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Analyzing Client Computer Access Requirements

Analyze the network requirements for client computer access.

The focus of your impact analysis should ultimately be the individual client computers that reside on the network. These computers are the workstations where end users do their work. Data flows into and out of these workstations all day long, and trends that occur here will ultimately determine the success or failure of your network infrastructure design to meet the goals set forth by the business. The work performed by end users needs to be as effective, efficient, and inexpensive as possible. Enabling this is the ultimate goal of any network infrastructure design. You should pay close attention to the activities of end users before, during, and after the creation of your network infrastructure design. Indeed, often the perceptions of the end-user community dictate the reality of your project. If the project is going well but is poorly communicated and ill-received by the user community, the project can quickly become mired in damage control and red tape. Likewise, if a project is well-received even though it is performing at a less-than-optimal level, it might still be considered a success.

End-User Work Needs

Analyzing end-user work needs involves determining who needs access to which data, when they need it, and where it should be delivered. For example, salespeople might need access to inventory information as well as customer financial information. The inventory information is likely to be stored in a database physically located in or near the company warehouse. Customer financial information, however, is likely to be stored in a different location, perhaps on a database server in the accounting department. Both of these data sets will need to be delivered to the salesperson. This salesperson might be in the headquarters office connected directly to the LAN when she needs the data, or she might be working remotely while on the road, connected to the network by modem. The salesperson might need the data while located at a customer site, connected to the network over the Internet. Regardless of the location of the data or the location of the salesperson, the data must be delivered, even when the salesperson is working from home in the middle of the night. These are the end-user work needs.

It is imperative that the network infrastructure support the work needs of the end users. If end users need to access data across an Internet connection, Internet access must be provided. If end users need to access data physically located in branch offices or other facilities, WAN connections to those locations must be provided. In order to meet end-user work needs effectively and efficiently, you must also carefully examine end-user usage patterns.

End-User Usage Patterns

Once you know what the end-user work needs are, you will want to design your network infrastructure to meet these needs. Before you can design anything specific, you need to have an understanding of end-user usage patterns.

By examining end-user work needs, you know what data is needed and by whom. You should also know where the data and its users are located. Next, you must answer questions such as these:

  • When will end users be accessing the data?

  • What is the duration of an average access session?

  • How large is the data?

  • How many end users will access the data simultaneously?

  • How much bandwidth will need to be allocated to deliver the data to the end users?

  • What security functions will need to be in place to protect access to the data?

Once you have answered these questions, you can begin to design the specific means of connectivity that will meet the end users' work needs.

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