Network design, the planning of a computer system with all its connections, can range from the small local area network (LAN) in a home to the complex, layered operation in a corporate setting. Sometimes networks are set up out of necessity with very little thought. This could be the case in connecting a computer and a printer, for example. For best functionality, however, there needs to be thoughtful network design and conscious decisions made in certain areas.
One crucial underpinning of network design are components that work together. This means having an operating system that will run the software that needs to be deployed and peripherals, such as scanner, router, and printer, that work with the chosen operating system as well. A web host or server that meshes with the operating system and will support any websites with the appropriate version of MySQL, PHP, and other requirements is also important.
Computer security exists in many different choices, settings, and network design components. From the preference settings in your Internet browser to antivirus software to the firewall on your router or your computer, to your choice of passwords and steps to keep those passwords secure, security spreads through many levels of network design.
The components of a network can be connected in a variety of ways. There are networks that are totally connected by USB cables, from the keyboard to the printer to the scanner to the monitor. Other choices include wireless connections, Bluetooth®, or a combination of connection types. These decisions are related to where the equipment will be used, how close or distant from each other the various components will be, and whether any equipment, such as laptops, may be used at multiple locations.
Reliability in network design doesn’t just speak to the quality of the main components. The power strips and the building wiring need to be reliable, too. So do the web host, with 99–100% guaranteed uptime and 24/7 phone support being the best options.
Redundancy is important at many levels. Optimally, you want redundancy of every important element of your system, from the power supply on up. Backing up individual files and printing out hard copies is the beginning. Doing frequent data backups on site is a common practice. Beyond that, it’s worth investigating cloud backup solutions. You may also choose to have redundant networks. Server backup is also important, whether you have hosting onsite or offsite.
The choices of components and connections also need to take the network traffic and required bandwidth and speed into account. Networks should be designed with peak traffic in mind.