Networking Topologies and Layouts For Complete Beginners

star-topologyThere are many different ways network nodes can be connected together.

This isn’t normally a consideration in small networks, but has networks get larger it becomes more important.



Common connection technologies like Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth etc are designed to work using a particular network topology.

Having an understanding of these topologies is important when structuring your home network.

Common topologies are:

  • Bus
  • Ring
  • Mesh
  • Star
  • Hybrid

Each of these topologies has advantages and disadvantages this Network topologies article has a really good overview of each topology along with advantages and disadvantages.

Bus and Star Bus topology

Early Ethernet networks used a bus structure as Ethernet was originally designed to use coaxial cable.

bus-topology

Modern Ethernet networks use UTP (unshielded Twisted pair) and switches creating a star bus (hybrid) structure, as do  Wi-Fi Networks.

star-topology

The diagram shows a typical home network structure which forms a star bus hybrid.

star-bus-hybrid

Points of Failure

Referring to the diagram above there are 3 main points of failure.

  1. Router or Internet connection affects all traffic
  2. Switch failure affects all connected devices
  3. Access point failure affects all wi-fi devices.

When designing your network it is always a good idea to try minimize these failure points.

On large corporate networks they build in redundancy using additional networking components, but on home networks this is usually not a viable option.

You might find this video interesting –How not to design a network ,but you should remember he is talking about corporate networks.

Networking Topology- Physical vs Logical

How the nodes on a network communicate with each other can be very different to how they are physically interconnected.

Most Home and small office networks use a physical bus topology.

Common logical typologies are Peer to Peer and Client Server.

Client Server

The web (WWW) is a client server network at the logical level.

In a client server model a central server hosts information that the client want.

In the case of the web the server hosts web pages.

client-server-model
Advantages and Dis-Advantages

                     Client Server

Advantages Disadvantages
Easy to backup more difficult to set up
Better security Requires a network administrator
Easy to Locate resources Requires more powerful and expensive hardware
Single point of failure

Peer to Peer

Most home networks use peer to peer networking model.

Microsoft windows (all versions) supports this model.

In a peer to peer networking model a computer functions as both a client (workstation) and a server.

peer-peer-networking
Advantages and Dis-Advantages

                         Peer To Peer

Advantages Disadvantages
Easy to set up Difficult to secure
No central administrator Difficult to locate a resource
No single point of failure Difficult to ensure data is backed up
No need for expensive server hardware

Smart Home Devices

Smart Home devices tend to use the client server model when using http for control. Each device will connect to a central (cloud based)  server for configuration and control.

However if you use Tasmota devices the sensor itself acts as a server and is then controlled by an http client -See Using HTTP To Control Smart Home Devices.

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