Know What You're Getting Into
Offering more than just design basics, this book delves into the management of large-scale LANs.
- By Brian Marranzini
- October 01, 2002
Everyone talks about how important the idea of planning and process is,
yet few people seem to really follow this edict. If you're looking for
a comprehensive book about designing and managing a large-scale local
area network, this book is for you. While it doesn't cover wide area network
technologies in depth, the differences between the two are getting smaller
by the day with the growing installation base of fiber loops providing
LAN-like speeds over greater distances. The title of the book suggests
that it's purely about designing a large-scale LAN, but the topics go
more in depth about managing such a network, as you can't design something
when you don't know the current limitations and what you need to overcome
This book isn't written around any current certifications nor does it
delve into any specific vendor's technology. What it does do is give you
a great overview of different technologies, how they can be applied in
your network and when they should be applied. It covers everything from
business justification and how to determine what's really worth the investment,
to a break down of Ethernet frames and where each technology is involved.
Frankly, it's a bit of a dry read but you can recognize the importance
of understanding these items easily, as well as how they apply to your
The book starts with an overview of the OSI model and follows with definitions
of key terms you need to understand when designing and managing a large-scale
LAN. When is the last time you actually performed a Mean Time Between
Failure (MTBF) analysis of individual components within a type of switch
to understand how you should stock your spares closet? Do you know that
MTBF actually means the statistical likelihood that half of all equipment
of this type will no longer function after this length of time? How about
calculating the probability of multiple, simultaneous failures based off
of MTBF? The book then goes into scenarios covering everything from why
you would choose a particular routing protocol over another, to the administrative
pros and cons of that decision, as well as bottleneck and congestion considerations.
For network managers who think they "know it all," this book will remind
them of some things they do before implementing or starting any major
project. For hands-on technicians doing the design work, it'll show them
different solutions to a problem and why to opt for one over the other.
Department managers will find the book gives them the business justification
for implementing any major project. If you fill any of the above roles
within your organization and even if you only have a mid-size network,
this book will show you how to make your network more robust, reliable,
scalable and secure, as well as justify why you may want to (or not).
I highly recommend this to anyone who works with networks on a regular
Brian Marranzini, MCSE, ITIL, A+ is an independent writer who works for a major software company.