What Do Network Engineers Do: An In-Depth Look

The increasing significance of data communications & networking is an inevitable consequence of society’s drastic & rapid digitization. The Internet, smart devices, and computers took just 10 to 12 years for these entities to become an integral aspect of our society. Such are the potent advantages offered by these marvels of computer science & electronic technology.

For example, Networking lies at the heart of the infrastructure supporting the World Wide Web. Network engineers are the workforce who ensure that everything works as they should. For students and young learners, computer networking assignment help 4 me services can help understand the concepts, ideas and technicalities of the subject. This article aims to supplement the information from books and other study resources as it casts an in-depth glance into a network engineer’s job and explores their skills and the different responsibilities they undertake.

So, let’s begin right away.

Network Engineering And Engineers

Whether freelance or employed, network engineers’ role & responsibilities remain more or less the same. According to Cisco, one of the biggest data networking companies in the world, a network engineer has to:

  • Create and Configure Networks
  • Address and resolve any network related issues
  • Testing network integrity
  • Applying necessary upgrades and updates
  • Testing and evaluating both software and hardware
  • Assessing network performance

A network engineer is not just a technician but also an administratorresponsible for reliable network operations.

They devise, implement, create, modify, troubleshoot, maintain, and research networks & their constituents to ensure smooth, uninterrupted communication & services.

Let’s move on to the next section and look at a network engineer’s specific tasks in a concise but detailed manner.

The Myriad Tasks of Network Engineers

  1. Design and Development

Designing and implementing networks is a primar6y requirement for any network engineer. Though actual set-ups involve teams of engineers, technicians, etc., it is up to an engineer to design the blueprint, determine the resources and implement them into an existing networking system.

So, what is the basis of a network engineer’s design?

You must have come across the TCP/IP model concept in your computer networking assignments. This model assignment help engineers design any network, LAN or WAN and wired or wireless.  The TCP/IP model is the universally accepted networking model that dictates any network architecture’s basic structure. They are:

  • Application layer, the abstraction that serves as the interface between the application software and the network; HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol), FTP (File Transfer Protocol), SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol), etc. work at this layer.
  • Transport Layer, the layers that ensure data transfer integrity& reliability; TCP (Transfer Control Protocol) and UDP (User Datagram Protocol) are the two fundamental protocols here.
  • Network Layer,  the layer that uses the Internet Protocol and routers to transfer data; network engineers operate at the network layer when troubleshooting or working on addressing & routing issues.

The network layer defines the architecture and infrastructure of a typical area network.

  • Data Link/Physical Layer defines the protocols and the hardware necessary to transfer data over a physical medium. The physical layer defines the signals, the energy sources, the cabling, the LAN switches, hubs, repeaters and all the other hardware necessary to transfer data over a physical medium and the data-link layer define Ethernet & wireless LAN protocols essential for seamless communication of networking hardware.

The above model lies at the heart of any design and network engineer implement this model in varying scope & scale as per network requirements.

  • Managing Network Operations

The Internet is a giant web of interconnected machines. Computers, laptops, smart devices, web servers, application servers, database servers, gateway servers, routers, hubs, switches, etc. – everything is interconnected and exchanges billions of bytes of data on an average. No wonder BIG DATA is such a big buzzword today!

  • Enterprise-level computer networks must handle such large swathes of data and the constant flurry of activity. Network engineers manage large-scale networks’ operations and performance by breaking them down into LANs and WANs. Local Area Networks connect nearby devices while Wide Area Networks link devices that are far apart and engineers design, connect & maintain different LANs & WANs to maintain unhindered data communications.
  • Networking engineers have to deal with switches and routers frequently. Switches are devices that act as a hub for connecting different hosts or nodes on a network using Ethernet cables. The switch is the central hub of a LAN and connects to a router, which connects the LAN to a WAN or the Internet.

Infrastructure maintenance and upgrades are a significant responsibility of network engineers. They are responsible for checking the statuses of hubs, routers, switches, wireless LAN access points, cabling, etc. to ensure smooth access and operations.

  • Monitor data propagation within networks

Having thorough knowledge and concrete concepts about various aspects of data communications & networking is a must for every network engineer.

  • Starting with the bottom-most layer, the physical layer, engineers need to have excellent knowledge about the current standards used in wired & wireless LANs. Not just the cabling& technology, but engineers need to monitor the flow of electrical signals, continuity, the integrity of the hardware, and the physical interaction with the data-link layer.
  • Ethernet Wired LAN, Wireless 802.11 LAN, RJ45 connectors, repeaters, hubs and switches make up some of the most fundamental hardware necessary for any network connection. Engineers install, handle and maintain these devices since they perform several essential functions in a network such as:
    • Repeating signals to minimizer propagation delay and signal strength
    • Connecting multiple network hosts, potentially as a “data highway.”
    • Switching packets from one device to another device in a network
    • Routing packets from one network to another and the Internet.
  • Engineers use and operate hubs, repeaters and routers specifically for network management purposes. For management purposes, engineers utilize the Simple Network Management Protocol for sending status & health information about the devices connected on a network. Network engineers use network management systems with the SNMP protocol to check device health through a polling system. Devices then respond accordingly.
  • Monitoring traffic, checking for excessive collisions, managing loads, troubleshooting lags, delays & losses- these are essential tasks for any network engineer. The more the stations, the higher the traffic and the more probability of collisions. However, collisions are entirely avoidable in case of full-duplex communications.
  • Engineers need to know all about broadcasts and broadcast domains.These domains lie within layer 3; that is, the data link layer is flooded with broadcasts from LAN switches. Switches broadcast data framesto every other host via every different domain and form the backbone of any network architecture.
  • Network Engineers implement layer two or the data link layer in a network using switches. These devices transfer data frames using Media Access Control addresses of network-connected devices. With the numerous advances in networking hardware, engineers now employ multilayered switcheswith advanced features and control based on huger layers in frames.

These switches serve multiple purposes such as minimum management, power over Ethernet and can even act as routers.

  • Manage data transfer across different networks

Network engineers’ role and responsibilities are not limited to just the physical and data link layer. The following primary responsibility of engineers lies at the Network and Transport layer: layers 3& 4 and the TCP/IP protocol.

  • IP routing lies at the heart of the network operations and is responsible for routing data packets across wide area networks. As is the norm, the Transmission Control and Internet Protocol utilize the physical & data-link layer services in the network and transport layer.
  • Routing of data is the network layer’s chief task using protocols such asIP, IGMP, ICMP, BGP, OSPF, RIP, etc. The operating system of network hosts includes TCP/IP software suite to implement the network & transport layers. Network protocols and routers decide upon the best path to send data to the destination.
  • Network engineers must ensure that a router performs its intended tasks without any fault. They periodically check the internal networking layer routing inside the devices, which involve
    • Peelingoff old data link-layer header & trailer from the IP packets.
    • Reading the IP address and consulting the routing table for the best match.
    • Re-encapsulating the packet for the next network hop using Ethernet MAC addresses
  • Router use Address Resolution Protocols to match data-link MAC addresses to a corresponding IP address. ARP is defined within the TCP/IP model and allows routers to inquire about device MAC addresses. The Network Layer serves the transport layer above, which depends on its resolution, routing and end-to-end delivery.

TCP works at the network layers and uses error recovery to detect faults and multiplexing to handle different kinds of data. TCP and UDP(User Datagram Protocol) use other destination port numbers to decide the target application of some data.

  • Socket based communication occurs at the transport layer using IP addresses, the transport protocol, and the port number for identifying the nature & target application of the data. Networks and their engineers identifyhosts using IP addresses and client applications & associated protocols using port numbers.However, servers operate using a single port number irrespective of the number of connections.

The job and role of network engineers are to deliver reliable &efficient network infrastructure optimized for performance and speed. The above responsibilities are central to any network engineer’s job, and this article dwelled as deep into these tasks as possible.  Hope it was enlightening and informative enough for you! Adios!

I'm Tanvi Sharma. I love to write blogs and updates on Business, Movies, Tech and other Industries. I also review the tech and health products on time to time. Follow this blog to always get my latest blog post.

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