15 | 08 | 2019

10 Top Network Design Best Practices for your Infrastructure

10 Top Network Design Best Practices

Outstanding network design is essential, and everyone needs to focus on it until its perfect. It will save any business a lot of time and money. Below section shows steps on how to do a networking design for a company or business. We are happy to assist you in a network design project. However, we are glad to share some of the knowledge of network design principles to illustrate the process.

Any LAN Design or Network setup must be thought through. If in any doubt, please get in touch with us, we would be happy to help.

Whether you are planning a small network setup or Enterprise Edge? Network Design Best Practices will benefit you.

1. Draw it; we always start with a drawing or at least a sketch

For any Client that we have designed or upgraded their network, we have always started with a drawing. We listen to their requirement, and then a Physical and Logical Drawing is produced to outline the full scope of the Project. As the saying goes a picture tells 1,000 words. We explain the whole concept, especially to people who are not technical. Everyone will understand a picture. By the time we come to implementation and installation phase of the Network Design Project – a Drawing will be changed at least 15-20 times. It doesn’t end there.

Drawing also holds another primary function. In case of a problem or disaster at any time of day, anyone can look at the Visio drawing and troubleshoot a problem correctly. Therefore, Network Drawings must be continuously updated and kept in a secure, accessible location. Also, it must be very detailed and adequately representing the live network environment.

2. Choose correct and best equipment for the business requirements

We tend to use a major vendor’s equipment for our Clients. We are driven to deliver the best service and peace of mind to our customers, so the best equipment plays a vital role to accomplish that. Our networks are built mainly on Cisco Catalyst / Nexus Switches and Routers, including Wireless. For load-balancing and security, we are happy to work on F5 Systems devices. In terms of firewalls, we also use Cisco, Checkpoint, etc.… There are other security devices in scope, please check our Solutions – Cyber Security. Section. Inevitably we configure all the devices in High Availability mode to mitigate any issues due to failure or maintenance.

3. Plan for the Future – next ten years

As mentioned above, regarding equipment. We must plan as the technology is changing, and some of the devices may reach End of Life (EoL) support cycle from the manufactures. Most likely bandwidth requirements in a decade will be much higher than they are currently. We must accommodate for that and give our Clients excellent margins, so there are no bottlenecks in the Future in their network environment.

If a client is thinking about 1Gb connection to the server, we are will suggest 10Gb or 2x 10Gb using FabricPath. Also, it is vital to look at the manufacture’s documentation. It says – 10Gb throughput but is this transmit and receive or only one of those?

Also putting devices inline is not the best solution as all the traffic must go through them and consumes a lot of bandwidth. Our extensive experience and knowledge suggest several options. We need to be aware of any consequences before they occur.

4. Secure from start to finish

It essential be done at very, very beginning. It is utmost essential to secure Clients assets, business, resources, infrastructure – this is what is protected when the network environment is secure. Layers of computer network security must be implemented at key entry points and within the computer/server network. The number of security measures needs to be put in place such as firewalls, intrusion prevention systems, antivirus, monitoring and more. The full list is mentioned in Solutions – Cyber Security. We always make sure our clients are protected from malicious attack. Everyone else should do the same and avoid falling a victim of cyber exploits or attack.

5. Copper and Fiber Cabling is important

How is everything going to be connected? With a new network, you must plan well in advance! For our Clients, we will engage subcontractors who will do all copper and fibre on our behalf. However, fundamental questions must be answered regarding the technology – switches that are going to be used in place. For example, ToR (Top of the Rack) FEX’s need different connectivity to Catalyst switches.

v500 systems | enterprise network solutions

6. Standardize as much as possible

For our clients, we standardize to the maximum for a simple reason to save them money. There will be some exception, but we are trying to avoid them. Even the naming convention needs to be standardized so straight away Network Engineers know where each device is located. In your own network, fewer problems and faults will occur due to those basic steps.

7. Redundancy, Resiliency and High Availability

We always tell and emphasize to our client that they need to avoid a single point of failure. Network devices or their components fail from time to time. Infrastructure needs to be prepared to function with no effect on users or application. When this happens, devices can be fixed or replaced without panic or financial or reputational impact to the business. Another benefit like, for instance, with Cisco FabricPath, both methods are forwarding traffic – Active/Active Solution. New ACI Policy-Based framework provides excellent load-balancing and resiliency

8. Monitoring and Management, Out-of-Band Access

Please check our section regarding this topic – Solutions > Monitoring
We have noticed that not all the companies put in place enough resources into Out-of-Band Access. This is vital when the switch or router doesn’t reload correctly and stops during the power cycle process. Also sometimes access via Management port may be severed. OOB access is like RSC or ILO on the Servers.

9. Do research, find out, ask for advice

Knowledge is one thing but Experience the other. In complex deployments, we heavily rely on our experience. Our notice is that comprehensive research needs to be done, and ask for a piece of advice if unsure of the solution or process to follow. No-one has to know everything

10. Environment: Cooling, Power

In our Experience – Power / Electricity is the weakest point in any Network Infrastructure. With new technology like Cisco Nexus a switch, we can upgrade NX-OS without power-cycle. The switch will work for years; however, if there is no power, it will stop – quite obvious.

Conclusion

In our view, each step is significant. When implemented correctly, you will enjoy agile, bespoke, secure, resilient network infrastructure. On that kind of backbone, you can build your business. Should you have any questions or anything is unclear, please get in touch with us.

Some other posts that complement this section:

Cisco FabricPath – build a Highly Scalable, Agile Networks.

What do you need to know about network environments?

If you found this article interesting, please Follow us on LinkedIn.

Please also check Campus Network for High Availability Design Guide from Cisco. This will give further indication and ideas.

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