Designing a modular network

Designing a modular network

Several of you have heard me discuss modular network design, which has five distinct advantages.

1. Scalable
You can upgrade pieces more easily than all-in-one devices. Upgrading a certain module for that big new client might mean the difference between being able to do it in 10 days instead of 30.

2. Resilient
You can avoid single points of failure. You are not depending on “big iron” for everything. You have multiple modules as a part of your design.

3. Performance
If routers, switches, access points, or whatever are doing less, you get better performance. CPUs are dedicating more time toward fewer processes. This results in better performance. Routers doing BGP can process route tables better than ones doing stuff like OSPF or radius.

4. Flexible
You are less dependent on certain vendors or product families. Instead of having some big router that does BGP, OSPF, and other functions, you can have a modular design where a router does, let’s say, just BGP. Now you have more choices in hardware because it might not. This allows you to try out newer products or new product features.

5. Easier to maintain
Doing software upgrades on modular devices, which is doing fewer things, means bugs and interoperability things don’t happen as often. Every piece of code has bugs. If the device is doing 5 tasks instead of 15, then the chance of a bug affecting the device is lower. It also allows you to compartmentalize certain parts of the network.

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