ZNDP 014 – What is Best Practice?

Hey Ziglets, in today’s episode we are going to ask and answer the question “What is Best Practice?” and how should we handle Best Practices in today’s Networking World.  Lets do it!

Going on a Cruise!!

Julie and I are going on a Caribbean Cruise!  We will actually be on the Cruise when this show is published so think of us enjoying some Margaritas and a nice scotch as you listen to this episode!

Looking forward too:

  • I love going on the cruise every year so I can properly disconnect from the network, from the internet, and all of the bazillion ways people can get a hold of you.  If you do not have something like this regularly planned in your life, I highly recommend to you do so.
  • Getting some quality time with Julie.  We don’t get a whole lot of One on One time like we used too.
  • This year we decided to get the Drink package, so we can drink whatever we want and its included!  We are not lushes by no means, but it will be nice to have a nice glass of scotch or wine after dinner
  • I might actually start some of the other “projects” I’ve been looking to do.  I wont have the distractions of every day and might be able to focus some time on my writing!!

The overall Theme!

Over the last two months or so, we have been focusing on a theme for each of our ZNDP episodes.  We still have a number of topics to cover but here is a quick review of some of the previous episodes that have a direct correlation to today’s topic at hand.

ZNDP 011 – Network Design…But Why?

  • We asked and answered questions:
    • Why should you care about Network Design?
    • Why it’s so important for you to make technical decisions to meet business needs
  • If you haven’t listened to this episode check it out here!

ZNDP 012 – Evolving your Design Mindset

  • We asked and answered questions:
    • Why do you need a Design Mindset?
  • We talked about making Business Design Decisions and incorporating a proper Design Framework
    • We showed the Design Framework in action with a four step process
  • If you haven’t listened to this episode check it out here!

ZNDP 013 – Business Benefits and Business Outcomes

  • In our last episode, episode 13, we answered the questions:
    • What do businesses really care about?
    • Why should you care about business benefits and business outcomes
  • We showed a direct correlation with a three step process:
    1. The Technology Benefits and outcomes should directly relate to the Business requirements, constraints, and drivers that were determined and identified in the Design Framework that was show cased in Episode 12: Evolving your Design Mindset.
    2. The Business requirements, constraints, and drivers should directly relate to the Business Outcomes and Benefits the Company is focusing on and expecting.
    3. Repeated Validation of these correlations throughout the project.
  • If you haven’t listened to Episode 13, you can do so here!

What is Best Practice?

If I had been asked this question fifteen years ago when I was young and naive, I would have said Best Practice is the bible.  I can hear myself stating “Because it’s best practice”!  No way did I fully understanding the implications of what was being done.

Best Practice Variable

I would have filled in the “Best Practice” variable with my own personal biased Design, Solution, or Architecture.

  • For those that have been following along you know which one I am going to pick here… A Routed Access Design with EIGRP as the IGP!!
  • A lot of us in the network field make “best practice” calls without fully understanding the design implications of those decisions.  I know I’ve been guilty of this, so when I say “us” i’m totally including myself.

My Best Practice Evolution:

A Design should always be tied back to the customer’s business requirements!!


  • Lets start with a simple example – Why do we enable an OSPF interface as a point-to-point interface?
    • Is there a business requirement for it?
    • Probably a better question to ask and answer; is there a business requirement that we are breaking because of this “best practice” decision?
  • Now how about a more complex and realistic example – What about implementing sub-second fail over for an IGP versus less than 5 second fail over for an IGP?
    • Are we implementing sub-second fail over because its “best practice” or are we correlating this choice to a business need?

Two great quotes:

“Use of best practices may apply for a majority of implementations, but these are not customer specific or applicable in all situations. A qualified design expert knows when to deviate from best practice while providing a justifiable and supportable solution”

“Best practices are a baseline from which we work in the absence of specific requirements that would justify deviation. Knowing why it is a best practice is important so that you know where to create a new best practice specific to your design and customer.”

By VCDX Boot Camp: Preparing for the VCDX Panel Defense by John Arrasjid, Ben Lin, and Mostafa Khalil


Zig’s Take on all of this?!?!?!

My opinion, if there are not any relevant business requirement for a specific design situation and we are not violating another business requirement, then best practice is probably the way to go but we need to understand the full picture before making these decisions.

In the end it really boils down to doing what is right for the specific situation that you are presented. I’ve seen a lot of people in this field looking for the “one fits all” solution or answer, but there isn’t one.  A lot of these people take the “easy” way out and in the end they are doing a disservice to the networks and customers they touch.

A lot of my customers are “breaking” what some would traditionally say is best practices but they are doing this because it is what they need to do in the situation they are in.  They have business requirements and business outcomes that must be met.  Everything comes back to these items and we all must remember that.

This is important information and yes it’s a different way of thinking all together but its highly valuable!

Call to Action:

  • Please share this episode with a friend, a co-worker, a colleague that you believe will learn something, will get some sort of benefit and value from it.
  • Please provide some feedback to Feedback@zigbits.tech.  You may hate what I am doing or you may love what I am doing but I have no way of knowing unless you tell me!

Hosted By: Michael “Zig” Zsiga

Guest Expert: None

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Michael “Zig” Zsiga II, CCDE™ 2016::32, CCIE™ #44883 has been in the networking industry a little over 15 years. He is currently a Lead Technical Architect at ePlus in the New England region of the United States. Zig holds an active CCDE and two CCIE certifications, one in Routing and Switching and the second in Service Provider. Zig also holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Computer Science from Park University. Zig is a father, a husband, a United States Marine, a gamer, a nerd, a geek and a big soccer fan. Zig loves all technology and can usually be found in the lab learning and teaching others. Zig is a co-organizer of The Boston Network Operators Group (www.bosnog.org), runs multiple CCIE Study groups, and is a newly published author. Zig lives in New Hampshire, USA with his wife, Julie and their son Gunnar.

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