I have been always thinking of creating a set of questions-to-be-asked for Network design projects. Though, it’s really hard to have the same template for every project, but usually there some general questions applying to all.
Skimming through the web, I came to an interesting article on Cisco Learning Network : Unleashing CCDE. I am pasting the questions list here, but with my own text marking:
Listed are some of the initial questions to ask your customers at the onset of a new network design project:
1. Business objectives, pain points and perceived constraints
- Who are the key stakeholders, sponsors, end users?
- Why is there a project in the first place? What are the drivers for the redesign of your existing network?
- What are the current pain points?
- Which business outcomes the customer expects to achieve?
- What is the business growth plan 3-5 years, capacity planning, scaling requirements?
- Are there any regulatory constraints such as HIPAA, PCI, Fed, and Local Government that affect the organization and industry? Other known constraints?
- Is there specific equipment, vendors, or protocols preferred or are absolutely out of the question?
- What are the implementation timelines and milestones?
- What are the key success factors? Are there known barriers to success?
- What is the customer tolerance to risk? Conservative or bleeding edge?
2. Desired characteristics and capabilities
- What is the current state of the network (baseline), to compare after the implementation of the new design?
- Are there any documentation available, features in use, versions, is standardization consistent?
- What is the financial investment (cost/budget, cost-benefit analysis) x desired business, operational, and innovation outcomes, followed by a technical translation of these needs/goals to a technology environment?
- What are the desired characteristics of the new network: redundancy/resiliency/convergence, speed, security, cost, application performance, simplicity, manageability, capabilities? Load balancing, load sharing?
- Public, private or hybrid cloud?
3. Footprint, policies, method of access and traffic patterns
- What is the geographical distribution, connectivity options/capabilities on the branches?
- Where do the servers reside in the network, their known vulnerabilities and how the services align with the security policies?
- What are the current and future traffic patterns, north-south, east-west, or both?
- What are the current and future applications’ requirements and tolerance to delay, packet drop, and jitter?
- What is the company security, infrastructure policies? Do you have specific design/architecture principles to adhere to? Any project management methodology or tools? Network management?
- What are the established SLA’s if any, and the level of success achieved for these SLA’s?
- Does the network support the business, the network is the business, or both?
- Are there best practices?
- Will there be a test lab or group, a prototype, a development area?