A computer network comprises two or more interconnected computers for communicating data electronically. Well-structured computer networks allow devices and endpoints to connect, and these networks have various switches, routers, and wireless connections. Additionally, computer networks use software protocols to communicate data securely. A familiar example of a wireless computer network is Wi-Fi and a wired network such as a wired local area network (LAN) which features copper-based Ethernet cables and fiber-optic cables for data transmission. The purpose of a computer network is the transmission and exchange of data and information.
A typical LAN consists of two or more personal computers, printers, and high-capacity disk storage devices called file servers, which enable each computer on the network to access a shared set of files.
The Importance of Network Architecture Design
There are several fundamentals in our complex IT systems. One of the biggest is computer networking, as it links together all our computers, allowing quick and efficient information sharing and receiving. This information sharing allows the smooth operation of email, file sharing, IoT devices, and a host of other tasks to work as expected and helps modern businesses to hum along. Computer networks are essential in nearly every aspect of business communication; they are critical cogs in any organization’s wheel.
What does a Computer Network Architect do?
Computer network architects create plans and layouts for a data communication network. Their job also entails predicting where their organization will need future networks and then presenting and explaining why it benefits the organization to pursue them to upper management. They work with engineers who help build the network they have designed. The computer network architect considers the security of information when planning network designs. System architects must evaluate vulnerabilities, security patches, and other countermeasures when creating network designs. All employees do not need access to the same amount of information, and the network plan must reflect this. The Network Architect is responsible for upgrading software like network drivers and hardware, such as adapters and routers.
Computer network architects work with the organization’s executive in charge of information technology or a chief technology officer (CTO) to decide where the organization may need new networks. The network may range from small connections between two offices or next-generation networking capabilities like a cloud infrastructure that serves multiple customers across different continents.
Computer network architects are responsible for researching new networking technologies that may be beneficial for the future. They have to analyze current data capabilities to the customer base and estimate how growth may affect the network. A computer network architect should be analytical, detail-oriented, organized, and have interpersonal skills and leadership skills. They spend most of their time in offices and sometimes server rooms.
Steps to Becoming a Network Architect:
Get Formal Education
Computer network education requirements may vary from position to position, but candidates must possess a bachelor’s degree in a related field such as computer science, programming, or management information systems. The reason is that such degrees expose students to skills in database design, database management, operating systems, and business communications. Businesses that operate e-commerce models prefer applicants with a master’s of business administration (MBA) and a specialization in information systems. The two-year course includes business and computer-related subjects to understand network characteristics in the corporate sector better. Computer network architects need to have an excellent understanding of an organization’s business plan. The grasp of the business plan enables them to design an appropriate network. Some companies may hire applicants without a degree if the applicant possesses strong technical knowledge and robust work experience in the field.
Work Experience as a Network Architect
Computer network architect roles often require candidates to have several years of experience. The number of years ranges between five to ten years of work experience with IT systems in a related field.
Those looking for ways to become a network architect can start by accumulating diverse experience in related positions such as:
Computer or network systems administrator: The Computer systems administrator installs and configures computer networks and systems and also fixes network connection problems.
Computer systems analyst: identifies areas for improvement in an organization’s computer systems by determining the existing system’s strengths and weaknesses.
Database administrator: installs, manages, and configures databases
Systems architect: designs and implements an enterprise’s integral systems
As beginners in network architects’ role, they monitor the day-to-day operation of computer systems and networks, implement security measures to safeguard the system, and recommend upgrades when necessary. As they gain experience and move up the hierarchy, many begin to organize computer network specialists to improve existing systems by taking on a managerial role.
Get computer network architect certifications.
Earning a vendor-specific certification makes it easier to get hired by the same vendor. Companies require their network architects to be certified in the products they use and manufacture. A fine example of this is ‘Cisco.’ The Cisco Certified Design Associate(CCDA) is a beginner-level certification that offers insight into the configuration and installation of cisco related products apart from also teaching networking fundamentals. Other network architect credentials from other product vendors include:
- Salesforce Certified Technical Architect(CTA)
- Red Hat Certified Architect(RHCA)
- TOGAF 9 open Group Certification
- Zachman Certified-Enterprise Architect
- VMware Certified Professional
- CompTIA A+
- CompTIA security+ Certification
- CompTIA Network+ Certification
A computer without a network serves a minimal purpose. As organizations continue to expand their networks and operations, the need for skilled network architects who can design, maintain and upgrade existing networks will continue to rise exponentially. A thorough understanding of modern computer networks and a love for technology will ease your way into the industry, should you wish to kick start a career in the networking field
Employers of Computer Network Architects
Computer network architects get employed by computer system design services, telecommunications, finance and insurance, and similar companies. Computer network architects typically work full time, spending most of their time in the office. They occasionally work in server rooms where they have access to the hardware that makes up an organization’s computer and information network.