Planning a network requires 8 things to consider. Otherwise, the alternative is to jump right in to it, and, before you know it, ip addresses are conflicting, people can’t login, and techs are playing Detective and working together burning hours to ‘figure out’ how to fix things.
We at Techsuperforce always implement and follow these 8 principles when we first attack a new network design job. Do the same and you will breathe easier, suffer fewer headaches, and save money and time.
A policy is a document that describes the overall goals and requirements for a network. A policy identifies what should be done, but may not necessarily define how the goal is to be reached. Depending on your network, you might define policies for different areas of implementation such as policies for:
- Administrative delegation
- Network documentation
A regulation is a requirement published by a government or other licensing body that must be followed. While you are not responsible for writing regulations, you are responsible for knowing which regulations apply to your organization, and making sure that those regulations are understood and adhered to. Policies are often written in response to regulations. For smaller networks, such as a Home Server, you may still want to make sure you adhere to regulation politics to not cause conflict for yourself.
A procedure is a step-by-step process outlining how to implement a specific action. The design of a procedure is guided by goals defined in a policy, but go beyond the policy by identifying specific steps that are to be implemented. The use of consistent procedures ensures that the goals defined in a policy are met, and provides consistency of action by multiple administrators. Examples are procedures for hardware demotion, user promotion, password retrieving procedures, etc. (the list goes on).
NETWORK DIAGRAM (Good Choice)
A robust diagram is always highly recommended. This one is NOT one of the ones you should leave out, in fact, this key is one of the most important ones and should be in your top 3 priorities.
A network diagram shows the logical and/or physical layout of your network. The network diagram could be a collection of diagrams showing the following information:
- The location and IP addresses of hubs, switches, routers, and firewalls.
- The relationship of remote locations and the WAN links that connect remote locations.
- Subnets within your network, including the subnet addresses and routers connecting each subnet.
Really, this is important when down the road you no longer remember by heart your layout, and someone else needs to take a look at your network without running into pesky trouble situations that waste time hunting for cables, patch panel paths, which brings us to our next point….
One of the top three most important principles, a wiring schematic is a type of network diagram that focuses on the physical connections between devices. The wiring diagram typically shows:
- The location of drop cables and ports within offices or cubicles.
- The path that wires take between wiring closets and offices.
- A labeling scheme that matches endpoints in offices and cubicles with specific switch ports or punchdown block locations.
CONFIGURATION (This is CRITICAL to troubleshoot, maintain, and expand your network.)
Configuration documentation identifies specific configuration information for a device. For example, a configuration document for a firewall might include information about the IP addresses assigned to each interface and opened firewall ports. Configuration documentation has two goals:
- Document the configuration so that the device can be restored to the original configuration.
- Document the configuration so that the current configuration can be compared to the desired configuration to identify any changes.
CHANGE or HISTORY DOCUMENTATION
Change or history documentation keeps track of changes to the configuration of a device or the network. Change documentation is often included as a part of the configuration documentation. For example, you might record a change in a network interface card in a device, or a repair to a WAN link. Change documentation is useful for troubleshooting to identify what has been done to the device, and keeps track of changes in the configuration as well as the rationale behind those changes.
A baseline is a snapshot of the performance statistics of the network or devices. The baseline is used as a logical basis for future comparison. Baselines enable you to effectively monitor the performance of your system to determine when changes negatively impact performance or when systems need upgrading or replacing. It is important to measure network performance at subsequent intervals to see how your server is performing compared to the baseline.
There are many monitoring programs that can show you live statistics and help you document the performance of your systems, helping you create profiles that will help you determine the health and state of those systems. We like using Nagios, but there are a few programs out there. Even the Windows Performance monitor can be a useful utility that you can pull information from and chart the system’s progress.
Microsoft Visio is a great program to use to design networks. As simple to use as Word, it can help you build, implement, and document all of these principles mentioned above, and keep a good record for technicians and engineers that may need a map to your network.
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