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1. Basic Principals
2. Change Control
3. Server Environments
4. Network and Wiring
5. Network Security
6. Software Purchases
7. Documenting IT

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Information Technology Digest:
Stable Computer Environments
by Wolfgang Blauen, CISSP
7. Documenting IT (continued)

Once you have created the outline for the documentation in the form of the table of contents, you can start filling in each subject and focus area with the appropriate information. Each of the focus areas may break up into several chapters explaining different information for different purposes. It’s a good idea to structure the information before you start collecting it. This is done by creating a template that might contain an outline like this:

  • Functional Overview
    Contains a conceptual description of what is implemented, what functionality it provides and how it works. May contain drawings that support the explanation.

  • Software Components
    A listing of the installed software components and their respective versions that comprise the over all solution. It should also contain the instructions on how to verify each component’s version and how/where to obtain it.

  • Hardware Components
    Describes any solution specific hardware components that are critical to the functionality. This is not a description of your entire network but rather a short depiction of specific needs.

  • Installation Procedures
    These outline the step-by-step instructions on how to get from the shrink-wrapped software CD to the usable application on the server or workstation. There may be sub-chapters in this section for each software component listed in the “Software Components” chapter.

  • Configuration Procedures
    This section should explicitly talk about the process of adjusting the “out-of-the-box” software and hardware components to the specific functional environment in your company. It should give example for specific configuration data but not specify the actual data to be entered.

  • Troubleshooting Procedures
    A little tricky but very helpful when it contains information on the most common problems and how to diagnose or resolve them. Typically you want to maintain this section frequently as you discover new issues and their resolution.

  • Configuration Data
    Notice that this is separated from the “Configuration Procedures” section. The reason for this is that the configurations may change very frequently and will typically be computer and/or user specific. Think about this section as sets of data that fill in the blanks in the procedure section.

  • References
    This is a “catch all” section for further documentation needed to either better understand the solution or in some other way support the chapters above. Here you should mention or establish relations to documents for which the content doesn’t need to be recreated in the other sections.


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