Network Planning: Defining the Network Purpose

One of the first steps in planning your network is understanding why you want the network in the first place; its purpose. Here are some of the more common reasons for needing a network, all of them quite valid:

  • My coworker and I exchange files using CDs or flash drives just about every day. With a network, it would be easier to trade files.

  • I don’t want to buy everyone a laser printer when I know the one we have now just sits there taking up space most of the day. So wouldn’t buying a network be better than buying a laser printer for every computer?

  • I want to provide an Internet connection for all my computers. (Many networks, especially smaller ones, exist solely for the purpose of sharing an Internet connection.)

  • Someone figured out that we’re destroying seven trees a day by printing interoffice memos on paper, so we want to save the rainforest by setting up an e-mail system.

  • Business is so good that one person typing in orders eight hours each day can’t keep up. With a network, I can have two people entering orders, and I won’t have to pay overtime to either person.

  • My brother-in-law just put in a network at his office, and I don’t want him to think that I’m behind the times.

  • I already have a network, but it’s so old it may as well be made of kite string and tin cans. An improved network will speed up access to shared files, provide better security, and be easier to manage.

Make sure that you identify all the reasons why you think you need a network and then write them down. Don’t worry about winning the Pulitzer Prize for your stunning prose. Just make sure that you write down what you expect a network to do for you.

If you were making a 500-page networking proposal, you’d place the description of why a network is needed in a tabbed section labeled “Justification.” In your1/2-inch network binder, file the description under “Purpose.”

As you consider the reasons why you need a network, you may conclude that you don’t need a network after all. That’s okay. You can always use the binder for your stamp collection.