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How to design an enterprise core network?

An enterprise network is essentially the communication backbone an organization uses to connect different users, devices, applications, and core IT network infrastructure.

This guide discusses the process of a successful enterprise network deployment: the network infrastructure and planning, market trends and challenges, as well as industry best practice.

What does an Enterprise network consist of?

The main components of an enterprise network are:

  • End-user devices: PCs, mobile phones, tablets, laptops, servers, IoT devices etc.
  • Network components: routers, switches, firewalls etc.
  • LANs (Local Area Networks) and WANs (Wide Area Networks)
  • Network communication protocols
  • Network infrastructure and tools: cabling, network management platforms etc.

Medium and large enterprise networks generally facilitate connections between company headquarters and branch offices, connectivity to the cloud, data centers and Internet access - with all necessary element management and monitoring. Different network connections can be used and there is often a combination of wired and wireless technology such as Wavelengths, Ethernet, MPLS, Wi-Fi and 5G.

Enterprise networks are often complex and continuously evolving – to enable the introduction and integration of new technologies, whilst maintaining high network quality and business continuity.

Geographical diversity, geopolitical variations, local regulation, and legislation can also have a huge impact on network implementation and operation.

Considerations and challenges

Apart from the network elements mentioned earlier, there are other considerations when planning and building an enterprise network. These might include network security, route diversity, network and data privacy, and maintenance costs.

Security: Networks are inherently vulnerable to cyber-attacks and malware - unauthorized access and can result in significant financial and reputational damage to an organization.

Scalability: As the size of the network grows, so do issues related to managing and maintaining a greater number of network resources and more traffic.

Reliability: The network must be available 24/7 and perform consistently – this can be a challenge in large, cross-border networks.

Integration: Bringing new technologies and devices into a legacy network can be both a complex and time-consuming.

Network configuration and management: As networks grow, they can be more challenging to configure and manage.

Cost: Implementing and maintaining an enterprise network can be a costly exercise, especially as new technologies and devices are brought online. Apart from new capital investment, there may be costs associated with training and the adaptation of existing platforms and management systems.

Compliance: Enterprise networks often need to adhere to a myriad of industry regulations and standards - including security and data privacy laws. This can become even more challenging in a cross-border network environment.

Planning and designing enterprise networks

All networks are unique and different organizations have different needs, but there are a few common steps in a typical enterprise network planning process.

It all starts with scoping out the requirements – what are the specific connectivity needs of the organization? This will probably include things such as bandwidth, security, availability, scalability, and manageability. Then all of this needs to be put into the context of any budget constraints.

The next step is network design - including the network architecture, topology and hardware (routers, switches, firewalls). Thereafter, suitable vendors need to be found and partnered with, so that the appropriate hardware and software components can be sourced.

Implementation of the network follows, to initiate the installation, configuration and roll-out of the various network elements and services.

The functionality, security and performance of the overall network ecosystem needs to be validated and tested. Continuous monitoring and maintenance routines can then be implemented to ensure sustained reliability and security.

Once the network is operational, it will enter its organic growth phase. Whilst expansion is generally included in the initial requirements. traffic growth and potential bottlenecks can now be managed as a natural part of the network lifecycle.

Quality is key

Considering the business-critical nature and complexity of many enterprise networks today, there is no compromise on network quality. A stable and reliable network foundation is not just nice to have, it can be a key differentiator for overall business success. With that in mind, it is worth asking the following questions when choosing a network partner:

  • Who owns the network you use? And the routes your traffic takes?
  • Will you get the scalability, network diversity and redundancy you need?
  • Will you get full visibility and control of network security, capacity management and performance monitoring?
  • Is it easy to get help if a problem occurs?

How can Arelion help?

For some, digital transformation might have only just begun, but Arelion has been connecting businesses around the world for 30 years. We own our network and we built it ourselves - giving us a deeper understanding and full control of every network element.

Our story started in 1993, when our Autonomous System - AS1299 - was allocated. We have grown organically ever since (without acquisitions). Today, Arelion is a leading global network providers and our network stretches 75,000 km on our own fiber - using state-of-the-art DWDM and IP technology across Europe, North America, and Asia. We directly connect more than 2,500 wholesale and enterprise customers in 125 countries worldwide.

Our suite of enterprise, networking and mobile data solutions connect business-critical content and applications to people and businesses everywhere.

Most importantly, we invest in the people that make connectivity great, we pride ourselves on our effortless network experience and we can quickly help you with:

  • Resilient network connectivity between corporate offices and hubs
  • High-speed connectivity with privacy and low latency
  • Direct cloud connectivity to the top cloud providers - a single port to all your cloud providers
  • Enterprise-grade data center connectivity