A network map is a visual map of a network’s physical and virtual connectivity, detailing devices on the network and their inter-relationships, and acts as a schematic guide, playing a vital role in keeping track of network activity as networks grow both in size and complexity over time and across organizations.
Network mapping assists in the breaking down of larger networks into smaller, digestible portions, allowing network administrators to view, track and analyze overall network performance, potential connection errors and identify root causes of issues faster, with more ease and precision.
The network maps are further customizable to suit the needs of network administrators and the detail of information they require.
Auto-discovery tools used in network mapping further reduce the time needed to set up network maps and once created, perform network management tasks, as they automatically scan and map the network, discovering all devices connected to the network, indicating the different node relationships and component locations.
This data is then used for a range of purposes, including the drawing up an inventory, topology map detection, flow charts and network diagrams as well as the generation of reports.
With the near constant evolution of networks, particularly in larger IT infrastructure, the roles of auto-discovery tools in automatic scans to update asset information, track changes and updates made to with the aim of ensuring data is available on hand, is fundamental to optimizing services and troubleshooting networks.
These tools allow network administrators to focus on finding solutions to problems arising within networks, saving both time and company resources.
Network mapping also forms an efficient security tool, as it can provide snapshots of live devices connected to wireless and wired networks in real time, speeding up the identification of suspicious connections or IP addresses on the network, with the further option of monitoring or disconnecting them.
Devices turned off can also be pinpointed, providing IP addresses are assigned to the devices, using SNMP, TCP, ICMP amongst others to discover hosts.
We have gathered the top tools for network topology with integrated auto-discovery for you, detailing their capabilities and strengths, with download links and pricing structures listed under each tool.
Here's the Best Network Mapping & Topology Software & Tools of 2020:
Below you'll find our favorite tools and software that include Auto Discovery features and other capabilities for creating Elaborate and detailed Network Maps and Topology of your network infrastructure.
1. Solarwinds Network Topology Mapper
Solarwinds Network Topology Mapper is one of the more advanced mapping tools available and is specifically designed for the scanning and mapping of networks, its auto-discovery features allowing for the automatic detection and mapping of devices in a network and scaling of topology maps generated as changes occur to the IT infrastructure.
Used as an effective network guide for administrators, the Solarwinds Network Topology Mapper presents a clear and precise overview of all equipment linked to the network with its user friendly interface.
With the ability to discover devices on demand, the software uses the automatically collected information to build one or multiple interactive maps.
It can also build additional, accurate network maps without having to rescan the network, with the option of compiling several perspectives from one scan.
The interactivity of the maps further allow network administrators to label groups of nodes with roles, such as vendor, location, machine type and other headings, for the easy identification and tracking of network traffic, and nodes, displayed as clickable icons, can be removed both individually and as groups.
Detailed information is available on each node’s status and inventory reports containing raw network data can be exported into CVS for review.
The diverse representation of devices through existing icons found in Solarwinds Network Topology Mapper’s library aids in visually displaying topology maps created, and these icons can be adapted to design specific icons for different individual or groups of nodes within the network maps.
These network maps can be filtered further by device type and network elements and multi-level network discovery can be performed in order to inspect network performance and traffic in detail.
With alterations to the existing network updating the system topology automatically and sending immediate alerts which relay the changes made through the use of auto-discovery, the automation of these tasks saves time and resources, making maintenance and troubleshooting easier.
Solarwinds Network Topology Mapper’s powerful reporting tools help keep track of network information and inventory, and can create extensive reports for the tracking of hardware inventory, switch port data, VLANs as well as subnets. For a more in-depth analysis, these reports can be exported into PDF and PNG files.
The Solarwinds Network Topology Mapper runs on Windows environments and is compliant with both PCI and FIPS-2 standards.
Download a 14-day free trial Below:
2. Paessler PRTG Network Monitor
The PAESSLER PRTG Network Monitor is an IT infrastructure monitoring tool which automatically tracks the overall health and performance of networks, their devices, databases, traffic, hosts and more with the added benefit of monitoring equipment both on the premises and on the cloud, while also supporting hybrid environments.
Additionally featuring cross-locational network discovery, it can include devices spread out over different locations in the monitoring and mapping of a network.
The PAESSLER PRTG Network Monitor uses monitoring sensors to track metrics from a single platform and the software will stick to its defaults if the sensors are not defined when running it for the first time.
Scanning and mapping of the network will then begin, with auto-discovery detecting and setting up all devices and their links on the network, which once discovered and documented, are monitored through these sensors.
Timetables can be set up to run discovery automatically at different intervals, such as daily, weekly, or monthly, with a ticket and email notifying you of the scan, but The PAESSLER PRTG Network Monitor will also monitor your network 24 hours a day, each day of the year, which aids in discovering devices which may not have been turned on during a standard one-time scan.
This allows for constant and accurate data on the state of your network, and if a problem is detected, fully customizable alerts will instantly notify you with the aim of avoiding serious disruptions to workflow, ensuring fast and effective corrective actions for issues arising within the network.
The auto-discovery feature of the PAESSLER PRTG Network Monitor also eases the process of taking stock of the network, automatically locating any new devices within an IP address range, adding them into your existing inventory to integrate them into your network map and monitoring.
A straightforward and easy to navigate dashboard shows the status of the network and all individual devices linked to the network, offering a quick overview of your infrastructure via your desktop or an app if you are out of the office, with free push notifications allowing you to stay up to date when access to your network is limited to a mobile device.
Clear, clean and visual network maps, using a simple drag and drop option in the built-in map editor, easily integrate all components monitored by the PAESSLER PRTG Network Monitor.
The use of custom HTML can also create multi-layer maps, while adding external images or applets to the network map is not an issue, allowing extensive customization to suit your needs.
There are multiple formats of network maps offered, with its sunburst view showing circles of applications together along with the hardware and services supporting each one, while the standard map plots all the devices in the network in a simple fashion, with connections shown as straight lines.
Icons, which can be altered, are used to represent nodes and color coded statuses for devices and the links between devices are shown in green and red for easy identification of healthy and problem links, devices.
Other maps can be personalized to show a building plan with the live location of each device on the premises, integrating photos of the individual offices, or even plotting your network on a real map of the world, which is ideal for WANs.
Each map available is customizable through the use of a mapping module and their focus can be changed on command.
The fact database underpinning these mapping formats, assembled automatically when the PAESSLER PRTG Network Monitor is installed, is kept running and updated by the network auto-discovery function, ensuring changes made to your resources adjust your network maps to ensure accuracy in the monitoring of your network.
The PAESSLER PRTG Network Monitor on-premises is only available on Windows Servers but can also be used as a cloud-based service.
The 30-day trial version of the PAESSLER PRTG Network Monitor can be downloaded here.
After 30 days, the trail version will revert back to a free version, which can monitor up to 100 sensors, while the option to upgrade to a paid license exists at any time.
Intermapper, developed by Helpsystems, is an industrial strength network monitoring software designed to work hand in hand with auto-discovery, and its powerful ability to automatically detect, document and scale tens of thousands of devices within a network, by use of its low-bandwidth polling engine, and translate the information into detailed, dynamic network topology maps proves its capability.
It locates all IP assigned devices in your IT infrastructure in minutes, whether physical, virtual or hybrid, enabling real time view of your network through the creation of a visual based inventory of all network devices, while also allowing the conduction of real world testing of systems or polling the system to view the status of the network health and its performance.
Intermapper also performs scheduled network scans to discover, update and adjust topology maps whenever new devices are detected.
To further speed up the process of analyzing and troubleshooting networks, Intermapper provides one-click charting of network data, with the option of storing this data to assist with capacity planning, trend analysis and SLA compliance reporting, also allowing network administrators to filter specific parts of the network.
You can view the IT infrastructure of the company or organization by their location, either by your office or their floor, and the overall interface is created with the aim of simplicity and easy use, with network devices color coded for identification of issues within the network and quick-glance assurance of a smooth running network.
Intermapper offers high customization and visibility in its network topology maps, allowing the change of layouts, icons and images, with the ability to upload floor plans or layout pictures for use as a background for the network topology map.
You can even integrate Google Earth with Intermapper, which provides the geo-location of all network devices linked to the network, helping in the identification of devices that are down with real-time alerts and their exact locations on a geographical space.
Intermapper’s notification system allows the configuration of alerts on certain devices and these alerts can be selected for a specific group of devices, be based on notification schedules created and certain thresholds.
While they are displayed in the central console, with configuration, alerts can be received via email or SMS in the case of potential problems picked up within the network and its devices.
Intermapper is compatible with Windows, Mac OSX and Linux.
You can download a 30 day trail and the free version of Intermapper here.
You can get a quote for paid versions of Intermapper here, which are charged under commercial and maintenance licenses, the varying packages dependent on the number of devices required.
4. 10-Strike Network Diagram
The 10-Strike Network Diagram features auto-discovery capabilities with its network topology discovery software, and specializes in the creation of network maps, scanning a wide range of IP addresses within minutes by using multiple parallel threads to search for network devices located in a specified range, such as switches, database servers, network printers and routers among other devices, recognizing these devices through its original, sophisticated algorithm.
The graphics editor provided by the 10-Strike Network Diagram is one of the tool’s main utilities, and its library carries several IT related icons which can be dragged and dropped onto the software’s design pad, customizing the network map automated through the scanning of the network and identification of all devices linked to it for easier viewing.
Links are also drawn between devices discovered (providing switches in the network support the SNMP protocol) with port names used to label switches and all information gathered is used to automatically draw up a graphical network graph, LAN diagrams for documents as well as discovering, mapping and documenting network topology, which can be exported to Microsoft Visio for further editing.
The 10-Strike Network Diagram’s auto-discovery includes the provision of a real world map, based on Google maps, plotting locations of each router it passes through on the map for convenient tracking of connections across the internet for faster tracing and monitoring of all traffic passing through the network.
This in turn speeds up the process of locating suspicious connections or IP addresses on the network.
The 10-Strike Network Diagram is available on Windows environments.
The software 30 day trail and paid versions can be downloaded here.
Pricing starts at $199.95 for a single computer license and can be viewed here.
5. WhatsUp Gold
WhatsUp Gold, developed by IPSwitch, is a network device and performance monitoring software, focused on the use of graphic representations in dynamic, detailed network topology maps that are structured logically, easily interpreted and updated automatically through its auto-discovery capacities.
Discovery and mapping functions also extend past the devices on your premises, including both cloud services and infrastructure on remote sites, providing a centralized map to unify all operations, services and equipment for instant viewing of the overall health of the network.
WhatsUp Gold logs all devices and their connectivity in your network through a process of automated continuous discovery, its registries interpreted and new devices, changes found updated into network topology maps without the need for manual intervention.
Auto-discovery can be run on-demand or set up on a schedule basis, the results of which assist in visualizing the entire network topology with accuracy.
The standard map provided by WhatsUp Gold can show Layer 2 and 3 devices, servers and the links between them, with each device represented by a circular icon, the rim of which reveals the status of the device, green showing good health and red depicting problematic areas.
All devices in the maps are clickable, which will reveal detailed performance and diagnostic information on the devices, enabling the ability to resolve issues detected faster. WhatsUp Gold can also assist further in troubleshooting with its Layer 2/3 trace and finder.
The network topology maps are also customizable to make the readability of the layout easier for the monitoring and health viewing of the network and include the option to show the traffic flow and status of a particular protocol or application.
With historical reports kept on access point subscriptions, signal strengths and hardware health within the network, WhatsUp Gold allows you to proactively address issues and trends with the aim of creating better workflow across the network.
The alerting system used by WhatsUp Gold also helps with visibility with the use of email notifications of alerts of changes and issues arising in the network, and additionally provides the option of tracking your network via the WhatsUp Gold mobile app, which on one screen can display devices up, down or in maintenance, giving you instant access to device details and the ability to resolve issues even if you are out of the office.
The WhatsUp Gold Mobile App is available for iOS and Android.
This is available on Windows Server 2008 R2, 2012, 2012 R2 as well as 2016.
The free trial version for WhatsUp Gold can be downloaded here.
The paid version of WhatsUp Gold comes in three different packages, dependent on requirements, and quotes for these can be found here.
NetBrain is a network automation platform designed for large scale businesses and has the ability to handle networks containing hundreds of concurrent users and thousands of network nodes, scaling these vast networks to visually organize them, distributing the load among multiple network servers and work-spaces.
This is all done with the aim of automating repetitive tasks to assist network administrators in the effective management of documentation, changes, cyber-security and troubleshooting.
By scanning the network through the IP address of an authoritative router, NetBrain discovers and creates inventories of devices on your network automatically, finding routers, switches, firewalls and others in addition to endpoints, mapping the network and producing an overview of the entire network topology.
NetBrain can be set up to scan the network on a schedule, also allowing for on-demand scanning, and can discover up to 2000 devices per hour as well as Level 2 and 3 network infrastructure.
Its automation features are fully customizable for the adaption of both the specific needs of your network and all tasks performed. Results from network data collected and correlated can further be reported directly on the topology map.
NetBrain maps out all environments, including physical, virtual, SDN and hybrid environments, and will create the network map and the network’s path in real time, presenting the map in a dynamic, graphical form, allowing for the easier identification of bottlenecks in network traffic, amongst other potential issues in the network.
Snapshots of the network can also be captured by NetBrain at scheduled intervals, used in the cataloging of historical data within the network, assisting in troubleshooting through the easier identification of changes made to the inventory, routing, configuration and CDP/ ARP/ MAC/ Spanning-Tree, made even faster by the option to highlight and visualize all changes on the topology map.
There are also multiple profiles built into NetBrain to further assist in troubleshooting as well as templates which can define changes, automatically apply changes to several devices in a single click, instantly document change history and analyze the impact of these changes throughout the network through the comparison of data between pre and post-change snapshots.
NetBrain is available for Windows environments.
A trial version of NetBrain can be downloaded here.
To request a quote or demo for the different editions of NetBrain, you can click here.
7. Opsview Monitor
Opsview Monitor is a cloud and infrastructure monitoring software with the ability to monitor tens of thousands of hosts, growing and scaling horizontally on physical or virtual infrastructure through its use of distributed architecture, which in turn aids affordability, while the automation of IT management operations aims to save time and resources in the monitoring and mapping of networks.
Opsview Monitor displays real time data and alerts in its dashboard, presenting data collected through the scanning and mapping of the network visually through the use of graphs, event tables and graphical maps, which can be configured to suit specific requirements.
Dashboards can also be created per data center, office and customer, amongst others, allowing the view of overall network performance and health individually, all of which can be displayed via TVs throughout the office for instant, quick glance surveying of networks.
Maps can be customized to meet specific needs, with the option of uploading images, such as floor plans, server racks or geographical maps and overlaying the throughput of all network devices with chosen data, making the visualization of network topology, devices in the network easier and speeding up the identification of issues which leads to faster and more efficient troubleshooting.
Opsview Monitor’s auto-discovery feature scans the network via a range of IP addresses or DNS names, using the data to map the entire network, creating an inventory of all devices, hosts and profiling them, and can be scheduled to scan at specified intervals to ensure inclusion of all new devices, with the ability to add thousands of devices in minutes.
Opsview Monitor further allows for the bulk configuration of hosts discovered, with the option of adding hosts to groups, defining host templates and the inclusion of hosts in hash tag groups, while retaining all data gathered for several days.
This can be used for the reporting on trends and performance results, allowing for the analyzing of historical data which can be used to construct smoother running networks.
Opsview Monitor is supported on Linux and Windows environments, amongst others.
The paid subscription plan for Opsview Monitor starts at $89.95 per month which can be viewed here.
The combination of Network Mapping and Auto-Discovery tools, as shown in the breakdowns here, provide a reliable and essential service to companies and organizations aiming for the effective use of time in completing network maintenance, trouble shooting and monitoring tasks.
All while keeping information accurate and up to date as networks grow and alter continuously.
The type of solutions and frequency at which auto-discovery tools should be used for scanning mapped networks will alter dependent on the size and nature of companies and organizations.
Developing a consistent schedule is crucial for the efficient and successful tracking, monitoring and maintenance of networks, and we hope the information gathered here helps in choosing the best solution to suit your needs.