Dreaming Big: Ideal Network Architecture

Hypothetically, if you could build a WAN from scratch what would be your ideal setup? I understand some features would be dependent on our local offerings but feel free to mention hardware brands. I’m trying to compile the pros and cons of how to design the network architecture, for example, should hardware be redundant across locations, centrally located or cloud based?

Here are some of the potential needs and preferences:

  • Multiple campuses up to 100 miles apart
  • Livestream and simulcast capabilities between campuses
  • Mobile staff working on/off campuses

Please feel free to share any positive or negative experiences. At this point I’m trying to anticipate rather than react to a poorly thought through implementation.

Last time I designed something like this, I based it around Comcast’s ENS service which acts as a “cloud switch” of sorts. Using dynamic routing, sites were interconnected to each other and to the main campus where the primary servers were located. Another site was delegated as a secondary site and servers were replicated there for a DR site, as well as it being an alternate Internet access point. Both sites had redundant firewalls, tested and monitored battery backups, with the main campus also having generator facilities to keep the Internet & servers running in an extended outage. In this specific incidence this was actually fairly affordable since outside requirements (mainly new construction and streaming technology choices) required fiber to each location and ENS was less expensive than raw Internet at each site and maintenance on firewalls.

These days, I’d look long and hard about cloud hosting and selecting products like Living as One that can operate over more commodity networks and deploy as much redundancy as is reasonable.

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