Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Know your environment - Diagram All The Things!

Yesterday Josh Warcop mentioned that diagramming is important and as an example we should check out Microsoft's Protocol Workload Posters for Skype4B/Lync/OCS/NetMeeting 👀  

I have to agree and point out how beautifully simple Microsoft has made some of their documentation. From magic Excel spreadsheets where you input a couple of parameters and spit out huge maps and configuration guides to the always stellar MSDN, MSIT, Channel 9, Microsoft puts a lot of useful and easy tools right front and center.

The documentation for Cisco is quite extensive, but so is it's distribution. Recently I pointed out Cisco's Collaboration Solutions Analyser; it was something I only found last week yet I have been working on Cisco TelePresence for a few years now. While it is always fun to find new things, it is frustrating when that was something you really needed weeks, months or years ago! I think Cisco Is getting better but so is the socialization of knowledge (we share things we find).

Josh was right though, do not let your environment languish in your head. Write it down and often in that process you will understand it better - possibly pinpointing problems in the process! My own documents are not perfect but I decided to share a sanitized version so I could share my work. You could use these as an example, I'll even share the Visio if you ask me, but I already see they need much improvement.

Is Diagramming Different Than Documentation?

Yes. Documentation includes diagrams, but a diagram is a visual thing and that sometimes is more effective than just using words. Diagrams can show flow and motion and relationship that words just cannot.

But What Should I Diagram?

Make sure to include important details. You can see I include names, FQDN and IP addresses. It might be important to include version numbers but when you do that you have to update them too! I have experimented with linking diagrams to spreadsheets that may or may not have referenced some db of SNMP queries and that really shows the power of MS Office collaboration (and the hell that happens when you move files).

But I Don't Plan On Getting Hit By A Bus!

Nobody does. But we are supposed to remember that we should document as if it will. More than likely your efforts to do this will help you learn so much that you get a promotion because you are truly awesome.

Here are some diagrams

This is obviously just an overview. We have multiple offices with stuff and things, then our datacenter has everything important; clusters of nuts and stuff.

There are more protocols involved but the big SIP/h323 and then the backchannel management things happen here. I can already tell I should pile in a bunch or zone information and where transforms and transversals happen but that really would be whole other diagrams. Try not to overload too much information into one screen!

Dial Plan
My background is more telephony and networking whereas most Skype people usually came from server and messaging. Understanding dial plans is something drilled into telephony kids from day one. It is the basis of life and from it grew IP planning. Skypers are so Layer7. But seriously folks; The meat is knowing how you are going to route and direct calls. If you cannot master that then you will not have a working communications system. This diagram shows all the e.164 extension dialing we got going on with the 33xxx range dedicated for video, 72xxx range dedicated to a sister company for voice or video, and 73xxx  range for voice at a remote office (they could use it for video too but they do not).

I'm going to wrap this up and think about how I'm going to make this better now!

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