Network Design Step 1: Understanding Planned Services, Applications, and Required Features

Aside from documenting the business and technical goals and constraints of an organization, the initial data gathering process needs to also consider any new planned services, applications, and features required for the new or upgraded network. For example, an organization might be planning to implement a new email platform, Voice over IP (VoIP) services, or a network management system (NMS). Ultimately, the network requirements outlined by the customer need to be considered in conjunction with both the goals and constraints looked at earlier.

The bullet points below outline some of the common types of applications, services or features that a company might have defined as requirements for a new or upgraded network.

  • Security services. Examples of security services that a company might be looking to implement as part of a new or redesigned network include authentication services like RADIUS, firewalls like a Cisco PIX, or IPSec VPN connections between offices.
  • Network management applications. Examples of network management applications that a company might be looking to deploy include elements of the CiscoWorks suite, HP OpenView, and other SNMP-based utilities.
  • Network availability. On of the most common requirements specified by customers includes the need for high network availability in order to provide redundancy. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, including through the use of redundant links to interconnect equipment.
  • Advanced service support. Customer requirements for a new or upgraded network may include the need to support features like Quality of Service (QoS) and IP Multicasting.

Outside of simply defining new applications, services and features, information should also be gathered about how critical the customer considers each to be. For example, although the customer may specify ten new requirements, some of the business constraints (such as the budget) may impact the number of applications or services that can be ultimately be deployed. By prioritizing in this way, the designer can work with the customer to determine which elements can reasonably be implemented based on all of the available information.

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.