In many ways, an information technology network is much like other technologies in that the expertise needed to design and build it is much more specialized and expensive than the work of managing and operating a network. Network engineers are the professionals with the greatest understanding of how to design and build robust and secure networks.
When designing new networks or major upgrades, most technology managers in schools (and most other organizations that rely on enterprise grade networks) will contract the services of network engineers. Typically, these professionals work for companies that also sell, install, and service the devices included in the engineer’s plans. While these services are very expensive, when school leaders consider the cost of the devices and the potential liabilities of insecure networks, they recognize the value in this one-time expense.
A key aspect of planning and installing a network is mapping and documenting the network. From the outside, there is little indication of how to locate a device on a network or what functions it serves. Consider a school in which there are wireless access points installed. These devices are likely to have static IP addresses as they are always turned on and they play an important role in managing network traffic, they also have software installed so that a system administrator can configure it by pointing a web browser to the IP address of the access point. With the web page that is displayed, the administrator can control many aspects of how it functions. A good network map will include both the physical location and the network address of the devices to make management faster an easier.