Intro to Networking - Hierarchical Network Topology


This is an introductory article on the Hierarchical Network Topology utilizing different layers.

Find a complete introductory guide on Routing and Switching in our Ubiquiti Broadband Routing & Switching Specialist (UBRSS) guide, downloadable in our Training section.

Introduction to Designing Networks

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The Hierarchical Networking model is a strategic design implemented by enterprise and service provider networks for best performance and efficient hardware management at deployment sites. The following tenants are crucial when designing networks:

  • Segmentation The physical and logical segmentation of network areas for purposes of controlling traffic, through conscious hardware choices and proper device configurations (e.g., VLANs, Port Isolation).
  • Bandwidth Present and future consideration of downstream and upstream traffic requirements at various points in the network, emphasizing efficiency while avoiding traffic 'bottlenecks' (e.g. Fiber switch core/backhaul, traffic shaping controls).

After designing a purpose-driven network topology, Ubiquiti strongly recommends reviewing product datasheets to ensure that proposed hardware meets the requirements of the intended network. Networking equipment is generally categorized and deployed across 3-4 different hierarchical layers:

  • Edge Firewalls or routers (sometimes switches) sitting at WAN or MAN boundaries of networks, sometimes as dedicated hardware.
  • Core/Aggregation Ultra-high performance switches and routers, primarily concerned with Layer-2 switching or Layer-3 packet functions.
  • Distribution High performance switches (sometimes routers) handling traffic for vital functions and services (e.g. DNS, Controllers).
  • Access Switches connecting data devices and users to the network, commonly utilizing high upstream links.

The example diagram below shows a Hierarchical Network Topology utilizing different Ubiquiti devices:


Core, Distribution, and Access (as well as Edge) layers comprise the Hierarchical Network Topology.

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