Making a Network Plan

Making a Network Plan

Okay, so you're convinced that you need to network your computers. What now? Do you stop by Computers-R-Us on the way to work, install the network before drinking your morning coffee, and expect the networks to be fully operational by noon?

I don't think so.

Networking your computers is just like any other worthwhile endeavor: Doing it right requires a bit of planning. This post help you to think through your network before you start spending money. It shows you how to come up with a networking plan that's every bit as good as the plan that a networking consultant world charge thousands of dollors for. See? This Post already saving your money.

Making a Network Plan: 
Before you begin any networking project, whether a new network installation or an upgrade of an existing network, make a detailed plan first. If you make technical decisions too quickly, before studying all the issues that affect the project, you'll regret it. You'll discover too late that a key application won't run over the network, the network has unacceptably slow performance, or key components of the network don't work together.

Here are some general thoughts to keep in mind while you create your network plan:

Don't rush the plan. The most costly networking mistakes are the ones that you make before you install the network. Think things through and consider alternatives.

Write down the network plan. The plan doesn't have to be a fancy, 500-page document. If you want to make it look good, pick up 1/2-inch three-ring binder, which is big enough to hold  your network plan with plenty  of room to spare.

Ask someone else to read your network plan before you buy anything.
Preferably, ask someone who knows more about computers than you do.

Keep  the plan up to date. If you add to the network, dig up the plan , dust it off, and update it.

Tips: "The best laid schemes of mice and men gang aft agley, and leave us naught but grief and plan promised joy." Roberts Burns lived a few hundred years before computer networks, but his famous word ring true. A network plan isn't chiseled in stone. If you discover that something doesn't work the way you thought it would, that's okay. Just change your plan.

Being Purposeful
One of the first steps in planning your network is making sure that you understand why you want the network in the first place. Here are some of the more common reasons for needing a network, all of them quite valid:

My co-worker and i exchange files using flash drives just about everyday with a network , trading files is easier.

I don't want to buy everyone a color laser printer when i know the one we have now just sits there taking up space most of the day. So wouldn't buying a network be better than buying a color laser printer for every computer?

I want everyone to be able to access the internet. Many networks, especially similar ones, exist solely for sharing an Internet connection.

Business is so good that one person trying in orders eight hours each day can't keep up. With a network more than one person can enter orders, which expedites orders and possibly saves on overtime expenses.

My brother-in-law just put in a network at his office. No one wants to be behind at times.

I already have a network, but it's old that it may as well be made of kite string and tin cans. An improved networks speeds up access to shared files, provide better security , is easier to manage, and is more leliable.

Remember:  After you identify all the reasons why you think you need a network, write them down. Don't worry about winning the Pulitzer Prize for your stunning prose. Just make sure that you write down what you expect  a network to do for you. If you were making a 500-page proposal, you'd place the description under Purpose.

Tip: As you consider the reasons why you need to a network, you may conclude that you don't need a network after all. That's okay. You can always use the binder for your stamp collection.

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