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What is Frame Relay? How does Frame Relay differ from other techniques? What is Frame Relay useful for? How does frame relay fit in the U.S. Internet strategy? Mixing Frame Relay with other technologies Pros and Cons of Frame Relay Technical aspects of installing and running frame
Items one through six will address general overviews of frame; item 7 will be a technical discussion related to equipment installation and setup that is probably only interesting for the technical staff involved in this area. 1. What is Frame Relay? Frame relay is a technique used to transport data from locations to location, just like T-1 lines or ISDN connections do. In frame relay, there are a number of locations on the network that can send and receive data. These connections are known as Ports. Each location that needs access to the frame system, needs to have one of these ports. Every port in a Frame Relay system has an Address. This address is Unique to the port at that specific location. The port is connected to the equipment that handles the Data on one side, to the Frame Relay Cloud on the other side. The equipment that handles the data can send data out the frame relay port. This happens in the form of Packets, or Frames. Each frame is built up of two parts; the actual Data and the Control block. These frames are sent over Virtual Connections. The frame network itself should be imagined as a cloud. Every Frame Relay Access Port runs into this Cloud. Inside the cloud, there are a lot of different ways to get from one port to another. These ways are all interconnected by Frame Switches. These switches can make informed decisions on the traffic flow over each part of each route. Together, they figure out what router to send a packet over to get it fast and reliable from the source to the destination port. Let's for example say that we have two sites connected to a frame relay network, and we wish to send data from site A to site B. The diagram would look like this:
things get more interesting: . things work pretty much the same as they would on a dedicated line between A and B. When we add a Location C. and does not matter to us. So.What happens INSIDE the Frame Cloud is not known. at this point. What we do is simply address data as Going to B or Going to A.
we say there is a connection from site A to site B. Each end of each connection is given a number that identifies it.Now. From site A to site C. In a conventional setup with leased or dialup lines. this is called a Data link Connection Identifier. The way this is done. the three sites can simply talk to each other by passing packets with the correct addresses. or DCLI. For example. the cloud takes care of all of this! What the cloud does for us. For everyone in the above diagram to be able to talk to everyone directly. these are the virtual connections that would be needed: . is form 'Virtual Connections'. is simple. Not in frame relay. Each connection from one site to another is defined. etc. or that traffic would have to pass through two sites. this would have meant that either each site would have to have two lines.
each of the two gets a fair share of the bandwidth. Let's say for example that all ports in our network have a 512 Kilobit bandwidth. the On Demand variety is called a Switched Virtual Circuit or SVC. which will bring up a SVC. being Fixed and On Demand. It will be sent as soon as possible. and they are now ready to talk. Now keep in mind that all the data for all virtual connections arrives over one line. This type of circuit is brought up when needed. when the dataflow lets off a little. or PVC. in one port! This means that the Equipment itself takes care of picking the data apart and putting the correct packets in the correct directions. If A wants to setup an SVC to B. Since C only has a 512 Kbit port. This port comes in over a traditional form of media. it can be dialup. This will get the data across the Virtual Connection. . the total combined bandwidth will be 512+512 = 1024Kilobits. Both sides will be assigned a temporary DLCI. The rest of the data is temporarily buffered in the Frame Relay Cloud. it will send a control packet in LAPD format. these virtual connections come in two flavors. Simply addressing the data with a port address and DLCI will get it over the Frame Cloud to the right port.This means that everyone can talk to each other by simply stating the address and DLCI number of the line they want to talk over. we have a problem! Frame Relay uses a technique called Statistical Multiplexing to fix this. If A and B start sending data to C at the same time. A PVC is setup by the carrier that carries the frame-data from A to B. as said before by one port into the frame network. ISDN to T-1 or higher bandwidth. The multiple DCLI's coming into or going out of one location are all handled. just like making a phonecall. The fixed variety is referred to as a Private Virtual Circuit.
Frame becomes attractive when you feed a large number of connections. The bandwidth on frame is shared. since Frame relay is not media specific. How does Frame Relay differ from other Techniques? The biggest difference in frame Relay from other techniques is the use of Virtual Connections rather than Static Connections. Also. if the buffers fill up and there is nowhere to go. the Access Port and the Private Virtual Circuits. it can make a good interconnect medium between various devices that run at various speeds. From this port. each location can have one port into a Frame Relay Network. when you feed multiple cities and Hop multiple Lata's. However. since the protocols running over frame will re-send the data anyway. A bigger port costs more money. a Frame solution is an attractive one. The multiplexed nature of Frame Relay facilitates especially the transmission of Bursty Traffic. a lot of bandwidth will be wasted at most times. and offers a way to buffer speed differences. and not dependent on bandwidth or usage. it is most suitable for permanent or semipermanent connections. therefor allowing better utilization of bandwidth. What is frame relay useful for? Frame Relay can be used for various types of connections. Two frame ports between two cities are usually also more expensive than a direct T-1 as long as there is only a one or two LATA Hop. we can feed as many circuits as we please (up to the equipment's limit. It should be seen as a flexible protocol that lies on the Data Level of the Connections between routers. since the bandwidth in the Frame Relay Port may become a bottleneck.The risk in this is of course that the dataflow may not let off. frame Relay pricing is where things really get different: From the above discussion we know there are two elements to Frame Relay. since it is not actually being used. It can currently be used effectively for carrying all sorts of data. at Fractional T-1 bandwidth generally 8 or more. the frame relay cloud will drop the data. up to speeds of about 4 megabits per second. without having to use multiple physical links. As shown before. The price of a PVC is fixed. It is not desirable as of yet to access frame relay on a dialup basis for economical purposes. It can make multiple redundant connections possible through the use of PVC's between various routers. it can have multiple Virtual Connections to various locations.. say for example Knoxville to Nashville. In our uses. Due to the implementation and cost of frame relay. In a traditional fixed-bandwidth multiple connection scenario. allowing for multiple bursts to be handled sequentially. Data sent over the Frame Connection is not subject to additional charges. In local traffic. 3. this is no problem. 2. The chance of congestion is however also greater. It is however something to consider. Per port. since it may cause slowdowns in the network. The price of the port depends on it's bandwidth.). The interesting part about this pricing is that there is NO DISTANCE CHARGE involved! A Frame Relay Access Port is expensive. .
it is technically possible to connect to a Frame cloud using an ISDN connection. Internet can connect multiple customers. Initially. U. Internet's routers. This integrated approach can be attractive for both parties. The POP's in Alabama. PRO: In many scenario's involving long haul. Frame Relay is nearly a protocol that describes how packets of data move from one location to another.S. clients in remote cities where we do not have bandwidth available to service them would be helped by getting in to the Frame cloud. It is possible to connect the clients router to Frame Relay and access Internet Services over this circuit. cost of technology and cost of service are prohibitive factors in this scenario. At the same time. we will operate with roughly 1. Several PVC's will be installed to allow for redundant hookups between the various locations. the same port may be used to connect to Wide Area offices the client has. but companies requiring more complicated Wide Area Solutions including internet may wish to look into this option. Next.S. . 4.5 megabit of access bandwidth out of two locations (Knoxville and Nashville). Although there is a greater chance of connection then when dedicated lines are used. Currently. U.For a number of U. then become a part of the frame network. In a later stage.S. it is cheaper than dedicated lines. Chattanooga. Pro's and Cons of Frame Relay. the client can connect to multiple remote locations using the one port. use of Frame Relay may allow for the connection of various remote sites using one technology. Memphis. How does frame relay fit in the U. if the customer has other Frame Relay ports available in different locations. Johnson City.S. the economical advantage will in most cases compensate for this. we may start offering clients access to the network over frame Relay. and the equipment required to operate successfully in this architecture is only now (September 1995) being deployed. Internet strategy? Initially. Internet will initially be using Dedicated Fractional T-1 connections to connect to the Frame Cloud.S. 5. and connecting into one of U. Clarksville and Pittsburgh. Sprint has been chosen as our frame Relay provider. Internet clients. PA will all come online on this frame relay system. In this scenario.S. 6. U. Mixing Frame Relay with Other Technologies.S. from one Frame port. internet is deploying Frame Relay ports for some of the long distance connections required to connect to remote Points of Presence. At the same time. The cost of these ports is substantial. it does not concern itself with the issues of how packets get to and from the frame network. high speed connections. and connect to U. access over High Speed Modem and ISDN will be investigated. Several techniques can be used to get data in a frame port. Internet's services.
S. the 4500's will take care of the FRAD functionality. as well as many others. In our case. Internet. Technical Aspects of Installing and Running Frame. or FRAD. PRO: Mixed speeds can be converted. they will also function as a Frame Switch. a more general and detailed overview of the technology. are also available on the World Wide Web. The device used to handle the special frame signaling is called a Frame Relay Access Device.PRO: There is a cheap solution to incorporate redundancy in the network. PRO: Less hardware is needed to for the same amount of connections CON: There may be jams. In the POPs. and Frame Relay Configuration. 2500's or 4000's will serve as the FRAD. CON: In short haul. traffic bursts can be buffered. in the NOC's. The connection to the Frame Relay Network will be made over dedicated T-1 connections. All Rights Reserved. just like a T-1 does. These documents. it is not economically feasible. this function will be performed by the software in our Cisco routers. For implementation of Sub-interface Routing. Attached is the Cisco documentation regarding Internet Technologies and Frame relay. 7. which goes into the exact configuration strategies and commands in greater details. These connections will terminate in a DSU at U. These attachments are Copyright © 1995 Cisco Systems Inc. no guaranteed bandwidth CON: In a point-to-point scenario it is not economically feasible. .
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