Documenting the network and keeping tabs on the equipment in your environment is the equivalent of doing the dishes, taking out the trash -- i.e., the everyday household chore minutia that gets pretty tiresome over the long haul. It's even worse when network hardware fries and you don't have your configuration backed up. What's needed is an automated way to keep your network inventory and collect the configurations so recover from problems can be just a few clicks away.
In recent blog entries, I've discussed some compelling open source tools for network monitoring and management -- and without question, one of my favorites is one called NeDi ("Network Discovery Suite"). NeDi was created by Remo Rickli, and pulls SNMP values, using the Cisco Discovery Protocol -- and makes it really easy to visualize the environment and present it on the front-end (with PHP).
I've been working with this tool in customer environments for a number of years, and it's as solid at retrieving and displaying info about what's on the network as any commercial product out there. It's also faster than most. It runs at night and picks up any network node configuration changes and stores them.
About a year ago, Paul Venezia did a nice curtain raiser article that explained what makes NeDi so good. When Venezia wrote this article, the 1.0 version of Nedi hadn't come out, so I'd just add that it has now added new features:
* Improved the calendar usage in the frontend. Date and Time can be selected in Devices- and Nodes-List now.
* Monitoring overhauled
* Devices-Table is grouped by rooms (if available).
* New Vlan Information in Devices-Status
* Changed some icons to be more intuitive