What the Cheshire cat knows about your network architecture

* The pitfalls to creating a network architecture

In the last WAN newsletter, we discussed the fact that many companies don't have a network architecture. We also discussed the fact that many of the companies that do have merely adopted vendor documentation without making any attempt to adapt it to reflect their own unique situation.

Today, we are going to discuss some of the pitfalls that keep a company from implementing a successful network architecture organization. One of the primary pitfalls is creating an architecture organization that is too academic. The architecture organization will clearly fail if it is focused on answering questions that sound like "how many technologies can dance on the head of a blade in a router?" Rather, a successful architecture organization has to be closely linked to the network engineering and operations groups in order to make sure that whatever architecture gets created can actually work in a production network.

One of the other pitfalls is the opposite of having an architecture organization that is too academic. In particular, we have worked with companies where the architecture organization spent so much time assisting the engineering and operations groups that there was not enough time left to do good architecture work.

The final pitfall was first pointed out in Alice in Wonderland when Alice asked the Cheshire cat "Which way should I go?" The cat replied: "Where do you want to get to?" Alice responded: "I don't know," to which the cat said: "Then it doesn't much matter which way you go."

What we can all learn from the Cheshire cat is that an effective network architecture has to be closely linked to the direction of the company's application organization and key business units. Without knowing the direction of these key groups, almost any network architecture will do. In the next newsletter, we will recommend a strategy that companies can use to create an effective network architecture organization.

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