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Chapter 5: Physical and Logical Topologies

After reading this chapter and completing the exercises you will be able to:

• Describe the basic and hybrid LAN physical topologies, their uses, advantages, and disadvantages
• Describe a variety of enterprise-wide and WAN physical topologies, their uses, advantages, and
• Compare the different types of switching used in data transmission
• Understand the transmission methods, or logical topologies, underlying Ethernet, Token ring, LocalTalk,
and FDDI networks

Teaching Tips
Simple Physical Topologies
1. Explain that a physical topology is the actual layout plan or pattern of a LAN. Contrast this with the logical
topology of a given LAN, and emphasize that the two may not resemble one another.

2. Discuss how nodes in a bus topology all nodes share a single channel and how each node communicates in
turn. Explain why T-connectors and terminators are necessary on a bus topology network. Define signal

3. Describe some of the limitations of bus topology networks such as scalability and fault tolerance.

4. Explain why bus topology networks are difficult to troubleshoot. Share an experience from your networking
career that pertains to working with and troubleshooting, bus topology networks.

5. Briefly describe IBM’s development of Token Ring, and its place in the market today. Explain that Token
Ring is not restricted to the original physical ring topology, but can run on a star-wired network.

6. Discuss token passing on a ring network. Ask the class why token passing makes the ring topology an “active

7. Describe why star networks are more fault tolerant than ring or bus topology networks. Ask the class to
identify potential drawbacks to star networks.

8. Emphasize to students that a contemporary network rarely relies on one simple topology. Give examples of
some exceptions to this rule.

Hybrid Physical Topologies
1. Provide a drawing or overhead projection of a star-wired ring topology. Discuss the benefits of this topology
over a pure star or a pure ring topology.

2. Provide a drawing or overhead projection of a star-wired bus topology. Discuss the benefits of this topology
over a pure star or a pure bus topology.

3. Discuss the potential reasons for deploying a daisy-chained topology, and identify potential drawbacks related
to this design.

4. Describe the characteristics of a hierarchical arrangement of connecting devices on a LAN. What are the
advantages of this approach? Where would the most expensive and reliable devices be located?

5. What documents or other information could a business provide to its network administrators to assist in the
implementation and support of a hierarchical network?

Enterprise-wide Topologies
1. Discuss the concept of an enterprise as it relates to LAN, MAN, and WAN.

2. Define the term “backbone.” Call your students’ attention to this term as originally introduced in the
structured cabling discussion in Chapter 4.

3. Using the illustrations in the chapter, discuss the differences between serial, distributed, collapsed, and
parallel backbones. Ask the class to describe situations in which each type of backbones might be most

4. Explain the concept of a mesh network. Ask the class to identify when a mesh network would be most useful,
and some of the attendant advantages and disadvantages.

5. Discuss the term “single point of failure.” Point out where points of failure can occur in each of the enterprise-
wide topologies discussed.

6. Explain how mesh networks improve fault tolerance. Describe a mesh network in use by a service provider
such as AT&T.

7. Discuss why a network manager might want to use parallel links in a network backbone.

Quick Quiz
1. Token passing is used in what type of topology?
Answer: Ring

2. A bus topology typically uses what type of cable?

Answer: Ethernet 10Base5 and coaxial

3. True or False: Networks are usually made up of one pure topology.

Answer: False

4. True or False: Star networks are more fault tolerant than bus networks.
Answer: True

5. What drawback does a serial backbone share with a bus LAN topology?
Answer: Single point of failure

WAN Topologies
1. Explain the similarities and differences between WAN and LAN topologies. Ask the class which protocols
they might expect to find running on a WAN.

2. Discuss why WANs demand different topologies and media than LANs, including distance and typical
throughput requirements.

3. Compare the WAN peer-to-peer topology with LAN peer-to-peer topology. Define the term dedicated

4. Discuss why peer-to-peer WANs are not well suited to large networks.

5. Provide an illustration of a ring WAN network, and explain how the concept of tying together locations, rather
than nodes, is related to telecommunications. Describe the benefits and drawbacks of a ring WAN topology.

6. Explain how a star WAN is more robust than a peer-to-peer or ring WAN topology, and ask the class how the
disadvantages of a star LAN might also apply to a star WAN, and what differences might also apply.

7. Draw examples of full mesh and partial mesh WANs. Ask the class what differences may lie in their relative
cost and reliability, and when it would be best to choose one over the other.

8. Compare hierarchical LAN topologies with tiered WAN topologies. Using the whiteboard or an overhead
projector, draw a picture of a tiered WAN and ask students to identify the places where failures in the WAN
would affect the most number of sites on the WAN.

Logical Topologies
1. Explain that a network’s logical topology (such as Ethernet or Token Ring) is sometimes also known as the
network transport system. Discuss why Ethernet is not considered a physical topology. Make sure students
understand the difference between logical and physical topologies, and under what circumstances they may be

2. Mention that other logical topologies include LocalTalk, FDDI, and ATM.

3. Discuss the creation and evolution of both Token Ring and Ethernet technologies. Research the reasons why
Xerox gave up its rights to the Ethernet technology and explain it to the class. Describe IBM’s role in Token
Ring technology. Also discuss why Ethernet is now favored over token ring.

1. Explain the concept of switching as it relates to connectivity between nodes.

2. Describe how circuit switching uses bandwidth. Ask students how they might use circuit switching at home
(modem conncetion to the Internet).

3. Explain the concept of message switching, and its associated hardware and software performance costs.

4. Discuss the flexible nature of packet switching. Use the example of a phone call as a circuit switched
transmission, while Internet connections are packet switched.

Quick Quiz
1. ___________ is the protocol most frequently found running on most WAN topologies.
Answer: TCP/IP
2. True or False: A serial backbone is the most fault tolerant WAN topology.
Answer: False

3. What is another term to describe a network’s logical topology?

Answer: network transport system

4. Of the three methods of switching, __________ is the best choice for data communications.
Answer: packet switching

1. Briefly describe the history of Ethernet and its development at Xerox PARC. Explain that it is the
predominant networking technology in use today, and that several versions exist.

2. Provide an overhead or whiteboard illustration of the process of CSMA/CD. Discuss what happens when two
nodes attempt to communicate at once, and how jamming assists in error control.

3. Give general examples of typical collision rates, the potential causes for collisions, and the consequences of
excessive collisions on data traffic.

4. Discuss how cable length in network segments may affect collisions.

5. Discuss why, although networks may be rated for 100Mbps throughput, actual throughput will likely be much

6. Provide an illustration of a collision domain, and point out how networks should be segmented to limit
collision rates. Explain that even as quickly as network transmission occurs, some latency is inescapable, and
that this transmission lag is called data propagation delay.

7. Review the maximum segment lengths for 10Base2, 10Base5, and 10BaseT.

8. Discuss the competing technologies for 100Mbps Ethernet and describe why 100Base Tx leads the

9. Using CB radio and telephone communications as examples, explain simplex, half-duplex, and full- duplex
transmission modes.

10. Describe 100 VG AnyLAN, its Demand Priority access method, and the infrastructure required to support this
network technology. Discuss the current industry viewpoint on this technology and its status in the networking

11. Discuss how switched Ethernet differs from shared Ethernet. What are switched Ethernet’s advantages over
shared Ethernet?

12. Explain how Gigabit Ethernet is evolving. Research your research on some firms that already use Gigabit
Ethernet and present the results to your class, along with the firms’ reasons for upgrading. Discuss the
upgrade path from 100Mbps Ethernet to Gigabit Ethernet and how organizations are preparing their networks
for higher throughput requirements.

13. Provide a view of the future path for Gigabit Ethernet, including 10 Gigabit and its potential for streaming

Ethernet Frame Types

1. Define the terms frame and packet, and explain that they are both datagrams, but that the former is specific to
the Ethernet environnment, while the latter is a more generic term.

2. List the four frame types, and give a brief account of the history behind each type. Ask the class what they
expect might happen if networked devices are configured to use a variety of frame types.

3. Point out that there are three possible defintions of SAP (Service Access Protocol, Service Access Point, and a
German IT company by the same name) in the immediate realm of networking. Advise students to be careful
when using acronyms in technical communication to avoid confusion. In this context we refer to Service
Access Point (or NSAP, Network Service Access Point).

4. Ask students why data frames are padded.

5. Using the analogy of an invoice or bill of lading, explain the process of error checking, and describe the FCS
and its main feature, the CRC process.

6. Point out that the autosense function on newer NICs eliminates much of the need to manually configure frame
types. Explain that autosense may not work correctly on networks with a variety newer and older hardware.

7. Ask the class to list some issues to consider when designing or upgrading an Ethernet network. Ask students
to identify potential issues to resolve when adding on to an existing Ethernet design.

Quick Quiz
1. When two Ethernet transmissions interfere with each other it is called a _________________
Answer: collision

2. In newer Ethernet networks, what device is replacing the hub?

Answer: the switch

3. Why is padding necessary?

Answer: To ensure uniform packet size

4. What is the portion of the data frame that ensures integrity between sender and receiver? What is the
algorithm called that performs this function?
Answer: FCS (Frame Check Sequence); CRC (Cyclic Redundancy Check)

1. Explain how the original Macintosh OS design included this simple peer-to-peer protocol, and the protocol’s
advantages and limitations.

2. Describe CSMA/CA as it compares to Ethernet’s CSMA/CD. Ask the class if they notice any similarities
between LocalTalk and NetBEUI.

3. Ask the class what existing wiring in a business or household could be used to set up a LocalTalk network.
Describe teleconnectors and MacTCP.

4. Describe encapsulation, and mention that it is used by legacy Novell as well as LocalTalk.

Token Ring
1. Give a brief history of Token Ring, from its earliest inception to the present day. Describe the hardware side,
including custom cabling and concentrators (MAUs).

2. Discuss why Token Ring has given way to Ethernet technology.

3. Describe the transmission speeds for Token Ring, the proposed standards, the efforts to bring a faster token
ring technology to market, and the current status of such efforts.

4. Explain the concept of the active monitor, and the inherent cost in network performance due to each station’s
role in the network.

5. Using two index cards (one for the token and one for the data), create an in-class exercise demonstrating the
concept of token passing, and the role of the active monitor. Contrast token passing with CSMA/CD and note
the token passing design in relation to data collisions.

6. Discuss how the larger frame size used in Token Ring technology provides more efficient transmission than
the smaller frame size used in Ethernet technology.

7. Emphasize that although Token Ring is based on a ring topology, it actually uses a star-ring hybrid topology.

8. Draw a Token Ring frame on the chalkboard, and point out how it differs from an Ethernet frame. Indicate
which fields make up the token used in token passing.

9. Ensure that students understand the size limitations of Token Ring networks (due to the maximum number of
addressable stations). Describe some of the cabling and connector standards required by legacy Token Ring

Fiber Distributed Data Interface

1. Ask students about environments where FDDI would be cost-effective.

2. Using a whiteboard or overhead projector, produce a diagram of a sample FDDI network and show the built-
in redundancy of this topology.

3. Describe the necessary infrastructure, speed, and resulting reliability.

4. Ask the class what they perceive as the cost issues with FDDI.

Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM)
1. Provide a brief history of ATM, where it operates in the OSI model and its basic infrastructure requirements.

2. Describe cells and payloads.

3. Explain how an ATM cell relates to a packet, how data is controlled, and the maximum transmission speeds

4. Discuss how this logical topology relates to physical communications standards, and mention that this is one
example of a direct interface between data networking standards and the telecommunications industry.

5. Define a virtual circuit.

6. Discuss Quality of Service (QoS) as it applies to data transmission.

7. Explain the generalized nature of LANE, and how it handles data regardless of frame type.

Quick Quiz
1. True or False: LocalTalk provides a faster transmission rate than Ethernet.
Answer: False

2. In a Token Ring frame, which fields are combined to make up the token?
Answer: Starting Delimiter (SD), Access Control (AC) and Ending Delimiter (ED) fields

3. While Ethernet networks may use a hub or switch, Token Ring networks use a _________
Answer: MAU (Multistation Access Unit)

4. True or False: FDDI is an emerging techonolgy that may replace Fast Ethernet.
Answer: False

Class Discussion Topics

1. How can a distributed backbone assist LAN and WAN manageability?

2. What is a significant danger in using a collapsed backbone?

3. How does token passing generate more traffic than CSMA/CD?

4. Why do most networks use a hybrid topology rather than a pure topology?

5. What are the differences between LANs and WANs that require them to use different topologies? Ask
students to envision the types of WANs used by global companies such as GE, Northwest Airlines, and Dow

6. Why is Ethernet so much more popular than Token Ring technology? Is it too late for Token Ring to catch up
and survive as a LAN technology? Will it ever surpass Ethernet in popularity? How will its focus on
achieving faster transmission speeds affect its acceptance?

Additional Projects
1. Either in class or as homework, ask students to point their browsers to the Gigabit Ethernet Alliance
Organization’s home page at and research what standard for Gigabit Ethernet is
currently in favor.

2. Invite a representative from a local network consulting firm to discuss how often they work on Ethernet and
Token Ring environments. Ask your guest to describe a project in which his/her firm helped an organization
migrate from Token Ring to Ethernet, and to describe any challenges in that process.

3. Draw a WAN with 5 nodes on the chalkboard in a bus topology. Describe functions that occur at each WAN
node (such as headquarters, accounting, and network support) and ask students to draw additional WAN links
where better fault tolerance may be necessary. Ask them to consider the cost involved in their additions.
Where would they add a link if they could only add 1?

4. Bring a MAU, several token ring NICs and workstations to class. Have students establish a small token ring
network. Use the Network Monitor program within Windows NT to view token ring frames on the network as
data is transmitted.

Further Readings
1. IBM, Migration to Switched Ethernet LANs. WWW:

2. Gigabit Ethernet Alliance, Gigabit Ethernet Overview. WWW (requires Adobe Acrobat)

3. Michael J. Palmer and Robert Bruce Sinclair, A Guide to Designing and Implementing Local and Wide Area
Networks. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Course Technology.

4. Ed Tittel, A Guide to Networking Essentials. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Course Technology.

Technical Notes for the Hands-On Projects
The lab setup for the Chapter 5 hands-on projects includes the following elements (see the table):

• Devices to create a small LAN, including at least 2 Ethernet 10Mbps hubs that contain at least 4 ports
each, patch cables
• A Windows NT or 2000 server and some Windows 98 or Windows 2000 Professional desktops.


Project 5-1: Establish a 2 Ethernet 10Mbps hubs, Workstations running 6 patch cables
simple Ethernet LAN with at least 4 ports each, Windows 98 or Windows
LAN connectivity to a 2000 Professional with
Windows 2000 server TCP/IP installed and
properly configured.
Project 5-2: Use Network LAN connectivity to a Workstations running Network Monitor program
Monitor to capture traffic Windows NT/2000 Server Windows 98 or Windows from Windows NT/2000
and view frames 2000 Professional with Server
installed and properly
Project 5-3: Survey A simple chart or
organizations to determine spreadsheet in which to
what network transport compile survey responses.
model, cabling types, and
transmission speeds are
used on their LANs

Review Questions
1. Under what circumstance might you use a simple bus topology?
Answer: C. When you have few users on a LAN

2. What kind of topology is susceptible to signal bounce?

Answer: B. Bus

3. What are the primary advantages of using a star topology over a ring or bus topology?
Answer: A star topology is more reliable, because it connects each node or device to the network with a
separate connection. It is also more scalable, because additional devices can be added cheaply and without
impacting the performance of the network.

4. Most modern networks with more than a few nodes use a hybrid topology. True or False?
Answer: True

5. Why might you want to use a hierarchical topology?

Answer: A. To differentiate levels of connectivity devices and workstation groups.

6. What logical topology, or network transport model, relies most often on a star-wired bus topology?
Answer: A. Ethernet

7. How do workstations in a ring topology negotiate their data transmissions?
Answer: D. by using tokens

8. Which of the following is a potential problem with daisy-chaining hubs?

Answer: A. exceeding maximum segment length

9. What type of network backbone is the most reliable?

Answer: C. Parallel

10. The Internet is an example of what kind of WAN topology?

Answer: C. Mesh

11. Why is packet switching more efficient than circuit switching?

Answer: B. In packet switching packets can take the quickest route between nodes and arrive independent of
when other packets in their data stream arrive.

12. Describe the steps a workstation takes when it participates in CSMA/CD.

Answer: A node checks the network to determine whether another node is transmitting. If it is, it will wait a
specified amount of time before it retries. If two nodes have detected a free circuit and begun to transmit
simultaneously, a collision will occur. In this event the Collision Detection routine is performed. If a station’s
NIC determines that its data has been involved in a collision, it will propagate the collision throughout the
network so no other stations attempt to transmit, then the station will remain silent for a period of time. After
waiting, the node will retransmit its data once it again determines that the line is available.

13. On a 100BaseT (Fast Ethernet) network, what is the maximum number of hubs that can be connected along
the bus of a star-wired bus topology?
Answer: B. 3

14. What is the maximum number of addressable stations on a 10BaseT Ethernet network?
Answer: E. 1024

15. Which two of the following might cause excessive data collisions on an Ethernet network?
Answer: B and E.

16. What type of media is best suited to 1 Gigabit Ethernet networks?

Answer: A. fiber-optic

17. In order to use demand priority on a network (for example, when running 100BaseVG), what type of hub is
Answer: D. intelligent

18. What fields do all Ethernet frame types have in common?

Answer: preamble, source address, destination address, padding, data, and frame check sequence

19. At what layer of the OSI Model does framing occur?

Answer: B. Data Link layer

20. What is the purpose of the pad field in an Ethernet frame?
Answer: E. to ensure that the data portion of the frame totals at least 46 bytes

21. What is the purpose of a Frame Check Sequence field in an Ethernet frame?
Answer: A. To ensure that data is received without errors at the destination node.

22. NIC device drivers come with what feature that reduces the need for you to worry about frame types?
Answer: C. autosense

23. What are the minimum and maximum sizes for an Ethernet frame?
Answer: C. 64 and 1518 Bytes

24. What type of TCP/IP protocol does LocalTalk use?

Answer: B. MacTCP

25. What is the name of a hub used on a Token Ring network?

Answer: A. Multistation Access Unit

26. Which two of the following are disadvantages to using Token Ring networks rather than Ethernet networks?
Answer: B and C.

27. Modern token ring networks may transmit data at 4, 16, 32 or 64 Mbps. True or False?
Answer: False.

28. If you were working on a Token Ring network that used cables with DB-9 connectors and needed to connect a
NIC that contained an RJ-45 receptor, which of the following would help you accomplish your goal?
Answer: D. media filter

29. Which of the following IEEE standards describes Token Ring networks?
Answer: D. IEEE 802.5

30. Which of the following logical topologies is capable of the fastest throughput?
Answer: E. ATM

31. What type of Physical layer is required for FDDI?

Answer: B. a dual ring of single mode or multimode fiber

32. Besides their ring-based topologies, what else do FDDI and Token Ring networks have in common?
Answer: C. Both use token passing to mediate data transmission.

33. You have been asked to serve on a technical committee planning an upgrade from your university’s FDDI
network to a Gigabit Ethernet network. The rest of the committee asserts this will be a relatively simple
transition. What concern should you raise that contradicts their assertion?
Answer: B. The maximum allowable distance for a FDDI network is longer than that of an Ethernet network,
so the existing FDDI network will need to be divided into smaller subnetworks.

34. What type of switching do ATM networks use?

Answer: A. circuit switching

35. Which two of the following might explain why network administrators prefer Gigabit Ethernet over ATM?
Answer: A and B.

Hands-On Projects
Project 5-1
This project gives the student a hands-on experience of creating a LAN. Remind students of some common
mistakes and help them with troubleshooting NICs, hubs, and cables. If possible, have some diagnostic tools on
hand (such as a cable tester) so that problems can be found and fixed. Use the workstation logon process and data
transmission for the test of a properly configured network. If time allows, ask the class to rearrange their small
networks into one, large hierarchical or star network.

Project 5-2
Students may need help getting started with this exercise, but after some experience capturing and viewing frames,
should be encouraged to experiment with Network Monitor on their own. For example, ask them to try different
protocol traffic and different types of functions to see how the output of their capture differs.

Discuss how Network Monitor can be used to troubleshoot network problems. Also point out how programs such
as Network Monitor (or sniffers) can be used to steal data from a network (a source of security breaches). Discuss

Project 5-3
In this exercise, the student will have a chance to find out what type of technology is used in the “real world.” As
mentioned in the text, a student should try to choose a variety of organization types, for example, an insurance
company, a utility, a local school district, a chain of retail stores, an architectural firm or an ISP. Each type of
organization will have a different networking strategy.

You may want to provide students with an example questionnaire that they can use while making the calls. Also,
collect the survey results during another class period and discuss their findings. Were each student’s conclusions
about current network technology similar? What type of patterns did they notice? Which responses surprised them
the most? Were there any network managers who did not want to divulge their network strategy? If so, why?

Case Projects
Case Assignment 1
Since the CPA firm is “very successful,” you can probably assume that cost is not their top concern, but since
they are growing, they are concerned with scalability. Also, since they currently have no LAN, you are in a good
position to recommend a technology and products that will allow them to easily expand. The best option to
provide scalability and current reliability if cost is of little concern is 100Mbps Ethernet with CAT5 wiring to the
desktop and fiber on the backbone.

To determine their topology, consider their demographics. Right now they have 560 employees. It would be
worthwhile to ask how they would like to separate these employees on the LAN (by access rights, department,
location?) to determine what type of topology you would recommend. Since you are using Ethernet you would
most likely use a star topology. Since they have a large number of employees, you would probably arrange hubs
hierarchically to serve workgroups and arrange the backbone in a serial or distributed fashion. If they are willing
to pay for greater reliability, you might consider a parallel backbone, in which critical core networking
equipment is redundant.

Case Assignment 2
Intermittent lockups, GPFs and disconnections are all possible manifestations of EMI interference on a 10BaseT
network. In this scenario two environmental factors may be causing EMI: the stamping machinery or having
network cables strung along support posts (that supply power cables). Suggest to the network administrator that
she run cable trays from the ceiling rather than pull them along support posts. This will isolate the network
connections from possible EMI sources.

Case Assignment 3
Depending on how the 100BaseT segments were installed, workstations on those segments may be causing an
inordinate number of collisions on the entire network and causing traffic to come to a halt (thus preventing
anyone from accessing the network). A few problems should be considered: the 100BaseT segments may be too
long. Or, the hubs/switches that serve those segments may not be able to handle that speed. Make sure that the
connectivity devices for those segments are also upgraded (or capable of handling 100Mbps traffic) and that the
maximum segment length for 100BaseT is not being exceeded.

Case Assignment 4
Things to consider here are poor wiring techniques in the telecommunications closet, EMI sources in the closet,
and the possibility that maximum segment length has been exceeded by daisy-chaining hubs. All of these
situations may occur when technical staff is trying to take care of expansion without proper planning.

Case Assignment 5
Point out that Gigabit Ethernet may be overkill for desktops at this point, especially if most of the functions staff
are performing are spreadsheet or word processing-related. Also point out that some connectivity equipment for
Gigabit Ethernet is still in the development phase, and if they are more concerned about reliability than being on
the cutting edge, it would be best to wait. Point out that she can position the network for eventual migration to
Gigabit Ethernet by installing a fiber backbone and CAT 6 or better wiring to the desktop whenever upgrades to
100BaseT are made.