A “network notebook” for TechAtlas

As we draft designs for the various planned areas of enhancement for TechAtlas version 2.3, we'll post some of the relevant documents here on the blog in order to solicit feedback from the user community. If we get your feedback early in the development cycle, we still have time to consider and implement your suggestions!

First up is the network notebook. Some of you may already be familiar with the Downloadable Technology Plan that is currently available in TechAtlas (you can find it on the Evaluate tab). The network notebook will be a similar function that will aggregate all of the technical inventory data that you have entered into TechAtlas, and allow you to download that information in a word processing file format.

The goal is to give you a convenient mechanism for pulling together your inventory data and creating a physical or electronic document that can serve as a single source of critical information on your library's Internet connection, local area network, telecommunications equipment, computers, etc.

Attached is a draft of the proposed format of this network notebook. The actual document in TechAtlas will be downloadable in either Microsoft Word (.doc) or Rich Text Format (.rtf). Take a look at the attached template and let us know:

  • Is there important information that ought to be in such a network notebook that is missing?
  • Not all fields shown in the template (such as passwords) can be populated by TechAtlas, so some of them would be left blank for the user to complete in the downloaded document.  Is it useful to retain these blank fields as "placeholders" in the template?
  • Is it useful to include a generic client/server or peer-to-peer network architecture diagram, as shown in this template?

Take a look at this template and post your feedback as comments to this blog entry, or send your ideas to Jeff Hall at WebJunction.


6 Responses to A “network notebook” for TechAtlas

  1. Brad Bates says:

    It would be useful to have direct links between software inventory and licensing. For example, if I could state that I have purchased 200 XP licenses, 100 terminal services licenses, and five Windows server 2003 licenses, and then be able to easily see how many licenses are in use, where they are used, and how many remain.

    And, as an added feature, how many need to be upgraded.

    I noticed comments regarding network equipment. I could not agree more. I have no easy way to track things like switches, routers, and so on using TechAtlas.

    In addition to that, it would be very convenient if we could track things like VLANs, remote connections, and so on, including network information, restrictions, addressing schemes, etc.

    The diagram is a nice touch, but I am not sure how it would handle our networks that are running VLANs, using multiple links to the network and Internet, and so on.

  2. Jeremy Smith says:

    Including the inventory is a must, but simply inserting the downloaded spreadsheet could easily mislead or confuse readers.

    I would suggest adding an alternate download version of the spreadsheet that was pre-formatted specifically for display. The actual data would remain the same but a parsing script could be run to automatically format the file upon a download request.

    In addition to formatting the inventory, at the same time, the systems (on the inventory list) could be grouped by workgroup, or in a more extensive case, criteria specified by the user (i.e., group by operating systems).

    Reports of this type are quite useful to tech departments, however, if they could be delivered directly to governing boards and other voting committees in nice ‘purty’ formats, it would likely help during decision making processes.

  3. ballard says:

    Good comments. Regarding ‘tracking things like VLANs, remote connections, and so on, including network information, restrictions, addressing schemes, etc.’, I’m curious of about how many of these kinds of items you have and how you’d like to track them. For instance, would it me more valuable to have a set of ‘network hardware items’ by type etc, or additional attributes to the existing network profiles now provided? We can add VLAN’s as a network type. Also, I’m curious about the value you see in having an online inventory for these items, vs. the distraction of seeing extra form fields to fill out that will mostly go unused.

  4. Kay Hicks says:

    I agree that a connection between the software inventory and the license would be helpful. I would even like the expiration dates.

    While I am tracking my switches and routers in the peripheral inventory, I still need somewhere to track UPS, smartboard, TV, and VCR. I also do remote connections and drive mapping but so far I indicate these in my notes.

    The diagrams would be nice but I doubt that very many of us could use them “as is”. Any chance we could have a diagramming tool or could edit the diagrams provided?

    I love the sorting feature of the inventory. Pre made reports are nice, but again one size doesn’t usually fit all. I am hoping the “Report Generator” is user friendly enough that I can print the reports that I am needing.

    I would love to see the CPU speed entered as a set value rather than a range.

    The one page in our tech notebook that I view regularly is the inventory/static ip address listing. This falls in the same category of the passwords issue. I like the idea of having one document to edit and print out, however because the information is not secure,I don’t want to enter them on the internet. Place holders makes sense to me.

  5. Jeff Hall says:

    Thanks to all of those who have entered comments so far. You’ve given us some great feedback – keep it coming!

    I wanted to follow-up on one issue raised in the first comment:

    “I noticed comments regarding network equipment. I could not agree more. I have no easy way to track things like switches, routers, and so on using TechAtlas.”

    There is a way to do this in TechAtlas now, using the Peripheral inventory function. When you inventory a new peripheral, you can select to assign it to both a Work Area and a Network, and then select an appropriate peripheral type such as firewall, hub, router, or switch from the drop-down list. If this current functionality doesn’t meet the need, let us know…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: