As they say, reading is fundamental, and learning can only help you find better solutions. Network design isn’t something that comes with a single path of implementation or execution. Here’s a look at five (or so) network design books you need to read if you want to advance your level of skill and expertise.
1. Top-Down Network Design by Priscilla Oppenheimer
Top-Down Network Design is one of those books that fall under the category of “oldie but goodie.” It works as both a primer for those new to network design and network architecture. It also stands as an advanced look at network design, especially once you drill down to the more advanced looks at layer 3 and lower.
This book looks at network design from the topmost layers to the bottom. It also helps define the questions designers need to ask when coming up with a network solution. There’s a reason why this book tops most lists of must-have network design books.
A few other notable foundational books on networking:
- Computer Networks by Andrew Tanenbaum
- Data Communications and Networking by Behrouz A. Forouzan
2. Routing TCP/IP Vol I and II (CCIE Professional Development) by Jeff Doyle
Routing TCP/IP Vol I is, admittedly, a little dry. However, it’s a pure learning resource and easy to read. Many people pick it up for CCIE exams as it’s on the reading list. It offers a detailed look at interior routing protocols.
While it’s very Cisco-centric, it still works as an excellent resource for any network design professional. This volume focuses mostly on internetworking, which includes a look at:
- Routing protocols
- IP addressing
Routing TCP/IP Vol II expands on the first volume. It gives a detailed look at advanced exterior routing protocols and issues. The information in this book puts you immediately a level above other network professionals who haven't read it.
There’s a focus here on growing an enterprise system, and the difficulties that can arise from moving towards more advanced protocols. It speaks more to external routing protocols and issues such as BGP and NAT.
Other books on routing protocols and principles:
- Optimum Routing Designs by Russ White
- TCP/IP Illustrated by W. Richard Stevens (3 volumes)
- Internetworking with TCP/IP Vol.1: Principles, Protocols, and Architecture by Douglas E. Comer
3. Designing Cisco Network Service Architectures (ARCH) Foundation Learning Guide by John Tiso
For those who live and breathe Cisco architecture and design (what’s a Juniper?), this book contains just about everything you would want. Its purpose is to prepare CCDP candidates for the ARCH exam. But, it’s a great resource for designing enterprise network solutions using Cisco fundamentals. This book delves into:
- How to create enterprise network designs
- Developing and optimizing layer 3 designs
- Creating enterprise data center designs
- Creating network security designs
There’s a little bit of everything here. For more, all you have to do is look through Cisco’s vast library of approved texts.
4. Definitive MPLS Network Designs by Jim Guichard
This book lists several MPLS network design studies, then gives an in-depth look at the components that make them up. Label stacking is advanced level networking. Definitive MPLS Network Designs contains all you need to start designing networks that utilize MPLS.
MPLS is a diverse subject and encompasses many network design protocols. Because of that, this book also delves into information concerning:
- MSE routers and line cards
And a whole host of other acronyms. There’s much more to explore when it comes to MPLS.
Other books that look at MPLS techniques and solutions:
- Advanced MPLS Design and Implementation by Vivek Alwayn
- MPLS Fundamentals by Luc De Ghein
- Fault-Tolerant IP and MPLS Networks by Iftekhar Hussain
- MPLS and VPN Architectures (Vol I and II) by Ivan Pepelnjak and Jim Guichard
5. BGP Design and Implementation by Randy Zhang and Micah Bartell
While many of the books listed here touch on BGP in one way or another, it’s a protocol deserving of its own study. This book serves as a basic guide to BGP. It moves into advanced BGP sessions, architecture, and network implementation of the protocol.
The real meat of this book deals with more recent ways to use BGP with modern networks and updated protocols. It also goes to show you things beyond the basic connections, handshakes, and AS settings.
Other books that can help with foundational and advanced BGP:
- Troubleshooting BGP: a Practical Guide to Understanding and Troubleshooting BGP by Vinit Jain and Brad Edgeworth
- BGP by Iljitsch van Beijnum
There’s a ton of resources out there to help you build bigger, better, more efficient networks. No matter what you know, there’s more to learn. There’s an art to network design, and it helps to look at how others create their masterpieces before you can truly create yours.