Monday, July 16, 2007

Network Switching (Part III)

Network Design

When designing or upgrading your network, you need to keep some basic rules of segmenting in mind. You segment your network primarily to relieve network congestion and route data as quickly and efficiently as possible. Segmentation is often necessary to satisfy the bandwidth requirements of a new application or type of information that the network needs to support. Other times, it may be needed due to the increased traffic inthe segment or subnet. You should also plan for increased levels of network usage or unplanned increases in network population.Some areas you need to consider are the types of nodes, user groups, security needs, population of the network, applications used, and the network needs for all the interfaces on the network. When designing your network, you should create it in a hierarchical manner. Doing so provides you with the ability to easily make additions to your network. Another important consideration should be how your data flows through the network.For example, let’s say your users are intermingled with your servers in the same geographical location. If you create a switched network in which the users’ data must be switched through a number of links to another geographical area and then back again to create a connection between the users and file servers, you have not designed the most efficient path to the destination.Single points of failure need to be analyzed, as well. As we stated earlier, every large−network user has suffered through his or her share of network outages and downtime. By analyzing all the possible points of failure, you can implement redundancy in the network and avoid many network outages. Redundancy is the addition of an alternate path through the network. In the event of a network failure, the alternate paths can be used to continue forwarding data throughout the network.The last principle that you should consider when designing your network is the behavior of the different protocols. The actual switching point for data does not have to be the physical wire level. Your data can be rerouted at the Data Link and Network layers, as well. Some protocols introduce more network traffic than others. Those operating at Layer 2 can be encapsulated or tagged to create a Layer−3−like environment. This environment allows the implementation of switching, and thereby provides security, protocol priority, and Quality of Service (QoS) features through the use of Application−Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs) instead of the CPU on the switch. ASICs are much faster than CPUs. ASICs are silicon chips that provide only one or two specific tasks faster than a CPU. Because they process data in silicon and are assigned to a certain task, less processing time is needed, and data is forwarded with less latency and more efficiency to the end destinations.In order to understand how switches work, we need to understand how collision domains and broadcast domains differ.

Collision Domains

A switch can be considered a high−speed multiport bridge that allows almost maximum wire−speed transfers. Dividing the local geographical network into smaller segments reduces the number of interfaces in each segment. Doing so will increase the amount of bandwidth available to all the interfaces. Each smaller segment is considered a collision domain.In the case of switching, each port on the switch is its own collision domain. The most optimal switching configuration places only one interface on each port of a switch, making the collision domain two nodes: the switch port interface and the interface of the end machine.Let’s look at a small collision domain consisting of two PCs and a server, shown in Figure 1.4. Notice that if both PCs in the network transmit data at the same time, the data will collide in the network because all three computers are in their own collision domain. If each PC and server was on its own port on the switch, each would be in its own collision domain.

Figure 1.4: A small collision domain consisting of two PCs sending data simultaneously to a server.

Switch ports are assigned to virtual LANs (VLANs) to segment the network into smaller broadcast domains. If you are using a node attached to a switch port assigned to a VLAN, broadcasts will only be received from members of your assigned VLAN. When the switch is set up and each port is assigned to a VLAN, a broadcast sent in VLAN 1 is seen by those ports assigned to VLAN 1 even if they are on other switches attached by trunk links. A switch port can be a member of only one VLAN and requires a Layer 3 device such as an internal route processor or router to route data from one VLAN to another.Although the nodes on each port are in their own collision domain, the broadcast domain consists of all of the ports assigned to a particular VLAN. Therefore, when a broadcast is sent from a node in VLAN 1, all the devices attached to ports assigned to VLAN 1 will receive that broadcast. The switch segments the users connected to other ports, thereby preventing data collisions. For this reason, when traffic remains local to each segment or workgroup, each user has more bandwidth available than if all the nodes are in one segment. On a physical link between the port on the switch and a workstation in a VLAN with very few nodes, data can be sent at almost 100 percent of the physical wire speed. The reason? Virtually no data collisions. If the VLAN contains many nodes, the broadcast domain is larger and more broadcasts must be processed by all ports on the switch belonging to each VLAN. The number of ports assigned to a VLAN make up the broadcast domain, which is discussed in the following section.

Broadcast Domains

In switched environments, broadcast domains consist of all the ports or collision domains belonging to a VLAN. In a flat network topology, your collision domain and your broadcast domain are all the interfaces in your segment or subnet. If no devices (such as a switch or a router) divide your network, you have only one broadcast domain. On some switches, the number of broadcast domains or VLANs that can be configured is almost limitless. VLANs allow a switch to divide the network segment into multiple broadcast domains. Each port becomes its own collision domain. Figure 1.5 shows an example of a properly switched network.

Figure 1.5: An example of a properly switched network.

Note Switching technology complements routing technology, and each has its place in the network. The valueof routing technology is most noticeable when you get to larger networks that utilize WAN solutions in the network environment.


Anonymous said...

Im definitly not for your scheme 1.5.
if one switch of your distribution layer break all your access layer will be blocked.
i think the best solution is to have a stack of switches directly connected to your core layer (two link per stack). the stacking is better than the cascading.
you can contact me at celsiux / at / hotmail \ dot / com if you want.

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