• Network-Active

    Want 2.5G/5G BASE-T Connections? They’re coming.

    The 1 GE BASE-T standard connecting at 1000 Mbps is widely used today. But if you want more bandwidth from a single port, your options are: Combine two or more 1 GE connections via Link Aggregation, or upgrade to a 10 GE connection. Both these options are not as efficient or as inexpensive as having a direct 2.5 GE or 5 GE connection from a single port through a single cable. If we can push 10 GE through a single copper port, why not these? The IEEE P802.3bz is the new upcoming standard that seeks to address this gap and the working committee has released a draft. The new standard…

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  • Network-Active

    DHCP Fingerprinting: Identify Device type, vendor and OS

    What is DHCP Fingerprinting? A DHCP client interacts with the DHCP server in a network to obtain unique IP address (for the session). But it also acquires other info like default gateway, DNS server, etc. During the DHCP protocol exchange, there is an option for the DHCP server to query information on the type of device, manufacturer name, and OS of the client device. This is defined by RFC 2132, and is called as DHCP Fingerprinting. Why is it required? Due to the proliferation of BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices)/mobile devices connecting mostly over the Wireless Network, it becomes difficult to identify and control the types of devices that can…

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  • Network-Active

    Distributed Core/Leaf-Spine Network Architecture: An Intro

    Distributed Core/Leaf-Spine Network Architecture is catching up with large data center/cloud networks due to its scalability, reliability, and better performance (vs. 3-tier Core-Aggregation-Edge Tree Networks). Maybe it’s time for enterprises and smaller networks to consider implementing Distributed Core/Leaf-Spine Networks, as the architecture enables companies to start small and scale up massively. Here’s a short introduction. A basic architecture diagram for Distributed Core/Leaf-Spine Networks is shown above. As you can see, the top layer has Spine Switches and the layer below has Leaf Switches. The Servers/Storage equipment (or) Top of the Rack (ToR) Switches connect to the Leaf Switches, as shown in the bottom of the diagram. As you can see, All Leaf…

  • Network-Active

    Can you buy Network Switches & Load an OS of Your choice? – Yes!

    On the day of writing this article, customers can buy bare-metal or white-box network switches and load any one from (at least) three flavors of Linux-based network operating systems, into it. If that makes you hope that network switches may one day become like general-purpose servers which allow any OS to be loaded into the switch (basically hardware is separate from software), yes it might. For large cloud service providers, this is already true. But will this trend catch up in the SMB/Enterprise switch markets? Only time will tell! Each of the three network operating systems (mentioned above) is compatible with only certain versions of OEM switch models and maybe available only…

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  • Network-Active

    Passive Optical LAN for Enterprise Networks – Advantages & Limitations

    When you think of LAN (Local Area Network), you generally think of Cat 5/6 cables and network switches, don’t you? But certain developments in the carrier networking technologies has made optical fiber networking feasible, and maybe even beneficial, for the Enterprise LAN. Will all our copper cables be replaced by fiber cables sometime in the future? Not totally impossible. What is Passive Optical LAN? If you want to build a LAN, you’d have the following components: Core Switch, Distribution/Aggregation Switch, Edge/End-point Switch, Copper UTP Cables. Fiber Optic cables may also be used for interconnection of switches (backbone). Passive Optical LAN proposes to change this fundamental LAN architecture by replacing copper…

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  • Network-Active

    Will Power-Line Networking find Enterprise/Industrial Applications?

    Power-Line Networking has grown by leaps and bounds recently and currently available power-line adapters in the market provide a bandwidth of up to 500 Mbps. The concept of transmitting data using the standard power cables at home/office has been picking steam over the years and currently power-lines have become a viable competitor to wired/wireless networking connections at home. Power-line adapters basically deliver broadband connections over power-lines. A number of companies already have products that enable power-line networks, today. All one needs to do is, buy a couple of power-line adapters, plug it into electrical socket(s) and connect network devices using the built-in RJ-45 port available in the power-line adapters. That’s…

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  • Network-Active

    Are we moving from 10GbE Fiber to 10GbE Copper?

    There are two major applications that require 10GbE (10 Gigabit Ethernet) speeds – Backbone network connectivity, mainly from the core switch to the distribution switches and the connectivity between distribution switches to the edge switches, as well. The second application is a virtualized data center. With server virtualization becoming more popular, increasing number of applications are being packed into powerful servers that require a higher bandwidth (10GbE) connectivity for their switches. Majority of the 10GbE connections are (were?) fiber-based and optical fiber cables proved to be the perfect carrier for so much bandwidth. But, every 10GbE fiber connection comes with its own cost (and complexity). One needs specialized fiber ports…

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  • Network-Active

    Modular Operating System for Network Switches is better?

    Network Switch vendors categorize the operating system software (in switches) into two types – Monolithic Operating Systems and Modular Operating Systems. According to them, a monolithic switch operating system is built using one large set of code and does not provide isolation between various processes it is running. A process or module could be any individual switch function like 802.1x, SSH, sFlow, etc. So, if there is a problem with one process, then the whole switch is affected and in some cases the switch may have to be rebooted causing interruption to all users connected to it. Also, in order to apply software updates to the switch operating system, switches…

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  • Network-Active

    What is a Network Switch?

    What is a Network Switch? A network switch is the basic component of a Local Area Network (LAN) that enables one to connect various network devices together and exchange data/information between them. A network switch generally has multiple ports where network devices like computers, printers, servers, etc. could connect using cat5E/cat6 cables/ RJ-45 jacks. Multiple switches can connect to each other as well. All the computers/network devices that connect to a switch (or connect to other switches connected to this switch) can communicate and exchange data with each other, as long as they are all in the same network segment. With a computer network (formed using network switches), one can…

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  • Network-Active

    Advantages of Chassis based Network Switches

    There are a number of advantages of deploying Chassis based Network Switches in the Data Center/ Core-Distribution layers in enterprises. Chassis Network Switches are fault-tolerant, expandable and offer higher performance, among others. Let us look at what are chassis network switches, some of their advantages and limitations, in this article. What is a Chassis based Network Switch? A Chassis based Network Switch is a network switch that is configurable with various types of line-cards to provide the type and quantity of required network ports (copper and fiber). A chassis contains certain number of fixed slots (generally 1U each), into which various types of line cards can be inserted. The Chassis…

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  • Network-Active

    VxLAN – Think beyond VLAN for the Cloud!

    We are familiar with VLAN (Virtual LAN) which segments a Layer-2 Network into subnetworks and hence limits the broadcast domain. There is a new (upcoming) IETF draft standard called VxLAN that seeks to replace VLAN in Cloud’s, Data Centers and other such large networks. Let us look at why a new standard might be required to extend VLAN, and some salient points about VxLAN, in this article. Motivations behind VxLAN: VLAN is the de-facto standard for LAN segmentation, but networks are becoming bigger every day. After the advent of Virtual Machines (Server Virtualization), hundreds of virtual machines can run in a single server, each with its own MAC address and…

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  • Network-Active

    Fanless Network Switches – Would you need them?

    We all know that Network Switches are a bit noisy. This noise mainly comes from the multiple fans that operate from within the network switch, in order to cool the various components of the switch from within. But, there are certain situations when we might prefer having a fanless (and hence silent) network switches. Let us explore a bit more about fanless network switches in this article and look at some models of network switches from a few vendors that actually incorporate the fanless design. Not all of us have a separate data center / server room where we can keep all the networking equipments, including network switches which form…

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  • Network-Active

    Virtual Chassis Technology : Stack/Combine Access Switches across a Campus

    Stacking multiple Switches has its advantages but often it is only possible to combine/ stack switches that are physically located within a few meters. A proprietary technology called Virtual Chassis technology offered by a few vendors can combine / stack access switches that are located far away (even a few KM) into a single virtual chassis group with a common management domain and multiple 10GE interlink (backplane) capacity.

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  • Network-Active

    An introduction to Quality of Service (QoS) in Wired Networks

    Adding more bandwidth is not always the option to solve network bottlenecks. There are other factors you need to consider like latency, jitter, packet loss, congestion, buffer overflow etc that might also affect the network performance. This is where QoS - Quality of Service aware network plays an important part. If at all your network has real time traffic like voice, video etc, configuring and maintaining the right QoS parameters becomes all the more important. Let us look into QoS - Quality of Service for Wired Networks, a little closer in this article.

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