Visio a canvas for designing and modeling networks

The job called for the dismantling and reconstruction of a computer network. Richard Long and other microsupport analysts at PennWell, publishers of Cabling Installation & Maintenance and Cabling Product News, were charged with the task when the publishing company`s Advanced Technology Div. (atd--Nashua, NH) moved under one roof from three separate offices.

--Mark A. DeSorbo

The job called for the dismantling and reconstruction of a computer network. Richard Long and other microsupport analysts at PennWell, publishers of Cabling Installation & Maintenance and Cabling Product News, were charged with the task when the publishing company`s Advanced Technology Div. (atd--Nashua, NH) moved under one roof from three separate offices.

"We went from multiple facilities with networks on opposite sides of routers to one facility with one router to the rest of the enterprise network," he says.

Redesigning this network required Long to start with a blank canvas to redesign the system. That canvas was Visio Enterprise 5.0, an integrated, multifunction software from Visio Corp. (Seattle, WA) designed for IT professionals who develop, manage, and maintain enterprise information systems.

"The introduction of Visio Enterprise represents a natural extension of Visio`s diagramming expertise into the design and modeling of complex software, databases, and networks," reports Jeremy Jaech, president and chief executive of Visio.

The software, which is priced at $995, allowed PennWell to map out the entire ATD network, Long says. "More servers were going to the Asynchronous Transfer Mode switch, and the way the network was configured was different, so we needed new models," he explains, adding, "The Internet Protocol also had to be completely reconfigured." Although Long had used Visio Professional to make specific drawings of equipment racks and computer-aided design drawings, he admits he is still learning how to use Enterprise 5.0. "I am just barely touching the functionality of this, and it has allowed me to re-document the new network," he adds. "The software allows you to lay out your network and redesign it. You can move objects around and check connectivity."

The two features that helped Long the most were the simple network management protocol-based layer 3 AutoDiscovery technology and the automatic documentation the software provides for physical, logical, and wide area network designs. The AutoDiscovery feature discovers and maps logical connectivity of a network, beginning with the address of a single router and building a comprehensive database that includes network device and connectivity information. "I`ve just used it on the local side of our router," Long says. "The database that it creates is quite useful. Every time you make additions or changes, you go out and scan the changes, and they are stored in the database."

The automatic documentation is coupled with the diagramming capabilities of Visio Professional and the Visio Network Equipment library--a resource that contains 14,000 exact-replica, vendor-specific symbols to design and document networks in complete detail. Each symbol is drawn to port-level detail for accurate physical diagrams.

Michael Simpson, director of marketing at Novell Inc., told Visio Corp. that the timing of Enterprise 5.0 was perfect for its 40 million users, many of whom have 50,000 or more users on their Novell Director Services (nds) trees. "We are excited about the delivery of Visio Enterprise so the many nds managers and consultants can build accurate, detailed views of their network architecture and plan more proactively for the future," he adds.

Enterprise 5.0 also provides the tools for software and database design. For software design, it provides reverse engineering of Microsoft Visual C++, Visual Basic code, and integration with other enterprise tools through Microsoft Repository. For database design, Visio Enterprise provides flexible modeling, complete reengineering, migration, and code support for the leading enterprise database management systems. Enterprise 5.0 also supports forward and reverse engineering of databases for easy maintenance and updating of existing database management systems and migration between them from leading vendors, including ibm Corp., Oracle Systems Corp., Informix Software Inc., and Microsoft Corp.

Visio Enterprise can be purchased from Visio Corp. directly or through Visio resellers. For more information, call (800) 248-4746, or visit www. visio.com.

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