Microsoft’s recent purchase of Visio bodes well for the product—and you.

Microsoft Visio 2000: Think Network Management

Microsoft’s recent purchase of Visio bodes well for the product—and you.

When you think of Visio, you probably think of flow chart or diagramming applications, rather than an intelligent tool for network management. That’s understandable, since Visio started life as a tool for creating flow charts and diagrams. But now it does for pictures what Excel does for numbers: it brings breadth and depth of functionality to solve real-world problems.

The new Visio 2000 Enterprise Edition automatically documents network infrastructures and directory service structures, and even models database schema. Three new or enhanced features—AutoDiscovery, Directory Services diagramming, and Database Modeling—typify the support that Visio now provides to IT professionals.

AutoDiscovery solves a challenge for IT pros seeking to document the infrastructure of enterprise networks. AutoDiscovery goes onto the network using SNMP and discovers all layer 2 and 3 devices, including routers, switches, managed hubs, servers, and workstations. It places information about these devices—including IP addresses, model numbers, router interfaces, and more—into a database. It then can automatically create network architecture diagrams from this database, showing you the locations, connectivity, and types of all devices. AutoDiscovery taps into a database of more than 18,000 manufacturer-specific shapes to create these diagrams, so the icons accurately reflect your actual devices.

Enhanced Directory Services Diagramming makes it easy to document and visualize the structure of your Windows 2000 Active Directory. Point Visio at your domain controller and tell it to import as many levels of your directory structure as you want, down to individual users and other objects. It retrieves detailed attributes about organizational units and objects, then automatically lays them out in a diagram of your Active Directory structure. You can modify that diagram simply by dragging and dropping icons. Visio can even import directory structures from Novell NDS and other LDAP-compliant directory services.

If your job includes database administration, you might be faced with trying to understand the schema of existing databases that were never properly documented. Visio can solve this problem in minutes. Point Visio at your database—whether SQL Server, Oracle, Informix, Sybase, or DB2—and it can reverse-engineer it to understand the relationships among columns, tables, and specific attributes including stored procedures and triggers.

You can specify changes in your Visio diagram and forward-engineer those changes to modify the database schema. Visio’s integration with Microsoft Office and the ability to save your diagrams in HTML format allow you to share your database schema information in Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, or on an intranet site.

All of these capabilities can come together to assist you in migrating clients to Windows 2000, or in migrating to SQL Server or Active Directory. To learn more check out the website at:

About the Author

Kevin Lisota is Product Manager of Database and Software Modeling for Microsoft Visio.


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