Dave Stein
Mr. Stein, a principal with Stein Consulting Group, has more than 30 years of consulting, information systems and telecommunications experience,...
Read Full Bio >>

Dave Stein | October 28, 2015 |


7 Important Considerations for Provisioning a New Network

7 Important Considerations for Provisioning a New Network As networking technology changes dramatically, it has the potential to radically change how we think about network architecture.

As networking technology changes dramatically, it has the potential to radically change how we think about network architecture.


Although I often write about UC, much of my consulting work involves other aspects of IT infrastructure such as helping architects design new buildings that are technology friendly and strategizing on data center and networking technologies. I've been doing a substantial amount of network consulting as of late, and I thought it would be useful to share my thought processes as well as those of some of my clients. After all, the network is a common element supporting virtually all enterprise applications; so it's important to discuss critical aspects of designing and provisioning a new network.

As with most consulting projects, the approach I take is to understand how the organization intends to utilize the network. Some of the basic questions I ask are:

  • What is the overall network architecture?
  • Will it be mission critical for all users, or will some groups require a greater level of reliability?
  • How is wireless changing the capacity and the way the wired network is being used?
  • How will network authentication and other security measures be accomplished?
  • What network management will be sufficient?
  • What are the "must have" vs. "nice to have" features?
  • How will budget tradeoffs be handled?

1. Network Architecture

The size of the organization and the supporting network architecture matters for performance as well as ongoing operational support. Large campus-based organizations such as hospitals, universities, utilities, studios, etc., have traditionally deployed three-tier networks consisting of discrete layers: core, distribution, and access. This allows logical separation of function and control. Smaller organizations have often effectively combined distribution and core functions into a single switch as a cost savings and simplification measure. With the advent of SDN, organizations are encouraged to ask whether the traditional architectural approach is still required. Or, are the standards-based SDN tools combined with vendor specific proprietary enhancements a sufficient replacement?

2. Reliability

Of course, everyone wants a reliable network. The question becomes can the organization afford to design a network with no single point of failure? Taking this to the extreme, at each network switch layer, providing the maximum availability could involve provisioning redundant UPS for dual corded Ethernet switches, redundant switch power supplies, redundant uplinks to and from the adjoining network layer (usually via Link Aggregation), and redundant processors. Eliminating single points of failure extends to redundant WAN links/routers, as well as geo-redundancy of core components.

Maintenance, support, testbeds and sparing programs also contribute to the reliability that an organization can deliver (i.e. availability SLAs).

3. Wired Capacity

I just had some interesting conversations with a client about the impact of wireless on the new wired network. Wireless, along with BYOD, has moved most of my client's new applications to the wireless network. However, high bandwidth video, IP phones, and physical security devices such as CCTV cameras still favor wired connections. In addition, 802.11ac wave 2 access points require greater bandwidth and power than their predecessors. Choices need to be made on how to support them (multiple Gigabit ports supporting 802.11af or 10Gig ports with support for 802.11at (PoE+). Overall, it would be expected that fewer wired ports will be required for the new network due to wireless usage.

4. Network-Based Authentication/Security

Is 802.1x sufficient for authentication? What about devices that don't support it? Simply shunting them off into a 'public' network might not provide the desired functionality (i.e. think of a K-12 environment where students on BYOD tablets can't use devices on the secure network as classroom display projectors). Is a third-party NAC solution appropriate?

Other aspects of security provisioning involves software that prevents IP address hijacking to thwart man-in-the-middle attacks. Firewall zoning, AV and other security measures are also important topics to discuss at this stage.

It may also be worth considering including independent third-party security audits in your plan (and budget). A recent project that I just completed confirmed the need for this after seeing numerous security deficiencies caused by the original implementation engineer.

5. Network Management

Every vendor provides network management software that covers at least some parts of the FCAPS model for its equipment. This often includes fault notification (SNMP traps), performance (bandwidth utilization), and configuration (software/release push). In a traditional homogeneous environment, that may prove sufficient for many needs. Most organizations should also consider third-party software that can provide:

  • Root cause analysis
  • Packet capture
  • Traffic simulation (very important for voice problem troubleshooting)
  • Management of multiple vendors' network products

6. Budgets

It's been my experience that budgets are most often apportioned separately for capital and operating expenditures. The separate elements discussed above will make up a large percentage of the capital budget. Additional budgetary considerations include maintenance, software support, spares, and even managed services.

7. "Must Have" vs. "Nice to Have" Features

I encourage my clients to think about their technology procurements using these screens of what is absolutely necessary for the new network to be considered successful vs. features/items that are not mission critical. What are the elements that they absolutely must have? What can they live without? Often, these are prioritized features that are informed by budget that help guide the procurement.


We are living in interesting times as networking technology is changing dramatically. The ability to support most applications on wireless is a game changer. As SDN for campus networks continues to mature, it also has the potential to radically change how we think about network architecture.

"SCTC Perspectives" is written by members of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants, an international organization of independent information and communication technology professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide.


March 7, 2018

Video collaboration is experiencing significant change and innovation-how can your enterprise take advantage? In this webinar, leading industry analyst Ira Weinstein will present detailed analysis

February 21, 2018

Business agility has become the strongest driver for enterprises to begin migrating their communications to the cloud-and its a benefit that enterprises are already realizing. To gain this benefit

February 7, 2018

Enterprises are starting to grasp the critical importance of security and compliance in their team collaboration deployments. And once the risks are mitigated, your enterprise can integrate these n

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.