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Network Redesign: In The Field

I’m in the midst of redesigning a network and thought many of you would be interested in following me through the process. In a series of videos, I will walk you through the network redesign, implementation and support process. This series will give you a view of an actual job, not a lab environment.

The client -- an ISP with lots of customers -- has installed a new router and asked me to review the network design and provide recommendations on ways to make the network more reliable and easier to support. Since the router is installed, configured and working, I can skip many of my usual install questions, but in this video, I discuss the pre-installation questions before moving onto the analysis.


The first thing I need to do is to collect, review and validate any customer documentation.  In some cases, I collect various sheets or paper, Post-it notes, napkins and photos or whiteboards that contain portions of the network diagram. I then create an actual drawing in PowerPoint.  No CAD or Visio is required since this is simply for presentation purposes. I can’t tell you how many times I help the client resolve issues by simply creating one diagram. If you happen to have your network diagram on a computer or network management system, I suggest you audit the accuracy of it.

When everyone agrees the drawing is correct, I move to the next step, which is more of an inventory exercise. I validate which port is connected to what equipment. Typically, this step is followed up with updating any client documentation that may be incorrect. 

In this case, I was told that there was a past network issue that required the switch be swapped out. That kind of comment usually sets off a red flag in my head since I wonder if the technician maintained the same port number when equipment was moved over to the new switch.

Now that the diagram and drawing is accurate, I draw a diagram illustrating what things will look like after the network redesign.  I always prepare myself to explain ahead of time what benefits the changes provide since the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it“ mentality tends to creep into these kind of discussions.

In my next video, I will start explaining specific changes to be made, testing points, if I run into any issues and how I dealt with them.