Device sharing in networking & Types of LAN Technology in Networking

Types of LAN Technology in Networking

Ethernet is the most popular physical layer LAN technology in use today. It defines the number of conductors that are required for a connection, the performance thresholds that can be expected, and provides the framework for data transmission. A standard Ethernet network can transmit data at a rate up to 10 Megabits per second (10 Mbps). Other LAN types include Token Ring, Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, 10 Gigabit Ethernet, Fiber Distributed Data Interface (FDDI), Asynchronous  

Transfer Mode (ATM) and LocalTalk.
Ethernet is popular because it strikes a good balance between speed, cost and ease of installation. These benefits, combined with wide acceptance in the computer marketplace and the ability to support virtually all popular network protocols, make Ethernet an ideal networking technology for most computer users today.
The Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers developed an Ethernet standard known as IEEE Standard 802.3. This standard defines rules for configuring an Ethernet network and also specifies how the elements in an Ethernet network interact with one another. By adhering to the IEEE standard, network equipment and network protocols can communicate efficiently.
Fast Ethernet
The Fast Ethernet standard (IEEE 802.3u) has been established for Ethernet networks that need higher transmission speeds. This standard raises the Ethernet speed limit from 10 Mbps to 100 Mbps with only minimal changes to the existing cable structure. Fast Ethernet provides faster throughput for video, multimedia, graphics, Internet surfing and stronger error detection and correction.

There are three types of Fast Ethernet: 100BASE-TX for use with level 5 UTP cable; 100BASE-FX for use with fiber-optic cable; and 100BASE-T4 which utilizes an extra two wires for use with level 3 UTP cable. The 100BASE-TX standard has become the most popular due to its close compatibility with the 10BASE-T Ethernet standard.
Gigabit Ethernet
Gigabit Ethernet was developed to meet the need for faster communication networks with applications such as multimedia and Voice over IP (VoIP). Also known as “gigabit-Ethernet-over-copper” or 1000Base-T, GigE is a version of Ethernet that runs at speeds 10 times faster than 100Base-T. It is defined in the IEEE 802.3 standard and is currently used as an enterprise backbone. Existing Ethernet LANs with 10 and 100 Mbps cards can feed into a Gigabit Ethernet backbone to interconnect high performance switches, routers and servers.
From the data link layer of the OSI model upward, the look and implementation of Gigabit Ethernet is identical to that of Ethernet. The most important differences between Gigabit Ethernet and Fast Ethernet include the additional support of full duplex operation in the MAC layer and the data rates.
10 Gigabit Ethernet
10 Gigabit Ethernet is the fastest and most recent of the Ethernet standards. IEEE 802.3ae defines a version of Ethernet with a nominal rate of 10Gbits/s that makes it 10 times faster than Gigabit Ethernet.
Unlike other Ethernet systems, 10 Gigabit Ethernet is based entirely on the use of optical fiber connections. This developing standard is moving away from a LAN design that broadcasts to all nodes, toward a system which includes some elements of wide area routing. As it is still very new, which of the standards will gain commercial acceptance has yet to be determined.
Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM)
ATM is a cell-based fast-packet communication technique that can support data-transfer rates from sub-T1 speeds to 10 Gbps. ATM achieves its high speeds in part by transmitting data in fixed-size cells and dispensing with error-correction protocols. It relies on the inherent integrity of digital lines to ensure data integrity.
ATM can be integrated into an existing network as needed without having to update the entire network. Its fixed-length cell-relay operation is the signaling technology of the future and offers more predictable performance than variable length frames. Networks are extremely versatile and an ATM network can connect points in a building, or across the country, and still be treated as a single network.
Power over Ethernet (PoE)
PoE is a solution in which an electrical current is run to networking hardware over the Ethernet Category 5 cable or higher. This solution does not require an extra AC power cord at the product location. This minimizes the amount of cable needed as well as eliminates the difficulties and cost of installing extra outlets

Speed addition in Networking

How to obtain that added bandwidth can be an issue. While repeaters allow LANs to extend beyond normal distance limitations, they still limit the number of nodes that can be supported.

Bridges and switches on the other hand allow LANs to grow significantly larger by virtue of their ability to support full Ethernet segments on each port. Additionally, bridges and switches selectively filter network traffic to only those packets needed on each segment, significantly increasing throughput on each segment and on the overall network.

Network managers continue to look for better performance and more flexibility for network topologies, bridges and switches. To provide a better understanding of these and related technologies, this tutorial will cover:


Ethernet Switches


Network Design Criteria

When and Why Ethernets Become Too Slow

Increasing Performance with Fast and Gigabit Ethernet


Bridges connect two LAN segments of similar or dissimilar types, such as Ethernet and Token Ring. This allows two Ethernet segments to behave like a single Ethernet allowing any pair of computers on the extended Ethernet to communicate. Bridges are transparent therefore computers don’t know whether a bridge separates them.

Bridges map the Ethernet addresses of the nodes residing on each network segment and allow only necessary traffic to pass through the bridge. When a packet is received by the bridge, the bridge determines the destination and source segments. If the segments are the same, the packet is dropped or also referred to as “filtered”; if the segments are different, then the packet is “forwarded” to the correct segment. Additionally, bridges do not forward bad or misaligned packets.

Bridges are also called “store-and-forward” devices because they look at the whole Ethernet packet before making filtering or forwarding decisions. Filtering packets and regenerating forwarded packets enables bridging technology to split a network into separate collision domains. Bridges are able to isolate network problems; if interference occurs on one of two segments, the bridge will receive and discard an invalid frame keeping the problem from affecting the other segment. This allows for greater distances and more repeaters to be used in the total network design.

Dealing with Loops

Most bridges are self-learning task bridges; they determine the user Ethernet addresses on the segment by building a table as packets that are passed through the network. However, this self-learning capability dramatically raises the potential of network loops in networks that have many bridges. A loop presents conflicting information on which segment a specific address is located and forces the device to forward all traffic. The Distributed Spanning Tree (DST) algorithm is a software standard (found in the IEEE 802.1d specification) that describes how switches and bridges can communicate to avoid network loops.

Ethernet Switches

Ethernet switches are an expansion of the Ethernet bridging concept. The advantage of using a switched Ethernet is parallelism. Up to one-half of the computers connected to a switch can send data at the same time.

LAN switches link multiple networks together and have two basic architectures: cut-through and store-and-forward. In the past, cut-through switches were faster because they examined the packet destination address only before forwarding it on to its destination segment. A store-and-forward switch works like a bridge in that it accepts and analyzes the entire packet before forwarding it to its destination.

Historically, store-and-forward took more time to examine the entire packet, although one benefit was that it allowed the switch to catch certain packet errors and keep them from propagating through the network. Today, the speed of store-and-forward switches has caught up with cut-through switches so the difference between the two is minimal. Also, there are a large number of hybrid switches available that mix both cut-through and store-and-forward architectures.

A router is a device that forwards data packets along networks, and determines which way to send each data packet based on its current understanding of the state of its connected networks. Routers are typically connected to at least two networks, commonly two LANs or WANs or a LAN and its Internet Service Provider’s (ISPs) network. Routers are located at gateways, the places where two or more networks connect.

Routers filter out network traffic by specific protocol rather than by packet address. Routers also divide networks logically instead of physically. An IP router can divide a network into various subnets so that only traffic destined for particular IP addresses can pass between segments. Network speed often decreases due to this type of intelligent forwarding. Such filtering takes more time than that exercised in a switch or bridge, which only looks at the Ethernet address. However, in more complex networks, overall efficiency is improved by using routers.

Network Design Criteria

Ethernets and Fast Ethernets have design rules that must be followed in order to function correctly. The maximum number of nodes, number of repeaters and maximum segment distances are defined by the electrical and mechanical design properties of each type of Ethernet media.

A network using repeaters, for instance, functions with the timing constraints of Ethernet. Although electrical signals on the Ethernet media travel near the speed of light, it still takes a finite amount of time for the signal to travel from one end of a large Ethernet to another. The Ethernet standard assumes it will take roughly 50 microseconds for a signal to reach its destination.

Ethernet is subject to the “5-4-3” rule of repeater placement: the network can only have five segments connected; it can only use four repeaters; and of the five segments, only three can have users attached to them; the other two must be inter-repeater links.

If the design of the network violates these repeater and placement rules, then timing guidelines will not be met and the sending station will resend that packet. This can lead to lost packets and excessive resent packets, which can slow network performance and create trouble for applications. New Ethernet standards (Fast Ethernet, GigE, and 10 GigE) have modified repeater rules, since the minimum packet size takes less time to transmit than regular Ethernet. The length of the network links allows for a fewer number of repeaters. In Fast Ethernet networks, there are two classes of repeaters. Class I repeaters have a latency of 0.7 microseconds or less and are limited to one repeater per network. Class II repeaters have a latency of 0.46 microseconds or less and are limited to two repeaters per network.

When and Why Ethernets Become Too Slow

As more users are added to a shared network or as applications requiring more data are added, performance deteriorates. This is because all users on a shared network are competitors for the Ethernet bus. On a moderately loaded 10Mbps Ethernet network that is shared by 30-50 users, that network will only sustain throughput in the neighborhood of 2.5Mbps after accounting for packet overhead, interpacket gaps and collisions.

Increasing the number of users (and therefore packet transmissions) creates a higher collision potential. Collisions occur when two or more nodes attempt to send information at the same time. When they realize that a collision has occurred, each node shuts off for a random time before attempting another transmission. With shared Ethernet, the likelihood of collision increases as more nodes are added to the shared collision domain of the shared Ethernet. One of the steps to alleviate this problem is to segment traffic with a bridge or switch. A switch can replace a hub and improve network performance. For example, an eight-port switch can support eight Ethernets, each running at a full 10 Mbps. Another option is to dedicate one or more of these switched ports to a high traffic device such as a file server.

Greater throughput is required to support multimedia and video applications. When added to the network, Ethernet switches provide a number of enhancements over shared networks that can support these applications. Foremost is the ability to divide networks into smaller and faster segments. Ethernet switches examine each packet, determine where that packet is destined and then forward that packet to only those ports to which the packet needs to go. Modern switches are able to do all these tasks at “wirespeed,” that is, without delay.

Aside from deciding when to forward or when to filter the packet, Ethernet switches also completely regenerate the Ethernet packet. This regeneration and re-timing allows each port on a switch to be treated as a complete Ethernet segment, capable of supporting the full length of cable along with all of the repeater restrictions. The standard Ethernet slot time required in CSMA/CD half-duplex modes is not long enough for running over 100m copper, so Carrier Extension is used to guarantee a 512-bit slot time.

Additionally, bad packets are identified by Ethernet switches and immediately dropped from any future transmission. This “cleansing” activity keeps problems isolated to a single segment and keeps them from disrupting other network activity. This aspect of switching is extremely important in a network environment where hardware failures are to be anticipated. Full duplex doubles the bandwidth on a link, and is another method used to increase bandwidth to dedicated workstations or servers. Full duplex modes are available for standard Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, and Gigabit Ethernet. To use full duplex, special network interface cards are installed in the server or workstation, and the switch is programmed to support full duplex operation.

Increasing Performance with Fast and Gigabit Ethernet

Implementing Fast or Gigabit Ethernet to increase performance is the next logical step when Ethernet becomes too slow to meet user needs. Higher traffic devices can be connected to switches or each other via Fast Ethernet or Gigabit Ethernet, providing a great increase in bandwidth. Many switches are designed with this in mind, and have Fast Ethernet uplinks available for connection to a file server or other switches. Eventually, Fast Ethernet can be deployed to user desktops by equipping all computers with Fast Ethernet network interface cards and using Fast Ethernet switches and repeaters.

With an understanding of the underlying technologies and products in use in Ethernet networks, the next tutorial will advance to a discussion of some of the most popular real-world applications.

Device sharing in networking

Device networking starts with a device server, which allows almost any device with serial connectivity to connect to Ethernet networks quickly and cost-effectively. These products include all of the elements needed for device networking and because of their scalability; they do not require a server or gateway. An Introduction to Device Servers
A device server is characterized by a minimal operating architecture that requires no per seat network operating system license, and client access that is independent of any operating system or proprietary protocol. In addition the device server is a “closed box,” delivering extreme ease of installation, minimal maintenance, and can be managed by the client remotely via a web browser.
By virtue of its independent operating system, protocol independence, small size and flexibility, device servers are able to meet the demands of virtually any network-enabling application. The demand for device servers is rapidly increasing because organizations need to leverage their networking infrastructure investment across all of their resources. Many currently installed devices lack network ports or require dedicated serial connections for management — device servers allow those devices to become connected to the network.
Device servers are currently used in a wide variety of environments in which machinery, instruments, sensors and other discrete devices generate data that was previously inaccessible through enterprise networks. They are also used for security systems, point-of-sale applications, network management and many other applications where network access to a device is required.
As device servers become more widely adopted and implemented into specialized applications, we can expect to see variations in size, mounting capabilities and enclosures. Device servers are also available as embedded devices, capable of providing instant networking support for developers of future products where connectivity will be required.
Print servers, terminal servers, remote access servers and network time servers are examples of device servers which are specialized for particular functions. Each of these types of servers has unique configuration attributes in hardware or software that help them to perform best in their particular arena. External Device Servers
External device servers are stand-alone serial-to-wireless (802.11b) or serial-to-Ethernet device servers that can put just about any device with serial connectivity on the network in a matter of minutes so it can be managed remotely.
External Device Servers from Lantronix
Lantronix external device servers provide the ability to remotely control, monitor, diagnose and troubleshoot equipment over a network or the Internet. By opting for a powerful external device with full network and web capabilities, companies are able to preserve their present equipment investments.
Lantronix offers a full line of external device servers: Ethernet or wireless, advanced encryption for maximum security, and device servers designed for commercial or heavy-duty industrial applications. Wireless
Providing a whole new level of flexibility and mobility, these devices allow users to connect devices that are inaccessible via cabling. Users can also add intelligence to their businesses by putting mobile devices, such as medical instruments or warehouse equipment, on networks. Security
Ideal for protecting data such as business transactions, customer information, financial records, etc., these devices provide enhanced security for networked devices. Commercial
These devices enable users to network-enable their existing equipment (such as POS devices, AV equipment, medical instruments, etc.) simply and cost-effectively, without the need for special software. Industrial
For heavy-duty factory applications, Lantronix offers a full complement of industrial-strength external device servers designed for use with manufacturing, assembly and factory automation equipment. All models support Modbus industrial protocols. Embedded Device Servers
Embedded device servers integrate all the required hardware and software into a single embedded device. They use a device’s serial port to web-enable or network-enable products quickly and easily without the complexities of extensive hardware and software integration. Embedded device servers are typically plug-and-play solutions that operate independently of a PC and usually include a wireless or Ethernet connection, operating system, an embedded web server, a full TCP/IP protocol stack, and some sort of encryption for secure communications. Embedded Device Servers from Lantronix
Lantronix recognizes that design engineers are looking for a simple, cost-effective and reliable way to seamlessly embed network connectivity into their products. In a fraction of the time it would take to develop a custom solution, Lantronix embedded device servers provide a variety of proven, fully integrated products. OEMs can add full Ethernet and/or wireless connectivity to their products so they can be managed over a network or the Internet.
These devices allow users tonetwork-enable just about any electronic device with Ethernet and/or wireless connectivity. Board-Level
Users can integrate networking capabilities onto the circuit boards of equipment like factory machinery, security systems and medical devices.
Single-Chip Solutions
These powerful, system-on-chip solutions help users address networking issues early in the design cycle to support the most popular embedded networking technologies. Terminal Servers
Terminal servers are used to enable terminals to transmit data to and from host computers across LANs, without requiring each terminal to have its own direct connection. And while the terminal server’s existence is still justified by convenience and cost considerations, its inherent intelligence provides many more advantages. Among these is enhanced remote monitoring and control. Terminal servers that support protocols like SNMP make networks easier to manage
Devices that are attached to a network through a server can be shared between terminals and hosts at both the local site and throughout the network. A single terminal may be connected to several hosts at the same time (in multiple concurrent sessions), and can switch between them. Terminal servers are also used to network devices that have only serial outputs. A connection between serial ports on different servers is opened, allowing data to move between the two devices.
Given its natural translation ability, a multi-protocol server can perform conversions between the protocols it knows such as LAT and TCP/IP. While server bandwidth is not adequate for large file transfers, it can easily handle host-to-host inquiry/response applications, electronic mailbox checking, etc. In addition, it is far more economical than the alternatives — acquiring expensive host software and special-purpose converters. Multiport device and print servers give users greater flexibility in configuring and managing their networks.
Whether it is moving printers and other peripherals from one network to another, expanding the dimensions of interoperability or preparing for growth, terminal servers can fulfill these requirements without major rewiring. Today, terminal servers offer a full range of functionality, ranging from 8 to 32 ports, giving users the power to connect terminals, modems, servers and virtually any serial device for remote access over IP networks. Print Servers
Print servers enable printers to be shared by other users on the network. Supporting either parallel and/or serial interfaces, a print server accepts print jobs from any person on the network using supported protocols and manages those jobs on each appropriate printer.
The earliest print servers were external devices, which supported printing via parallel or serial ports on the device. Typically, only one or two protocols were supported. The latest generations of print servers support multiple protocols, have multiple parallel and serial connection options and, in some cases, are small enough to fit directly on the parallel port of the printer itself. Some printers have embedded or internal print servers. This design has an integral communication benefit between printer and print server, but lacks flexibility if the printer has physical problems.
Print servers generally do not contain a large amount of memory; printers simply store information in a queue. When the desired printer becomes available, they allow the host to transmit the data to the appropriate printer port on the server. The print server can then simply queue and print each job in the order in which print requests are received, regardless of protocol used or the size of the job.
Device Server Technology in the Data Center
The IT/data center is considered the pulse of any modern business. Remote management enables users to monitor and manage global networks, systems and IT equipment from anywhere and at any time. Device servers play a major role in allowing for the remote capabilities and flexibility required for businesses to maximize personnel resources and technology ROI. Console Servers
Console servers provide the flexibility of both standard and emergency remote access via attachment to the network or to a modem. Remote console management serves as a valuable tool to help maximize system uptime and system operating costs.
Secure console servers provide familiar tools to leverage the console or emergency management port built into most serial devices, including servers, switches, routers, telecom equipment – anything in a rack – even if the network is down. They also supply complete in-band and out-of-band local and remote management for the data center with tools such as telnet and SSH that help manage the performance and availability of critical business information systems.

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