Understanding network topology is pivotal in comprehending how devices within a network are organized and interconnected. Whether it's the physical layout of cables and devices or the logical pathways that data travels, network topology defines the efficiency and functionality of communication infrastructures.

Network topology refers to the arrangement of network devices and their interconnections.

There are two primary types of topologies: physical and logical.

Physical topology describes the physical connections and how devices like routers, switches, and access points are interconnected, often using point-to-point or star configurations. In contrast, logical topology governs how data frames are transferred between nodes, relying on device interfaces and Layer 3 IP addressing schemes.

A Personal Area Network (PAN) connects devices such as mice, keyboards, printers, smartphones, and tablets within an individual's vicinity, commonly utilizing Bluetooth technology.

Meanwhile, a Local Area Network (LAN) connects devices within a small geographic area via wired cables. LANs vary from personal setups in homes or small businesses to large-scale networks managed by corporate IT departments.

Conversely, a Wide Area Network (WAN) spans extensive geographical regions, linking multiple LANs or other networks across different locations.

LAN Topologies

A local area network (LAN) Topologies:

Star topology - end devices are connected to a central intermediary device (an Ethernet switch). An extended star extends this topology by interconnecting multiple Ethernet switches.

Bus (legacy topology) - all end systems are chained to each other and terminated in some form on each end.

Ring (legacy topology) - end systems are connected to their respective neighbor forming a ring.

Virtual LANs (VLANs) allow an administrator to segment the ports on a single switch as if it were multiple switches. This provides more efficient forwarding of data by isolating traffic to only those ports where it is required.

Wireless LAN (WLAN) is similar to a LAN but wirelessly connects users and devices in a small geographical area

Wireless mesh network (WMN) uses multiple access points to extend the WLAN.

Campus area network (CAN) - a group of interconnected LANs, belonging to the same organization and operating in a limited geographical area.

Metropolitan area network (MAN) - a network that spans across a large campus or a city.

Wide area network (WAN) connects multiple networks that are in geographically separated locations.

WAN topologies

A wide area network (WAN) topologies:

Point-to-Point - a permanent link between two endpoints.

Hub and Spoke - a central site interconnects branch sites through the use of point-to-point links. Branch sites exchange data with other branch sites through the central site.

Mesh - every end system is interconnected to every other system.

Hybrid - a variation or combination of any topologies.