Network Topology: A central pillar for network’s operations

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Network Topology

Future network trends may ensure long-term competitiveness for network enterprises but will fall short without applying effective network topologies.

The future network trends as promising, as they are to ensure long-term competitiveness for network enterprises, is incomplete without the application of effective network topologies.

The rising dependence of all businesses across different spectrums on networking solutions is something to ponder upon. For effective network management, network topology plans have a great deal to offer. In this article, we will be looking at various discussion points related to network topology: 

What is the Network Topology? 

Why is Network Topology Important? 

Types of Topologies  

How to check the best topology for your network? 

What Tools Help Manage and Monitor Networks? 

How will network topology help your business? 

What is the Network Topology? 

Network topology can be described as a diagrammatic description of the arrangement of a network. They typically consist of nodes (connections made inside a network for receiving, sending, creating, storing data) and connecting lines. Pretend network as a nation, and the topology as its constitution. Every topology has its share of benefits and drawbacks, but the long-term vision is to run the nation; in this case, it’s a network. Topology being a diagrammatic roadmap, aids in the visualization of communicating devices that we model as nodes. And the connection between such devices is referred to as links between the nodes. Such a network geometry can be well explained by two approaches: physical topology and logical (or signal) topology.  

Physical topology defines any network’s physical paraphernalia – placement or installation points of devices, cables, and other such components. Setup and maintenance practices are needed to keep up such physical networks.  

Logical topology defines any networks’ flow and transmission of information (data.) It typically includes virtual and cloud resources for its functioning.  

The application of network topology functions efficiently at the grace of best network topology management practices. A suitable network typology would depend on business size, budget, and primarily on goals that the network wishes to achieve.  

Why is Network Topology Important? 

The topology or the layouts of any network serve as a central pillar of the operational mechanisms of the company. It’s a choice to be made which will dictate the overall performance of the network. A wise selection will eventually lead to numerous benefits – troubleshooting errors, identifying faulty locations, allocating resources for network management, and much more. The key benefits of network topology include: 

  • Optimizing cost-benefit ratio – The experimentation done by putting out different types of topologies help you with the understanding of what works and doesn’t work for your network. Doing so helps in making the right calls, which elements are to be retained or discarded. The testing process eventually leads to commitment towards an efficient topology that can now be harnessed for growth. All such efforts result in a cumulative effect that generates a rising revenue curve.  
  • Network Diagnostics – Networks as a dynamic infrastructure setup will always encounter hassles during operations. The issue can vary from having weak links to packet loss at certain points such as A through E. But with effective topologies in place, you can always make adjustments when required. Real-time monitoring solutions help in spotting the issues directly. We can ensure the right resources to be allocated in such glitches. 
  • Accountability & Productive Communication – The topological diagrams are used as reference points or templates to keep the staff and client on the same page. Each individual or party has a fair idea of the concept and systems used for network management. Effective communication and accountability are present because of the clear understating of cause and effect.  

Types of Topologies:

As there are plenty of nations with a different set of constitutions, and so are the topologies. Each network topology advantages and disadvantages are worth noting for making a decision. The basic network topologies are: 

Bus Topology – The bus network topology is based on single cable connectivity. The transmission of data from one end to another is performed in a single direction. Every computer or network device operates via the connection of a single cable. The drop lines keep the modes connected to the channel.  

Bus Topology

Star Topology – The most commonly used topology is star network topology. It’s laid out to make sure every node in the network is directly connected to a single central hub. It is done via either fibre optic cable or coaxial, twisted pair cables. The prime benefit of star topology is its ability to prevent data loss. All the data transmission is managed by the central hub and also contributes as a repeater.

Ring Topology – Ring network topology forms a ring for connecting devices but with its exact two neighbouring devices. Due to such a mechanism, packets have to travel via the circles and intermediate nodes to reach the destination. In such a scenario, data loss is possible, so repeaters are used for packets to arrive correctly. Such a topology is easy to install and is cost-effective. Networks with ring topology act like a half-duplex, which essentially means data will always travel in one direction. Still, it can also be turned into a full-duplex by introducing a second connection. A second connection between nodes will allow data to be sent both clockwise and counterclockwise. Such an arrangement is called dual-ring topology.  

Ring Topology

Tree Topology – A combination of star and bus topology defines tree topology really well. A parent-child hierarchy is followed for the connection of nodes in this type of network topology. The ones connected to the central hub are linearly connected with other nodes. Thus, any two connected nodes have a single mutual connection. Such a topology is quite scalable and is proven to be a good fit for wide area networks where spread-out devices need heavy support.  

Tree Topology

Mesh Topology – The concept of mesh network topology works on point-to-point connections. Either node is completely interconnected (full mesh) or partially connected (partial mesh). Routing and flooding are two ways to transmit data. The nodes have to use logic for finding the shortest distance whenever the data is routed. And whenever data is flooded, the information is eventually sent to all the nodes. Such topologies are highly resistant to failure because of its complex interconnectivity.  

Mesh Topology
Source: COBNAU

Hybrid Topology – The hybrid network topology follows an integrative approach – a combination of two or more topology structures. The most common hybrid networks are the star bus network and starring network.  

  • A star bus network consists of at least two-star topologies which are connected using a bus trunk. 
  • A star ring network consists of at least two-star topologies which are connected using a centralized hub. 

How to check the best topology for your network? 

Several topology options are available, but choosing one shouldn’t be a conundrum if you set the right parameters for making a decision. It is also about acquiring awareness by conducting thorough research and even consulting experts to learn about possible options. 

  • Cable length – How much cable is used for setting up a network decides how much work it shall require for the setup. Mesh networks are labour-intensive and cable oriented. However, bus and star topologies are lightweight and have needless cable involvement.  
  • Cable type – Deciding what cable type is to be used has to be a conscious choice. The wiring selection would depend on the requirements of the network. Such details include the transmission distance, applications being used, performance goals, etc.
  • Cost – The two basic costs involved are installation and operational costs. For instance, opting for optical fibre cables would be a poor choice if one has decided to go with the mesh topology setup. The key to finding the right match for your network is striking a justified balance between the operational and installation costs. 
  • Scalability – If a company has a long-term vision and would be interested in making amends for expansion, then choosing a flexible network topology would be best. In such a scenario, one should consider star topology as it gives you the liberty of altering, adding, or removal of nodes with less noise.  

What Tools Help Manage and Monitor Networks? 

Monitoring and management of networks do require certain network topology mapping products. Such software’s help you with the drawing aspects. Different software’s can cater for the needs of different topologies. The popular ones include Microsoft Visio, Lucidchart and LibreOffice Draw.  

The two basic purposes of using such tools are network configurations and network performance troubleshooting.  

Network Configuration – The foremost tool one should be using is a network configuration tool for the following reasons: 

  • Automation of repetitive tasks for easing off the workload of a network administrator. 
  • Whenever changes are made, especially in complex network topologies, the chances of errors are quite high. But such tools are competent enough to auto-detect each of the nodes. Such exposure can prepare you for the changes. 
  • Such tools can also raise red flags, making amends to make the network even more secure.  

Network Performance Troubleshooting – Performance manager tools can help you in the following ways: 

  • Tracking of outages and general performance issues 
  • Baselines can be set up to create performance benchmarks. You can be alerted whenever the performance dips or underperformance is reported as per the baselines.  
  • One-map (visual display of the entire network) overviews for identifying the exact location, creating issues.  

How will network topology help your business? 

Any network topology put in action will help in understanding two vital aspects of network performance. One is the in-depth understanding of different elements of the network along with where they connect. The second is how will the network choose to behave and in predicting the desired performance.  

Working on and with network topologies provide you with the expertise of experienced professionals. The engineers working for the company get to learn how the networks behave by analyzing the knock-on effects. Having such insights is of immense help to the engineers.  

Any network topology setup is no less than setting up a system meant to understand the network better and achieve the goals of creating effective communication to ensure proper accountability, reduce costs, promote productivity, and become familiar with the network’s problems. Regardless of business size, a network topology has various benefits to offer, which leads to healthy network optimization.  

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