Prior to taking a look at the various tasks involved in designing a network infrastructure, it’s important to be familiar with the role that a network designer or architect plays. Although the exact responsibilities that a network designer will take on for the duration of a specific project can vary based on the size or scope of the undertaking, common themes apply to almost all projects.
Certainly most network designers start their careers on some network engineering-related path; foundation knowledge and hands-on experience in these areas is critical. However, the main goal of a network design professional is to map an organization’s main business and technical goals to a functional network design that meets all stated needs. In some cases this can be a relatively simple undertaking, but in many cases, the process is much more complex. On a typical network design project, the designer handles roles that include needs analysis, data gathering, producing documentation, designing an appropriate solution, overseeing implementation, troubleshooting, verification, and more.
Quite simply, network designers wear many hats; they not only have to be able to effectively determine the true business and technical requirements driving a project, but also deal with a range of non-technical issues including personnel, politics, scheduling, and even “selling” their concept. At the end of the day, however, a good network designer will still be able to roll up their sleeves, get in there, and configure equipment if necessary. Their approach may seem very high-level in some ways, but a thorough understanding of how systems function, interrelate, and are configured is equally crucial.