Network design

Layer 0 page for network design templates

The third blog written on the Cisco Network World subnet was about network design patterns. One of the pillars of a written network architecture is the right network design patterns. If you are working in a network engineering and architecture team, network design models should be considered your product line. If you really are a engineer, then your job is to create product specifications that a manufacturing unit (network implementation team) can rely on. This is what network design patterns are. They are your product line. They take raw materials (routers, switches, cables, routing protocols, etc.) and describe how to put them together into a synergistic product that adds value. Someone else can actually build the network, but it will be based on your design. And let’s be honest people design the product is always more valuable to a company than the people who make it.

An interesting note on my original network design templates blog. I receive a weekly report on the visited pages of Network World. Usually the blog I write the week before has the highest number of visits (obviously). But network design patterns are still in the top 5, if not the 3rd most popular. Last week he was the most popular number 4. There is certainly a constant demand for the information on this page.

Recently, we reviewed our existing standard for network design patterns:

  • High-level design – in short, how this part of the network connects to the larger network.
  • Physical design – what network devices to use, how network devices are cabled, what physical ports are used, rack and power.
  • Logical design – Layer 2/3 design for network equipment (VLAN, IP addressing).
  • Layer 3 Routing – how routing protocols (static, IGP, BGP) are used in the design.

and decided we needed to add another page. In this case, we have separated the rack and power specifications from the Physical Design page, creating a separate page called the “Layer 0” design. We needed something that was clearly different from “Physical Design” which could certainly include rack and power specifications as well, so we called it “Layer-0”. There is a lot of good information to include in the layer 0 diagram; enough information to complicate the actual “Physical Design” page of the model which focuses on the physical information of the network (Layer-1). Thus, it is necessary to have a separate Layer-0 page in the model. For example, proper PDU connectivity for each device can make the difference when it comes to different phases of power. Using the wrong port on a managed UPS could be disastrous in the future (I would hate to use SSH in a managed PDU and turn the wrong power port off and on again). This is all the key information that adds to the initial setup and design resiliency during operations. Information on shelving can also be provided. This is especially useful in remote field offices to ensure that all devices are racked the same. This makes troubleshooting easier when trying to explain to this brand new CCNA which devices it needs to put the extra memory into. If wan-router-1 is still at the top of the rack, it’s much easier. Layer 0 diagrams are a good addition to your existing network design models.

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