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Network Design Process: Effective Network Planning and Design

General description

The network planning and design methodology describes a process with 9 specific steps and a sequence for those activities. As mentioned, it is an engineering lifecycle that supports technical initiatives such as Windows migration, IP telephony, and wireless design, to name a few examples. The methodology begins with the examination of the company’s business requirements. It is absolutely essential that you understand the company’s business model, business drivers, and how they are growing from a business perspective. This will lay the foundation for a design proposal that meets the company’s business, technical and operational requirements.


Any design project starts with an understanding of what the company does and what it needs to achieve from a business perspective. This starts with an understanding of your business model, which really describes how your company works from an operational and business perspective to generate revenue and reduce costs. Today, many vendors have conducted their own ROI studies for new implementations, such as unified communications and telephony. It is an effective sales tool that illustrates cost benefits versus investment over a specific period of time.

Here is a list of some typical business drivers:

• Reduce operating costs

• Generate income

• Customer satisfaction

• Employee productivity

Here is a list of some typical business project requirements:

• Budget limitations

• Office consolidations

• Mergers and acquisitions of companies

• Connectivity of trading partners

• Remote access for teleworkers

• Implement New Offices and Employees

• New applications for data centers

• Reduce network interruption costs

• Cost effective network management

• Supplier contracts


Now that you understand your company’s basic business requirements, you can determine standard and specific design requirements. The design requirements process focuses on defining requirements from a technical perspective. Those requirements, along with business requirements, will create the framework that is used to define infrastructure, security, and management. Design requirements are defined as standard and miscellaneous. Standard design requirements are generic and represent those considered with many design projects. Miscellaneous requirements are those that are not defined by any of the standard requirements.

• Standard design requirements

• Performance

• Availability

• Scalability

• Standards compatibility

• Rapid deployment


A network assessment is carried out once we have finalized the design and business requirements of the company. A network assessment provides a quick snapshot of your current network with an examination of infrastructure, performance, availability, management, and security. That information is used to make effective strategy recommendations and design proposals to the client regarding specific information system modifications. The network evaluation model has 3 sequential activities, which are evaluation, analysis and recommendations. Today’s network is examined through five main studies: infrastructure, performance, availability, management, and security. When the surveys are completed, the information collected is reviewed for trends, issues, and issues that are negatively impacting the network.


After performing a network assessment, we are ready to begin selecting specific infrastructure components for the network design. This phase begins with the construction of the infrastructure with a specific sequence that promotes the selection and design of effective equipment. It is important that you consider business requirements, design requirements, and network assessment when building your infrastructure.

The following numbered list describes the specific infrastructure components and their particular sequence.

1. Enterprise WAN Topology

2. Campus topology

3.Traffic model

4. Selection of equipment

5. Visits

6. Design of the routing protocol

7. Addressing

8. Naming conventions

9. iOS Services

10. Domain name services

11.DHCP Services


Now we must define a security strategy to protect the infrastructure. The need for enterprise network security should not be ignored with the proliferation of the Internet. Companies continue to take advantage of public infrastructure to connect national and international offices, business partners, and new company acquisitions. Security requirements and network assessment recommendations should drive the selection of security equipment, protocols, and processes. It identifies which assets need to be protected, which users are allowed access, and how those assets will be protected.


In this section, a network management strategy will be defined to manage all the equipment defined from infrastructure and security. It is necessary to define how the equipment is going to be monitored and determine if the current management strategy is adequate or if new applications, equipment, protocols and processes must be identified. Management components are then integrated with infrastructure and security to finish building the proposed design. These main elements comprise any well-defined management strategy and must be considered when developing your strategy.

• 7 Management Groups

• SNMP applications

• Monitored devices and events


All infrastructure, security, and management components must now be tested with a proof-of-concept plan. It is important to test your current iOS design, configuration, and versions in a non-production environment or on the production network with limited disruption. Deploying newer network modules to a router, for example, might require you to change the current version of iOS that’s deployed. Making those changes could affect WAN or campus modules that are already installed on production routers. That’s the true value of doing a proof of concept and certifying that new devices and versions of iOS integrate both with each device and with the network. The following list describes the advantages of doing a proof of concept with your network design. The results of the proof of concept should be examined and used to modify current infrastructure, security, and management specifications before generating a design proposal. The proof-of-concept model suggested here involves designing prototypes, provisioning equipment, defining tests, creating team scripts, and examining test results.

1. Prototype design

2. Supply team

3. Define tests

4. Construction Team Scripts

5. Review test results


With the proof of concept complete, you are now ready to create a design proposal for the design review meeting. Your target audience could be the manager, CIO, CTO, senior network engineer, consultant, or anyone approving a budget for the project. It is important to present your ideas clearly and professionally. If a presentation is required, PowerPoint slides work well and can be used to support the concepts in the design proposal document. The focus is on what a standard design proposal includes and the sequence for presenting that information.

The working design proposal is presented to the client after any concerns from proof-of-concept assurance testing have been addressed. The design review is an opportunity for you to present your design proposal to the client and discuss any issues. It is an opportunity for the customer to identify any concerns they have and for the design engineer to clarify the issues. The approach is to agree on any modifications, if necessary, and to make infrastructure, security, and management changes before implementation begins. Business and design requirements may change since the project began, sometimes requiring changes to infrastructure, security, and management specifications. Any changes must go through proof of concept again before final changes are made to the design proposal.


The final step will allow us to define an implementation process for the specified design. This outlines a suggested implementation methodology of the proposed design, which should have minimal disruption to the production network. In addition, it must be efficient and as profitable as possible. As with previous methodologies, a sequence must also be used. After the deployment is complete, the network is monitored for any issues. Design and configuration modifications are then made to address any issues or concerns.

Copyright 2006 Shaun Hummel All Rights Reserved

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