A topology is a layout of a network, which determines how the network communicates with different devices. Both the physical and logical structure of nodes and connections in a network are shown in network topology diagram.
Network topology software is best used by IT administrators to determine the right layout for each node and aid the traffic flow. A well-designed network topology enables an organization to double down on issues quickly, resolve them, and have the network functioning at the most efficient data transfer rate.
Network topologies are classed into physical and logical topologies. Physical topologies showcase the actual physical wired layout, showing where and how exactly the network is connected. Logical topologies show the logical network path along which data travels from one end to the other. Some of the primary network topologies are bus, ring, star and mesh topologies.
Star topology: Star topology is the most commonly used topology system. Every node connects to a central network device in this layout, like a hub, switch or computer. Star topology is centralized in nature, making it user-friendly, reliable, and easy to manage. However, star topology involves high costs and requires continuous maintenance.
Bus topology: In bus topology, every workstation is connected in a series to the main central cable. The simple linear layout and cost efficiency makes it ideal for small networks. However, bus topology tends to be slow for larger networks, and problem identification is difficult in this topology in the event of a network failure.
Ring topology: In a ring topology, network devices are cabled together so that the last network device will be connected to the first. Each device connects to exactly two devices, forming a continuous ring. Ring topology is cost-efficient, with minimum chances of packet collision. However, ring topology is dependent on one cable, difficult to troubleshoot, and expensive to maintain.
Mesh topology: In Mesh topology, nodes are linked with connections in such a way that paths between at least some points of the network are available. A "fully meshed" network mapping is one that has all nodes connected to all other nodes, whereas a "partially meshed" network will have only some nodes with multiple connections with others. Meshing multiple paths improves network resiliency. However, more space is needed for dedicated links and involves high costs.
Hybrid topology: When a network uses any combination of two or more topologies, it is called a hybrid network topology. Hybrid topology offers flexibility to different departments of an organization, within a network. A department can opt to implement a customized network topology mapping that is more suitable to its needs.
Using business-level mapping, also called network dependency mapping, IT admins can obtain a graphical representation of devices according to business services that they serve. IT admins can create network-level dependency by adding links between devices. These links can then be configured based on user or organization requirements. You can also add maps to represent geographies where data centers are located. Business-level maps ensure that business-critical applications are always available and help with quicker troubleshooting.
Layer 2 maps simplify complex and cluttered network interconnections. This is accomplished by first discovering a set of devices or subnet within a network. Layer 2 maps then presents the data-link layer of the network topography, enabling IT admins to monitor network connections, and each of its nodes and links. For instance, thanks to Layer 2 mapping, IT admins can instantly ascertain the device interconnections from a seed router. In doing so, an IT admin can monitor the seed router and all connected devices closely and in real time while not getting overwhelmed by alerts or alarms from all the devices.
Layer 2 maps can be discovered using various protocols, including:
Address Resolution Protocol (ARP): ARP can be used if you want to map an IP address to a physical or media access control (MAC) address that is recognized on the local device.
Link Layer Discovery Protocol (LLDP): LLDP is used to discover wired LAN ethernets. Within a wired LAN ethernet, LLDP can be used to transmit the identity, capabilities, and neighbors.
Cisco Discovery Protocol (CDP): CDP is used to transmit information about directly connected Cisco devices. If Cisco devices are used in your network, CDP is recommended to use for discovery.
Network topology mapper enables an IT admin to segment or group a specific set of devices or interfaces within a network. The grouping can be by department name, floor number, location, criticality, interface type, or any other defined group. Grouping allows an IT admin to apply bulk configuration changes to multiple devices in an instant easily. An IT admin can also pinpoint faulty devices or interfaces in each branch, group, or subgroup. Device grouping promptly highlights trends and patterns to an IT admin, which in turn complements the forecasting and capacity planning of the IT infrastructure.
ManageEngine OpManager provides comprehensive real-time network topology mapping capabilities. Network topology services combined with OpManager's wide array of features have made it a dependable solution for organizations and IT administrators around the world. OpManager's prominent real time network topology mapping features include:
The purpose of network topology is to give you an overview of the network, by visualizing the physical connection of devices and the data flow within the network. It draws a distinction between logical and physical connection.
Network topology helps an IT admin understand different elements of the network and where each of them connects. It also shows how each component interacts and aids in performance management.
Network topology works by providing an advanced representation and overview of your network using topological diagrams, explaining how nodes are connected and how data transfer is happening in the network.
The right network topology varies according to the size, scale and needs of the network of an organization. The right decision can be made after evaluating your network requirements, budget, scalability of topology, reliability and ease of implementation.