Network Change Control System
By Stephen Bucaro
The most boring, but also the most important task of a network administrator is
documenting the network. Documenting your network can save you an enormous amount
of time and money. The time it takes to document as you go along will be made up for
many times over with time saved in the future. It is very difficult to troubleshoot
a network while searching for the information you need to figure everything out.
A properly documented network consists of the following:
- Floor plan and cable plant diagram
- Equipment configurations
- Installed applications.
- License, warranty, and service contract information
Maintain a documentation database that can be accessed by technicians over the
network. The documentation should be stored both electronically and in hard copy form.
If you are having a new network installed, have the network installers include the
cost of documenting their work in their bid.
The floor plan should document the location of every piece of equipment. The
Cable plant consists of all the wiring. Develop a consistent numbering system
to identify equipment and cables. All cables should be labeled and their location
recorded on a floor plan.
Configuration Management is maintaining records of equipment status and
configuration. Equipment status is the tracking of which network components are
working and which are not working. Some equipment may be sent out for repair. Other
equipment may be serviced in-house and waiting for parts.
Configuration includes recording network adapter card types, resources settings
such as IRQ I/O DMA, MAC and IP addresses, network protocols and binding order,
server user accounts, groups, profiles, and passwords. If you document the
configuration of you network equipment they can be restored in a minimal amount of
time in the event of a crash.
Change control means keeping a record of every change made to the network.
Changes include installation or replacing a network adapter, installation or removal
of software applications, and applying software updates or service packs.
In larger network environments there is a change control group. You have to fill
out a Change Request Form to be evaluated by the group. On a Change Request
Form you enter the reason for the change, the date and time you plan to make the
change, and what parts of the network will be down and the amount of downtime.