VPN vs VLAN: What’s the Difference?

As the popularity of the Internet has grown, many businesses are seeking for approaches to extend their own networks. First came Intranets, which are sites designed for use only by company employees. Nowadays, many of them are creating their own VPN (Virtual Private Network) or VLAN (Virtual Local Area Network) to accommodate the needs of remote employees and distant offices. What is a VPN and what is VLAN? This post will explain these two terms and the differences between VPN vs VLAN.

What Is a VPN?

A VPN is a virtual private network that utilizes a public network (usually the Internet) to connect remote sites or users together. A typical VPN network has a main local area network (LAN) at the corporate headquarters of a company, other LANs at remote offices or facilities, and individual users that connect from out in the field. Instead of using a dedicated leased line, a VPN uses “virtual” connections routed over a public or shared infrastructure such as the Internet or service provider backbone network. Therefore subscribers who are physically isolated from the main LAN can get access to the company’s private network and remotely.

VPN Applicable Network Scenario

Here is a typical example of using the VPN network. As illustrated in the figure below, Network “A” sites have established a VPN (depicted by the red lines) across the service provider’s backbone network, where Network “B” is completely unaware of it’s existence. Both Network “A” and Network “B” can harmoniously coexist on the same backbone infrastructure without interrupting each other.

VPN Network

What Is a VLAN–the Subcategory of VPN

A VLAN is a group of networking devices configured to communicate on one or more LANs as if they were attached to the same wire, but actually they are located on a number of different LAN segments. VLAN networks are based on logical instead of physical connections with great flexibility. A VLAN network defines broadcast domains in a Layer 2 network. A broadcast domain is the set of all devices performed to receive broadcast frames originating from any other device within the set. Broadcast domains are usually bounded by routers since routers do not forward broadcast frames.

VLAN Applicable Network Scenario

As shown in the figure below, Layer 2 network switches are used to create multiple broadcast domains based on the configuration of these switches. Each broadcast domain is just like a distinct virtual bridge within a switch. By adding a Layer 3 router, it possible to send traffic between VLANs while still containing broadcast traffic within VLAN boundaries. The router uses IP subnets to deliver traffic between VLANs. Each VLAN has a distinct IP subnet, and there is a one-to-one correspondence of VLAN and IP subnet boundaries.

VLAN Network

VPN vs VLAN: How They Differ From Each Other?

VPN vs VLAN, they are two different concepts but related to each other. A VLAN is a subcategory of VPN, but they are designed for different hierarchies. VPN constructs range from Layer 1 to Layer 3, while VLAN is purely a layer 2 construct. A VLAN is used to group multiple computers that are not usually within the same geographical areas into the same broadcast domain. A VLAN can also segregate computers in a larger local network into smaller networks for each office or department and shielding the data so that they do not act as if they are on same network even if they are in the same switch. However, a VPN is more often related to remote access to a company’s network resources. It’s a method of creating a smaller sub network on top of an existing bigger network compared with VLAN.

Summary

No matter which one you choose over VPN vs VLAN, the foremost thing is to get reliable network switches or routers implemented in VPN or VLAN networks. FS can always fulfill your requirements by offering gigabit ethernet switch, 10gbe switch, 40gbe switches, as well as new gigabit VPN routers. They’re with powerful data-handling capacity and high compatibility for applications in data centers and enterprises.

Data Switch vs Hub in a Home Network

Data switches and hubs are common networking devices used to regenerate degraded signals and split a signal into multiple signals. They are handy for splitting up an internet connection to your home network. But do you know how they work in a home network? If they both accomplish the same thing, what’s the difference between a data switch vs hub?

What Is a Data Switch?

A data switch is charged with the job of connecting smaller segments of a single network into a connected whole. It transfers data across a network segment using MAC addresses for reference. Data switches are extensively used in Ethernet local area networks. A data switch operates on the Data Link Layer of the OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) model. This means that data switches are fairly smarter than hubs, as they can route data on a dynamic level. If information is destined for a certain computer, the data switch will only send the data to this computer. This addresses our collision problem as switches use what is called micro-segmentation, which will be elaborated later in this article.

What Is a Hub?

Hub is a network device which controls number of switches and router for the whole network. A hub is a “dumb” device in that it broadcasts whatever it hears on the input port to all the output ports. The good thing about “dumb” devices is that they don’t need much configuration or maintenance. But this leads to collisions between data packets and a general degrading of network quality. If you have a hub set up between your router and the rest of your network, you’re setting yourself up for a huge headache. A hub looks just like a switch, but works differently on the inside. You connect devices to a hub using Ethernet cable and any signal sent from a device to the hub is simply repeated out on all other ports connected to the hub.

Data Switch vs Hub in a Home Network

Data switch vs hub? How do they differ from each other? Hubs are considered Layer 1 (Physical Layer) devices whereas data switches are put into Layer 2 (Data Link Layer). This is where hubs and switches mainly differ. The Data Link layer of the OSI model deals with MAC addresses and switches look at MAC addresses when they process an incoming frame on a port.

switch vs hub

Moreover, a data switch is much smarter but pricier than a hub. A data switch can actively manage the connections between the input port and the output ports, so you won’t run into the collision problem or any of the other issues that plague hubs. As you can see below, there are multiple collision domains or segments for the switch network. If computer A and computer B sent data to each other at the same time, you would have a collision. Computer A and computer C or D, however, will not experience a collision in the process. In comparison, for a hub network, there is just one collision domain, which means that if one computer transmits data, it would be interrupted by any of the other computers in the network. Thus, the more devices you connect to the hub, the more collisions there will be in the whole network. The following figure illustrates a data switch vs hub in collision domains.

switch vs hub in collision domain

Conclusion

Data switch vs hub, which one should you choose for a home network? If you purchased the device in question within the last few years, the chance is almost zero that it’s a hub. Historically, switches were expensive and hubs were cheap, but advances in technology have made switches so cheap that they don’t even bother making hubs anymore. Thus, nowadays data switches are higher-performance alternatives to hubs in a home network. FS provides a full set of high performance data switches, including gigabit ethernet switch, 10gb ethernet switch, 100gbe ethernet switch, etc. If you have any requirement, please kindly visit www.fs.com.

Related Article: What’s the Difference: Hub vs Switch vs Router

Do I Need a Gigabit Switch or 10/100Mbps Switch?

Ethernet network speeds have evolved significantly over time and typically range from Ethernet (802.11) at 10Mbps, Fast Ethernet (IEEE 802.3u) at 100Mbps, Gigabit Ethernet (IEEE 802.3-2008) at 1000Mbps and 10 Gigabit Ethernet (IEEE 802.3a) at 10Gbps. Meanwhile, Ethernet switches have also escalated from 10/100Mbps switch to Gigabit switch, 10GbE switch, and even 100GbE switches. The topic came up frequently that “Do I Need a Gigabit Switch or 10/100Mbps Switch?” Gigabit switch vs 10/100Mbps switch, which do I need to satisfy my network speeds requirement? This post will give you the answer.

Ethernet Speed

Gigabit Switch: the Mainstream on Network Switch Market

A Gigabit switch is an Ethernet switch that connects multiple devices, such as computers, servers, or game systems, to a Local Area Network (LAN). Small business and home offices often use Gigabit switches to allow more than one device to share a broadband Internet connection. A gigabit switch operates in the same manner, only at data rates much greater than standard or Fast Ethernet. People can use these switches to quickly transfer data between devices in a network, or to download from the Internet at maximum speeds of 1000Mbps. If a switch says “Gigabit”, it really means the same thing as 10/100/1000, because Gigabit switches support all three speed levels and will auto-switch to the appropriate one when something is plugged in. The following is a Gigabit 8 port poe switch with 8 x 10/100/1000Base-T RJ45 Ethernet ports.

8 port poe switch

10/100Mbps Switch: Still Alive and Well for Some Reason

10/100Mbps switch is a Fast Ethernet switch released earlier than Gigabit Ethernet switch. The data speed of 10/100Mbps switch is rated for 10 or 100Mbps. When a network switch says “10/100”, it means that each port on the switch can support both 10Mbps and 100Mbps connection speeds, and will usually auto-switch depending on what’s plugged into it. Currently, few devices run at 10Mbps, but it is still alive on the market for some reason. Actually, 10/100 is sufficient for internet browsing and Netflix. But if you will be doing more than one thing with your network connection, such as file transfers, or the set-top box, I would recommend you go with the Gigabit switch.

10/100Mbps Switch

Gigabit Switch vs 10/100Mbps Switch: How to Choose?

Network engineers who refresh the edge of their campus LAN encounter a fundamental choice: Stick with 100Mbps Fast Ethernet or upgrade to Gigabit Ethernet (GbE). Vendors will undoubtedly push network engineers toward pricier GbE, but network engineers need to decide for themselves which infrastructure is right for the business. Currently, Gigabit switch is much more popular than Fast Ethernet 10/100Mbps switch. Because gigabit switch used in tandem with a gigabit router will allow you to use your local network at speeds up to ten times greater than 10/100Mbps switch. If either of these component are not gigabit, the entire network will be limited to 10/100 speeds. So, in order to use the maximum amount of speed your network can pump out, you need every single component in your network (including you computers) to be gigabit compliant. In addition, by delivering more bandwidth and more robust management, Gigabit switches are also more energy efficient than 10/100Mbps switches. This offers enterprises the opportunity to lower their power consumption on the network edge.

Conclusion

There’s a multitude of switch options to choose from on the dazzling market. So, before determining the right switch for your network, you’re supposed to have a close look at your current deployment and future needs. But for most cases, we recommend you buy Gigabit Ethernet devices instead of Fast Ethernet devices, even if they cost a little bit more. FS provides a full set of Gigabit switches, including 8 port switch, 24 port switch, 48 port switch, etc. With these high performance Gigabit Ethernet switches, your local network will run faster with better internet speed.

TAP Aggregation Switch: Key to Monitor Network Traffic

For network professionals, Ethernet switches have already been used very commonly in network design. In order to ensure network security and monitor the performance of the standard Ethernet switches, network test access port (TAPs) have emerged as one of the primary sources for data monitoring or network traffic monitoring. What is network TAP or TAP aggregation switch, and how to deploy it for network traffic monitoring? This post will give you the answer.

What Is TAP Aggregation Switch or Network TAP?

A network tap is a hardware device which provides an approach to access the data flowing across a network. It functions by flow copy or aggregation, thus it’s also called TAP aggregation switch. TAP aggregation switch works by designating a device to allow the aggregation of multiple TAPs and to connect to multiple monitoring systems. In this process, all the monitoring devices are linked to specific points in the network fabric that handle the packets that need to be observed. In most cases, a third party TAP aggregation switch monitors the traffic between two points in the network. If the network between point A and B consists of a physical cable, a network TAP or TAP aggregation switch might be the best way to accomplish this monitoring. TAP aggregation switch deployed between point A and B passes all traffic through unimpeded, but it also copies that same data to its monitor port, which could enable a third party to listen.

Deployment Scenario of TAP Aggregation Switch

TAP aggregation switches or network TAPs can be extremely useful in monitoring traffic because they provide direct inline access to data that flows through the network. The following part illustrates the typical applications of TAP aggregation switches in data center and carrier network.

    • Application in Data Center
      As shown in the figure below, user can enable the timestamp and source port label function of TAP devices. The server cluster can access the exact packet process time in each data center layer via source port and timestamp message carried by the packets. From port1, port2, port3, user can distinguish the devices that the streams come from. Through T1, T2 and T3, packets forward latency of each device can be calculated, according to which users can find out the bottleneck during packet forwarding for the further optimization of data center network.

TAP Aggregation Switch for Data Center

  • Application in Carrier Network
    TAP aggregation switch can also be used to assist DPI (Deep Packet Inspection) in carrier networks. As illustrated below, TAP aggregation switch is applied to forward flows of carrier at internet access point and sends a mirrored copy of the packet flow to DPI device at the same time. The DPI device is for traffic analysis, once a virus on website or illegal information has been monitored, the flows will be blocked by a five elements table sent from management channel between DPI and TAP.

TAP Aggregation Switch for Carrier Network

FS TAP Aggregation Switches Solution

FS network TAPs or TAP aggregation switches deliver security, visibility and traffic analysis for high density, non-blocking 1G/10/40/100GbE networks at any scale with advanced traffic management capabilities for lossless monitoring of network traffic. They can cost-effectively and losslessly monitor all data center network traffic, while capturing and analyzing only the traffic that is needed. The table below lists FS T5800 and T8050 series TAP aggregation switches.

TAP Aggregation
Key Features
  • Standard 1U 19’’ rack mountable, 240 Gbps switching capability
  • 8×10/100/1000 Base-T Ethernet Ports, 8×1000 Base-X SFP Ports (Combo)
  • 12x10GE SFP+ Ports
  • Dual modular power supply
  • Standard 1U 19’’ rack mountable
  • 4x10GE SFP+ Ports(Combo)
  • 20x40GE QSFP+ Ports
  • 4x100GE QSFP28 Ports
  • Dual modular power supply
  • Standard 1U 19’’ rack mountable
  • 48x10GE SFP+ Ports
  • 2x40GE QSFP+ Ports
  • 4x100GE QSFP28 Ports
  • Dual modular power supply
  • Standard 1U 19’’ rack mountable
  • 48x10GE SFP+ Ports
  • 6x40GE QSFP+ Ports
  • Dual modular power supply
  • Standard 1U 19’’ rack mountable
  • 32x10GE SFP+ Ports
  • 2x40GE QSFP+ Ports
  • Dual modular power supply

Conclusion

TAP aggregation switches are crucial to any network monitoring plan because they offer an uncensored view of all network traffic. With FS TAP aggregation switches, customers can transform opaque data center traffic into comprehensive visibility for security threat detection, service availability monitoring as well as traffic recording and troubleshooting. Apart from TAP aggregation switches, the standard Ethernet switches including Gigabit switches, 10gb switches, 40gb switches and 100gb switches are also available for your choice.

Layer 2 or Layer 3 Switch: How to Choose for VLAN?

With the advent of VLAN (Virtual Local Area Network), network managers can logically divide the physical LAN into different broadcast domains by spanning across multiple switches or even routers. The first series of VLAN switches on the market are Layer 2 switches which operate at Layer 2 of the ISO Reference Model. Soon afterwards, Layer 3 switches emerge as alternatives for VLAN and have gained incremental popularity. Layer 2 vs Layer 3 switch, which is more suitable for VLAN? We’re gonna elaborate it in this post.

VLAN

Layer 2 Switch—Switching Layer for OSI Model

A Layer 2 switch is a type of network switch or device that works on the data link layer via OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) model and utilizes MAC address to determine the path through which the frames are to be forwarded. It uses hardware based switching techniques to connect and transmit data in VLAN. By looking at the destination MAC address in the frame header, the Layer 2 switch interconnects multiple end nodes of VLAN and intelligently forwards traffic between them without unnecessary flooding of frames onto the network. Generally speaking, Layer 2 switches come with different types of interfaces like 10 Mbps, 100 Mbps, 1 Gbps, 10 Gbps, etc. They can support full-duplex communication on each of its port. They expand network by connecting to the rest of the devices in the fabric through high speed ports that can be connected to either another Layer 2 or Layer 3 switch.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Forwards packets based on the unique Media Access Control (MAC) address of each end station
  • Information is easily retrieved and data packets transferred quickly at the wire speed of the network
  • No setup or management is required
  • Cheap and easy to deploy
  • Improve security with low latency
  • Flow accounting capabilities

Cons

  • Can not apply any intelligence when forwarding packets
  • Unable to route packets based on IP address
  • Can not guarantee bandwidth to Voice over IP (VoIP) users

Layer 3 Switch—Routing Layer for Sub Network

Layer 3 switch, known as the routing layer, can provide logical partitioning of sub networks with scalability, security, and Quality of Service (QoS). As an enhancement feature, QoS goes beyond the simple packet prioritization found in CoS by providing bandwidth reservation and packet delay bounding. In Layer 3 system, the packets are sent to a specific next-hop IP address, based on destination IP address. Different from MAC addresses of Layer 2 switch, each IP packet in Layer 3 switch contains source and destination IP addresses. The backbone of the Internet, along with those of many large organizations, is built upon a Layer 3 foundation. The functions of a Layer 3 switch (or multilayer switch) combine some features of a Layer 2 switch and a router.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Use logical addressing to determine the paths to destination networks
  • Intelligent packet forwarding (routing) based on Layer 3
  • Enable a router to link different sub networks together
  • Segment a network into two or more VLANs
  • Enhance security controls to prevent unauthorized setup changes
  • Provide guaranteed Quality of Service (QoS)

Cons

  • Extra processing power and memory is required for Layer 3 switching
  • Prices are higher than for a Layer 2 switch
  • Require setup and management

Layer 2 or Layer 3 Switch: How to Choose for VLAN?

Small networks can be built using just Layer 2 devices, but most corporate networks contain a mix of Layer 2 and Layer 3 switches as illustrated in the figure below. The most significant difference between Layer 2 and Layer 3 switch is the routing method. Layer 3 switch is capable of inter-VLAN routing and does not need additional device connected like router on-a-stick. Since network architectures on Layer 2 switching allow end station connectivity, it is often practical to construct a VLAN via Layer 2 switch only. Because it can provide simple, inexpensive, high-performance connectivity for hundreds or even thousands of end stations. However, Layer 3 switches also maintained a presence at many points within a corporate network. For a while it presents minimal problems, since a majority of the data traffic stayed local to the sub network, which was increasingly being serviced by a Layer 3 switch.

layer 2 vs layer 3 switch for VLAN

Summary

Both Layer 2 and Layer 3 switch have seen the most striking infrastructure for VLAN over the past decade. Whether to choose a Layer 2 or Layer 3 switch is dependent upon many factors, such as routing method, speed requirement, networking design, as well as your budge. But where to get reliable and high performance Layer 2 and Layer 3 network switch? FS.COM provides a full set of gigabit switch, 10gb switch, 40gb switch and 100gb switch with Layer 2 or Layer 3 feature, which can support advanced hardware based VLAN deployment.

Related Article: Layer 2 vs Layer 3 Switch: Which One Do You Need?