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Network Design

What Is Network Design, And Why Do I Need It?

When you’re building a new network, or working to upgrade your existing network, a good plan and foresight will pay dividends for many years to come. The average consumer is familiar with the “all-in-one” design which is typically a router, switch, and access point all housed in a simple device. More-often-than-not, these devices will be provided by your ISP (Internet Service Provider), and will also include a modem component. For the most part they are nightmares of terrible firmware and buggy features that usually cause an array of problems.

To bring your network up to the standards it deserves, we typically suggest equipment from Ubiquiti, Cisco, and Fortinet, among other manufacturers – depending on the use case. With nearly endless choices, confusion can come quick. I’m here to help you make sense of these options and explain how you can plan for the future. Intelligent network design from the onset will provide you many years of worry-free use, easy upgrades, and in many cases allow for expansion with little or no additional work required.

When designing a network, a lot of things should be considered. What will you be using this network for? How many users will be on the network? How far will this network reach (a home, small office, large warehouse, or even a multi-site deployment)? Will VoIP (Voice) be utilized? Are there servers, remote connections, or other specific applications needing to be used on this network? All of these questions will help lay the ground work for what your network should begin to look like. This planning phase can help select the components of a network, the general overall design of where equipment should be located, how it’ll communicate with each other, and the roles each item will play within your network.

Wired vs. Wireless

More-so than ever before, wireless networking is the way most people are accustomed to connecting to a network – although this is not always the best solution. While wired networks are far superior from a reliability, speed, and security standpoint – but they are not always possible so it’s critical that these aspects are addressed when building your wireless deployment.

Did you know that even a password protected WiFi Network can be cracked in under a minute, without you even knowing it? We can help protect you from such attacks, and keep your wireless networks secure.

To ensure you’ve got speed & reliability, proper coverage is paramount. Our wireless network deployments always offer rate steering (pushing you onto the fastest network), meshing (allowing you to always have the strongest signal), and through the use of custom planning software, we can help you position your wireless access points in optimal positions for 100% coverage. Plus, we’ll even keep an eye on it all for you.

Sometimes running cables to more remote locations on your property isn’t always a possibility. In cases where you need connectivity in a garage, remote building, support trailer, wireless bridges can be used. We can instantly beam your network up to kilometers away.

Network Planning

One of the first things to consider is the size of the network required. Being able to scale quickly can prevent considerable problems in the future. It’s always better to have more options available than to have to go back later and add. This is especially true when it comes to planning your network, running cables, and installing your initial infrastructure. Easily overlooked is the planning for things like security cameras, wireless terminals, and phones. Even if you don’t plan to connect anything at the time, leaving options available will prevent timely & costly work in the future as you expand.

This planning extends to the virtual design of your network. Building segregated networks for your home or business is almost always the best choice when it comes to security. You most certainly don’t want your insecure smarthome devices being able to talk to your server, that’d be a disaster. Creating & maintaining a proper and secure firewall & access rules can be a confusing, yet critical task. There’s security patches, which we’ll help you automate. With over 20 years planning & designing networks, we’ll give you a hand to help understand.

The Hidden Aspects Of Network Design

As we look closer at your network there’s lot of things to think about. At the core, the positioning of your equipment, & cable runs is a critical step. Although wireless has come a long way, wired networking is still highly preferred when possible.

Today more than ever, there are more devices requiring connectivity. As we transform our lives to rely on our Internet connected devices, it’s catastrophic when disaster strikes. Segregating your network is an excellent piece of your protection against potentially harmful threats to your infrastructure, but it can also provide a lot of logistical help you may not have thought about. Do you really need everything in your network to talk to each other? 

This is where something called “VLANs”, or virtual LANs come in handy. For most people they’ll just plug all their devices into one router, things work, and that’s about the end of any thought that goes into it. However with this type of setup all of your devices can freely talk to one another. This doesn’t sound so bad, until you begin to think about threats and security. That $15 Chinese made SmartHome light bulb may be running penetration tests on your server to check for vulnerabilities. Giving guests the WiFi password to your primary network gives them an open door to root around and do almost anything they’d like. You’d be shocked at what can be achieved in under 30 seconds on an unsecured network. VLANs allow you to segregate your various networks apart from one another and put them in these virtual containers. Now all of your most important devices are connected together, your guests have a dedicated network where they can’t see anything but themselves, your VoIP deployment gets it’s own space, and you can even put all of your potentially insecure devices into their own little group that can’t talk to anyone else. When you look at larger scale deployments you can segment different departments in your organization, different physical locations that interconnect on one homogeneous network.

Additional considerations can be put into segmenting certain types of devices such as printers & copiers, security cameras, and even putting your actual network hardware on it’s own VLAN as to hide it away from potentially curious eyes. The possibilities do truly extend far beyond what many people can imagine.

And, this can be confusing! I’m here to help you design and plan your network, retrofit what you may already have in place, or help you understand how to better utilize the equipment you already have to provide better security, functionality, and give you peace of mind knowing that things are done the right way.