Sometimes the technology aspect of delivering network services is fairly easy; it's understanding and managing the customer's needs and expectations that's most difficult. In this guide you'll find a checklist for defining customer requirements best practices for developing flexible project plans that emphasize communications and contingency and recommendations for an implementation plan that minimizes integration problems and deployment delays.
In this guide:
Checklist for defining customer requirements
Network services can be defined many ways. Some examples include deployment of VoIP and video over IP services or business critical applications like SAP CRM or Citrix which depend on the network to function. The majority of organizations today rely heavily on the network and network service delivery capabilities to run their businesses. In most cases there are usually technology modifications or deployments required to enable those network capabilities and services.
Business requirements drive technology initiatives. Therefore understanding and capturing the customer's most important business requirements and translating those into technical requirements and technology solutions is a critical aspect of successful network service delivery.
Gathering requirements is an intensive process. In general there are three key areas of requirements that need to be addressed. The areas are:
- Business requirements
- Technology and technical requirements
- Integration requirements
Business requirements focus on understanding where the customer is going in terms of future expansion into new markets deployment of new service capabilities funding and executive vision for the organization. In most environments it is a business decision that drives IT initiatives.
The IT department is responsible for network reach support for mission critical application delivery and uptime and performance of the network. Sometimes the IT department communicates with the business units and vice versa but at other times IT is in reactive mode.
It is recommended to define and capture business requirements up to three years out to determine what network services will be needed to support the customer's business.
Technology and technical requirements
Technology and technical requirements are defined after business requirements and are in fact driven by the business requirements. Technology requirements include determinations of vendor alignment and standardization requirements. The technical requirements are details of the design of the solutions that will be deployed to support the business services. The business is enabled via applications delivered over the network so there are key technical requirements that must be addressed including:
- Architecture requirements: These provide input to decisions around major network technology decisions in key areas such as LAN and WAN datacenter and operations. Examples include MPLS for WAN transport data center consolidation and centralized versus distributed IT operations.
- Bandwidth and scalability requirements: These define where application services need to be delivered and how much bandwidth is required. This drives decisions around WAN reach and remote access as well as infrastructure sizing.
- Integration requirements: These requirements drive technology decisions such as vendor functionality and interoperability with the current systems.
- Management Requirements: These define how the network will be managed from a fault configuration and performance aspect.
- Security requirements: These define how application services will be secured. With new federal and state regulations requirements for restricting access authenticating users and encrypting data in transit and at rest all need to be defined.
Integration requirements define the deployment process timeline tasks and resource allocations necessary for the customer.