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Poor Network Design - Has this happened to you?

By DMambo ·
The other day, I submitted a request for an new switch and some cabling work. I work in a manufacturing plant and the General Mgr is not well-versed on IT or network issues. The first reaction I got was "This network was just installed a few years ago, Why wasn't it planned for expansion?"

I had to spend an hour explaining that 4 years ago, we had only 2/3 the number of users that we have now. That all of this growth has been in an area served by a single IDF, that with the closure of another plant, we have responsibilities that we didn't have then, and that I had a hard time justifying the capacity and expense of the network when it was originally installed.

If this isn't approved (I'm sure it will be) I'll get hung out when I tell them that the next user in the new offices will not have a LAN connection. When I suggested expanding wireless connectivity, I was told that couldn't be done because they are still working on corporate standards.

Am I just feeling sorry for myself? Should I take responsibility for "poor design"? Or is this the standard reaction to projects that have a significant expense? What's your experience?

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by Jaqui In reply to Poor Network Design - Has ...

a bit of all of the above.

it's standard reaction for people who don't understand information technology and it's requirements

it's a bit of you are feeling sorry for yourself. which is a standard reaction to dealing with those twits that are fighting you doing your job correctly.

maybe not "poor design" but for poor planning...
you should always pad your requirements for planned capabilities by 10%
4 years ago if you had asked for and gotten 10% more, you would still be in the situation of needing to be expanding, but would have more time before it became critical. ( or you should have noticed that the network was getting close to capacity and started this process when it hit 80% of total capacity. )

but hey, i'se jest an undeumicated iggeramos, so don't take me werds to hart.
( special event planning and organising taught me to always expect 50%+ more than estimated at a minimum, so I developed the habit of padding estimates to cover my butt )

+ worst miss estimate was out by 200 bodies... cater for 100 have 300 show up. good thing I ignored the company owner and planned for more than 100 huh? ( fed 600 people with food originally intended for 100, and only spent 100 cash on food )

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I did pad the original design

by DMambo In reply to it's

The problem is that all the growth has been concentrated in one area of the building. Closets turned int offices, single offices shared by 2 or more people, users who NEED a 2nd phone extension, networked printers just TOO far away, etc. And we're not totally saturated yet.

I AM still feeling sorry for myself.

What, are you the chosen one feeding 600 people with only 5 loaves and 2 fishes? :) (I'm sure I got the numbers wrong and someone will correct.)

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by Jaqui In reply to I did pad the original de ...

just lucky....

nno no horseshoe up my butt...maybe the entire blacksmithy with luck like that.

ahh, you mean the network alterations also require a new location... definately not something that can be planned for.

like I said, feeling sorry for yourself is natural.
just think about this, he bosses ain't gonna lump ya with mj ( a wierdo that should have been fried. )

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miracles shouldent we all be able to do them?

by jeasterlingtech In reply to I did pad the original de ...

jfyi 5000 men (they didn't count woman and children)

All of us have had miracles expected of us even when we guess right some bean counter second guesses us
I speced a college lab, we used six sided tables so I planned 7 cat5 to each table (6 for computers and 1 network printer or the like) how many did they put? 4 and had to use cat5 splitter dongles (of course the most fragile ones they could find) they have to replace about 10 or 15 a year (at about $15 a pop) because of peoples big feet

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by techrepublic In reply to I did pad the original de ...

Mate, I'd be feeling pretty peed off too!
When starting any such job, in my design I normally cater for what I call an essential minimum, an an optimised goal. In everything, I ask (in writing) for kit needed to build the optimised goal. I save all responses and obviously insist on written responses. My requests all follow the format of "We need a to achieve b. If we have c instead, we can achieve d. If we haven't got a, x might happen and if we haven't got b, z might happen".
Where the response will put me below the essential minimum, I point out that it's a no-go.
At some stage down the line when the sh*t hits the fan, I whip out my saved responses.
The way I look at it is simple: I'm paidd to do a job and part of that job is to complete projects as cheaply as possible. Now cheap means cheap in the medium to long term. Short-term savings will come back and bite you! It is NOT my job to dictate to my employers, but to advise them of what I believe is the best way forward. It's up to them to take my advice, or leave it. If they don't and it all falls down, my back is covered and I'll simply start building it all over again.
Whatever you do, DON'T take it personally. That way lies madness.

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Technology related poor cover

by rsmmail04-tech1 In reply to I did pad the original de ...

As a technology consultant I am often faced with this challenge. Knowing what's best, but completing the project within a certain budget. First thing I do when "spec'ing out" a project is start at the top. Start with the best of everything in, highest name brand, most features etc. Price the project at 50% more than you need to actually meet the requirements. Then as upper mgt. starts to hum and haw at the price, start moving down the scale, documenting every time what the drawbacks are. Best done in emails so theirs a trail.

Then once all is agreed upon, come back with three designs. One that is about 10-20% under the original price, one at the original price and one about 20-25% over the original price.

One thing to do is a "forecasted price of operation" for each quote based on an expect turn of events. I.e. if you are building a network now for 100 people and you are expecting your organization to triple in size in 5-6 years, what is the cost to operate the network over that period, based on buying the scalable hardware now instead of buying cheap hardware now only to have to replace it again in a few years.

Also, as a consultant I often get customers who want all the greatest features and scalability, but don't want to pay for it. If I start to feel the customer is just to cheap to let me do the job right, I turn the job down. In fact, during the "spec'ing" process, I will identify which products, services or aspects of the project that are "required" for me to complete the project myself. If they are not willing to agree to these requirements, I politely decline and further participation.

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You did a good job

by blart In reply to I did pad the original de ...

With the cost of network equipement dropping and the spec improving all the time it would be foolish to build much more than you require at any time. You saved your company money when the original network went in by keeping to the requirements, and you'll save money in the long run by increasing the network where it's needed.

Work what it would have cost to put in the extra network you need now at the time you originally installed it, plus any other plausible contingency you can think of, deduct the current cost (reduced for inflation) and suggest to your boss that he give you half the difference.

Or maybe not, since he sounds like a grouch!

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Optimistic, Realistic, Pessimistic

by thatboy In reply to it's

If what you mean by "a hard time justifying" is that you could not come up with good justifications for your recommendations, then it is your fault; if what you mean is that you came up with good justifications, but management ignored or rejected your recommendations, that the problem rests squarely and surely at their feet.

I don't advocate simply padding the estimate. You should make your realistic estimate and then do a sensitivity analysis, i.e., create two other growth senarios called optimistic and pessimistic that bound your realistic scenario cost above and below, and then discuss the consequences implied in each case. You'll likely see that over-building results in a a relatively small, fixed, up-front extra expense which will be seen as an unnecessary waste if reality conforms with either the pessimistic or realistic plan; underbuilding will result in requiring a relatively or disasterously large unplanned extra emergency expenditure if reality conforms to the realistic or optimistic plan.

Then ask the manager if they want to prepare for different future this time than they did last time.

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Well in another thread was mentioned

by cowen80194 In reply to Optimistic, Realistic, Pe ...

There was a mention that the growth has been concentrated in one part of the office. It is hard to plan to have extra cables in the legal department which is normally 4 people when you think the R&amp side will be growing because of a proposed contract for widgets that does not pan out but intern you need more lawyers to protect company secrets.

I install networks and a typical BICSI standard is to run 3 cat6 cables to the desk.

Spare, Computer, Phone in some installs we split the phone for A and B others we install a 4th cable. To have enough cables at every desk and in every wall you would need extra patch panels and switches that would be connected and un used for a while where some been counter would question why that equipment is using electricity and was even bought and just hangs in the rack unused.

There are a few ways to expand with out adding cable immediatly. The methods I use are solid but stress is made to follow thru with the updates. I have even added a charge for rent of the solution if the updates are not made in the time set upon default of the customer.

What I usually do is get a signed contract for the upgades but will install a solution to allow the company to get work done as the updates are made. Extra phone lines, and computer connections.

The more I can make the solution work for the customer the more flexable they are allowing the updates then I take out the solutions as the updates are tested and certified.

By the end the Solution is removed and the updates are in place and running.

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What about planning?

by ashembers In reply to it's

Stupid that you would get criticism. Adding a switch does not mean that your design was poor. It might mean that you planned a network that allowed the option of expanding later, while saving money by not overbuying switches at the time. That IMHO is very good design! You can always buy a better switch with the same money down the road because, thanks to Moore's Law, better technology is more affordable in the future. Don't feel badly about that - you've made a good network that worked without needing new wiring or major replanning for 5 years and more to come. F*&% anyone who disagrees.

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