In a computer network, network topology determines how the network is connected. There are different methods to connect a network. Network engineers have different alternatives for selecting a network topology. The different tasks in network topology management mainly include visual mapping, configuration management, monitoring of performance, but the solution is to understand your requirements for forming as well as managing the network topology in the correct method for your industry. For that, this article discusses an overview of network topology in a computer network, types, and their working.
What is Network Topology in Computer Network?
Definition: Network topology is the geometric representation of how different components are interconnected in a computer network. The functionality of a network can make or break the arrangement connectivity & protection of a network. This topology can be classified into two types like physical topology & logical topology.
The physical network topology defines how the actual connections are arranged in the network using wires, cables, etc. For this network, maintenance, setup & provisioning tasks need insight. The logical type is a higher-level design where the network is arranged using nodes. The network topology diagram is shown below.
This kind of topology comprises any cloud & virtual resources. Efficient network management for monitoring needs a strong grasp for both the topologies to make sure your network topology is capable & healthy. There are five types of network topology like Mesh, Ring Bus, Star, and Hybrid.
Why Network Topology is Essential?
The network layout is significant for many reasons, so it plays a crucial role in network functioning. Selecting the correct topology Choosing the right topology can enhance the performance of your company so that faults locating, troubleshooting errors is simple & more efficiently allot resources across the computer network to make sure best possible network health.
An efficient network that is managed properly can enhance the efficiency of data and energy so that it can assist to decrease maintenance and operational prices.
Generally, the structure and design of a network can be illustrated through a diagram to provide a visual representation for both layouts. So, an administrator can observe the network connection among different devices while troubleshooting.
- It plays a key role within the network’s functioning.
- Networking components & resources can be used effectively
- Networking concepts can be easily understand
- Error detection is simple.
- Gives the best performance.
- It determines the type of media, used to connect a network.
- Reduces the cost of operational & maintenance costs like cabling costs.
Link is nothing but a transmission media that is mainly used to fix the nodes within your local area network which is called Ethernet. It includes optical fiber, wireless networking & Ethernet cables. Links are available in two categories which include the following.
- Wired Technology
- Wireless Technology
The selection of wired/wireless technology for your industry network can be done based on several factors where the price is the key factor. Particularly for businesses that range from small size to medium, wireless technology may offer an overall saving.
In a computer network, a node is a redistribution end that is used to send, receive, store or create the data using the network routes to other types of network nodes. In topology, generally, nodes are devices that are attached through the links. The common network nodes used in designing a computer network mainly include the following.
- NICs – Network Interface Cards
- Repeater & Hub
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Types of Network Topology
The different types of network topology are discussed below.
- Point to Point
- Daisy Chain
Point to Point
The point-to-point network topology is very simple where the two nodes are directly connected with the help of a common link. The whole bandwidth of this link can be set aside for data transmission among two nodes. This kind of network connection uses a cable or wire to fix the two ends, however other options like microwaves, satellite links are also feasible.
The point-to-point connection is mainly established between TV and remote because the remote is used to change the channels. For that point-to-point connection is used between TV remote and TV. In this kind of topology, the data transmission can be done in several methods across the computer network like a simplex mode, half-duplex mode & full-duplex mode.
In simplex mode, the signal communication can be done in a single direction like one node transmits whereas another node receives. In Half-duplex mode, the signal communication can be done like this, every node can broadcast & receive however NOT together. In Full-duplex mode, the communication of signal can be done at both stations by transmitting & receiving concurrently.
The advantages of point to point topology include the following
- Bandwidth is maximum
- It allows two nodes so it is very fast
- Connection is very simple due to two nodes
- Less Latency
- Easy to maintain & handle
- In less time, a node can be changed
The disadvantages of point-to-point topology include the following.
- This kind of topology is only applicable in small areas wherever network nodes are closely situated.
- The whole network mainly depends on the ordinary channel because if the link gets damaged then the whole network will turn out dead.
- This network topology uses only two nodes so if any one of these nodes will not work properly then the remaining node will not work. So data transfer cannot be done at the network.
The applications of point-to-point topology include the following.
- Point to point type is used for the transmission of data and signals effectively across the computer network
- When the topology is connected to the two network nodes directly using any medium, so data transmission can be done easily
- The communication efficiency enhances once the network employs this topology & the data can be transferred in special communication channel modes. This channel comprises simplex, half-duplex & full-duplex modes which help in transmitting the signals across the computer network very efficiently.
In a daisy chain network topology, the connection of one network node can be done to the next network node in a chain or a line without any dominant devices. So the message can be transmitted from one computer to other, then to the next one. This kind of topology is linear, wherever the primary and final nodes are not linked. So this network is one of the easiest network topologies to include several computer devices into the computer network. A Daisy Chain can be linear or ring.
This type of method is mainly used by administrators of the system to include more otherwise latest machines toward the network. However, it mainly depends on the type of topology we are using. For example, if we are utilizing a point-to-point type, we should include the latest device at the ending of the chain. But, in the ring-type topology, there is no last point, so the additional node will turn into an element of the topology.
These network topologies are classified into two types like linear daisy and ring daisy. In a linear daisy chain, the connection of a single computer can be done to the next one through the 2-way wire connection whereas, in the ring daisy chain topology, a single computer can become a part of the ring network by being placed within the center of the chain.
The advantages of daisy chain network topology include the following
- Additional cables are not required
- The transmission of data is fast & simple
- Construction is less cost
The disadvantages of daisy chain network topology include the following
- The speed of the entire network can be reduced if the number of nodes increases.
- It permits the station to transmit & receive the information in a two-way manner. Thus, all the computer needs two transmitters & receivers for communication.
The applications of daisy chain network topology include the following
- It is used to direct the network nodes’ connection as well as the computer nodes. It is a usual type of topology.
- The ring daisy chain includes many benefits as compared to the linear daisy network due to the 2-way links. When the ring breaks, then transmission occurs within the reversible lane through verifying the connectivity. Therefore it is used in the MAN (Metropolitan Area Network).
In a star network topology, an arrangement of each node can be done to the central hub, central computer, or switch. Here, a server is nothing but a central hub and the different devices are connected to the server called clients. The interconnection of computers can be done through RJ45 cable or coaxial cable. As connected devices, switches or hubs are used within this topology. In an implementation of a network, this type of topology is mostly used.
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The advantages of star topology include the following.
- Troubleshooting can be done efficiently
- Data speed is high
- Controlling of the network is possible
- Failure can be restricted
- Simply flexible:
- Well-known technology
- The disadvantages of star topology include the following.
- It is commercial
- If the connection of one node breaks, then it does not influence the other connections or computers.
- Without interrupting the network, different devices can be included otherwise detached.
- It works under heavy loads
- Suitable for huge networks
- The performance can be determined through the central network device
- If the central hub, computer, or switch fails, then the whole network will drop & all computers are detached from the network.
The applications of star topology include the following.
- Star network topology is used in different locations because of readily available as well as cheap equipment.
- In most of the colleges, this technology is used in computer labs for connecting different nodes w
- In bank sectors, this topology is used to connect different banking users.
- Home networks can be connected by using this topology.
Ring network topology is similar to bus topology except for connected ends. Generally, this kind of topology is separated into two types namely unidirectional and bidirectional. These topologies allow packets to move simply in a single direction so it is known as a unidirectional ring network whereas others allow data to move in any direction, which is known as bidirectional.
In this topology, every device can be connected by using two devices to form a circular lane. The data transmission can be done from one device to other until the data achieves the target through tokens so this is known as a token ring topology. So, when we connect different computers as well as other network nodes within the configuration of ring topology, then the computer network is known as a ring network.
The advantages of ring network topology include the following.
- Network Management
- Availability of Product
- Less Cost
- Installation is easy.
- Managing is easier for adding or removing a device from the ring topology. For that, simply two links are necessary.
The disadvantages of ring network topology include the following.
- Difficult for troubleshooting
- Network Failure due to the breakdown in one station
- Reconfiguration is not easy
- Communication Delay
- The entire network can be damaged due to link failure, so the signal will not move ahead.
- Data traffic issues can occur when all the data is moving within a ring.
The applications of ring network topology include the following.
- Ring network topology is used in a LAN (Local area network) & a WAN (Wide area network).
- This kind of topology is used in Synchronous optical network (SONET) fiber in the field of telecommunication.
- It is also applicable in educational institutions due to its low cost of operation.
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In a bus network topology, the connection of all the devices can be done through a single cable with drop lines. Here, a tap is a device, used to connect the drop line toward the single cable.
The designing of this topology can be done by using a single cable to connect all the stations which are called a backbone cable. Every node can be connected to this single cable through a drop cable otherwise connected directly to this cable.
Once a node requires transmitting a message on the network, then it places a message on the network so that all the stations which are connected in the network will get the message. This kind of topology is mostly used in standard networks like 802.4 & 802.3.
The advantages of bus network topology include the following.
- These network topologies are cost-effective and suitable for smaller networks due to simple layout
- All the devices can be connected through a single coaxial otherwise RJ45 cable.
- Additional nodes can be added if required by connecting extra cables
- Installation is easy and every cable requires to be connected through a single cable
- As compared to other networks, fewer cables needed
The disadvantages of bus network topology include the following.
- The single cable used in this network is somewhat exposed.
- If the cable is damaged then the whole network can also go down
- These networks are not suitable for networks that have huge traffic
- Wide cabling
- Troubleshooting is difficult
- Signal interference
- Difficult reconfiguration
The applications of bus network topology include the following.
- This kind of network topology is mainly used for local area networks where the computers are connected through the thinnest cable.
- These topologies are mainly applicable once a small & temporary network is required that does not depend on extremely high speeds of data transfer. They are used in the areas of offices or laboratories.
A mesh network topology is used to connect each network device as well as a computer with one another. This kind of topology allows for several transmissions to be scattered even if any connections go down. This kind of topology is mainly used for wireless networks.
In this topology, the interconnection of nodes can be done completely to each other through a dedicated link throughout which data can move from nodes to nodes. In mesh, if the nodes are ‘N’ then there are N (N-1)/2 links. Each node has a feature like a point-to-point link toward the parallel node. The connections in this type of topology are frequently wired or wireless
There are two types of mesh network technologies like full mesh as well as incompletely connected mesh. In the first type, each computer within the network includes a link with the other computers. In this network, the number of connections can be measured by using this formula like N (N-1)/2.
In a mesh topology that is connected incompletely, as a minimum two of the computers within the network include connections with other several computers in that network. It is an economical method to execute redundancy within a network. If one of the main connections or computers within the network not succeeds, then the remaining network continues to work normally.
The advantages of mesh network topology include the following.
- In the network, if any one of the devices fails then it does not cause any break to data transmission.
- Including extra devices does not interrupt the transmission of data among other devices.
- This topology high traffic as several devices can broadcast data simultaneously.
The disadvantages of mesh network topology include the following.
- As compared to other topology, mesh topology is expensive to implement
- Difficult to build, maintain, and time-consuming.
- The unnecessary connections possibility is high
The applications of mesh network topology include the following.
- This network topology is used wherever the network reliability communication is extremely significant
- This kind of topology is used by military organizations to evade breakdowns within communication
- These network topologies are used to assist while monitoring traffic flow, street light control, and sewage treatment.
- These network topologies are used in crisis services like fire, police services and also to ensure that communication is consistent
- These networks are used by utility companies to allow smart meters to transmit readings automatically.
In a tree network topology, the connection of different devices can be done like tree branches. These types of topologies are used frequently to connect the computers in a corporate system. In this topology, there is simply one link among any two nodes which are connected because; these two nodes include simply one mutual connection that will make a normal parent & child hierarchy.
In computer networks, this type of topology is also called a star bus topology and it includes both the elements of a star & bus topology. This kind of topology is more effective in particular cases like communication among two different networks. The structure of the network needs different nodes like root, lead, and intermediate. Tree network topologies are classified into three types namely bus tree, spanning tree & cluster tree.
The advantages of tree network topology include the following.
- This kind of network topology is the combination of two topologies like star and bus
- It provides high scalability, as leaf nodes can add more nodes to the hierarchical chain.
- If one of the nodes within the network gets damage then the remaining nodes will not affect.
- Fault identification and maintenance is easy
- It is supported through different vendors of software & hardware
- Scalable like leaf nodes can contain more nodes within the hierarchical sequence.
- A point to point wiring toward the middle hub on every middle node of this topology signifies a node within the bus topology
- Better flexibility & scalability
The disadvantages of tree network topology include the following.
- It needs huge cabling as compared to other topologies like star & bus.
- Maintenance is required
- The owl network will fail once a hub fails
- The configuration of this network is not simple
The applications of tree network topology include the following.
Tree topology is mainly used for recognizing the system over the network to share data across the network & permits the operators to include several servers on the network. This is the best network topology as the signals are transmitted through the root nodes which are received through all the computers simultaneously.
These topologies are used widely in database systems such as PostgreSQL, MySQL, Redis & file systems like HFS+, Ext4 & NTFS.
The combination of two or more network topologies such as mesh, ring & bus is known as hybrid network topology. The choice & usage of this network mainly depends on the required network performance, location & number of computers.
The physical implementation of this topology needs different technologies to offer a complex structure. The main benefits of this network are increasing flexibility, fault tolerance, new topologies to be removed or added easily. This kind of topology is more helpful once you require completing diversity within the network.
This kind of network topology is used in different applications because of its effective cost. As compared to other fundamental systems, the system of hybrid topology is proficient; it can also be arranged in different atmospheres. So that users can run, manage & create the organization.
The advantages of hybrid network topology include the following.
- These network topologies are Reliable, scalable, flexible, and effective.
- This kind of network topology combines the pros of other kinds of topologies
- It can be changed based on the requirement
- Troubleshooting & error detecting is very easy.
- Huge traffic can be handled
- A large network can be created by using this topology.
The disadvantages of hybrid network topology include the following.
- It is costly
- Complex design
- Installation is difficult
- To connect one topology to another, hardware changes are necessary
- Generally, these architectures are larger so they need several cables while the installation process.
The applications of hybrid network topology include the following.
- This kind of network topology is extensively used in different sectors like educational institutions, banking, financial, automated industries, research, and MNCs.
- This network topology is used in offices and homes because it is flexible and superpower arrangement
- By using this network topology, a compact is given to the small-scale industries and also other subunits. Therefore, it is the best option for buildings, homes, offices.
Main Elements to Consider while Selecting Network Topology
Selecting a suitable network topology mainly depends on the correct structure for your business depends on the size and requirements of your network. As there is no network topology is perfect. So here are some major elements we need to consider which include the following.
- Cable Length
- Type of Cable
- Resources of Hardware
- Network Size
- Simple Implementation
- Future Expansion
Generally, it is best to go for a simpler network but such a selection is ordered by the number of devices or nodes on your computer network. Particular arrangements of the network can provide your corporation a high amount of security & connectivity whereas others will include a less cost building price otherwise simple maintenance.
The selection of topology as compared to others will mainly depend on the requirements of your organization. There is no perfect network topology to use in all cases. Every topology includes its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
The best approach for choosing a network topology is firstly to deeply familiarize yourself with the various topology options. And secondly, is not to build your network based on the advantages that a certain topology offers, but rather to choose a topology that is most likely to meet your current and future business requirements. Your network infrastructure is such a critical part of your business that if you have even a shadow of a doubt about how to build your network, it is always best to consult an expert for help.
How to Map Network Topology?
Before starting to design a network, we need to check topology diagrams which allow you to observe how the data will transmit across the network and also allows you to guess potential choke points. Visual demonstration makes it very simple to form a smooth & efficient design of the network and also it acts as a good reference end if you discover yourself requiring troubleshooting faults.
The diagram of topology is also necessary for having a complete understanding of your functionality of the network. Additionally to helping through the troubleshooting method, the eye view of the bird is provided with the diagram of a topology. This topology assists you in identifying the network pieces visually where nodes require upgrading, monitoring, or replacing.
Tools for Managing & Monitoring Networks
There are some different mapping products are available in the market for network topologies like Microsoft Visio. This mapping product allows you to draw a network by including various devices and nodes in an image-like interface.
This mapping product is also applicable for minor networks, drawing every extra node rapidly becomes bulky. Because of changes within network topology & the different networks can behave differently like unique safety issues, management challenges & pressure points. It is frequently helpful to computerize configuration as well as management tasks through network software.
Tools for managing network topology mainly include configuration and troubleshooting.
Configuration of Network
Consider a management tool for the configuration of the network that can assist you to connect your network properly & computerize different tasks to reduce the pressure of a network administrator.
When the network or organization grows then the network topology will become more complex or layered. So it will become harder to arrange designs across the whole network through assurance.
But by using design management tools, the complex network topology is not a problem. Usually, these tools can auto-detect every node on the computer network by allowing you to arrange normal configurations that may be necessary for compliance reasons.
The tools like network configuration management can also emphasize vulnerabilities, so you can maintain your network more protected. At last, these tools should also exhibit the device’s lifecycle on your network so that you can change them before troubles start to occur.
- Troubleshooting of Network Performance
- The overall performance can be tracked through network management software.
- A performance management tool is used to track the issues of network, performance and its outages.
This tool includes the functionality to identify the network performance and arrange a plain network picture to notice that how the network behaves once it gets its active state. After that, by setting some alerts, you can rapidly follow, locate & troubleshoot problems.
For difficult network topologies, it is very hard to find out accurately which element of the network is having issues. Some active managers will make a chart display for your network topology so that you can observe the whole network within a single map.
This map can demonstrate to you how the network is laid out in the topology. To understand your network topology, you have to use a tool like Network Topology Mapper. This kind of tool is very helpful in discovering & generating complete topology network maps. It can also form several types of maps without rescanning your network each time.
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Thus, this is all about an overview of network topology and its types, advantages, disadvantages & its applications. From the above information, finally we can conclude that network topology is the description of an arrangement of the network through schematic diagrams, used to connect various nodes through connection lines. Here is a question for you, which network topology requires a central controller or hub?