Label, Label, Label!

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In a previous post, I talked about Network Diagrams and the importance of creating them and keeping them up to date. I’m going to expand on that now and talk about labeling.

As you know, my company provides 3rd party IT support services to clients. Whenever we take a new client on, I’m always surprised when I first see their network. I shouldn’t be surprised anymore given what I’ve seen in the past, but it still hits me every time. No one labels anything! I can’t tell you how many networks I’ve walked into that have had absolutely nothing labeled. And of course, when nothing is labeled, there is no Network Diagram in sight.

I label everything. I beat it into my staff (not literally of course) to label everything. Routers, firewalls, UTMs, NASs, switches, servers, IP phone systems, etc. Anything that is assigned a hostname or IP address MUST be labeled.

This makes things so much easier when it comes to troubleshooting. Imagine walking into an office where the IP phone system is down. You need to try logging into the management interface of the system, but you have no idea what the IP address is. Depending on the phone system, this might not be that easy to find. It may hide from SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol, where you can scan and ‘discover’ IP addresses and hostnames in use). Real life story, I once spent 45 minutes just figuring out the IP address of an IP phone system while the phone system was down and the organization couldn’t get any inbound calls / make any outbound calls.

It only takes a few minutes to label equipment when you deploy it, but it can save hours later on down the line. Remember, as technologists, we need to think about tomorrow just as much as we think about today.

Author

Martin Lehner

Martin Lehner is an technology professional working for an IT services firm in Whitehorse, Yukon (Canada). He has been working in the technology field for over a decade. With a degree in Business Admin and numerous industry certifications, Martin leads a team of IT professionals that provide third party support for clients. Originally starting a company to offer web development services, Martin quickly realized that clients wanted the entire spectrum of technology services. When Martin is not at work (which is not often, since his company offers 24/7 support), he is busy at home spending time with his family.

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