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What is VLAN and How Does it Work?

What is VLAN?

VLAN has become a new trend in the technology industry and as tech ninjas, it’s not just important, but also necessary to know one or two things about VLANs, how they work, their advantages and disadvantages and why you should use them.

Cutting the long story short, let’s do this.

What is VLAN?

VLAN is short for Virtual Local Area Network, and is an extension of LAN. A VLAN separates a physical network of connected devices into several other logical networks.

So, every VLAN has different broadcast domains. Devices can only communicate if they’re in the same VLAN.

For example, in a workplace, there might be logical compartments of the LAN into the different departments available. Hence, when the administrative department broadcasts packets, it can reach all the computers connected to the logical compartment of the administrative department, but none outside it.

The VLAN does a good job of reducing excessive network collisions, i.e. when two workstations transfer data simultaneously over a LAN connection, it may collide and hence, the data is transmitted improperly.

VLANs are also more functional than LAN for the availability of logical partition and more security features.

Types of VLAN

VLANs are basically divided into two types. These are:

Port-based VLANs

A Port-based VLAN is simply a physical network switch divided into multiple logical switches. While the device’s may have one root source, the logical arrangement makes it impossible for some devices to communicate with another.

Tagged VLANs

Tagged VLANs involves a situation where more than one VLAN is handled by a port.

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Importance of VLANs

VLANs can’t be just useless. It’s in fact extremely useful. It is popular amongst organizations and other like associations for the following benefits.

1. VLANs are flexible
As VLANs are configured and assigned based on numerous criteria, it is easy to alter the settings or system when the need calls for it. VLANs are also suitable for users who like to exchange an enormous deal of data within their devices. They could share a VLAN even if they work in different buildings.

2. They are cost-effective
Workstations that communicate and transfer data with one other won’t require a router unless they’re sending data out of the VLAN. This makes a VLAN switch more cost-effective as a router may cause bottlenecks. Hence, VLANs could more effectively manage increased data load. Also, the latency is decreased to the minimum as the switch needs no information from the router to communicate with devices in the router.

3. They decrease unnecessary administrative work
VLANs do some automated administrative work by allowing administrators to automatically limit access to some users by isolating the workstations into segments. This will save the administrators the stress of reconfiguring the network or changing the LAN groups when users move to their workstations. These save the administrators the time and energy of configuration and security measures.

Disadvantages of VLAN

A VLAN has some disadvantages which proper maintenance can easily counter. Here are some disadvantages of VLANs that all tech ninjas should know.

1. High risk of viruses — Once a computer in the network gets infected with malware,it is very easy to spread the malware to all computers in the network.
2. Although it may control latency better than a WAN, it is still not as efficient as a LAN.
3. There might be need for extra equipments in a large environment as more routers may be needed to effectively control workload.

Conclusion

VLAN is an essential discovery in the computer networking world. Although this mode of networking is not flawless, it cannot be denied its place as one of the most important networking system ever discovered.

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