Ring topology is a type of network topology in which each device is connected to two other devices on either side via an RJ-45 cable or coaxial cable. This forms a circular ring of connected devices which gives it its name.
Data is commonly transferred in one direction along the ring, known as a unidirectional ring. The data is forwarded from one device to the next, until it reaches the intended destination. In a bidirectional ring, data can travel in either direction.
There are multiple types of ring topologies that provide redundancy, including:
- Counter-rotating ring topology. An additional ring is present in the opposite direction of the initial ring. If a network switch fails, the backup ring is activated which allows data to continue to transmit in the network.
- Collapsed ring topology. If a device fails, the ring will “collapse” and connect every other device to each other, eliminating the single point of failure and isolating it for easier maintenance.
Advantages of Ring Topology
- Since data flows in one direction, the chance of a packet collision is reduced
- A network server is not needed to control network connectivity
- Devices can be added without impacting network performance
- Easy to identify and isolate single points of failure
- Better suited for high traffic environments than a bus topology
Disadvantages of Ring Topology
- All data travelling over the network must pass through each device on its way to its destination, which can reduce performance
- If one device fails, the entire network is impacted
- Can be difficult to architect the necessary cabling
- More expensive to implement than a bus topology
Why You Need Network Topology Diagrams
Network topology diagrams are used to visually represent a network’s devices and connections, allowing you to picture how devices are devices communicate with each other.
Network diagrams help improve:
- Uptime. Accurate network documentation enables quick diagnosis in the event of network issues or planned maintenance.
- Efficiency. A real-time view of your network helps you maximize the utilization of your existing capacity and forecast when you will run out of capacity.
- Productivity. Reliable network diagrams allow you to save time troubleshooting issues and deploying new equipment so you can focus on more strategic projects.
Top Challenges of Documenting Network Topologies
Spreadsheets and drawing tools are commonly used for network documentation, but they are:
- Time-consuming. Network topology diagrams must be manually updated every time you move, add, or change equipment. Resources need to be spent on this job instead of more productive work.
- Inaccurate. When network diagrams are updated manually, human error is bound to occur. Inaccurate data can lead to costly downtime and stranded capacity.
- Difficult to manage. Poor version control results in different team members having different documentation and data. Poor data sharing and collaboration practices can wreak havoc across your organization.
Automatically Generate Complete Network Diagrams
Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) software automatically renders network topology diagrams so you can visualize your entire network in a single pane of glass.
You can filter by types of equipment, click any node to highlight connections to other nodes, see details of assets and connections, edit the layout, and drill down to see circuit trace diagrams. You can even view a tiered layout where the devices are organize by core network, distribution network, and access network.
Automatic network diagrams greatly decrease the time spent troubleshooting and performing impact analysis. Modern DCIM tools make it easy to visualize what's connected to what, across both active and passive (i.e., patch panels and structured cabling), and across all sites.
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