Design, install and evaluate

Network administrator tips for designing, installing and evaluating your network.

The network administrator is responsible for planning, designing, installing, and evaluating networks and workstations. Very often the administrator is also involved in researching purchasing information on hardware and software acquisitions.


Golden rules of network administration

  1. If it isn't broke, don't mess with it!
  2. When in doubt -- reboot.
  3. Never, ever change anything late in the day.
  4. Never, ever change anything on Friday.
  5. Always be able to undo what you are about to do.
  6. If you don't understand it, don't mess with it on a production system. Use test systems for experimenting.
  7. Dedicate a system disk devoted only to the system software. Put applications on other drives.
  8. A project is not done until it's tested by you and by end-users.
  9. A project is not done until it's documented.
  10. All projects take twice as long as you plan.
  11. Use default settings whenever possible.
  12. Do not roll out new software without training end users. Roll out an employee's new application immediately after they have received training to reinforce what they have learned.
  13. If you're fighting fires all the time, find the source.
  14. Avoid poor decisions from above.
  15. Backup, backup, backup.

This checklist was created by Doug Chick.

Planning and design Planning for your network installation is one of the most important steps. Before you begin designing the network you need to identify what your company needs are. This will help guide you through the process and make sure you don't overlook any important details. Here are a few important points that you should consider when designing your network.

Network design underlies the performance of your enterprise IP network. This four part guide by Cormac Long offers you a comprehensive roadmap to designing IP-based networks, from the basic principles involved to the more complex finishing touches.

Network topology

Topology is a term that refers the shape of the network and the layout of cabling from a bird's eye view, much as a floor plan identifies the layout of offices and hallways in a building. See which network topology is right for your network.

Physical and logical network design

A physical layout of the network shows the physical location of and the connections between devices participating on the network. In such diagrams, workstations are usually represented with small computer icons, servers with full tower cases, and switches and other similar devices are displayed as small rectangular boxes with their RJ-45 ports in the front (sometimes, switches are displayed without ports, depending on the angle at which we are viewing the network on the page).

A logical layout shows all logical aspects of the network. This includes logical networks, assigned IP addresses to various hosts and devices, routing tables and a lot more. In logical diagrams, there is very little interest in the actual interfaces and physical cables, so these details are usually omitted.

Learn more about physical and logical network design.

More resources for designing, installing and evaluating your network: 

  • Top-Down Network Design is a practical and comprehensive guide to designing enterprise networks that are reliable, secure, and manageable, teaching a systematic method for network design that can be applied to campus LANs, remote-access networks, WAN links, and large-scale internetworks. In chapter 1, author Priscilla Oppenheimer covers the first step of design: analyzing your customer or company's business goals.
  • Network Analysis, Architecture and Design
    Described in this chapter are the fundamentals and characteristics of network analysis, architecture, and design; this is designed to prepare the reader for the analysis process.

Just for fun:
Here's a humorous survival guide for network administrators.

Network administrators task list

Task 1: Design, install and evaluate network

Task 2: Perform and manage regular backups

Task 3: Provide technical documentation and perform audits

Task 4: Manage and troubleshoot network

Task 5: Security management and virus prevention

This was last published in March 2005

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