Network Design Step 1: Identifying Customer Requirements

The first step in any network design process involves gathering pertinent data in order to better understand a customer’s business and technical requirements. In many cases, companies will provide you with basic information about their business and technical requirements in advance, often in the form of a request for proposal (RFP) or request for information (RFI). While these documents sometimes provide great depth and detail, they can also be missing critical and necessary information. As a network designer, it is your job to ask the correct questions in order to acquire all of the necessary information that will allow you to understand the customer’s business and technical environment.

Broadly speaking, identifying customer requirements involves knowing more about their business and technical goals, as well as the services, applications, and features that they plan to deploy. While gathering information about goals is critical, it is just as important to gather information about any constraints that may exist; in other words, factors that cannot be overlooked that will ultimately impact the proposed solution.

For the CCDA exam, you are expected to be able identify goals and constraints of a business or technical nature. Unfortunately, part of gathering information involves the sleuth or detective work mentioned earlier. You simply cannot expect to be presented with explicit information that states, “our business goals are” or “our technical constraints are”. Instead, you’ll be expected to extract constraints and goals from case studies, using the information provided to determine exactly what the real issues are, and the categories they fall into.

The following articles outline examples of common goals and constraints associated with a network design project, and the categories that they fall into. It’s important to note that the process of documenting an organization’s goals, constraints, and requirements is not a series of standalone steps, but rather an iterative process that involves gathering information in certain areas, and then making adjustments as new information is discovered or presented to you.

Author: Dan DiNicolo

Dan DiNicolo is a freelance author, consultant, trainer, and the managing editor of He is the author of the CCNA Study Guide found on this site, as well as many books including the PC Magazine titles Windows XP Security Solutions and Windows Vista Security Solutions. Click here to contact Dan.