6 Types of Enterprise Network Topologies – TechTarget | Region & Cash

No two networks are designed and built the same. One company can have drastically different goals for network deployment than another. Network professionals customize each system to meet levels of access, control, and performance based on an organization’s goals.

However, enterprise-class networking technologies come with their own limitations, requiring network professionals to build networks based on how the devices work. Most network topologies – which include network equipment and additional software – are flexible, but also have some specific deployment methods.

Here’s a look at six popular types of network topologies. Some legacy topologies are rarely used, while others are newer and offer better performance, reliability, and security. Let’s look at each topology type and how it works.

1. Bus network topology

A bus network topology consists of a flat network in which all devices, so-called stations, connect directly and transfer data between each other. From an intelligence perspective, bus networks are inherently simplistic when it comes to transmitting and retransmitting data.

When a station sends data, the bus automatically sends it to all other stations. Only the destination station accepts the transmission; All other devices can recognize that the traffic is not intended for them and ignore the communication.

Despite its simplicity, however, a bus topology is sometimes inefficient because it sends data to all devices on a network. This can cause network congestion and affect performance. As a result, bus networks are rarely used in modern enterprise environments.

2. Ring network topology

A ring topology is a configuration in which each device is directly connected to two other devices on a network, forming a continuous circle in a non-hierarchical structure. Data sent to a specific device travels from device to device in the ring until it reaches its intended destination. In some cases, the data is transmitted in a single direction around the ring. In others, transport is bidirectional.

In the early days of token ring networking, data traveled around the ring, touching each endpoint NIC until the data reached its destination. Nowadays there are ring networks such as e.g. B. Synchronous Optical Network, made up of network switches that form a ring.

Six types of network topologies

3. Mesh network topology

A mesh topology is another non-hierarchical structure where each network node is directly connected to all others. Mesh topologies ensure tremendous network resiliency, as there is no failure or loss of connectivity if a connection is lost. Instead, traffic is simply redirected to a different path.

However, the caveat with using a mesh topology is that it increases the complexity of the architecture. This also significantly increases the number of network cables required if the mesh uses wired connections. To avoid cabling problems, companies typically move mesh networks to wireless systems, such as B. Wi-Fi based mesh deployments.

4. Star network topology

A star topology, also known as a Hub and spoke topology, uses a central node – typically a router or a Layer 2 or Layer 3 switch. Unlike a bus topology, which simply broadcasts transmitted frames to all connected endpoints, a star topology uses components that have an additional level of built-in intelligence.

Layer 2 switches maintain a MAC (Dynamic Media Access Control) address table in star topology deployments. The table maps a device’s MAC address to its attached physical switch port. When a packet travels to a specific MAC address on a LAN, the switch performs a lookup of the MAC address table to determine the frame’s destination port. This greatly reduces the amount of unnecessary broadcast traffic that can cause a bottleneck.

Using a Layer 3 device as the central node of the star topology enables IP addressing and routing tables to direct traffic and send it to a single destination.

5. Tree network topology

A tree topology is a hierarchical structure in which nodes are linked and arranged like a tree when drawn in the form of a network diagram. Network professionals typically deploy tree topologies with core, distribution, and access layers.

At the top of the tree is the core layer, which is responsible for high-speed transport from one part of a network to another. The distribution layer in the middle of the tree performs similar transport tasks as the core, but at a more localized level. At the distribution level, network administrators also apply access control lists and quality of service policies. At the bottom of the tree is the access layer, through which end devices connect to the network.

The leaf-spine network topology is a form of tree topology that is becoming increasingly popular in the data center. A leaf-spine topology adheres to the hierarchical structure of a tree model, but has only two layers as opposed to the traditional three. Leaf-spine network switch components are responsible for high-speed transport throughout the data center; Leaf switches fully mesh into spine nodes and are responsible for connecting application, database and storage servers to the data center.

6. Hybrid network topology

Enterprise networks often use more than one type of network topology. One topology may be more preferable than another, depending on performance, reliability, and cost factors. For example, a network expert can configure a wireless LAN that uses a star topology for most network connections, but also uses a wireless mesh network in certain situations, e.g. B. when a network cable cannot connect to an access point.

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