It is a challenging project to design a complete computer network for your organization. There are various complex steps that are involved in this process. However, you can tackle it like any other project. You need to break this large project into smaller steps. It is important to follow a structured approach for designing your network. You need to clearly define the requirements. In this article, we are going to share some tips which will help you in designing a computer network for your organization.
How to design a computer network?
Gather network requirements
This is the first step that you need to follow. You need to first find what your network should do. This process can be divided into a three-step process. You need to first define where you are and where you want to be in the future. Also, you should have a list of resources that you have. These three steps are:
Describe your network
You should first evaluate your existing network first. It is important to ensure that you know about your existing network services, components, and infrastructure. This can be done by doing a walkthrough of your network. You should ensure that you know the type of network devices that you are using. This will include devices like servers and routers. You should also know circuit speed and WAN technologies. Cabling layout is another important thing that you should consider. Routing protocols, security controls, and network management should be considered.
This will help you in gathering all the data that you need for designing your network.
Define the goals
You should define the target network state that you want. These can be a combination of technical and business goals. Some of the common examples are:
- Improve network performance metrics like uptime, latency, and throughput.
- You might want to upgrade your network to the latest tech.
- Improve your network management and network security.
- You should focus on reducing downtime. This will help you in improving network availability.
You should define your goals clearly. This will ensure that you stay focused on your business needs. You won’t get distracted by different possibilities.
Define the constraints
You should also define all the possible constraints. Budget is going to be the common constraint for most SMBs. The budget will have an impact on your network equipment. These tools will also have an impact on your network performance. There are other limitations like WiFi technologies and cabling. You might need to run some legacy applications or strict compliance and security requirements. These factors are going to have a huge impact on your network design.
Size of your network
You should know the size of your network if you want to deliver the best network performance. Make sure that you know about the devices that are present in your network. You shouldn’t design your network according to the number of active users. Your users will generally have multiple devices like servers, IoT devices, phones, VoIP phones, and printers. These devices are going to demand bandwidth from your network. You should pay attention to technologies like virtual reality and streaming. These technologies are going to eat your network bandwidth.
Check your office plan
You should study your office floor plan. Try to find the exact location of all endpoints like printers, servers, desktops, etc. This will help you in determining the situation of your switches. You can’t install the switches until you understand your office floor plan. It is important to know the location of work areas, meeting rooms, and location of desks. You should also know about Wi-Fi-connected devices. This will ensure that you know about the access points that are in your network.
You should know the office layout. This will help you in creating an optimal network layout. Your devices will be placed close to access points or switches.
Choose an Internet Service Provider
Your ISP or Internet Service Provider will have a big impact on your network performance. The ISP choice will determine your network performance. However, not every ISP is going to work seamlessly in every location. The location of your business will limit the ISPs that you can use. Try to find the best ISP based on your requirements and location.
Create a network design
This is the most important step of this article. The design specifications are going to be the most important part of the implementation phase. It will help you in achieving your security and performance goals. You can fulfill your requirements by creating a good network design. In this stage, you need to create physical and logical topologies, IP addressing, security configuration, subnets, physical topologies, and network diagrams.
You can create your network topology as you have gathered all the data in previous steps. Network topology is simply a structural arrangement of your network. Your network topology is going to have a huge impact on the monitoring, configuration management, scalability, and performance of your network.
Generally, the top-down method is used to design network topology. In this, you will start from the OSI top layer and work on other layers. You will start by understanding and analyzing your application layer requirements first. It is important to adapt your network design according to your business needs. The best way to do this is by following the CISCO PPDIOO methodology. This framework will ensure that the entire design process will be organized.
The physical extent of your network is another important factor. You might be occupying a small section in an office or might have an entire building. Every case will have different network types and requirements. Your network can range from LAN to a complex WAN where you are connecting multiple locations.
This will consist of physical network equipment like cabling, patch panels, and faceplates. The cabling will ultimately depend on the network type that you are selecting. It will also depend on your performance requirements. Solid network cabling is very important for efficient networks. You need to include devices like IP cameras and printers in your cabling.
Companies can also use power over Ethernet. This will help you in delivering DC power to devices. PoE will help you in eliminating the requirement of separate power outlets and cables for connected devices. Thus, you will have access to more options when it comes to network endpoints. You can easily place them wherever you want.
Network equipment like hubs, switches, and routers are the core of your IT network. You can’t build your business IT network without using switches. Switches are required to connect devices like servers, printers, and computers in your network. Routers will help you in directing traffic towards the most efficient route. The data packets can be sent through the most effective route. It will help you in connecting your local network to the Internet and other networks.
You should ensure that you know about the network components that you are using. The purpose of the network components should be clear. You should also understand how these devices work. This will help you in designing a reliable and efficient network. If you have proper knowledge of these components, then you can choose the right networking equipment for your business.
Subnetting and addressing
We have talked about the physical parts of your network already. Now, we are going to talk about the logical part of your business network. You need to assign IP addresses to your business network. Every device in your network will have its own unique IP address. You can do either dynamic or static IP assignments. Most businesses are using DHCP or Dynamic host configuration protocol. This protocol will help you in assigning IP addresses to your devices.
You should divide your network into subnets or sub-networks. This will ensure that you can effectively manage your network device. It will help you in simplifying the resource allocation. Your network will be secure as attackers can’t move in your network. The network endpoints can be assigned according to their function, department, and location.
Document your network design
You can’t design your network in your head. It is not easy to link your network equipment as the business networks are complex. Every device in your network will impact the network performance. Thus, you should document every step of your network design. A physical diagram and a clear plan will ensure that you won’t miss any important part of your network. It will also help you in implementing your network.
Network Design Best practices
There are various challenges that you will face during this process. The best way to avoid these challenges is by following the best network design practices. These practices have been tested and used by many users. Thus, these practices will help you in simplifying the network design process.
Plan for the future needs
Your network is always going to grow with time. There can be a sudden increase in devices and users present in your network. Sometimes you might be adopting new technologies like virtual reality, IoT devices, and video conferencing. These latest technologies are going to eat up a lot of bandwidth. They can also cause network congestion. Thus, you should be careful. You should consider additional network load. This will help you in accommodating the growth. It will also help you in adopting new technologies. Most companies are following the practice of determining the network capacity that may be required in two years.
Even the best network can break down. Your network devices are prone to failure and error. Sometimes ISP can face outage. Thus, your network can be down even if your network components are working properly. The best way to protect your network from outages and breakdowns is by building redundancies.
Redundancies will help you in ensuring that your network is always up and running. Your network will be running even if there are some issues with your network components. The redundancy will include a backup ISP subscription, additional cabling, and an alternate power supply.
If someone has access to your network, then they can check your entire IT infrastructure. Thus, you should take network security very seriously. You should make it a part of your network design. Try to use the best network security practices for protecting your network.
The best way to solve this problem is by working with a good MSP. Experienced MSPs like Bleuwire can help you in creating a secure network. They will help you in monitoring your network. Thus, you don’t need to worry about manually monitoring your network.
Regularly update your network design
You can never create a perfect network. After implementing your network you need to verify that your network is meeting your network performance goals. You need to regularly monitor your network performance. It is important to ensure network security. You can use various tweaks for improving your network performance. It is also important to add new features and services to your network. These new features will have an impact on your network performance.
Network design is considered a complex project. The complexity of this problem will vary according to the network topology, size, and performance requirements. This guide will help you in designing a computer network for your business. If you don’t have a team that can implement your network, then you should consider working with a good MSP. Experienced MSPs like Bleuwire can help you in creating your network. They will also help you in regularly monitoring your network. You don’t need to worry about your network security as Bleuwire will create a unique IT security strategy for your business. If you need more information regarding IT services, then you can contact Bleuwire.