Five Design Principles for the Network Architect - The Sixth Principle!

(#7 of 7)

Throughout this series, I have tried to set out a set of simple design principles I believe all network architects should adhere to in order to ensure the success of their projects.  These have covered properties of the network and their operation which, given the appropriate level of attention, can make the difference between a successful and useful foundation for a customer's IT and one that fails to provide the right kind of underpinning for the services and systems that the customer needs to be successful.

An available network ensures that clients can access the applications and services they need to when they need to;a scalable network can grow or shrink to meet demands placed on it by the customer;a secure network ensures that a customer can support their customers with integrity and privacy;a supportable network infrastructure is one which is measurable and transparent, and has the right tooling around it to ease operations;a simple network is in the eye of the beh…


Yep, I know.  Already a month in and only now am I blogging about what this year is going to bring!  Well, there's a reason for that.  I spent a good couple of weeks over the Christmas period contemplating my navel - complete down time from the tech and away from the devil they call work!  (As did many of my friends and contemporaries this year interestingly)  And what big conclusions did I draw?  What grand resolutions did I make?

Well, none to be honest.  But I did resolve to spend more time putting myself out there in the community, trying to help the less experienced along and pass on the benefit of my painfully-learned wisdom (if only I had some!)  I started a really fun project with my good friend Malcolm Booden before Christmas, the Network Freestylers - where we are making videos where we describe topics and technologies using the medium of whiteboarding!  Using our experience and practical skills we use every day in a work context to give a little back hopefully ...  2019…

Network Shokunin is a Finalist in the IT Blog Awards 2018!

I'm gobsmacked but this little blog has been selected as a finalist in the Educational category of the  IT Blog Awards for 2018 (hosted by Cisco).  I'd really appreciate it if you'd take a moment to vote for me and for all our friends who take time and energy to share their thoughts and words with the network community at large.  It's all about recounting and sharing experiences with those who haven't had them yet to help guide them through the maze!

To this end, watch out for more content, both here and on - my new venture with Malcolm Booden - which launches soon!

I'm so grateful for your views, your supports and your comments.  And thanks for taking the time to vote!  Voting is open til 4th January, winners announced in January!!

Five Design Principles for the Network Architect - Simplicity

(#6 of 7)

So, across the articles in this series, we have covered most of the basic tenets of network design to ensure we have an available, supportable, secure network to implement for our customer.  Inevitably though, in any network there is a need to implement a wide range of capabilities - in order to interoperate between different vendors' kit perhaps; or maybe with a specific network operator for WAN connectivity; and of course we are highly unlikely to have an entirely green field operation, so the chances are we need to interact with an existing environment.

Simplicity vs Complexity

All of these bring a degree of complexity to  the network design, but also to the implementation and ongoing support of the network.  But when we say "complexity", what do we really mean?  Well, better minds than mine have considered this at length, and while there is no absolute consensus, a widely accepted definition might be where the network has a large number of interaction surfa…

What does it mean to be a Champion?

So, a couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to join a vendor advocacy programme - the Cisco Champions.  The idea as I understood it was that it was a way of getting pre-announcement product information so as to be in a position to help quickly spread the word when the press announcements were actually made.  It meant a couple of things to me: early access to interesting technical detail of upcoming product launches and access to help to develop my personal social presence.  Sounds great, right?  As a self-confessed network geek, and a follower of Cisco through their certification programmes, what better than getting to find out about new stuff early and keeping on top of trends?

Has it lived up to that promise?

Hell yes!  We have been able to watch up close and get the scoop  as events - such as the release of DNA Centre, acquisition of Viptela, maturity of ACI with its container integration, changing landscape of UC with Webex Teams and the Broadsoft acquisition - have re-shaped…

5 Ways Network Engineers Can Learn From Leonardo

I’ve just had a week away from the hustle and bustle of work, spending seven days with the family in the peace and tranquility of Meia Praia near Lagos in Portugal.  (Incidentally, I thoroughly recommend visiting the area if you’ve never been) While we were away, I resolved to plough through Walter Isaacson’s biography of Leonardo da Vinci, having thoroughly enjoyed the insights from his book about Steve Jobs. After starting it on the flight out, I turned the last page on the homeward bound Ryanair 737-800 about an hour out of Faro and felt compelled to write down my takeaways from it.

First things first, I’d strongly recommend reading the book. Isaacson doesn’t take a strictly linear path through Leonardo’s life but instead covers a series of main themes that gradually build to give a picture of a complex intellect. He can be a little repetitive at times as the threads cross over but they do all come together towards the end of his life to show how all the elements of his personality…

Five Design Principles for the Network Architect - Supportability

(#5 of 7)

As this series has developed, we have addressed a number of areas that affect the detail of the technical solution to be deployed. Supportability is more concerned with the legacy that the deployment project leaves behind. As we have already seen, the purpose of the network is to provide a level of connectivity availability for an application or service to a consumer of that service. The concept of supportability complements that, ensuring that appropriate monitoring of the environment is in place; that the correct tooling is available to maintain and change the infrastructure if required; and the processes are available to ensure that service levels are maintained. This is the area that dovetails with the end customer's operational model and so is driven by their 'day 2' requirements.

Let's address these areas one by one.


When we discussed availability, I made mention of the fact that we can't have a 'one size fits all' approach to mon…