Network engineering is a complex discipline, it involves being an expert in various aspects of the IT infrastructure of an organization. In many ways, a network engineer can be considered the architect that creates the foundational structure upon which many other systems are built.
While network technicians or IT administrators assist with daily IT and troubleshooting tasks, network engineers take on the high-level challenge of designing and improving networks.
With so many other systems built on top of the network framework, proper systematizing, and organizing to ensure smooth and uninterrupted workflow is vital to the overall success of the organization.
So, as the architect of the network, you need to be able to draw clear and effective blueprints to properly plan and implement your network design.
An effective way to do that is with a network diagram.
A network diagram is the visual representation of all the computers or telecommunication devices in a network. It shows each component in the network and how they interact with each other including routers, hubs, firewalls, etc.
A network diagram can be as complex and detailed as needed and allows you to better visualize every element in the network and make decisions accordingly.
There are many benefits to having a well planned and executed network diagram, including:
- Structuring: Whether it's a home or office network you can better plan and allocate resources to your network.
- Troubleshooting: Understanding where the problem is coming from and how it affects processes along the way is key to quickly and efficiently tackling bugs and errors.
- Upgradation: It facilitates better maintenance and allows engineers to constantly monitor the functioning of the network and make changes or updates when required.
- Documentation: A network diagram allows for more efficient onboarding, communication planning, and tracking.
Common elements used in network diagrams.
There are commonly accepted symbols in-network diagraming that allow for diagrams to be understood fast and easily. These symbols represent various elements in a network and make it easy for engineers to chart out the structure of a network.
Types of topology:
Network topology refers to the arrangement of different elements in a network. They can describe the physical or logical aspects of a network. Different topologies are best suited for different scenarios as they can affect the stability and performance of the network.
This type of network has all the nodes connected by a central “Bus” with two endpoints. They are also called the backbone or linear topology. These kinds of networks can be easy to configure, but if the central bus breaks down, so does the entire network, making it difficult to isolate the problem.
In this type of network, each element in the diagram connects to two other elements, forming a circle. Information is passed node to node until it reaches its destination. Unlike a bus topology, it’s easy to add or remove nodes.
In this type of network, each node is individually connected to a hub. All information passes through the hub before it is sent to the destination.
Since each node has a separate connection to the hub, a failure in one node will not affect the entire network.
In this type of network diagram, each node relays data for the network. It can be of two types: Full Mesh and Partial Mesh.
While each node is connected to one another in a Full Mesh; nodes are connected to each other based on their interaction patterns in a Partially Connected Mesh.
How to draw a network diagram:
A network diagram should be highly specific to the needs of the organization. It should be created with the intended purpose to optimize workflow and minimize any downtown time.
- Identify equipment. At first, list all the workstations, servers, routers, firewalls, and other components that are part of the network.
- Group the shapes. To begin arranging your diagram, move-related shapes closer to one another. Shapes may be related either logically or physically, depending on what kind of diagram you’re drawing.
- Add connections. A line between two shapes shows that they are connected somehow, typically by the flow of information.
- Label. Include any additional information about each shape that you consider useful to your audience. You may choose to place that information next to each component or to number the components, then add additional info in a legend.
Creating effective and flexible network diagrams have become much easier with online diagramming tools. Software like Creately allows you to easily drag and drop shapes and enables you to effectively layout your network, making sure you can plan out your network more precisely and ensure the implementation of a strong structural foundation.