Network Design

Network design refers to the planning of the implementation of a computer network infrastructure. Network design is generally performed by network designers, engineers, IT administrators and other related staff. It is done before the implementation of a network infrastructure. Network design involves evaluating, understanding and scoping the network to be implemented. The whole network design is usually represented as a network diagram that serves as the blueprint for implementing the network physically. 

Typically, network design includes the following:

  • Logical map of the network to be designed
  • Cabling structure
  • Quantity, type and location of network devices (router, switches, servers)
  • IP addressing structure
  • Network security architecture and overall network security processes

Each decision made regarding your network design should be traceable to one or more architecture decisions and thus to requirements and problem statements. This completes the traceability of your decisions, a critical part of the analysis, architecture, and design processes.

Importance

When start-ups or expanding businesses map out a network for their business, it’s common to have the tendency to take a shortcut or skip the planning phase in the attempt to get it online immediately. It’s best to note that all networks with impressive security come from impressive network design plans, and not just an after-thought. You can easily make out a well-thought-out network design from that of being pieced together in sections over time.

Networks that started with network design plans are always far better and here’s when the results are evident:

Efficient Network Performance

Good networks work fast and smooth. And, with a plan that comes before it is allowed, you can be assured that your network is running with a consistent high level of performance. It is very much evident in the application response time and the degree of reaction times across computers in your network when you can have a good network design plan to begin with.

Allows Resilience

Your business’ network should have a good platform for your business or office applications. The primary and highly specified network should be designed to have zero downtime for critical business operations or necessary applications and run at 99% availability for other applications. A well-designed network design plan can make sure a network – where there’s an infraction among the steps of the process – does not lead to the loss of an entire client-server session.

Makes Room for Scalability

Good network design plans consider possible changes that may occur in your business without the need for a total redesign. Take note of additional computers, possible required office applications, and an increase number of users when starting out with a plan, and if the time comes when your business expands, then you won’t have to go back to step one all over again.

Work Collaboration Made Easier

Your team is only as effective as the IT resources and network they’re using every day. To get the most out of the work performance, you need to invest in a properly laid out network infrastructure. File collaboration, file sharing, real-time update of collective efforts, and other internal tasks should be made easier and more efficient. When the need to work outside the office premise comes, your network design should also be able to address this situation.

Speed Increase

When the network is suitably designed to the nature of your business, the effect is immediate. It is evident in fast communication, flow, and smooth transactions. In other words, speed becomes an ally. And when this happens, productivity follows suit.

Once you have considered all the points above and you’re ready to execute your network design plan, you can finally proceed to get it up and running online. 

Challenges

For a variety of reasons someone may challenge all or part of your network design. Such challenges may be reasonable and expected, as when new network engineers are added to the design team, or when engineers outside of the project see the design for the first time.

With this process such challenges should be rare, however, as network engineers within your organization should have early and frequent access to project information as it evolves through the analysis, architecture, and design processes.

At times these challenges may be more political than technical. This is an unfortunate aspect of projects, one that we must be prepared to address. Fortunately, there will be a wealth of information by the time you get to the design, all of which can be used to address challenges, regardless of whether they are genuinely technical or merely political in nature.

Addressing budget, schedule, and resource questions. Another type of challenge to the network design is to justify your budget, schedule, and resource expenditures. Questions such as “Why are we spending X$ for this project?,” “What are we getting for this money?,” “Why will it take this project so long to complete?” may need to be addressed.

Bringing newcomers up to date on how the design evolved. The documentation that you have developed throughout the project can be quite useful in helping others follow the evolution of your design. {James D. McCabe et al-2007}

Security.:Security is another top challenge. Because the perimeter of today’s network is unclear, blocking unauthorized outside traffic from the internal network isn’t adequate for protecting data. Many threats make it into the network when employees respond to a phishing email. Denial of service attacks only need to attempt connections to succeed. Encryption helps protect traffic, but encryption can also make it harder to monitor network activity. There are many tools that can be used to improve network security, but ensuring they work together and provide a comprehensive solution is difficult. In addition, multiple tools require increased monitoring and management.

Configuration management. As networks increase in size, overseeing the network configuration increases in difficulty. Devices can conflict with each other. It becomes challenging to keep the rules in firewalls up to date, and manually applying policies leads to errors and inconsistencies.

Vendor lock-in. Yesterday’s reasonable decision means today your architecture is built around the assumptions and capabilities of yesterday’s vendor. Bringing in the best solutions from today’s vendors means figuring out how to interoperate, integrate, and support multiple solutions, or figuring out how to tear out all of the old equipment without tearing down the entire network at the same time.

Network Design and security architecture

Network design and simulation software typically provides the following capabilities:♦

Modeling networks of many sizes, from global to within a single floor♦

Tools for diagramming a network’s physical layout, including the ability to place vendor-specific hardware and software♦

The ability to layer network diagrams, collapsing and expanding smaller units, such as a wiring closet, within a larger unit (for example, a floor)♦

Storage for customized network configuration documentation, including quotes from vendors, equipment speeds, and so on♦

The ability to specify traffic loads through specific nodes on the network and to use animation to simulate the performance of the network under those assumptions♦

Simulation of failures of any network device and viewing animated simulations of how routers and switches can reroute traffic


Sources

The Importance of a Network Design Plan – Reference

The importance of network design – Reference

Top 6 Challenges Facing Network Management Teams – Reference

%d bloggers like this: