Previous Table of Contents Next

Of course, this list is somewhat utopic. The sad reality is that many of these steps are skipped in the mad rush to deploy new systems. Nonetheless, this is a good list to know for the exam and a wonderful target to strive for in production networks.

Select those items that are most beneficial to your environment and create a form that addresses them. It doesn’t have to be bureaucratic. Rather, use it for your own reference and augment it as necessary.

Network Monitoring and Management

As networks grow, it becomes increasingly difficult to monitor and maintain each individual component. At the same time, it’s likely that the critical nature of each component increases to the point where outages can cost millions of dollars.

Network monitoring tools were designed to alert operations staff to real-time problems. Most of these solutions use polling, SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol), and RMON (Remote Monitoring) to detect changes in the environment, and most incorporate a graphical interface that inter-connects the various devices. Network management expands upon the basic monitoring tools and typically adds configuration and enhanced monitoring capabilities. This may incorporate extended RMON functions, including embedded protocol capture.

For obvious reasons, Cisco champions their CiscoWorks network management suite. This product can work with other platforms, including HP’s OpenView and Sun’s Domain Manager. Like most network management tools, CiscoWorks uses a database to maintain information regarding the network elements. It also provides a number of features, including the following:

  Router and switch configuration tools
  Monitoring of the current network state
  Real-time network analysis
  Historical data collection for trend analysis

Network management tools can also aid in the configuration of the network. Programs are available to simplify the establishment of VLANs and other parameters that would otherwise require manual input with the command-line interface. Tools can not only speed up the configuration process, but they can allow less-trained workers to perform these tasks—they will not have to learn the intricacies of the command-line interface (CLI).

While the network-management tools like CiscoWorks can greatly assist the network administrator, there are other methods that can be used to obtain information regarding the network’s health. These include:

  The command-line interface (CLI)
  The Cisco show and debug commands
  The Cisco ping, telnet, and traceroute commands
  Protocol analyzers
  Logging, including syslog

Baselining is the act of measuring normal network characteristics under typical conditions. This information is invaluable for capacity planning and can assist in troubleshooting. During configuration or baselining, there are additional resources and tools to consider during a network outage. These resources include:

  DNS and WINS
  TFTP and FTP

When deploying network-monitoring tools, designers should evaluate the importance of each tier and segment. For example, the core layer likely requires a substantial amount of monitoring in real time, while elements at the access layer will likely have less impact on the overall network than will a problem in the core. Thus, a designer may place RMON probes in the core but use the command line to diagnose problems in remote locations.

In addition, the designer should consider implementing technologies in a manner that augments troubleshooting. This may include:

  An out-of-band management VLAN for switches. Out-of-band connections do not traverse the same connections as user data paths, called in-band connections.
  Out-of-band connections to the console or auxiliary port on network devices.
  Terminal servers to connect to all network devices out-of-band.
  The use of hot standby router protocols and other technologies.
  The use of redundant Supervisor engines and power supplies.
  Placement of the network management tool in the core of the network.
  Training of nontechnical staff to provide minimal support in remote locations.
  Documentation of the network, IP addresses, configuration files, and design objectives.
  Configuration of backup servers.


This chapter incorporated a number of concepts regarding the overall network design process and the tools that administrators and designers may use to gain more control over increasingly complex environments. In addition, it highlighted the concepts that are most common in network design as well as the material that typically causes students the most difficulty. Finally, this chapter detailed two design templates that can assist designers new to the network design process.

At this point, readers should feel comfortable with the importance of considering nontechnical aspects of network design as well as the technical. The benefits of project-management methodologies and experience should also be clear.

Review Questions

1.  Following the implementation phase of a project, the network designers should:
A.  Review the original project goals against the existing implementation
B.  Move on to the next project
C.  Take a vacation
D.  Run down the hall screaming, “ Bad thing!” when the network crashes
2.  Which of the following is not true regarding network-management tools?
A.  They assist administrators by alerting them to potential network problems.
B.  They provide an efficient means of configuring network devices.
C.  They replace the need for a good network design.
D.  In most cases, they use SNMP and RMON.
3.  Following the development of an internetwork structure, the designer should:
A.  Configure the network equipment
B.  Determine the business needs
C.  Configure the network standards, including naming and addressing
D.  None of the above
4.  The first step in a network design project should be:
A.  Order the equipment
B.  Develop a naming convention
C.  Select a vendor
D.  Consult with the business
5.  The last step in a well-run network design is:
A.  Documentation
B.  Benchmarking
C.  Configuration backup
D.  There is no last step. Good network design should incorporate continuous review, although the other three answers are part of this process.
6.  Which of the following is a tool that can assist the administrator in monitoring the network?
A.  CiscoWorks
B.  HP OpenView
C.  Sun Domain Manager
D.  All of the above
7.  In a dual-circuit load-balancing configuration, at what point should the capacity of a single circuit be increased so that a single circuit failure does not impact the user?
A.  10 percent
B.  40 percent
C.  80 percent
D.  100 percent
8.  Manageability is a step in the network-design process. True or false?
A.  True
B.  False
9.  The cost of one hour’s downtime, based on 100 employees impacted at an average rate of $60 per hour, would be roughly how much, presuming a 100 percent reliance on computer systems and a noncustomer-facing environment?
A.  Nothing
B.  Less than $1000
C.  Around $6000
D.  More than $500,000
10.  A well-run project should have which of the following?
A.  Conception, Implementation, and Diagnostic phases
B.  Weekly status meetings and monthly parties
C.  Conception, Provision, Implementation, and Review phases
D.  None of the above

Answers to Review Questions

1.  A.
2.  C.
3.  C.
4.  D.
5.  D.
6.  D.
7.  B.
8.  A.
9.  C.
10.  C.

Previous Table of Contents Next