IT Infrastructure

How to document your IT Infrastructure

As a small business owner, you know that if your technology is doing its job, you have the tools and the time to focus on building your business. You also know that if something goes wrong with your technology, you need a fix—quick.

One way to help achieve that quick fix is to do what many others don’t. You need to maintain accurate documentation of your IT infrastructure.

Why is IT infrastructure documentation important?

Preparing and maintaining documentation for your IT infrastructure isn’t a glamorous part of keeping your IT systems running smoothly. Further, it’s not something you’ll use every day. However, it is a critical tool if something goes wrong.

And as hard as you try, something will go wrong.

Assume you experience a catastrophic network failure. How will you provide backup if you don’t have your infrastructure documented? What would happen if you had a network problem that you needed to troubleshoot? A support professional will need to review the infrastructure in order to troubleshoot the problem and locate a specific failure. And, these are just a couple of examples of when you need infrastructure documentation.

Lack of documentation is a leading cause of costly and time-consuming troubleshooting.

When an IT support professional must start from scratch to find IP addresses, physical locations, dependencies and passwords, the time to fix a problem will naturally be much longer and more costly than if documentation were available.

In addition, infrastructures change. Some network experts find that a new network diagram stops being up to date around the time they’re printing it. To combat this phenomenon, it’s important that you document and update the documentation on a regular basis.

The steps you need to take

These steps will help you save time and money, keep your technology running well, and let you spend your time running your business.

Develop a policy

A policy will ensure that everyone involved understands the goal of maintaining accurate documentation. Include a description of the components of the infrastructure that need to be tracked, and the role each responsible administrator will play in keeping the documentation updated.

Create a diagram

A visual description will illustrate an overview of the infrastructure. Some diagrams can include everything in one place, including the network segments, routers, servers, and gateways. For larger organizations, you may need to create an overview, and then develop separate maps that go into the detail required for specific areas.

Maintain change logs

Often a failure in a server or other component relates directly to a change. When you maintain a log of things such as software versions and patch and application installs, you can use it for troubleshooting and to provide a roadmap if you experience a catastrophic failure.

Describe all hardware components

All hardware needs to be documented, not just servers. Information to document includes how each device is configured and connected to the network, as well as passwords or password hints.

Affix labels to all hardware components

It’s very possible that outside IT support professionals will assist your IT staff, especially when problems occur. Your documentation will only be effective if anyone involved can match the components on your diagrams to your physical hardware.

Get started now

If you don’t have infrastructure documentation or if you don’t have a process for maintaining documentation, the time to get started is now.

You may find that you need to update your network once you see it clearly using an infrastructure diagram. Threats to your infrastructure, such as ransomware attacks, are a reality.

Make sure you’re prepared to protect your infrastructure and your business in any situation.