the phones 3 or 4 times a day. No good.
Posted By: sph Re: visual inventory of switch room and pbx - 12/31/08 08:07 AM
Quote
Originally posted by JWRacedog:
Had to deinstall The Dude from our system. Seems it would constantly ping all of the terminals even when it wasn't on. It saturated the network with traffic, and made our IP system go nuts.

We could re-do the system parameters, but we decided just to undo The Dude.

We liked the diagrams and it was fun to fool around with, but the hassle with the phones was too much. Had to reset some of the phones 3 or 4 times a day. No good.
Sorry to hear that. I suppose I should have explained in my post re:Dude. All monitoring programs increase traffic, obviously, as they have to monitor. The Dude monitors aggressively out the box, as it is geared to non-professionals.
Problems increase when the Dude is installed as a server in more than 1 PC on the network. Unfortunately, it installs as a server that runs 24/7 silently by default, so running on 2 PCs as a server=twice the traffic increase. You can change the settings to have the Dude server run on 1 machine only, also to run as a Service. Version 3 includes a web server, so you don't have to install the Dude as a client anywhere else, just access the server through a browser.
You can also change the monitoring settings/parameters to exclude devices or do less aggressive monitoring, but you may not want to bother.
I mentioned the software as a quick way to discover and print a network map - anything beyond that would mean getting involved in the intricacies of network management.
Hopefully it wasn't too much grief.
Thanks for the reply. No harm was done---in fact, when things like this happen---we learn. Now we know.

We had a chance to really investigate using the event logs of the phone system and found out what a lot of that stuff means---plus we got a chance to use Wireshark and use that software for some dignostics. It's all a learning experience.
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