Network Design Fundamentals

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Information about Network Design Fundamentals

Published on February 16, 2014

Author: shaun_hummel



Network Design Fundamentals

The network design methodology describes a process with nine sequential steps. It is a best practices network engineering life cycle for deployments that improves network performance, availability and scalability. Typical Network Deployments  Network Upgrades  Migrations  Office Consolidations  IP Telephony  Video  VPN  Wireless

STEP 1: Business Requirements STEP 2: Design Requirements STEP 3: Network Assessment STEP 4: Infrastructure Selection STEP 5: Security Strategy STEP 6: Network Management Strategy STEP 7: Proof of Concept STEP 8: Design Proposal/Review STEP 9: Implementation

Any design project starts with an understanding of what the company does and what they need to accomplish from a business perspective. This begins with an understanding of their business model, which really describes how their company works from an operational and business perspective to generate revenues and reduce costs. Many vendors today have conducted their own Return on Investment (ROI) studies for new implementations such as Cisco Unified Communications and Video. It is an effective tool that illustrates the cost benefit compared with investment. Some typical business drivers include reducing operating costs, generating revenue, client satisfaction and employee productivity.

Typical Business Requirements • Network Upgrades • Office Consolidations • Company Mergers and Acquisitions • Business Partner Connectivity • Telecommuter Remote Access • Implementing New Offices and Employees • New Data Center Applications • Reducing Network Outages • Improving Customer Application Performance

 Now that you understand the business requirements of the company, you can determine the standard and specific design requirements. The design requirements process is focused on defining requirements from a technical perspective. The business and design requirements will build the framework that is used to define infrastructure, security and network management components.  There are standard and specific design requirements. The standard design requirements are generic and represent those considered with most design projects. Specific design requirements are those not defined with any of the standard requirements. Typical design requirements include service level agreements, number of new employees, number of offices, device throughput, estimated traffic increase and new application traffic profiles.

Standard Design Requirements • Performance • Availability • Scalability • Resiliency • Standards Compatibility

 The network assessment is conducted after finishing the business and design requirements of the company. The network assessment provides a quick snapshot of the current network with an examination of the infrastructure, performance, availability, management and security components.  The network assessment model has three sequential activities, which are assessment, analysis and recommendations. The current network is examined using five primary surveys: Infrastructure, Performance, Availability, Network Management and Security.  When the surveys are completed, the information collected is then analyzed for trends, problems and issues that are negatively affecting the network. The surveys are used with the design process and recommendations are made for consideration.

 Infrastructure  Performance  Availability  Management  Security Analysis Recommendations

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

The following list describes infrastructure components and their sequence 1. WAN Topology 2. Campus Topology 3. Traffic Model 4. Equipment Selection 5. Circuits 6. Routing Protocol Design 7. Network Addressing 8. Naming Conventions 9. IOS Services 10. Domain Name Services (DNS) 11. DHCP Services

 We must now define a security strategy for securing the network infrastructure. The need for enterprise network security shouldn't be ignored with the proliferation of the Internet. Companies are continuing to leverage the public infrastructure for connecting national and international offices, business partners and new company acquisitions.  The security requirements and network assessment recommendations should drive the selection of security equipment, protocols and processes. It identifies what assets must be protected, what users are allowed access and how those assets will be secured.

The security strategy is comprised of five primary components  Security Policy  Perimeter Security  Network Security  Transaction Security  Monitoring Security

This defines a network management strategy for all infrastructure and security components selected. 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, protocols and processes must be deployed. There are three primary elements that comprise a well-defined management strategy.

• Management Groups  Fault Management  Performance Management  Device Management  Configuration Management  Security Management  Change Management  Implementation Management • SNMP Monitoring Applications • Monitored Devices, Thresholds and Events

All infrastructure, security and network management components must now be tested with a proof of concept plan. It is important to test the current design, configuration and IOS versions in a non-production environment. For instance, implementation of newer network modules at a Router could require that you change the current IOS version. Making those changes could affect network modules already installed at production Routers. That is the real value of doing a proof of concept and certifying that the new equipment and IOS versions integrate with each device as well as the network.

The following list describes the proof of concept methodology sequence with your network design. The proof of concept test results should be examined and used to modify the current infrastructure, security and network management strategy before generating a design proposal. 1. Prototype Design 2. Provision Equipment 3. Define Tests 4. Build Equipment Scripts 5. Review Test Results

With the proof of concept finished, you are ready to build a design proposal for the design review meeting. The design review is an opportunity to present your design proposal to the client and for the client to comment. Changes can be made to infrastructure, security and network management components before implementation. Changes should then go through proof of concept testing again before final design proposal. The following groups comprise any design proposal:

 Executive Summary Any executive summary should serve as an overview of the project. It should discuss the corporate business model and how the design addresses the business, technical and operational strategies of the company.  Infrastructure This section is comprised of a description and drawings of the proposed design. The description should be a high level design with an explanation of the primary design features and specific advantages.  Security Strategy This section discusses the strategy employed for securing your proposed design from the security strategy.  Management Strategy This section discusses the components selected to manage the design from the network management strategy.  Appendix A: IP Addressing Plan  Appendix B: Equipment List

The final step will define an implementation plan for the specified design. This describes a suggested implementation methodology for the proposed design, which should have minimal disruption to the production network. As well it should be efficient and as cost effective as possible. As with previous methodologies there is a sequence that should be utilized as well. Once the implementation is finished the Network Operations Center (NOC) starts monitoring what was deployed. Design and equipment configuration changes are then made to address any problems.

The following elements comprise the implementation methodology: 1. Impact Study and Contingencies 2. Preliminary Testing 3. Define and Implement Project Plan 4. Modify Design and Configuration Scripts Shaun Hummel is the author of Network Design Fundamentals Copyright © 2013 Shaun L. Hummel All Rights Reserved

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