Computers in a network have to be connected in some logical manner. The layout pattern of the interconnections between computers in a network is called network topology. You can think of topology as the virtual shape or structure of the network. Network topology is also referred to as ‘network architecture.’
Devices on the network are referred to as ‘nodes.’ The most common nodes are computers and peripheral devices. Network topology is illustrated by showing these nodes and their connections using cables. There are a number of different types of network topologies, including point-to-point, bus, star, ring, mesh, tree and hybrid. Let’s review these main types.
Point-to-point topology is the simplest of all the network topologies. The network consists of a direct link between two computers. This is faster and more reliable than other types of connections since there is a direct connection. The disadvantage is that it can only be used for small areas where computers are in close proximity.
List of Network Topology:
1. Mesh Topology
In a mesh network, devices are connected with many redundant interconnections between network nodes. In a true mesh topology every node has a connection to every other node in the network. There are two types of mesh topologies:
Full mesh topology: occurs when every node has a circuit connecting it to every other node in a network. Full mesh is very expensive to implement but yields the greatest amount of redundancy, so in the event that one of those nodes fails, network traffic can be directed to any of the other nodes. Full mesh is usually reserved for backbone networks.
Partial mesh topology: is less expensive to implement and yields less redundancy than full mesh topology. With partial mesh, some nodes are organized in a full mesh scheme but others are only connected to one or two in the network. Partial mesh topology is commonly found in peripheral networks connected to a full meshed backbone.
2. Star Topology
In a star network devices are connected to a central computer, called a hub. Nodes communicate across the network by passing data through the hub.
Main Advantage: In a star network, one malfunctioning node doesn’t affect the rest of the network.
Main Disadvantage: If the central computer fails, the entire network becomes unusable.
3. Bus Topology
In networking a bus is the central cable — the main wire — that connects all devices on a local-area network (LAN). It is also called the backbone. This is often used to describe the main network connections composing the Internet. Bus networks are relatively inexpensive and easy to install for small networks. Ethernet systems use a bus topology.
Main Advantage: It’s easy to connect a computer or device and typically it requires less cable than a star topology.
Main Disadvantage: The entire network shuts down if there is a break in the main wire and it can be difficult to identify the problem if the network shuts down.
4. Ring Topology
A local-area network (LAN) whose topology is a ring. That is, all of the nodes are connected in a closed loop. Messages travel around the ring, with each node reading those messages addressed to it.
Main Advantage: One main advantage to a ring network is that it can span larger distances than other types of networks, such as bus networks, because each node regenerates messages as they pass through it.
5. Tree Topology
This is a “hybrid” topology that combines characteristics of linear bus and star topologies. In a tree network, groups of star-configured networks are connected to a linear bus backbone cable.
Main Advantage: A Tree topology is a good choice for large computer networks as the tree topology “divides” the whole network into parts that are more easily manageable.
Main Disadvantage: The entire network depends on a central hub and a failure of the central hub can cripple the whole network.