Network Design Step 1: Determining Technical Constraints

Similar to business constraints, technical constraints represent any of a number of technical issues and obstacles that will impact the network design. For example, a company may have made a fairly recent investment in some new equipment, and require that this equipment be incorporated into the new network design. Similarly, a company might be trying to connect many rural branch offices to a central location via WAN links. An example of a technical constraint in this case might be a company’s preference for Frame Relay, but it not being available in some of the proposed locations.

The bullet points below outline some of the most common types of technical constraints that a network designer may encounter, along with examples.

  • Bandwidth or media limitations. In any network design project, it is conceivable that certain parts of a network cannot be changed for a variety of reasons. For example, an organization might have a LAN installed in a factory that uses 10 Mbps fiber optic cabling that they are not willing to replace, perhaps for budgetary reasons. In this case, the available media and bandwidth represents a technical constraint that must be circumvented, since replacement is not an option
  • Application limitations. The applications currently used by an organization can have a significant impact on a network design project. For example, the customer may rely upon a particular program that can only function using a specific protocol like NetBEUI. In this case, the application would either need to be replaced, or the design would have to include support for the NetBEUI protocol. In a similar manner, a customer might still be using an older operating system like Novell NetWare 3.11 for an accounting application, necessitating that the design include the IPX/SPX protocol.
  • Personnel limitations. Even in cases where an organization has sufficient staff to allocate to a project, it is possible that these staff members do not have the technical expertise required to help implement the new network or manage it once complete. This is another example of a technical constraint that may need to be dealt with by obtaining additional training for the staff, hiring additional staff, or revising the scope of the project.
  • Existing equipment. Over time, companies invest in a variety of different network equipment to meet different needs. Although some companies can afford to replace all existing equipment as part of a network upgrade project, others will want to protect existing investments and reuse as much existing equipment as possible. This is a classic technical constraint that ultimately impacts almost every network design project.

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.