Hierarchical Network Design Principles
Just because a network seems to have a hierarchical design does not mean that the network is well designed.These simple guidelines will help you differentiate between well-designed and poorly designed hierarchicalnetworks. This section is not intended to provide you with all the skills and knowledge you need to design ahierarchical network, but it offers you an opportunity to begin to practice your skills by transforming a flat networktopology into a hierarchical network topology.
When designing a hierarchical network topology, the first thing to consider is
. Diameter isusually a measure of distance, but in this case, we are using the term to measure the number of devices.
Networkdiameter is the number of devices that a packet has to cross before it reaches its destination
. Keeping thenetwork diameter low ensures low and predictable latency between devices.In the figure, PC1 communicates with PC3. There could be up to six interconnected switches between PC1 andPC3. In this case, the network diameter is 6. Each switch in the path introduces some degree of latency. Networkdevice latency is the time spent by a device as it processes a packet or frame. Each switch has to determine thedestination MAC address of the frame, check its MAC address table, and forward the frame out the appropriateport. Even though that entire process happens in a fraction of a second, the time adds up when the frame has tocross many switches.In the three-layer hierarchical model, Layer 2 segmentation at the distribution layer practically eliminates networkdiameter as an issue. In a hierarchical network, network diameter is always going to be a predictable number ofhops between the source and destination devices.
Each layer in the hierarchical network model is a possible candidate for
Bandwidthaggregation is the practice of considering the specific bandwidth requirements of each part of thehierarchy
. After bandwidth requirements of the network are known, links between specific switches can beaggregated, which is called link aggregation. Link aggregation allows multiple switch port links to be combined soas to achieve higher throughput between switches. Cisco has a proprietary link aggregation technology calledEtherChannel, which allows multiple Ethernet links to be consolidated. A discussion of EtherChannel is beyond thescope of this course. To learn more, visit:http://www.cisco.com/en/US/tech/tk389/tk213/tsd_technology_support_protocol_home.html.