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Designing Large-Scale LANs Kevin Dooley
Published by O'Reilly and Associates
400 pages
£ 28.50
Published: 7th December 2001
reviewed by Raza Rizvi
   in the September 2002 issue (pdf), (html)

Written for people who have a grounding in network design already, this book provides a gathering of principles and tips for developing or extending a network. This is therefore not a theoretical academic work (despite the formulae shown on some of the pages!) but a practical set of notes that can be applied over and over again.

A standard introduction on the reasons to have a network leads us to a lengthy but clearly explained chapter on the elements of reliability within the network infrastructure. With network diagrams, it explains where and why redundancy can be used to overcome single points of failure, documenting the causes of such issues along the way.

The next two chapters take up one third of the book and cover a description of the types of design prevalent in today's networks and the actual technologies used to implement them. The first is a really good build up from star/bus/ring topologies to take into consideration recovery via Spanning Tree and HSRP/VRRP and then onto VLANs and collapsed backbones. The benefits of hierarchical design following the Core/Distribution/Access model are explained and shown together with routing models. VLANs are then revisited to explain how routing can be applied to trunk circuits and the pitfalls to be avoided.

The technologies described cover humble Ethernet (from 10Mb to 10Gb), Token Ring, ATM, the veritable FDDI, and wireless networks. Each subsection is well written with enough information to cater for most circumstances.

One runs a network infrastructure for the benefit of protocols and the author spends time over the next three chapters covering IP, IPX, and routing protocols. Nothing earth-shattering but a competent backgrounder in the relevant areas.

With the network now built for redundancy and prevention of failure, attention turns to efficiency, based mainly on implementing Quality of Service. The penultimate chapter covers network management and how good design works with network management to achieve the goal of network reliability.

Future issues are considered in the final chapter with information on the design considerations for both multicast and IPv6 networks. A glossary and reading list complete the book.

A very readable text with good illustrations, I would recommend this book to general networking practitioners and those with growing networks of their own who want to be aware of the benefits of good design.

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