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Top-Down Network Design (3rd Edition) 3rd Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-1587202834
ISBN-10: 1587202832
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Top-Down Network Design (3rd Edition) + Network Design Cookbook: Architecting Cisco Networks + The Art of Network Architecture: Business-Driven Design (Networking Technology)
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Top-Down Network Design

Third Edition


Priscilla Oppenheimer


A systems analysis approach to enterprise network design


The authoritative book on designing networks that align with business goals


Top-Down Network Design, Third Edition, is a practical and comprehensive guide to designing enterprise networks that are reliable, secure, and scalable. The book uses a top-down approach to help you focus first on applications and user requirements before selecting devices, cabling, and other technologies to implement the network. The book takes you through an explanation of how to design networks that align with business goals so that the network can keep pace with changing user requirements.


This new edition provides a comprehensive look at enterprise network design and the different modules of an enterprise network. Using illustrations and real-world examples, the book covers campus network design, wireless networks, remote access, and wide-area connectivity. You learn how to analyze business and technical requirements and select topologies and technologies that are based on that analysis. A major focus is on security as network users become more mobile. You also develop an understanding of network performance factors and methods for building reliable networks that can scale as traffic loads increase.


This Third Edition includes updated and expanded material on wireless networks, virtual private networks (VPN), network security, network redundancy, modularity in network designs, dynamic addressing for IPv4 and IPv6, Ethernet scalability options (including 10-Gbps Ethernet, Metro Ethernet, and Long-Reach Ethernet), and networks that carry voice and data traffic. In addition you will learn how to build networks that can support real-time video, collaborative computing, and social networking tools and that adhere to the Cisco SAFE Security Reference Architecture.


Every chapter now includes a set of essay questions and design scenarios to give you a chance to practice what you have learned. The book also has a companion website at, which includes updates to the book, links to white papers, and supplemental information about design resources.


  • Learn a network design process that results in networks that perform well, provide security, and scale to meet growing demands for bandwidth
  • Develop network designs that provide the high bandwidth and low delay required for real-time applications such as multimedia, distance learning, videoconferencing, teleprescene, virtual communities, and IP telephony
  • Master techniques for checking the health of an existing network to develop a baseline for measuring performance of a new network design
  • Explore solutions for meeting QoS requirements, including IETF controlled-load and guaranteed services, IP multicast, and advanced switching, queuing, and routing algorithms
  • Identify the advantages and disadvantages of various switching and routing protocols, including Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol (RSTP), IEEE 802.1Q, EIGRP, OSPF, and BGP4


This book is part of the Networking Technology Series from Cisco Press‚ which offers networking professionals valuable information for constructing efficient networks, understanding new technologies, and building successful careers.


Category: Networking

Covers:  Network Design


About the Author

Priscilla Oppenheimer has been developing data communications and networking systems since 1980 when she earned her master’s degree in information science from the University of Michigan. After many years as a software developer, she became a technical instructor and training developer and has taught more than 3000 network engineers from most of the Fortune 500 companies. Her employment at such companies as Apple Computer, Network General, and Cisco gave her a chance to troubleshoot real-world network design problems and the opportunity to develop a practical methodology for enterprise network design. Priscilla was one of the developers of the Cisco Internetwork Design course and the creator of the Designing Cisco Networks course. Priscilla teaches network design, configuration, and troubleshooting around the world and practices what she preaches in her network consulting business.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 600 pages
  • Publisher: Cisco Press; 3 edition (September 3, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1587202832
  • ISBN-13: 978-1587202834
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,106 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Priscilla Oppenheimer was born in Michigan. She wrote her first "book" lying on the floor of her father's study when she was five years old. Priscilla got a BA in English from Kalamazoo College and an MS in Information Science from the University of Michigan. She survived one year on the south side of Chicago working as a computer programmer for the University of Chicago. September rolled around and she found herself contemplating another 35-minute walk to work in zero-degree weather, and moved to California. She flourished in Silicon Valley, working as a software engineer and technical instructor at Apple Computer, Network General, and Cisco Systems. After too many long commutes and missed dinners, she escaped to Ashland, Oregon, where she lives with her husband, Alan Oppenheimer, a creator of iPad apps, security software, and other strange inventions that only she has seen. Priscilla works in the computer networking field and continues to write, although she no longer lies on the floor to do so.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Pilot Paul on October 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Priscilla Oppenheimer's Top Down Network Design is found on virtually every senior network engineer's bookshelf but yet is written with such clarity that even a novice can understand. The book is divided into four sections and walks you step by step through the process of designing reliable high-available computer networks.

"Section 1: Identifying your Customer's Needs and Goals" gives a comprehensive review of assessing business goals and technical requirements of a network. This is a critical step that builds the foundation for your design.

In "Section 2: Logical Network Design" the author explains the development of a high-level scalable network topology using current hierarchical and modular design practices.

"Section 3: Physical Network Design" builds on the previous sections with the creation of a low level design. You start by selecting a LAN cabling plant and LAN technologies. Then continue by designing the layer 3 topologies such as the IP Addressing scheme, selecting the appropriate routing protocol, and developing a network management and security posture.

"Section 4: Testing, Optimizing and Documenting your Design" explains how to prototype your network, write and implement a test plan, optimize your network, and finally the most often missed network documentation.

The process described in" Top Down Network Design" is the exact methodology we use when designing for our customers and leads to highly stable and reliable networks.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Neiberger on October 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover
If you are new to networking and want to learn the right way to approach network design, this book is for you. If you're not new to networking and you want to learn a more structured approach that is proven to be successful, this book is for you. Many people have said that this book is helpful for studying for the CCDA; it is, but this book is more than that. Its purpose is not to help you pass a test, it's here to help you become a better network engineer. Too often, network engineers take a strictly short-term operational view when it comes to upgrading their networks, and that can be a bit short-sighted, leading to all sorts of unexpected issues and suboptimal performance in the long run. Sometimes we need to step back and begin again from the top. In the words of another mentor of mine, we must ask "What problem are we trying to solve?", then iterate from the top down to design a modular, structured network that meets current demands and can accept future growth and upgrades easily. That's not quite as easy as it sounds, but this book will help get you there.

I've read the 2nd and 3rd editions of this book. The new 3rd edition is slimmed down and updated. A lot of extremely good information is packed into just over 400 pages, but it's so easy to read that it seems even shorter. I've been in networking for several years and I still picked up several new ideas when reading the new edition, and in other cases I had gentle reminders to avoid certain bad habits.

If you want to get serious about improving your network design skills, get this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Krug on October 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Top Down Network Design 3rd Edition was one of the very first Cisco Press books I read while interning for a big IT Shop. As a Systems Administrator having excellent design skills is a necessity. This book's rich systems analysis based philosophy for design can be applied to any Enterprise Project.

Oppenheimer is no stranger to the Network world and that really comes through in her book. I own another Oppenheimer book, "Troubleshooting Campus Networks" which also really delivers in terms of relating design to real world problems. Top Down Network Design 3rd Edition is not exception in this case. Too often Cisco Press Books are too full of technical theory and not enough practical use cases. However Oppenheimer manages to successfully guide through practical exercise that relate back to the real physical infrastructure and end-user experience.

This book will be one of the go-to books on my shelf for many years to come when starting any major IT Project.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jeff McJunkin on October 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Whereas most other networking books focus on one technology or one aspect of network design, Oppenheimer really does guide the reader through designing a network in a top-down (gathering requirements to documentation) fashion. Overall, the book takes you from a 30,000 foot view to about a 2,000 foot view. Despite Oppenheimer's Cisco-focused background and being published by Cisco Press, her book admirably avoids plugging Cisco as the end-all-be-all solution. Overall, I would recommend this book for all parts of network design, and recommend others for the actual IOS/device configuration (which Top-Down Network Design avoids).

As others have identified, the books is divided into four sections. The section titles are descriptive enough, so I'll just point out the highlights by chapter instead.

The first chapter covers an introduction to network design, including analyzing business goals and constraints. It emphasizes the need for the network design to make "business sense," as in justify the business itself. Constraining the network design to the budgetary and staffing constraints of the customer is also important -- after all, what good is a highly-reliable, highly-complex network to a CCENT-level network engineer who can't make necessary modifications without taking down the network?

The fourth chapter relates to the network traffic of the existing network. By categorizing users into "user communities" based off job role (usage of sets of applications) and categorizing the traffic flows themselves, one can describe at a high level the network flow while still providing useful data for technical purchase decisions. The traffic flows are categorized into groups such as peer-to-peer, client/server, server-to-server, terminal/host, and distributed computing.
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