Comparison of network diagram software

A comparison of network diagram software finds a number of tools exist to generate computer network diagrams. Broadly, there are three types of tools that help create network maps and diagrams:

  • Hybrid tools
  • Network Monitoring tools
  • Drawing tools

Network mapping and drawing software support IT systems managers to understand the hardware and software services on a network and how they are interconnected. Network maps and diagrams are a component of network documentation. They are required artifacts to better manage IT systems' uptime, performance, security risks, plan network changes and upgrades.

Hybrid toolsEdit

These tools have capabilities in common with drawing tools and network monitoring tools. They are more specialized than general drawing tools and provide network engineers and IT systems administrators a higher level of automation and the ability to develop more detailed network topologies and diagrams. Typical capabilities include but not limited to:

  • Displaying port / interface information on connections between devices on the maps
  • Visualizing VLANs / subnets
  • Visualizing virtual servers and storage
  • Visualizing flow of network traffic across devices and networks
  • Displaying WAN and LAN maps by location
  • Importing network configuration files to generate topologies automatically

Examples of commercially-available hybrid tools include:

Network monitoring toolsEdit

Some network monitoring tools generate visual maps by automatically scanning the network using network discovery protocols. The maps are ideally suited for viewing network monitoring status and issues visually. Typical capabilities include but not limited to:

  • Automatically scanning the network using SNMP, WMI, etc.
  • Scanning Windows and Unix servers
  • Scanning virtual hosts
  • Scanning routing protocols
  • Scanning connection speeds
  • Performing scheduled scans
  • Tracking changes to the network

Drawing toolsEdit

These tools help users to create network topology diagrams by adding icons to a canvas and using lines and connectors to draw linkages between nodes. This category of tools is similar to general drawing and paint tools. Typical capabilities include but not limited to:

  • Libraries of icons for devices
  • Ability to add shapes and annotations to maps
  • Ability to create free-form diagrams

List of network monitoring tools that generate network mapsEdit

Some notable tools (may not be an exhaustive list):

Name License Deployment Platforms
netTransformer GPL Desktop Windows/Linux/macOS
OpenNMS AGPLv3 Desktop Linux, macOS, others
SolarWinds Proprietary Desktop Windows
Spiceworks Proprietary Desktop Windows

List of drawing toolsEdit

Some notable tools (may not be an exhaustive list):

Name License Deployment Platforms
NetworkMaps OpenSource SaaS Windows, macOS, Linux
Cacoo (Software) Proprietary SaaS Windows, macOS
ConceptDraw PRO Proprietary Desktop Windows, macOS
Microsoft Visio Proprietary Desktop Windows
SmartDraw Proprietary Desktop Windows
Lucidchart Proprietary SaaS Linux, macOS, Windows
Gliffy Proprietary SaaS Linux, macOS, Windows

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

  • "Cisco Brand Center / Network Topology Icons". www.cisco.com. Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  • "Cisco Unified Communications System for IP Telephony: Microsoft Visio network topology diagrams (resp. diagram templates)". www.cisco.com. Retrieved 2018-04-09.