What Is IT Mapping and How Can it Prevent the Next Production Incident?
IT infrastructure mapping is the process of creating a visual topology of a network infrastructure. This mapping process helps understand the geographic and interactive layout of a network, which applications depend on. Using infrastructure mapping for troubleshooting, you can quickly understand the relationship between application issues and hardware issues.
An IT infrastructure diagram can contain information about the system architecture of servers, databases, routers, firewalls and similar components, IPs and ports, and data collection systems.
Why Is Infrastructure Mapping Important?
Drawing an IT infrastructure diagram can give you an idea of the resources you have and the relationships between these network components. It shows local and cloud-based clients, as well as remote servers.
Think of your network diagram as a condensed roadmap that provides comprehensive information about your entire network—including downstream and upstream connections, components, and dependencies. Network graphs can be used in tandem with alert management systems, such as OnPage, and anomaly monitoring platforms, to speed up the time it takes to find problems, or at least see which parts of the network need to be investigated.
This is not always easy, especially in geographically dispersed setups, where the deployment includes more than one type of infrastructure and is managed by load balancing and failover mechanisms. However, mapping your infrastructure can be a critical tool that makes it easier for IT teams to solve problems.
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What DevOps Challenges Can Infrastructure Mapping Help Solve?
Server Consolidation and Virtualization
DevOps teams need to rapidly provision and manage IT resources in complex multi-cloud and hybrid environments. To consolidate server resources and make dynamic workloads manageable, the IT team needs comprehensive visibility into all application dependencies.
Server consolidation presents a large administrative burden, time, and cost, for DevOps team, and is also an essential activity to ensure effective CI/CD practices.
Incident Management Challenges
High availability is a key DevOps goal and requires careful planning and system design. A key feature of high availability system design is the comprehensive mapping of event management approaches. Application discovery and mapping (ADM) addresses this practice to find dependencies on dangerous software components caused by various events.
Understanding these dependencies allows DevOps teams to isolate and limit damage in the event of a security incident. Issues discovered can be escalated to teams via alerting or on-call notification platforms. Teams can then plan resource capacity and redundancy based on risk factors.
Another aspect of IT incident management in a DevOps organization is taking full control of the infrastructure. This allows DevOps teams to migrate multi-tiered IT environments without the need to discover, map, or rediscover them. However, these processes can only be automated with a thorough understanding of application dependencies.
DevOps is designed to reduce waste. DevOps teams can use application mapping to inform decisions according to the value generated by different actions, by consulting a map of application components. This process helps the team to understand the impact of interactions that occur at different levels of the infrastructure.
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For example, if the objective is to minimize costs, the organization might decide to run a combination of public and private cloud deployments. However, managing change management in such an environment can be expensive and increase the administrative burden—leading to increased costs.
Application mapping can better solve this problem. Automating dependency discovery helps teams understand how the software interacts with the different infrastructure components.
Compliance issues can be proactively identified only if their interactions with application components meet two conditions. First, they must be discoverable. Second, they must be in compliance with regulatory policy frameworks the company is committed to.
Compliance is an ongoing effort and organizations need to identify gaps, prioritize risks, and track compliance with each change. Traditionally, change control management has required IT to closely track changes to dependencies. Good standard operating procedures include automatically triggering configuration changes and complying with a consistent compliance policy with any change to an application.
IT Mapping Best Practices that Can Help Prevent Production Incidents
IT mapping can help address the challenges above and, when applied correctly, prevent damaging production incidents. Here are some best practices that can help you make IT mapping more effective:
- Include good data—drill down for more data, including Layer 1 to Layer 3 connections, IP addresses, and network device types. This will help you understand your needs when maintenance, troubleshooting, and upgrades are needed.
- Keep IT maps up to date—a map with outdated information could be worse than having no map. Outdated IT maps can lead to misunderstandings and wasted time. You can manually update a map, but at some point you will likely give up on the manual mapping process. A tool that dynamically updates the network map when changes occur may help solve this problem.
- Taking snapshots—it is important to manage the configuration and be able to see the state of the network at any point in time. You can create and save snapshots of your network map to track the evolution of your network over time.
- Make maps accessible—other people may need to use your IT map. Make sure the right people have access when they need it.
- Use standard icons—other people read your map, so it’s important to use icons that clearly communicate your network topology, connections, and devices.
In this article, we explained the basics of IT mapping and how it can prevent incidents:
- Server consolidation and virtualization—To consolidate server resources and manage dynamic workloads, IT needs comprehensive visibility into all application dependencies.
- Incident management —Understanding dependencies allows DevOps teams to proactively isolate and limit damage in the event of an incident.
- Rework and waste processes—By automating dependency discovery, it helps teams understand how the various infrastructure components interact with the software running on them.
- Regulatory compliance—You can automatically trigger configuration changes and comply with a consistent compliance policy with any change to an application.
We hope this will be useful as you handle incidents with IT mapping.