Tuesday, May 17th, 2022

What is VLAN? Explained

A local area network, or LAN, is a collection of devices that are connected in one physical location, such as an office, school, or residential building. The size of a LAN can vary from a home network with only one use to a much larger network that accommodates thousands of users. A LAN is comprised of components such as cables, switches, routers, all of which allow devices to connect to virtual servers.

However, network complexity may exceed the capabilities of typical LANs, which has necessitated the development of virtual LANs, known as VLANs. So, what is VLAN?

The Purpose of VLAN

A VLAN acts in much the same way as traditional physical LANs. It is a group of devices created from one or more LANs. These devices are connected to a single network even if they aren’t connected to the same switch. Devices are linked, not by geographical location, but by a different basis. With a VLAN, a network can be linked between different floors or even different buildings.

A VLAN is used to better organize and streamline a network. First, it can extend a network, joining multiple LANs together to create a larger network that is spread over different areas. However, one of the primary purposes of a VLAN is to allow network segmentation.

VLANs are particularly useful for creating groups within a network. For example, different departments or project teams within a company can be grouped in different segments, while still being part of the larger network.

Each segment can be separated from the rest of the LAN. This means that, whenever a workspace within a segment sends a broadcast, only the devices within that segment will receive it. This removes needless traffic which will otherwise slow down the network, which increases efficiency.

Why Would You Use a VLAN?

VLANs are becoming increasingly popular, with many organizations adopting them. They have proven to be useful for large and small organizations alike. Here are some reasons why you would use a VLAN:

  1. VLANs are very cost-effective. This is because workspaces communicate via VLAN switches rather than routers, which are only needed when data is being transferred outside the VLAN. This reduces the need for physical devices, hardware, and cabling. Not only does this potentially save on purchases, but it also makes maintenance cheaper and easier as there are fewer devices to manage.
  2. VLANs offer more flexibility than other networking solutions, as they can be configured based on port, protocol, or subnet criteria. This makes it possible to change network design or parameters whenever necessary, which would be more difficult to do when using a non-virtual network.
    As well as flexibility when altering your network, a VLAN also allows for greater flexibility when collaborating between different devices. As stated earlier, users don’t need to be on the same floor or even the same building to be sorted into the same group. Even large amounts of data can be transferred this way, which allows groups to work more efficiently with each other.
  3. A VLAN reduces the amount of administrative oversight that would be required. Network administrators can automatically limit access to certain groups of users by dividing workstations into isolated segments. Even if a user changes their workstation, the administrator wouldn’t need to reconfigure the network or alter VLAN groups.

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