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.