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Network Topology: Types and Functions Explained

The word "topology" originates from the Greek terms "topo" and "logy," which respectively mean "place" and "study." In computer networks, topology refers to the physical connections and logical flow of information within a network. It encompasses the interconnection of devices and their communication methods. If you want to delve deeper into topology networks and their various types, continue reading to expand your knowledge.

Table of ContentsThe following sections will give you detailed information on:

  1. What is network topology?
  2. Importance of Topology in Networking
  3. How does network topology work?
  4. Benefits of Network Topology
  5. Types of Network Topology
  6. Factors to Consider When Choosing a Network Topology
  7. How to Select a Network Topology?
  8. Tools Help Manage and Monitor Networks?
  9. Conclusion
  10. FAQs

What Is Network Topology?

A topology network refers to organising nodes and connections, encompassing physical and logical aspects. Nodes typically include devices like switches, routers, and software that perform similar functions. Network topologies are often visualised as graphs, illustrating the relationships between nodes and traffic flow.

Network topologies provide information about network structures and the paths taken by data. By examining topology network diagrams, administrators can determine optimal node placements and the most efficient routes for data flow. A well-designed and planned network topology enables organisations to quickly identify faults and address issues, improving data transfer efficiency.

The topology network comprises two main components: physical topology and logical topology. Topology network diagrams depict devices as nodes and represent their connections with lines. The specific type of network topology employed depends on the desired arrangement of the network.

Importance of Topology in Networking 

The importance of a topology network is as follows:

  • It impacts how the network functions significantly.
  • It helps IT administrators comprehend how the complete network infrastructure has been organized. 
  • It allows you to view the geographic visualization of the distributed network.
  • Topology network also explains how the applications and devices impact the others within the network.
  • It aids in finding and resolving the systemwide issues.

Network Topology Types and Functions Explained

Purpose of Topology in Networking

The purpose of a topology network in networking is as follows:

  • It ensures ease of onboarding and training.
  • A good topology can help ensure smooth communication.
  • The most essential feature of a topology network is its cost-effectiveness.
  • Topologies conduct network health diagnostics by identifying the problematic areas in the networks.

How Does Network Topology Work?

The working of the topology network can be summarized as follows:

  • The topology network diagrams must be made before constructing the work.
  • The network admins learn about the components constituting the network and their interaction.
  • The following processes begin with listing all the devices within the network, such as firewalls, servers, routers etc.
  • Then, you must choose the topology network type.
  • After listing the devices and selecting the type of topology network, you must construct the diagram.
  • The devices are positioned in suitable areas considering the data flow.
  • Lines from the network devices resemble the connections made by the network nodes. 
  • The lines must not overlap each other but be clear and legible.
  • While creating this diagram, future modifications and scalability are also considered.
  • After creating the rough sketch showing the general input, one must map the entire sketch using diagram software.
  • The final step includes naming the network nodes and color-coding the lines to make the diagram understandable and readable. 

Benefits of Network Topology 

The benefits of topology in computer networks are as follows:

  • For various small networks, bus topology is an excellent function.
  • Ring topology helps to transmit the data equally via each node as it is an organized network.
  • The mesh topology is a viable option for sending the data seamlessly across heavy traffic.

Types of Network Topology

Topology in a computer network configures a network of nodes and connects lines via sender and receiver. The different network topologies include:

Physical Network Topology

Regardless of the physical structure, logical topology in computer network specifies how data is transported. Physical topology describes the arrangement of devices and connections.

H3; Logical Network Topology

A logical topology in computer network defines how data moves between computers. It establishes the path data will take as it travels through the network and is tied to a network protocol. In other terms, it refers to how the gadgets interact among themselves.

Explanation of Each Type of Network Topology in Detail

Now we have understood what is network topology, let’s understand each type of network topology in detail.

Bus Topology

A single communication channel called a bus connects each device or node. The network's gadgets are connected via the bus, its backbone. This architecture is straightforward and inexpensive, but if the bus fails, the SPOF or single point of failure may pause the entire network.

How Bus Topology Works, Its Benefits, And Its Limitations 

The stations are connected via one cable called the backbone. It works as a communication channel. When the device tries to transmit the data, it delivers a signal to the bus and travels in both directions along this cable, where each device receives the signal on the network. But only the device having the same address will process the data, and other devices will ignore it. The terminators are positioned at each end of the bus, which helps absorb the signal while ensuring adequate signal transmission and preventing reflections.

Benefits:

  • Setting up bus topology in computer network is easy and cost-effective.
  • Adding new devices to the bus network is comparatively simple.
  • It supports moderate data speeds, and if one node fails, it won't affect the other nodes. 

Limitations:

  • Bus network topology is simple but involves too much cabling.
  • If one of the cables fails, it will disrupt the entire network.
  • With the increasing number of devices within the bus network, it may experience congestion and reduced performance.

Ring Topology

Data travels one way around the closed loop that connects all the network's nodes. To prevent the failure of the entire network due to a failure in the ring, redundancy is typically included in ring topologies.

H4; How ring topology works, its benefits, and its limitations

The ring topology is like the bus topology in computer network, but it has connected ends. The node retransmits to the next node when it receives the message from another computer. Data is usually unidirectional. It means that this only goes in one way. An infinite loop refers to the continuous data flow in the single loop. There isn’t any terminated end, and every node is connected to all the other nodes, and it lacks a termination point. The data flows in clockwise direction in this topology. Token passing is the ring topology's most used access technique.

Benefits:

  • High-speed data transfer is used.
  • With this kind of architecture, collision risk is minimal.
  • Easy to extend and install.

Limitations:

  • A single network node failing can potentially bring the entire system down.
  • In this topology, troubleshooting is challenging.
  • It is less secure.

Star Topology

The central hub or switch is the connection point for all network nodes. Each device has a unique connection to the hub or switch, which serves as the communication's focal point. This architecture is common because it is simple to administer, and a break in one link does not impact the other devices.

How star topology works, its benefits, and its limitations

The other connected devices function as clients in a star architecture, while the hub and switch work as servers. This architecture is more secure since data does not transit via every node, and just one input-output port and cable are needed to link a node to the central device.

Benefits:

  • N cables are needed to link N devices connected in a star topology. So, setting it up is simple.
  • Because each device only needs one port to connect to the hub, the total number of ports needed is N.
  • It is Strong. Only one link will be impacted if one of the links fails.

Limitations:

  • The entire system will collapse if the concentrator (hub) on which the entire topology depends fails.
  • The installation fee is expensive.
  • The performance is based on the hub or one concentrator.

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Mesh Topology

Every node in the network directly connects to some or all other nodes. This architecture is fault-tolerant because of the redundancy, although constructing and consuming more bandwidth can be costly.

How mesh topology works, its benefits, and its limitations

Mesh topology in a computer network is a configuration where devices are connected to each other by several redundant connections. Several ways can help to go from one computer to the other. It does not have a hub, switch, or central computer. Mesh topology is visible on the Internet. In the WAN systems, communication failures can be a severe issue, mesh network topology is mainly employed. 

Benefits:

  • Direct contact is facilitated through dedicated connections.
  • There are no channel traffic or congestion issues.
  • It offers fast communication.

Limitations:

  • Very high cabling is necessary.
  • Implementation is not cost-effective.
  • Installation and upkeep are highly challenging.

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Hybrid Topology 

Hybrid topology in computer networks is referred to as combining more than two different topologies and comparable topologies linked that doesn’t produce hybrid topology.

How hybrid topology works, its benefits, and its limitations

Hybrid topology in computer networks refers to integrating multiple distinct topologies to establish network connections and facilitate data transfer. It involves combining different types of links and nodes within a network. Hybrid topology occurs when two or more different topologies are merged, resulting in a unified network structure. However, it does not qualify as a hybrid topology if similar topologies are interconnected without any variation.

Benefits:

  • This topology is highly adaptable.
  • It is dependable,
  • This topology makes growing the network's size simple by including additional devices.

Limitations:

  • The Hybrid Network's architecture is challenging to design.
  • The pricey hubs utilized in this topology add to the complexity.
  • Because a hybrid network needs a lot of cabling and networking equipment, the infrastructure cost is quite expensive.

Network Topology Types and Functions Explained

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Network Topology

There are six main factors you want to consider when choosing a topology network:

  • Your budget
  • Hardware resources
  • Ease of implementation
  • Size of network
  • Reliability
  • Future expansion

How to Select a Network Topology?

When selecting a topology in computer network, several factors come into play, with size, scale, and cost being the primary considerations. However, it is crucial to consider long-term aspects such as configuration management, monitoring, and overall performance.

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Tools Help to Manage and Monitor Networks?

Several tools that help to manage and monitor networks include:

  • Network monitoring tools
  • Network configuration management tools
  • Packet sniffers and protocol analysers
  • Network performance monitoring tools

Conclusion

Network topology has a crucial role when determining the computer network's performance, structure, and resilience. Hopefully, this post has helped you comprehend network topology and its types in detail so you can apply it successfully. Check out the DevOps Engineering Course by Hero Vired to Excel in the field.

About the Author

Hero Vired's faculty comprises industry practitioners from renowned organisations and institutions who serve as a source of inspiration and motivation for the learners.

FAQ's

You may choose the right topology in computer network based on the network's cost, scale and size.
The network topology explains the network structure and how each component is interconnected.
The different types of topologies in computer network are Physical topology and Logical topology, now physical topology is further categories into following: Physical Topology
  • Point to point
  • Star
  • Bus
  • Ring
  • Mesh
  • Hybrid
  • Tree
A network can exhibit a singular physical topology while concurrently supporting multiple distinct logical topologies.
The alternatives to traditional network topology include:
  • Mesh Topology
  • Virtualized Networks
  • Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Networks
  • Tree-Based Hierarchical Networks
  • Hybrid Topologies

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