Computer network architects design and build data communication networks, including local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and intranets. These networks range from small connections between two offices to next-generation networking capabilities such as a cloud infrastructure that serves multiple customers. Network architects must have extensive knowledge of an organization's business plan to design a network that can help the organization achieve its goals.
Computer network architects typically do the following:
Create plans and layouts for data communication networks
Present plans to management and explain why they are in the organization's best interest to pursue them
Consider information security when designing networks
Upgrade hardware, such as routers or adaptors, and software, such as network drivers, as needed to support computer networks
Research new networking technologies to determine what would best support their organization in the future
Computer network architects, or network engineers, often work with their organization's chief technology officer (CTO) to predict where the organization will most need new networks. They spend most of their time planning these new networks. Some computer network architects work with engineers such as computer hardware engineers who help build the network a network architect has designed. Network architects are often experienced staff and have 5 to 10 years of experience working in network administration or with other information technology (IT) systems.
Computer network architects also create models to predict future network needs by analyzing current data traffic and estimating how growth will affect the network. They also keep up to date on new hardware and software technology and test how it can improve network performance. In addition, computer network architects have to keep security in mind and when network vulnerabilities arise, implement security patches or other countermeasures.