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Barry W. Black on Providing Scalable Networks and Systems using...

<1st Class Network Design:>

The Approach

The effective design of networked systems is both an art and science. It requires a combination of an understanding of the problems, an understanding of the available technologies, and experience in the effective use of technologies to solve problems. I have developed a formulated and streamlined approach to networked system architecture, one that covers all possible avenues, and ultimately, creating the Network and Systems you need.

A systems analysis approach, entitled Top-down Network Design, forms the basis of the research for each project. I adhere to the network design model outlined in the 1999 Cisco Press reference volume "Top-Down Network Design", by Priscilla Oppenheimer. This discipline was originally adopted from the structured software programming techniques that revolutionized the means by which software was developed during the 1970s, and it allows the development view of the systems and network to begin and end with an analysis of the performance results you must have from your systems and supporting network.

The Analysis

The schema approaches systems and network design from both a business and technical perspective, analyzing critical goals and remolding them into an eventual systems and network model. As research progresses through time, the design is refined. The emphasis of such a method is on design prior to implementation. The criteria to be analyzed are:

 Analyze both business and technical requirements
 Give precise meanings of all formal terms and definitions, in both in a logical and physical manner
 Work around a physical infrastructure framework highlighted by other "to be developed" documents
 Review, critique, and study the active equipment, the customer has proposed to be integrated
 Make decisions on a vast array of criteria, including client Service Level Agreements
 Architect a strategic design for the customerís requirements, after which practical methods will be employed to support all reasoning and design specifications
 Finally, implement a tailored management system that will ease menial administration pressure from System and Network Administrators

How is this achieved? By defining a 3-tier organization that deals with Strategy, Planning and Implementation of all systems and networks. The strategy refers to architecting of topologies. The Planning aspect mainly relates to project management and procurement of appliances. Finally, Implementation, as the word suggests, the physical upgrades procedure.

The Strategy

The strategy behind the architecture process orbits around three distinct groups. These are the Client, the Designers and the Implementers.

Client The client is an individual or group of individuals who have a requirement. The client will state requirements and any constraints that must be met.

Designer The designer translates the needs and constraints into a technical blueprint or design.

Implementer The implementers use the blueprint to build the systems and network, which are then tested, to make sure they meet the needs and constraints of the customers.

Understanding the Customer

When I am called in to a Project, the first task, and of foremost importance, is to create an analysis of the customers business Goals and Constraints. This will involve:

   Research into the Client Business, and drawing upon facts such as:

What Industry? What Products?

Corporate Structure, and the Organization of Company

Business Goals, starting with one overall business goal that explains the primary purpose of the systems and network project, in order to understand the business requirements

Criteria for Success, and Consequences of Failure

Scope of the systems network design project

Identification of the customer's network applications


 Analyze the business constraints:

Policies regarding approved vendors, protocols, or platforms

Policies regarding open versus proprietary solutions

Policies regarding distributed authority for systems and network design and implementation.

Know the budget for the project

Staffing constraints, related to the technical expertise of the client, and any relevant internal or external staff

Schedule for the project, including the final due date and any major milestones

Office politics that might affect the network design


 Understand how the project will contribute towards business goals. Does the client want:

An Increase revenue and profit?

Reduce Costs (overheads associated with separate voice and data networks)

Improve organization communications and productivity

Offer better customer support and/or new services

Improve security & reliability of mission critical applications and data

Staff Education

Analyzing the Technicalities

In a systems and networking project, it is also necessary to extend the analysis to a technical viewpoint.


Requirements vary widely from project to project, and thus specific issues are addressed on a per instance basis.


Typical issues are:


Geographic Coverage
Network Performance
Adaptability and Usability


A detailed investigation of the applications used within the organization is also needed to mould the solution. After the analysis is complete, the three-step methodology is applied to the collated data, and a systems and network profile is characterized.

Due to the nature of the Three-Step methodology, it is extremely simple to modify the profile, with almost no disruptions to the project timelines, using a simple iterative chart process to keep an eye on the "big picture", and ensure success.


Have any questions or requests?


If you have received this document from a third party, please contact them directly, and they will contact me. Otherwise send inquiries by email to


</First Class Network Design:>



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