Why change a customer's network configuration?

Q: What is the customer's current network configuration, and why do they want to change it?

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Thomas A. Limoncelli is an internationally recognized author and speaker. He is best known for his books The Practice of System and Network Administration (with Christina J. Hogan and Strata R. Chalup), Time Management for System Administration and The Complete April Fools RFCs (with Peter J. Salus). Read more about Tom and his books at Everything Sysadmin.

Get the client to talk about their current network [configuration]. Usually we're not so lucky that it's a [new] deployment and then we can build something from scratch. There's usually some kind of pre-existing network. You want to identify what sort of problems the [IT] person has, because a new network [configuration] should alleviate some kind of pain.

Sometimes customers have an ad hoc network. Maybe a couple of smaller companies have merged and things haven't been cleaned up, or maybe you're just a really small company -- initially the network was ad hoc and the request is to build a supported and consistent network.

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Download Tom's FAQ podcast or read a chapter on centralized/decentralized networks from The Practice of System and Network Administration, 2nd Edition, by Thomas A. Limoncelli, Christina J. Hogan and Strata R. Chalup.

Sometimes it's a growth issue -- you have a company that had a great [network] design, but they've grown such that the old design isn't working anymore and they need to upgrade. Sometimes it's speed and lack of reliability -- in these cases it's important to determine what are the bottlenecks. Certain applications that are bandwidth hogs need to be adjusted for [as] part of the design.

This was first published in February 2008

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