January 4, 2002

O'Reilly Author Presents the Top-Down Design Philosophy (As Well As How-To's) of Building Large-Scale Lans

Sebastopol, CA--"Computer networks are like any complex engineering project," states Kevin Dooley, author of Designing Large-Scale LANs (US $39.95), the latest book in O'Reilly's popular networking series. "A small network can be slapped together quite successfully with minimal experience," he explains, "But a larger network requires careful thought and planning. As with many types of engineering projects, this planning and design phase is best served by an organized and disciplined design philosophy."

Dooley's approach to designing a network is careful and deliberate, and geared toward open industry standards, rather than focusing on any given vendor's equipment. "I've used equipment from most of the major vendors," Dooley explains, "and I believe that every individual piece of gear has its pluses and minuses. I prefer to use the gear that is right for the job, rather than expressing a blind devotion to one vendor or another. So, this book is vendor neutral."

Designing Large-Scale LANs describes the guiding principles involved in putting together a stable, reliable, and manageable large-scale network. A network designer who understands these principles can use the "best of breed" approach that Dooley espouses, which will result in optimal network performance and lower costs. A vendor-neutral approach also prevents an organization from being inextricably tied to a vendor when competing products become available.

Dooley begins by showing network architects the questions they need to ask to determine network specifications based on business requirements. The book then explores philosophically and technically how to design a network that meets those specifications, covering everything from security, bandwidth and scalability to network reliability, which includes backup, redundancy, and points of failure. Specific technologies are analyzed in detail: network topologies, routing and switching strategies, wireless, virtual LANs, firewalls and gateways, security, Internet protocols, bandwidth, and multicast services. The book also discusses proprietary technologies that are ubiquitous, such as Cisco's IOS and Novell's IPX.

Designing Large-Scale LANs is a hands-on set of rules, guiding principles and useful tips for people who build networks. Although the book is particularly relevant for network designers and architects, it will also be useful for network-operations people who need to understand the overall logic of their network and engineers who need to think about upgrading parts of an existing network in a logical way.

Online Resources:

Designing Large-Scale LANs
By Kevin Dooley
January 2002
ISBN 0-596-00150-9, 385 pages, $39.95 (US)

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