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IT documentation (network, servers, switches...)

Posted on 2013-01-28
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-10-05
Dear EE community,

company I work for does not an adequate (read: almost non at all) IT enviroment documentation.

That means from network infrastructure to server, services, mail, dns etc. configuration, switches, routers etc.

I have made visual representation of network and network related services in Visio but I am stuck at producing good documentation.

Can you help me with templates or examples for documenting existing IT infrastructure such as:

Network (IP addressing, DHCP, DNS, Switches, Routers...)
Servers (Mail, DNS, DC, Virtual hosts etc...)
Security policies
Administrative information
Backup information

Most of infrastructure is based on Microsoft products (2008 AD, Hyper-V, DNS, DHCP...)

This is my first post/question here so please forgive me if I have not provided enough information or my question is not as clear as it should be. :)

Thank you in advance!
Question by:Divided
LVL 37

Expert Comment

ID: 38829251
Start by picking one part of it and writing it out in long form, then  do another etc, when you have completed this, go back to the first one and start editing, always remember that everything should be explicit.

Writing out how it all works should lead you into standardizing, not just how you write, but how services and applications run inside the network.

I tend to use Wikis for documentation as links to other documents are simpler than with word documents or text files, but I would start with just text.

List of servers
What each services each server has AD, DNS, DHCP, WSUS, File, Fax etc
Descriptions of how each service is configured
List of network equipment
Copies of their configs
How things are backed up
Where they are backed up to
How to restore

I also try to include "why" as in why something does something a specific way, why this decision was made, "I inherited like aaa, I tried changing it to bbb but it broke ccc, ddd and eee so it was reverted back to aaa".

Good documentation lives, it should be updated and corrected continuously.
LVL 43

Assisted Solution

by:Steve Knight
Steve Knight earned 1000 total points
ID: 38829345
I like good documentation and work for several clients with good systems in place, Notes databases of work instructions, knowledge bases, wiki's etc. amongst others and well defined AD (Ok much of which is from me having a hand in setting it up[ many years ago!).

Bet you've got more documentation than a customer I recently inherited helping with their IT support -- I was amazed ... multiple servers and no domain, well actually there IS a domain controller but it isn't used as one, i guess tried and failed for some reason, some machines are domain members but don't have dns etc. to internal servers set so can't see dc anyway.  

The network "can't work" in that devices on same physical LAN but with different subnets need to communicate with each other without any router between the subnets... and actually works, most of the time.  One of those subnets is the other end of a leased line, 3 different internet connections at one site, multi-homed servers with links to different customers over VPN's off second cards etc.

Most recent "find" was main file server has 2003 Terminal server configured with 5 per-device licenses so my inadvertent RDP connections to the server to configure something while on a couple of user workstations suddenly took up the licenses (wrongly assumed it was in remote-admin only mode).

Anyway my point here is I have had to feel around for several months so far finding things out and still find things every time I go there.  I had... a list of (some) of the IP addresses, a list of usernames and their passwords (as there is no domain they are kept the same for different servers and workstations so users get allocated one and keep it..).  This info has been invaluable but is all I had.

So even the slightest amount of information is good.  Lists, anything.  In that case as I do for all my customers I keep the info. given and add to it in my databases as things are found out or needed.  There isn't really any templates I can share as each customer need / site is different frankly.

Perhaps obvious stuff that seems to be missed all too often:

Software.  Make sure at least one cd/dvd of each product catalogued along with database / excel / text list of license keys and who has each

Server software & licenses. Same as above.  You can have all the config. details for apps on there etc. and backups but when the discs are fried and you need to get it back up and running with no server discs or license keys to be found it gets interesting.

Anti-virus - config, indidivual, server pushed, updates come from local, internet etc.

Network. Make a list of all available IP's, mark off DHCP ones, reserved DHCP entries (+ their mac addresses + who/what), and record what /where Printers, network switches, routers, scanners, building access, cctv etc.  

DNS / DHCP / AD / VPN / CA etc.

Start with new stuff as it needs doing write it down then go back and fill in the blanks.

For a network upto 100 or so a series of text files or excel sheets on shared drive is probably adequate, for more than that databases, wiki, sharepoint site etc. might be more appropriate.

Anyway I waffle on, good luck with it!

LVL 84

Expert Comment

by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
ID: 38829835
spiceworks http://www.spiceworks.com has a nice network enumerator and tools for the network admin (all free)
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LVL 51

Accepted Solution

Keith Alabaster earned 1000 total points
ID: 38829927
PLEASE - before you start, ask yourself (or your Managers) WHY do you want all of the documentation? What are you going to do with it once you have it? How are you going to maintain it once it gets completed?

What level of detail is REALLY required to be documented?

Whilst this sounds like a sales sort of statement, it is rather important to decide before you begin. Too much detail and it becomes useless as it is too difficult to maintain. Too high a level of detail and it does not articulate the information in a way that makes it meaningful to a variety of readers; and let's face it...documentation that no-one will read is a waste of time.

What is the purpose here? Is this for an audit or just for your own/internal use?

I tend to use the MS MAP kits to capture information when I am preparing for a significant change: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/solutionaccelerators/bb819696

If I want to build a supportable 'library' though of artefacts against which I can query my environment for things such as application portfolio, business capabilities, IT consumed by business group, lifecycle management, then I use an Enterprise Architect tool such as Troux but this may be overkill for you.

If you can advise on what level of detail you need and the purpose to which you will put the info documented then we can maybe suggest something more specific for you.

LVL 11

Expert Comment

ID: 38833141
Sorry but this seems to me more like a homework..
LVL 22

Expert Comment

ID: 38833725
A handy category to add is the "system overview."  This is a relatively undefined category that starts as a Word doc that describes your environment's unique or proprietary systems with spreadsheets, screenshots, important config files, Visio diagrams, etc, attached to the Word doc for reference.  Word's ability to store/embed other files is in a doc file is very handy when doing documentation.

Also, be sure to document passwords in both onsite and offsite locations, with a monthly update schedule for both, if possible.
LVL 11

Expert Comment

ID: 39549005
This question has been classified as abandoned and is closed as part of the Cleanup Program. See the recommendation for more details.

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