Automating your network documenatation
Updated September 09, 2020

Automating your network documenatation

Christoph Neulinger | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 7 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Overall Satisfaction with NetBrain

We had three major reasons to search for a new documentation tool:
  • First, our old network documentation tool was not anymore supported.
  • Second, our network documentation was far behind the reality as with increased workload and decreased manpower we just had no time to document.
  • Third, we wanted a network documentation tool, not a swiss army knife solution that normally is weak in network documentation.
The decision to buy NetBrain was made to have a new network documentation tool that updates the network documentation automatically.
  • It automatically updates your network documentation.
  • You can search for devices even if they are no longer operational (by a lot of attributes).
  • It can simplify your troubleshooting by showing you the L2/L3 path a packet would take.
  • It can automate and document the steps of troubleshooting tasks to get more information from one level of support to the next.
  • The support team of NetBrain is very fast and very helpful.
  • Heaps of information in the maps.
  • Not all devices are integrated with the same quality.
  • Not all steps are self-explaining.
  • The updates were difficult (but thanks to the help of support no real problem).
  • Network automation is up to date.
  • Quicker failure discovery and resolving due to the path discovery.
  • Less time spent on documentation.
  • Much more details in the documentation.
We used NetViz and Microsoft Visio before.

NetViz was a great tool at its time but it's not the best solution anymore and Microsoft Visio is good in a lot of things but more of a Swiss Army knife than a network documentation tool.

We had a look at NetTerrain which looked like a good documentation tool and would have given us the advantage of importing our old NetViz documentation.

The main disadvantage with all of these tools compared to NetBrain is that the documentation needs to be done manually.
In Cisco environments (especially IOS and IOS-XE) NetBrain looks nearly perfect. The network is loaded with heaps of information you would never document if you would have to do it manually. The information is there but you can decide what is visible at first glance and for what information you want to zoom in a bit more on the map for.

There are still some problems with the automatic documentation and path discovery with virtual L2 firewalls.
Although the implementation of the documentation of Cisco ACI is just in the beginning but, if finished, it's probably a great tool to have an end-to-end view of paths from the legacy network into SDN.