Making Network Design Tradeoffs

Despite what politicians tell us about state and federal budgets during an election year, in the real world meeting goals requires making tradeoffs. This section describes some typical network design tradeoffs.

To meet high expectations for availability, redundant components are often necessary, which raises the cost of a network implementation. To meet rigorous performance requirements, high-cost circuits and equipment are required. To enforce strict security policies, expensive monitoring might be required and users must forgo some ease of use. To implement a scalable network, availability might suffer, because a scalable network is always in flux as new users and sites are added. Implementing good throughput for one application might cause delay problems for another application. Lack of qualified personnel may suggest the need for expensive training or the need to drop certain features. The network design that you develop must take these tradeoffs into consideration.

One cause of network problems can be inadequate staffing and reduced training due to overzealous cost cutting. The tradeoff with cutting costs may be a network that isn't robust or has substandard performance until the problem is recognized, which often takes a year or two. If the in-house network staff was cut, outsourcing may become a necessity, which could end up being more costly than it would have been to keep the in-house staff.

The network design process is usually progressive. This means that legacy equipment must coexist with new equipment. Your design may not be as elegant as you would like because you may need for it to support old devices as well as old applications. If the new network is not being introduced at the same time as new applications, the design must provide compatibility with old applications. Also, be aware that insufficient bandwidth in parts of the network, where the bandwidth cannot be increased due to technical or business constraints, must be resolved by other means.

To help you analyze tradeoffs, ask your customer to identify a single driving network design goal. This goal can be the same overall business goal for the network design project that was identified in Chapter 1, or it can be a rephrasing of that goal to include technical issues. In addition, ask your customer to prioritize the rest of the goals. Prioritizing will help the customer get through the process of making tradeoffs.

One analogy that helps with prioritizing goals is the "kid in the candy store with a dollar bill" analogy. Using the dollar bill analogy, explain to the customer that he or she is like a child in a candy store who has exactly one dollar to spend. The dollar can be spent on different types of candy: chocolates, licorice, jelly beans, and so on. But each time more money is spent on one type of candy, less money is available to spend on other types. Ask customers to add up how much they want to spend on scalability, availability, network performance, security, manageability, usability, adaptability, and affordability. For example, a customer could make the following selections:



Network performance






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  • Jouni
    What are tradeoffs in technical goals?
    2 years ago
    What is a tradeoff in networking?
    10 months ago
  • Fethawi
    What is tradeoffs in network concepts?
    5 months ago

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