need help documenting the environment, where to start?

I have an existing environment that I need to document but have no idea where to start.  Plus we are implementing a Citrix farm and I need to be keeping records of everything as well.  Where to start ?  Anyone have any templates?  what is first (servers, network, clients, apps, services)?  Any best practices regarding the topic?  I never really paid much attention to documentation in the past but I believe it is critical to disaster recovery.  Looking for help from IT managers and project managers who can help me out on professional level.
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volk125Asked:
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lrmooreCommented:
Microsoft Visio is the defacto standard for drawings. Many 3rd party discovery tools use Visio to display results.
Something like this will help get you started:
http://www.neon.com/map.shtml

Visionel might be a bit more expensive
http://www.visionael.com/solutions/net_disc.html

Ecora is invaluable to document networks and systems
http://www.ecora.com/ecora/

>but I believe it is critical to disaster recovery
ABSOLUTELY! Good thinking. This is too often overlooked...

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giltjrCommented:
There are a few products that you can use to ddo autodiscover  of something.

If you are focusing on disaster reocvery, you  need to start with the users.

From the users you need to figure out what functions (e-mail as an example), applications, and file shares, they use.  Then somebody (upper managment) needs to identify which ones of these are deamed mission critial and which ones you may be able to live without for awhile (you need to define awhile: a day, a week, or a month).

Once you know what business fucntions/applications are critcal, you can find out what servers (and other hardware like printers) are needed to support them.

Hopefully you already have a backup process in place.

I don't know how big you enviroment is, but I hope that you are not doing this alone.

Once you get everything required for DR, you can start working from the "center" out.  Other servers, networking deivces (routers, switches) then user desktops.
decoleurCommented:
there was an enterprise visio 2k that had an autodiscovery application built in, check and see if a version that you can have access to has similar capabilites.

there is a very good book oreilly book called network security assessment that has the most comprehensive method that i have seen to date for enumerating all of the services and hardware on a network.

HTH

-t
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pseudocyberCommented:
In addition to Visio, I would recommend getting Solar Winds Engineers Toolset.  It has some EXCELLENT network discovery tools.  They work best if you're using professional, managed network gear - with SNMP community strings configured.  They can quickly and easily build tables of layers 3, 2, and 1 information which can be very useful in compiling your documentation.


http://www.solarwinds.net/Tools/Engineer/index.htm
calvinetterCommented:
As "giltjr" said, start with the users (especially the department heads) who should know what's absolutely critical to the business.  Start with the overall big picture, starting with what services *must* be available for the business to run, then narrow this down further until you get to specifics such as OS versions, IP addresses, model numbers, etc.

What's most important will determine what gets documented first, but here's a suggestion on how to proceed:

1) What are the mission-criticial services? e.g. "Our XYZ database program is most important"
2) If this is a server-based "service" (ie email, db, or simple file share), next start documenting your servers, either via automated/remote means or manually checking running services & installed apps.
3) Otherwise, if this is a pure "network service" that's most critical, ie "Internet connectivity is Priority 1", document your WAN connection(s) & what devices provide such (routers, firewalls, etc), then work your way inward for just network connectivity (ie, DNS servers, switches, switch uplinks, patch panels, etc).
4) After documenting the most critical servers, determine where & how they're connected to your LAN(s): ie, if their network drops aren't marked, tag them!
5) Determine what current backup solution is in place, if any! Are the backups even running, or if so with errors?
6) Find out what you can about the network infrastructure: e.g. Is DHCP being provided? If so, what's providing this? Are there directly-networked devices such as printers, NAS boxes, etc? How is DNS setup? How many subnets do you have? Do you have a DMZ? If so, what is on the DMZ? Are there VLANs in place?  Is VoIP implemented?  etc.
7) Are all the network drops tagged, & are the patch panels marked with correct "IDs" of the drops?
giltjrCommented:
One other note, you also may need to plan for "levels" of a disaster and time frames.

You building being destroyed is different than one area of your computer room being flooded, long term power outage (hours or days), long term telecomm outage.

Which is different from losing a server, group of servers, a switch, hard driver, etc.

Do you have hot site?

Although it is NOT in your control, nor is it your job, there is more to DR than just replacing computers.  What non-technical items do you need for employees to do their work, like paper, pens?  Do you have a contact list that is offsite?

Then there are the things that people do not want to think about.  Depending on the other things, counseling for the survivors.  Hiring replacement employees for those that may not have survived.  How long can you go before you need to do payroll?

In the past DR has mostly been thought of as a “technology” problem.  In my company we have for years (15 or so) been attempting to get other departments involved in the DR plan at other levels than the technical level.   Most companies do not think of the human side.  Some of DR is both technical and human.  Say you are declaring a disaster because of a local issue, earthquake, large scale flood, hurricane, tornado.  Most people will worry about their families first and job last.  If all the people that are responsible for doing the recovery are at home taking care of their families, what are you going to do.

Some of this also depends on who your customer are.  Are they only employees or are the outside people too.  Amazon, Yahoo, Google, eBay, have customer facing system as well as internal system.  Their DR plans for internal system are different from their DR plans for customer facing system.
volk125Author Commented:
WOW! That's like 9/11 style disaster recovery. And that is definitely out of scope for me.  I'll leave that up to my manager :o)
I just need to take care of the technical stuff.  We have about 60 stations and growing.  That's why we are implementing Citrix. Once all of our branches are online and working , there will be 300-350 users that I will have to support.  But I was told when that happens there is going to be more people hired that I am going to manage. At first I thought it was just a regular network admin position but it turns out I have a lot of potential. Therefore I am taking some matters into my own hands. That's why I need to start documenting things ISO style (professional). It's not just disaster recovery.  It's kinda like my future in this company too.

Do you guys have any templates that you can share?  English is my second language and sometimes I feel a little intimidated by the fact that I have to write so much information that's supposed to be making sense when reading it.
decoleurCommented:
check out ISO17799 it sets a pretty good standard for documentation all the way around.
giltjrCommented:
It is not a techies job to write something that makes sense, it is our job to make sure it is technically correct.  A technical writer is suppsed to make sure that it makes sense.  :)
decoleurCommented:
your best bet is to start establishing procedures that you do day to day so when someone else has to do what you do you will know what they did without having to track them down.

come up with a list of day to day operations that you perform, break them down into tasks and order them.
come up with processes and procedures for migrating users or devices and do the same.
come up with processes and procedures for new installs.

anytime you create a task analysis identify the key items that need to be provided before the task begins also identify exit strategies and the point of no return in your process.

all the time that you spend on this now with managements buy in will be better for you later on.

HTH

-t
pseudocyberCommented:
No comment has been added to this question in more than 21 days, so it is now classified as abandoned..
I will leave the following recommendation for this question in the Cleanup topic area:
Split - decoleur, giltjr, calvinetter, pseudocyber, lrmoore

Any objections should be posted here in the next 4 days. After that time, the question will be closed.

Pseudocyber
EE Cleanup Volunteer
decoleurCommented:
there is lots of good info here...

as usual, it is ee
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