Planning a TCP/IP Network Infrastructure in VB.NET

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Planning a TCP/IP Network Infrastructure
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Figure 2-4 Two remote networks connected using routers and a WAN
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You will learn later in this chapter that there are alternatives to routers for connecting LANs at the same site. However, routers are essential for connecting networks using a WAN. This is because WANs use different data-link layer protocols than LANs. A typical WAN connection uses a TCP/IP protocol called the Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP) at the data-link layer. PPP is designed solely for connections between two nodes. With PPP, unlike Ethernet, there is no contention for the network medium and no need for packet addressing. The control overhead of the PPP is therefore much lower than that of Ethernet or Token Ring. The routers not only provide the interface to the WAN, they also repackage the datagrams for transmission over a different type of network.
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Using Routers
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The routers you use to connect your LANs can take many different forms. Some routers are software products. A Windows Server 2003 computer is capable of functioning as a router, providing you install two network interface adapters in the computer and configure RRAS to function as a LAN router. Windows Server 2003 can also function as a router connecting a LAN to the Internet. The only differences between the two router functions are the RRAS configuration and the fact that one of the network interfaces is a modem or other device providing a WAN connection to an ISP. On most networks, routers are more likely to be separate hardware devices than standard computers. Stand-alone routers are available in many sizes and price ranges. The smallest and most inexpensive routers are devices the size of an external modem that are designed to connect a home or small business LAN to the Internet. More elaborate Internet access routers are designed to support larger networks. Most of these routers can use NAT so that the clients on the private network can use unregistered IP addresses.
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Planning Routers for connecting LANs tend to be high-end devices and are frequently mod
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ular. This type of device consists of a router frame, which you typically install in a data center and populate with modules that provide interfaces to your various networks. The advantage of this design is that you can connect LANs (or WANs) of any type by purchasing the appropriate modules and inserting them into the frame.
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Lesson 2
Planning an IP Routing Solution
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Using Switches
While routers are necessary for connecting distant networks with WANs, today s networks do not use them for connecting LANs together as often as they used to. Switches have largely replaced routers on internal networks. A switch is a network connection device similar in appearance to a hub but with different internal functions. A typical Ethernet hub is strictly a physical layer device. Electrical (or fiber-optic) signals generated by devices on the network enter the hub through one of its ports. The hub then amplifies the signals and transmits them through all the other ports simultaneously. The hub does not read the contents of the data packets it forwards or even recognize that they are data packets. The hub s function is strictly electrical (or photonic). It has no intelligence. Switches receive signals from network devices in the same way as a hub, but the switch is intelligent and can read the contents of the data packets it receives. The switch reads the destination address in each incoming packet, amplifies the signals like a hub, and then forwards the packet, but only through the port providing the connec tion to the packet s destination. When you connect a group of computers to a hub, every packet transmitted by every com puter is forwarded to every other computer. This means that the network interfaces in the computers spend a significant amount of time reading the addresses of incoming packets and discarding them because they are intended for another destination. Connect the same group of computers to a switch, and the amount of traffic on the network is reduced sub stantially because packets travel directly from the source only to their destinations and nowhere else. Each pair of computers on the network has, in effect, a dedicated connec tion between them, using the full bandwidth of the network medium. There is less conten tion for the network medium, and therefore there are fewer collisions. You can use switches in place of hubs on your individual horizontal networks. These are called workgroup switches or switching hubs. As a replacement for routers, however, you can also use a single high-performance switch in place of a backbone network. By using switching hubs on your horizontal networks and connecting them to a single backbone switch, you create a network infrastructure in which every computer can open a dedicated connection to any other computer. For larger networks, you can add a third level of switches, connecting your workgroup switches to a departmental switch and your departmental switches to a backbone switch.
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