TM357 Cisco Networking Assignment Example OU, UK 

TM357 Cisco Networking Assignment Example OU, UK 

The TM357 Cisco Networking course, offered by the Open University in the UK, provides a comprehensive exploration of Cisco networking technologies. This intermediate-level course covers key concepts such as routing, switching, and network security. Students gain hands-on experience configuring Cisco devices and understanding their role in building robust network infrastructures.

The curriculum emphasizes practical skills applicable to real-world scenarios, ensuring learners are well-prepared for networking challenges. With a focus on Cisco's industry-leading technology, TM357 equips students with the expertise needed for successful networking careers in today's dynamic IT landscape.

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Assignment Activity 1: Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of different routing protocols such as OSPF, EIGRP, and BGP.

The assignment activity you've described involves evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of different routing protocols, specifically OSPF (Open Shortest Path First), EIGRP (Enhanced Interior Gateway Routing Protocol), and BGP (Border Gateway Protocol). Let's break down the key components of this assignment:

Routing Protocols:

  • OSPF (Open Shortest Path First): OSPF is a link-state routing protocol commonly used in interior routing within autonomous systems. It operates based on the Shortest Path First algorithm, which calculates the best path to a destination based on the lowest cumulative cost.
  • EIGRP (Enhanced Interior Gateway Routing Protocol): EIGRP is a Cisco proprietary routing protocol that combines features of both distance vector and link-state protocols. It uses a more sophisticated metric than traditional routing protocols and is designed to provide fast convergence and efficient bandwidth usage.
  • BGP (Border Gateway Protocol): BGP is used for routing between different autonomous systems (AS) on the internet. It is a path vector protocol that allows routers to make decisions based on network policies, path attributes, and rule sets.

Advantages and Disadvantages Evaluation:

  • Advantages: For each routing protocol, consider factors such as scalability, convergence time, resource usage, and ease of configuration. OSPF, for example, might be praised for its efficient use of bandwidth and fast convergence. EIGRP could be commended for its rapid convergence and low resource consumption. BGP might be appreciated for its ability to handle complex policies and diverse routing scenarios.
  • Disadvantages: Examine potential drawbacks of each protocol. OSPF, for instance, might have challenges in very large networks. EIGRP's proprietary nature might be a limitation in a multi-vendor environment. BGP, due to its complexity, could face issues like slow convergence in certain situations.

Formatting and Style: Pay attention to the formatting and style of your assignment. Clearly present your findings in a structured manner, using headings and subheadings where appropriate. Ensure that your language is clear and concise.

This assignment aims to assess your understanding of these routing protocols, their strengths and weaknesses, and your ability to critically analyze and compare them in different networking scenarios.

Assignment Activity 2: Discuss the implementation of access control lists (ACLs), firewall configurations, and VPNs.

Let's break down the key components of discussing the implementation of Access Control Lists (ACLs), firewall configurations, and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) for an assignment:

Access Control Lists (ACLs):

  • Definition: Start by defining what ACLs are. Access Control Lists are sets of rules or filters used to control network traffic by permitting or denying data packets based on criteria such as source and destination IP addresses, protocols, and port numbers.
  • Implementation: Discuss how ACLs are implemented on routers or switches to control traffic entering or leaving a network. Explain the process of creating ACL rules, specifying criteria, and applying them to interfaces.
  • Types of ACLs: Mention the two main types of ACLs - standard and extended. Standard ACLs filter traffic based only on the source IP address, while extended ACLs consider source and destination IP addresses, protocols, and port numbers.
  • Advantages and Considerations: Highlight the advantages of using ACLs, such as improved network security and traffic control. Discuss considerations, such as the order of ACL rules and potential performance impacts.

Firewall Configurations:

  • Definition: Introduce firewalls as network security devices designed to monitor, filter, and control incoming and outgoing network traffic based on predetermined security rules.
  • Types of Firewalls: Discuss various types of firewalls, including stateful and stateless firewalls, proxy firewalls, and Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFW). Explain the differences and when each type is suitable.
  • Configuration Steps: Outline the steps involved in configuring a firewall. This includes defining rules, setting up security policies, configuring NAT (Network Address Translation), and handling intrusion prevention mechanisms.
  • Application in Networks: Explain how firewalls are commonly used in both enterprise and home network settings to protect against unauthorized access, malware, and other security threats.
  • Integration with ACLs: Discuss how ACLs can complement firewall configurations. ACLs might be used in conjunction with firewalls to provide an additional layer of control over network traffic.

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs):

  • Definition: Introduce VPNs as secure, encrypted connections over a public network (typically the internet). Discuss the purpose of VPNs, which is to provide a secure communication channel between remote users or branch offices.
  • Types of VPNs: Briefly explain different types of VPNs, including site-to-site VPNs for connecting entire networks, and remote access VPNs for individual users.
  • Implementation Steps: Outline the steps involved in setting up a VPN, such as configuring VPN protocols (like IPsec or SSL/TLS), authentication methods, and encryption settings.
  • Security Considerations: Discuss the security benefits of VPNs, such as data encryption and authentication, while also mentioning considerations like the potential impact on network performance.
  • Business Applications: Explain how VPNs are commonly used in business environments to facilitate secure communication for remote workers or to connect geographically dispersed offices.

Ensure that your discussion is clear, concise, and well-organized, and consider providing examples or case studies to illustrate the practical implementation of these network security measures.

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Assignment Activity 3: Analyze the impact of VLANs on network segmentation, broadcast domains, and overall network performance.

Let's break down the key components of analyzing the impact of VLANs (Virtual Local Area Networks) on network segmentation, broadcast domains, and overall network performance for your assignment:


  • Definition: Begin by providing a clear definition of VLANs. Explain that VLANs are a method of segmenting a physical network into multiple logical networks, allowing devices to communicate as if they are on the same physical network, regardless of their actual physical location.
  • Purpose: Discuss the purpose of VLANs, which is to improve network efficiency, security, and manageability by logically grouping devices based on their functions, departments, or teams.

Impact on Network Segmentation:

  • Logical Segmentation: Explain how VLANs enable logical segmentation of a network. Devices within the same VLAN can communicate seamlessly, while communication between devices in different VLANs requires routing, adding a layer of security and isolation.
  • Flexibility and Scalability: Discuss how VLANs provide flexibility and scalability, allowing network administrators to easily adapt to changes in organizational structure or network requirements without physically rewiring the network.

Impact on Broadcast Domains:

  • Definition of Broadcast Domain: Define broadcast domains as groups of devices that receive each other's broadcast messages. In a VLAN, broadcast traffic is limited to devices within the same VLAN, reducing the size of broadcast domains.
  • Broadcast Containment: Explain how VLANs help contain broadcast traffic. Devices in one VLAN do not receive broadcast traffic from devices in other VLANs, leading to more efficient network utilization and reduced congestion.
  • Enhanced Network Performance: Discuss how the reduction in broadcast domains contributes to enhanced network performance by minimizing unnecessary traffic and optimizing network resources.

Overall Network Performance:

  • Isolation of Traffic: Discuss how VLANs contribute to improved overall network performance by isolating broadcast and multicast traffic. Isolating traffic to specific VLANs prevents unnecessary data from flooding the entire network.
  • Resource Optimization: Highlight how VLANs aid in the efficient use of network resources. By segregating traffic logically, VLANs allow for better resource allocation and bandwidth management.
  • Security Benefits: Briefly mention the security benefits of VLANs. Since devices in different VLANs require routing to communicate, VLANs add a layer of security by controlling inter-VLAN communication.

Challenges and Considerations:

  • Management Complexity: Acknowledge that while VLANs offer numerous benefits, managing them can become complex, especially in large networks. Discuss the importance of proper planning and documentation.
  • Implementation Challenges: Mention potential challenges during VLAN implementation, such as misconfigurations, which could impact network connectivity if not addressed correctly.

Ensure your analysis is clear, well-organized, and provides a comprehensive understanding of how VLANs influence different aspects of network architecture and performance.

Assignment Activity 4: Discuss the importance of tools like Net Flow, SNMP, and Cisco's own monitoring solutions.

Let's discuss the importance of tools like NetFlow, SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol), and Cisco's own monitoring solutions for network management in your assignment:


  • Definition: Begin by defining NetFlow as a network protocol developed by Cisco that enables the collection and analysis of network traffic data. It provides detailed information about network flows, including source and destination IP addresses, protocols, and application-level details.
  • Importance in Network Monitoring: Discuss how NetFlow is crucial for network monitoring and traffic analysis. It allows network administrators to gain insights into network utilization, identify trends, and troubleshoot performance issues by understanding the flow of traffic.
  • Security Benefits: Highlight the security benefits of NetFlow. It can be used for detecting and mitigating security threats by analyzing anomalous traffic patterns and identifying potential malicious activity.
  • Resource Optimization: Explain how NetFlow data helps in optimizing network resources. By understanding which applications and devices consume the most bandwidth, administrators can make informed decisions about resource allocation and capacity planning.

SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol):

  • Definition: Introduce SNMP as a widely used protocol for network management and monitoring. SNMP allows devices on a network to be monitored and controlled from a centralized management station.
  • Monitoring and Configuration: Discuss the role of SNMP in monitoring network devices such as routers, switches, and servers. It enables the retrieval of performance and configuration data, as well as the ability to remotely configure devices.
  • Alerts and Notifications: Emphasize the importance of SNMP in generating alerts and notifications. When network devices experience issues or approach predefined thresholds, SNMP can send alerts to administrators, allowing for proactive issue resolution.
  • Compatibility and Standardization: Highlight the fact that SNMP is a standardized protocol, making it compatible with a wide range of network devices from various vendors. This interoperability is crucial for managing heterogeneous network environments.

Cisco's Own Monitoring Solutions:

  • Cisco Prime Infrastructure: Discuss Cisco Prime Infrastructure as a comprehensive network management solution provided by Cisco. It offers features such as device configuration, monitoring, troubleshooting, and lifecycle management.
  • Cisco DNA Center: Introduce Cisco DNA Center as a central platform for network automation and management. It provides intent-based networking, policy enforcement, and analytics for modern network infrastructures.
  • Importance of Vendor-Specific Tools: Explain that vendor-specific tools like those offered by Cisco provide deep integration with their hardware and software, offering enhanced capabilities for monitoring, configuration, and troubleshooting specific to Cisco devices.

Integration of Tools: Complementary Roles: Emphasize that these tools, including NetFlow, SNMP, and Cisco's monitoring solutions, often work together to provide a comprehensive network management strategy. For example, NetFlow might provide traffic visibility, while SNMP is used for device monitoring and Cisco's solutions offer centralized management.

Ensure that your discussion is clear, concise, and provides a thorough understanding of the significance of these tools in the context of network management.

Assignment Activity 5: Analyze considerations for connecting on-premises networks to cloud environments, addressing security concerns, and optimizing performance.

Let's break down the key components for analyzing considerations for connecting on-premises networks to cloud environments, addressing security concerns, and optimizing performance for your assignment:

Network Connectivity:

  • Definition: Begin by explaining the concept of connecting on-premises networks to cloud environments. This typically involves establishing a secure and reliable connection between resources hosted on-site and those in the cloud.
  • Connectivity Options: Discuss various connectivity options, such as dedicated private connections (e.g., Direct Connect, ExpressRoute), site-to-site VPNs, and hybrid cloud architectures. Explain the advantages and disadvantages of each option.
  • Bandwidth Requirements: Highlight the importance of assessing bandwidth requirements based on the volume of data that needs to traverse between on-premises and cloud environments. Consider factors like data transfer speeds and latency.

Security Concerns:

  • Data Encryption: Discuss the necessity of encrypting data during transit between on-premises and the cloud. Highlight the use of protocols like IPsec for VPNs and dedicated private connections to ensure secure data transfer.
  • Identity and Access Management (IAM): Emphasize the importance of robust IAM practices to control and authenticate access to resources both on-premises and in the cloud. Utilize mechanisms like single sign-on (SSO) for seamless and secure access.
  • Firewall Configuration: Discuss the need for consistent firewall configurations across on-premises and cloud environments. Ensure that security policies are synchronized to prevent vulnerabilities and maintain a consistent security posture.

Integration and Interoperability:

  • API Compatibility: Highlight the significance of ensuring compatibility between on-premises and cloud environments through well-defined APIs (Application Programming Interfaces). This facilitates seamless integration and data exchange between systems.
  • Compatibility with Legacy Systems: Discuss the challenges and considerations when integrating with legacy systems. Address compatibility issues and explore solutions, such as middleware, to bridge the gap between on-premises and cloud technologies.

Optimizing Performance:

  • Content Delivery Networks (CDNs): Discuss the role of CDNs in optimizing the performance of on-premises to cloud connections. CDNs cache content at edge locations, reducing latency and improving the overall user experience.
  • Traffic Routing: Explain how intelligent traffic routing, load balancing, and route optimization can be employed to ensure efficient data transfer between on-premises and cloud environments. Consider solutions like Anycast for distributing traffic effectively.
  • Monitoring and Analytics: Emphasize the importance of continuous monitoring and analytics to identify performance bottlenecks. Tools like network performance monitors and cloud-based analytics platforms can provide insights into the health of the connected infrastructure.

Cost Considerations:

  • Data Transfer Costs: Discuss the potential costs associated with data transfer between on-premises and cloud environments. Evaluate the pricing models of cloud service providers and optimize data transfer patterns to minimize costs.
  • Resource Scaling: Consider the scalability of resources in the cloud and how it impacts overall costs. Discuss strategies for scaling resources dynamically based on demand to optimize both performance and costs.

Ensure that your analysis is clear, well-organized, and provides practical insights into the complexities and considerations involved in connecting on-premises networks with cloud environments.

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