Black Box Explains... Router Basics
Routers are intelligent, high-level devices that enable individual, unique, logical networks to communicate with each other while maintaining their own identities. A router forms the boundary between networks. It connects... more/see it nowlogically separate networks operating under the same transport protocol such as TCP/IP or SNA. Routers are protocol-dependent and must support the protocols being routed. Thanks to the Internet, these protocols have become fairly standardized.
Part of a routers function is to choose a path over which to send packets. This path may involve multiple hops from the source device to a destination that can be across multiple physical networkseven on another continent. In an enterprise-wide WAN divided by routers, each network is managed separately and is assigned a unique network number (OSI Layer 3), usually an IP address.
A router learns the network number of each connected LAN and stores these numbers in a routing table. If a network changes, the router learns and stores the change automatically. The router uses these routing tables combined with a routing algorithm to decide the best way to route a packet. collapse
Black Box Explains...Remote Access Servers.
Remote access servers (RASs) are high-level intelligent devices with multiple asynchronous communication ports that connect to modems and provide remote users with dial-in access to a central site network.
You... more/see it nowcan configure your RAS to operate via remote control or remote node access.
Remote control operation enables remote users to send keystroke data and receive screen output from the central site. The actual processing takes place inside the communication server. Remote node access enables the remote user to become a network node and all remote workstations to function as if they were connected locally.
A fixed-port remote access server has a network connection to your LAN and one or more asynchronous RS-232 ports that connect to external modems. It usually comes equipped with 4, 8, or 16 async ports and is easy to install, support, and maintain. These devices are ideal for traveling workers who dont have a remote office but who need connections to the corporate network for short periods of time.
For configuration flexibility, scalability, and remote wide-area connection options, choose a modular remote-access server that you can change as your network grows. Most modular RASs accept a variety of modules, including:
• High-density async RS-232 modules that connect to external modems or ISDN terminal adapters. These modules typically have eight or more ports.
• High-density modem modules that usually incorporate eight modems on a single card, enabling you to consolidate equipment costs, increase reliability, and simplify management.
• Digital modules that enable you to make direct connections to high-speed digital lines. Instead of using multiple dialup lines, you can use these devices to bring a single high-speed digital phone line—known as a channelized T1— to your equipment.
The best way to determine what type of RAS you need—or whether you need a router or a RAS—is to identify what remote solution will meet your connectivity requirements. If you’re not sure what you need, contact our FREE Tech Support. collapse
Black Box Explains...Link loss.
Media converters solve the problem of connecting different media types in mixed-media networks. In order to comply with IEEE standards, they implement IEEE data-encoding rules and the Link Integrity Test.
For... more/see it nowa twisted-pair segment, a link is a signal sent by the converters when the cable is in use. If no Link Integrity Test signal is received, the connected device assumes that the link is lost.
With fiber cable, a connected device checks a line by monitoring the Link Integrity Test signal from the converter and the power of the light being received. If the light’s power drops below a certain threshold, the link is lost. In either case, link loss usually results from a broken cable, which is the cause of approximately 70% of all LAN problems.
Link loss is often indicated by an LED on a connected network device. You can also monitor a link with network-management software, such as SNMP, which sends a TRAP (alert) to the management workstation when the link is lost.
Media converters actually function as two separate Multistation Access Units (MAUs). For example, one monitor is a twisted-pair segment and one monitor is a fiber segment. If a fiber cable is broken and the link is lost, a network manager on the twisted-pair end wont know there’s a problem until users on the fiber side report it.
To solve this problem, Black Box® Modular Media Converters feature a unique Link-Loss capability. This enables the link status on one segment to reflect the link status of the other segment. So if the link is lost on the fiber side, the link is disabled on the UTP segment as well. And the converters will send an SNMP TRAP indicating the loss of link to the management workstation. collapse
Black Box Explains…Fiber Ethernet adapters vs. media converters.
When running fiber to the desktop, you have two choices for making the connection from the fiber to a PC: a fiber Ethernet adapter or a media converter like our... more/see it nowMicro Mini Media Converter.
Fiber Ethernet adapters:
Create no desktop clutter, but the PC must be opened.
Powered from the PC—require no separate power provision.
Require an open PCI or PCI-E slot in the PC.
Can create driver issues that must be resolved.
May be required in high-security installations that require a 100% fiber link to the desktop.
No need to open the PC but can create a cluttered look.
Powered from an AC outlet or a PC’s USB port.
Don’t require an open slot in the PC.
Plug-and-play installation—totally transparent to data, so there are no driver problems; install in seconds.
The short copper link from media converter to PC may be a security vulnerability. collapse
Black Box Explains...Ethernet.
If you have an existing network, there’s a 90% chance it’s Ethernet. If you’re installing a new network, there’s a 98% chance it’s Ethernet—the Ethernet standard is... more/see it nowthe overwhelming favorite network standard today.
Ethernet was developed by Xerox®, DEC®, and Intel® in the mid-1970s as a 10-Mbps (Megabits per second) networking protocol—very fast for its day—operating over a heavy coax cable (Standard Ethernet).
Today, although many networks have migrated to Fast Ethernet (100 Mbps) or even Gigabit Ethernet (1000 Mbps), 10-Mbps Ethernet is still in widespread use and forms the basis of most networks.
Ethernet is defined by international standards, specifically IEEE 802.3. It enables the connection of up to 1024 nodes over coax, twisted-pair, or fiber optic cable. Most new installations today use economical, lightweight cables such as Category 5 unshielded twisted-pair cable and fiber optic cable.
How Ethernet Works
Ethernet signals are transmitted from a station serially, one bit at a time, to every other station on the network.
Ethernet uses a broadcast access method called Carrier Sense Multiple Access/Collision Detection (CSMA/CD) in which every computer on the network hears every transmission, but each computer listens only to transmissions intended for it.
Each computer can send a message anytime it likes without having to wait for network permission. The signal it sends travels to every computer on the network. Every computer hears the message, but only the computer for which the message is intended recognizes it. This computer recognizes the message because the message contains its address. The message also contains the address of the sending computer so the message can be acknowledged.
If two computers send messages at the same moment, a collision occurs, interfering with the signals. A computer can tell if a collision has occurred when it doesn’t hear its own message within a given amount of time. When a collision occurs, each of the colliding computers waits a random amount of time before resending the message.
The process of collision detection and retransmission is handled by the Ethernet adapter itself and doesn’t involve the computer. The process of collision resolution takes only a fraction of a second under most circumstances. Collisions are normal and expected events on an Ethernet network. As more computers are added to the network and the traffic level increases, more collisions occur as part of normal operation. However, if the network gets too crowded, collisions increase to the point where they slow down the network considerably.
Standard (Thick) Ethernet (10BASE5)
Thin Ethernet (ThinNet) (10BASE2)
- Uses thick coax cable with N-type connectors for a backbone and a transceiver cable with 9-pin connectors from the transceiver to the NIC.
- Both ends of each segment should be terminated with a 50-ohm resistor.
- Maximum segment length is 500 meters.
- Maximum total length is 2500 meters.
- Maximum length of transceiver cable is 50 meters.
- Minimum distance between transceivers is 2.5 meters.
- No more than 100 transceiver connections per segment are allowed.
Twisted-Pair Ethernet (10BASE-T)
- Uses "Thin" coax cable.
- The maximum length of one segment is 185 meters.
- The maximum number of segments is five.
- The maximum total length of all segments is 925 meters.
- The minimum distance between T-connectors is 0.5 meters.
- No more than 30 connections per segment are allowed.
- T-connectors must be plugged directly into each device.
Fiber Optic Ethernet (10BASE-FL, FOIRL)
- Uses 22 to 26 AWG unshielded twisted-pair cable (for best results, use Category 4 or 5 unshielded twisted pair).
- The maximum length of one segment is 100 meters.
- Devices are connected to a 10BASE-T hub in a star configuration.
- Devices with standard AUI connectors may be attached via a 10BASE-T transceiver.
- Uses 50-, 62.5-, or 100-micron duplex multimode fiber optic cable (62.5 micron is recommended).
- The maximum length of one 10BASE-FL (the new standard for fiber optic connections) segment is 2 kilometers.
- The maximum length of one FOIRL (the standard that preceded the new 10BASE-FL) segment is 1 kilometer.
Black Box Explains...Virtual LANs (VLANs).
True to their name, VLANs are literally virtual LANs—mini subLANs that, once configured, can exist and function logically as single, secure network segments, even though they may be part of... more/see it nowa much larger physical LAN.
VLAN technology is ideal for enterprises with far-reaching networks. Instead of having to make expensive, time-consuming service calls, system administrators can configure or reconfigure workstations easily or set up secure network segments using simple point-and-click, drag-and-drop management utilities. VLANs provide a way to define dynamic new LAN pathways and create innovative virtual network segments that can range far beyond the traditional limits of geographically isolated workstation groups radiating from centralized hubs.
For instance, using VLAN switches, you can establish a secure VLAN made up of select devices located throughout your enterprise (managers workstations, for example) or any other device that you decide requires full access to the VLAN youve created.
According to Cisco, a VLAN is a switched network logically segmented by functions, project teams, or applications regardless of the physical location of users. You can assign each switch port to a different VLAN. Ports configured in the same VLAN share broadcasts; ports that dont belong to the VLAN dont share the data.
VLAN switches group users and ports logically across the enterprise—they dont impose physical constraints like in a shared-hub architecture. In replacing shared hubs, VLAN switches remove the physical barriers imposed by each wiring closet.
To learn more about smart networking with VLANs, call the experts in our Local Area Network Support group at 724-746-5500, press 1, 2, 4. collapse
Black Box Explains…SFP compatibility.
Standards for SFP fiber optic media are published in the SFP Multi-Source Agreement, which specifies size, connectors, and signaling for SFPs, with the idea that all SFPs are compatible with... more/see it nowdevices that have appropriate SFP slots. These standards, which also extend to SFP+ and XFP transceivers, enable users to mix and match components from different vendors to meet their own particular requirements.
However, some major manufacturers, notably Cisco®, HP®, and 3Com®, sell network devices with SFP slots that lock out transceivers from other vendors. Because the price of SFPs—especially Gigabit SFPs and 10GBASE SFP+ and XFP transceivers—can add significantly to the price of a switch, this lock-out scheme raises hardware costs and limits transceiver choices.
Many vendors don’t advertise that SFP slots on their devices don’t accept standard SFPs from other vendors. This can lead to unpleasant surprises when a device simply refuses to communicate with an SFP.
Another game that some vendors play is to build devices that accept open-standard SFPs, but refuse to support those devices when SFPs from another vendor are used with them.
The only way around this “lock-in” practice is to only buy network devices that accept standard SFPs from all vendors and to buy from vendors that support their devices no matter whose SFPs are used with them. Questions? Call our FREE Tech Support at 724-746-5500.
Black Box Explains... SNMP.
SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) management is the standard for LAN management, particularly in mission-critical applications. The standard is controlled by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). It was designed... more/see it nowto manage network configuration, performance, faults, accounting, and security.
An SNMP agent must be present at the device level (a router or a hub, for example), either built into the unit or as a proxy agent, and is accessed through a remote terminal. SNMP does not follow a polling protocol. It waits to receive data from the remote device or sends data based on operator commands.
By using one common set of standards, SNMP enables network administrators to manage, monitor, and control their SNMP-compliant network equipment with one management system and from one management station. If a network device goes down, it|s possible to both pinpoint and troubleshoot the problem more efficiently. And a network administrator isnt limited to equipment from just one vendor when using an SNMP program. collapse
Black Box Explains... GBICs
A Gigabit Interface Converter (GBIC) is a transceiver that converts digital electrical currents to optical signals and back again. GBICs support speeds of 1 Gbps or more and are typically... more/see it nowused as an interface between a high-speed Ethernet or ATM switch and a fiber backbone. GBICs are hot-swappable, so switches dont need to be powered down for their installation. collapse
Black Box Explains...Ethernet hubs vs. Ethernet switches.
Although hubs and switches look very similar and are connected to the network in much the same way, there is a significant difference in the way they function.
What is a... more/see it nowhub?
An Ethernet hub is the basic building block of a twisted-pair (10BASE-T or 100BASE-TX) Ethernet network. Hubs do little more than act as a physical connection. They link PCs and peripherals and enable them to communicate over a network. All data coming into the hub travels to all stations connected to the hub. Because a hub doesnt use management or addressing, it simply divides the 10- or 100-Mbps bandwidth among users. If two stations are transferring high volumes of data between them, the network performance of all stations on that hub will suffer. Hubs are good choices for small- or home-office networks, particularly if bandwidth concerns are minimal.
What is a switch?
An Ethernet switch, on the other hand, provides a central connection in an Ethernet network in which each connected device has its own dedicated link with full bandwidth. Switches divide LAN data into smaller, easier-to-manage segments and send data only to the PCs it needs to reach. They allot a full 10 or 100 Mbps to each user with addressing and management features. As a result, every port on the switch represents a dedicated 10- or 100-Mbps pathway. Because users connected to a switch do not have to share bandwidth, a switch offers relief from the network congestion a shared hub can cause.
What to consider when selecting an Ethernet hub:
• Stackability. Select a stackable hub connected with a special cable so you can start with one hub and add others as you need more ports. The entire stack functions as one device.
• Manageability. Choose an SNMP-manageable hub if you have a large, managed network.
What to consider when selecting an Ethernet switch:
• Manageability. Ethernet switches intended for large managed networks feature built-in management, usually SNMP.
• OSI Layer operation. Most Ethernet switches operate at “Layer 2,” which is for the physical network addresses (MAC addresses). Layer 3 switches use network addresses, and incorporate routing functions to actively calculate the best way to send a packet to its destination. Very advanced Ethernet switches, often known as routing switches, operate on OSI Layer 4 and route network traffic according to the application.
• Modular construction. A modular switch enables you to populate a chassis with modules of different speeds and media types. Because you can easily change modules, the modular switch is an adaptable solution for large, growing networks.
• Stackability. Some Ethernet switches can be connected to form a stack of two or more switches that functions as a single network device. This enables you to start with fewer ports and add them as your network grows. collapse