Have you ever heard about network design? Network design is the most important aspect of any enterprise-grade network. The way any network is designed directly impacts your overall system performance. In this article, I will discuss what is a network design with a list of the best network design tools. I have ranked them by considering their various factors. This guide will help you in gaining an in-depth understanding of how this actually works. Without wasting any more time, let us jump into the article and learn more about network design.
What Is Network Design?
The term design network refers to how the network infrastructure is planned and structured. This network is normally executed by specialist network designers, IT administrators, engineers, or IT professionals. The network design will typically include the following elements.
- Cabling Structure
- A logical map of the network needs to be implemented.
- Quantity of network devices
- Type of network devices
- Location of network devices
- IP addressing structure
- Network security architecture
All the design networks in the OSI network model contain seven layers. Below I have mentioned down the list of seven layers for you.
- Physical Layer
- Data Link Layer
- Network Layer
- Transport Layer
- Session Layer
- Presentation Layer
- Application Layer
Network Design Types
Below I have presented the list of different types of computer network design for you. Knowing all these network types will help you to decide which one is right for your business needs. Let us take an in-depth look at each of them.
Local Area Network (LAN)
LAN is the most common and popular network design found in most businesses and homes. However, LAN is a type of network that interconnects devices in a limited geographical area. The most important character of LAN is that it connects devices located with a single, limited area. However, the number of devices doesn’t limit a LAN. This network can be large like an enterprise network with thousands of connected devices. Otherwise, it can be small such as a home network with only a couple of devices. This network is less costly as it is built with inexpensive hardware.
Personal Area Network (PAN)
PAN is a network arranged within an individual person within a range of 10 meters. This network is used for connecting the computer devices of personal use. Usually, PAN covers an area of 30 feet maximum. There are two types of PAN – Wireless Personal Area Network and Wired Personal Area Network.
Metropolitan Area Network (MAN)
It is a large computer network that reaches vast geographical areas. Various LANs are connected to each other across a telephone exchange line in MAN. It has a higher range than that of LAN. They are mostly used in large companies and university campuses. For example, the campus area network (CAN) is a type of MAN. It is used to link the various buildings such as academic colleges, departments, libraries, student residence halls, etc.
Wide Area Network (WAN)
WAN is a large computer based network that connects groups of computers or communication devices over large distances. They are generally used by businesses to connect their office networks located in multiple geographical areas. When compared to LAN, a WAN usually requires some additional hardware components. For example, the Internet is one of the biggest WANs in the world.
Features Of Network Design Tools
Below I have presented a shortlist of essential features of network design tools for you.
Autodiscovery: most network designing tools can discover devices automatically. They run port scans to see which services are up and running.
Troubleshooting: This feature helps to view what is happening on each individual host or device.
Live Monitoring: You can receive alerts when changes occur in your infrastructure with the help of this feature.
Intelligent Scalability: It identifies which components need to be upgraded.
10 Best Network Design Tools
So far, in this guide, I have answered all the questions regarding what network design is and its importance. By choosing appropriate network design tools can make the process less time-consuming, more efficient, and successful. Below I have ranked the following network design software according to its range, versatility, and cost-effectiveness.
SolarWinds Network Topology Mapper
SolarWinds Network Topology Mapper is one of the most popular network mapping tools available today. It comes in for $1,537. This network design tool includes an auto-discovery feature that can automatically detect new devices and scale according to your IT infrastructure. This mapper builds a network map from single scans and populates them with industry-specific icons and clipart. You can also eliminate certain IP ranges and Subnets as needed through the Wizard. Overall the combination of user-friendliness and advanced capabilities makes it the best network design tool in the market. You can try a 14-day free trial before you purchase it.
Here, CADE is both a 2-D vector editor and a topology mapper. This neutral network design tool resembles Microsoft Visio, allowing you to create your custom diagrams and plot. You can draw maps, electric circuits, flowcharts, and more by using CADE. It uses predefined blocks to assist with 3D mapping, electronic circuits, office layout, and networks. This network design comes with the advantage of being flexible. CADE has a locking/unlocking function that allows more than one user to operate at the same time. CADE is a good option if you want to have complete control and prefer manual processes over automated ones
Dia Diagram Editor
Dia is an open-source program that is used for creating network diagrams quickly. Dia is a popular network design tool largely due to its impressive library of objects. This tool offers you flexibility while creating topology maps and other diagrams. It has all the core IT component graphics which allows you to see what you are dealing with. Remember this tool doesn’t have an advanced or dynamic interface. As a result, I recommend this small business network design only for those who want to invest in a low-cost mapping tool. Dia Diagram Editor is mostly available for Linux, Mac OS, and Windows.
It is among the best-known diagram mapping tools available in the markets. This tool is popular among network administrators who like to use this program for device charting. Microsoft Visio stands out from the other tools because it offers a large bank of templates for you to choose from. You can also download templates for data center setups and network devices. The flexible editing capability is the best feature of Microsoft Visio. This feature lets you modify the shapes of existing diagrams without losing the layout and shape connections. It is available for Windows 10 and Windows Server 2019.
Edraw is one of the all-in-one diagramming network design apps that allows you to draw fishbone diagrams, flowcharts, UML diagrams, floor plans, etc. You can create more than 280 different diagram types, from infographics to technical drawings by using this tool. Edraw also offers excellent file compatibility. This allows you to import Visio files and export your diagrams in a range of formats. Edraw has recently released its online version that allows you to access the program from anywhere and on any device. This tool works as a desktop app on Windows and MAC. You can check out Edraw Max for a free trial.
Diagram Designer is a great place to start if you are new to optical network design. Diagram Designer is an alternative to Microsoft Visio. This tool allows you to easily create illustrations, slide shows, UML class diagrams, and flowcharts. It comes along with the ability to export and import in EMF, BMP, PNG, JPEG, MNG, GIF, and PCX files. You can also use compressed file formats to reduce the size of your drawings and diagrams. The advanced pocket calculator with equation-solving capabilities is one of its best features. It also features a graph plotter for simply plotting mathematical expressions.
Network notepad comes in various editions which include a freeware version, the Enterprise Edition, and the Professional Edition. Its Freeware version allows you to create interactive network designs with some basic functionalities. It comes with the CDP discovery tool that helps to discover all the network neighbors in the topology. This CDP add-on allows the user to search through the network and pull information from the devices. There is also an add-on ping utility called NNMonitor. This can be used with the Enterprise and Professional versions of Network Notepad. It is available for Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, XP, 2000.
The Intermapper tools include an automatic discovery and mapping feature which helps you to create your own plan. Many users can personalize to reflect your unique IT infrastructure with hundreds of device icons, layout options, and background images. Intermapper maps show you a color-coded status of network equipment and animate live traffic flow. It is a monitoring software for Windows, Linux, and Mac that provides a live view of network configuration and performance. Generally, Intermapper is priced by the number of devices you want to monitor. It is free to monitor up to 10 devices!
Lucidchart is probably one of the top solutions for those looking to create quick and easy topology diagrams of their network infrastructure. They have a wide variety of templates that are ready for you to plug in your data and modify your needs. It allows you to quickly scale to more users if needed on the fly. Lucidchart also allows you to import and export Visio file format directly into Lucidchart and back out if needed. This gives you the flexibility to share your diagrams with people. You can check out their Free Trial to test out if it suits your needs.
ConceptDraw stands out as a great mapping tool for small and medium-sized businesses. This user interface allows you to create a variety of diagrams for your network environment and export Visio files. ConceptDraw is very easy to use if you are familiar with Microsoft Word. Its features such as Smart Connector and Building Plan Designer allow you to automate the entire process of creating network diagrams. It is ideal for various organizations that want to keep up with dynamic environments. This is a desktop app for Windows and MAC. Unfortunately there is no free trial available for this software.
What Are The Different Types Of Network Design?
Following is the list of different types of network design.
- SolarWinds Network Topology Mapper
- Dia Diagram Editor
- Microsoft Visio
- Diagram Designer
- Network Notepad
What Are The 4 Types of networks?
The four types of networks are listed down below for you.
- Local Area Network (LAN)
- Personal Area Network (PAN)
- Metropolitan Area Network (MAN)
- Wide Area Network (WAN)
What Is The Network Design Process?
The network design process is a cycle of continuous process of improvement of Network Design.
Why Is Network Design Important?
Network design is important to increase the scalability of a network that can support growth without redesigning it. A good network design will support the addition of new applications along with increasing bandwidth consumption.
In my above article, you have understood the term Network design in detail. Network design involves evaluating and understanding how all the elements of the network link together. It is the backbone of many IT companies as it connects all its computers and other devices together. Here, the SolarWinds Network Topology Mapper design tops on the list of network design tools. It is a great facilitator for accurate and efficient network design. The auto-recovery features of this particular tool make it stand apart from others. You can now choose the best network design tool without any doubt!
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