Hybrid Network Architecture

Hybrid Networking Topologies


A computer network is a group of computers that use a set of common communication protocols over digital interconnections for the purpose of sharing resources located on or provided by the network nodes.

A network consists of two or more computers that are linked in order to share resources (such as printers and CDs), exchange files, or allow electronic communications. The computers on a network may be linked through cables, telephone lines, radio waves, satellites, or infrared light beams

Two very common types of networks include:

  • Local Area Network LAN
  • Wide Area Network WAN

You may also see references to a Metropolitan Area Networks (MAN), a Wireless LAN (WLAN), or a Wireless WAN (WWAN).

Local Area Network

A Local Area Network (LAN) is a network that is confined to a relatively small area. It is generally limited to a geographic area such as a writing lab, school, or building.

Computers connected to a network are broadly categorized as servers or workstations. Servers are generally not used by humans directly, but rather run continuously to provide “services” to the other computers (and their human users) on the network. Services provided can include printing and faxing, software hosting, file storage and sharing, messaging, data storage and retrieval, complete access control (security) for the network’s resources, and many others.

Workstations are called such because they typically do have a human user which interacts with the network through them. Workstations were traditionally considered a desktop, consisting of a computer, keyboard, display, and mouse, or a laptop, with with integrated keyboard, display, and touchpad. With the advent of the tablet computer, and the touch screen devices such as iPad and iPhone, our definition of workstation is quickly evolving to include those devices, because of their ability to interact with the network and utilize network services.

Servers tend to be more powerful than workstations, although configurations are guided by needs. For example, a group of servers might be located in a secure area, away from humans, and only accessed through the network. In such cases, it would be common for the servers to operate without a dedicated display or keyboard. However, the size and speed of the server’s processor(s), hard drive, and main memory might add dramatically to the cost of the system. On the other hand, a workstation might not need as much storage or working memory, but might require an expensive display to accommodate the needs of its user. Every computer on a network should be appropriately configured for its use.

On a single LAN, computers and servers may be connected by cables or wirelessly. Wireless access to a wired network is made possible by wireless access points (WAPs). These WAP devices provide a bridge between computers and networks. A typical WAP might have the theoretical capacity to connect hundreds or even thousands of wireless users to a network, although practical capacity might be far less.

Nearly always servers will be connected by cables to the network, because the cable connections remain the fastest. Workstations which are stationary (desktops) are also usually connected by a cable to the network, although the cost of wireless adapters has dropped to the point that, when installing workstations in an existing facility with inadequate wiring, it can be easier and less expensive to use wireless for a desktop..

Wide Area Network

Wide Area Networks (WANs) connect networks in larger geographic areas, such as Florida, the United States, or the world. Dedicated transoceanic cabling or satellite uplinks may be used to connect this type of global network.

Using a WAN, schools in Florida can communicate with places like Tokyo in a matter of seconds, without paying enormous phone bills. Two users a half-world apart with workstations equipped with microphones and a webcams might teleconference in real time. A WAN is complicated. It uses multiplexers, bridges, and routers to connect local and metropolitan networks to global communications networks like the Internet. To users, however, a WAN will not appear to be much different than a LAN.


A hybrid network is any computer network that uses more than one type of connecting technology or topology. For example, a home network that uses both Wi-Fi and Ethernet cables to connect computers is a hybrid. In the early years of computer networking, hybrid networks often consisted of Token Ring or Star technologies, however these were quickly antiquated by Ethernet. While textbooks often refer to these types of hybrids, they are basically extinct in 2014.

How do hybrid networks work?

hybrid network refers to any computer network that contains two or more different communications standards. … A hybrid network relies on special hybrid routers, hubs and switches to connect both wired and wireless computers and other network-enabled devices.

What are hybrid networks used for?

With a Hybrid Network deployment, users at all sites are able to share common desktop applications, network storage drives, access cloud-hosted services and collaborate online using the same tools.

How do I create a hybrid network?

You could mix no-new-wires technologies, such as phoneline and powerline, which use your existing house wiring. These technologies are available at your local electronics or office supply store. You can connect powerline and phoneline network equipment with your wireless access point and network adapters.


Home Network Hybrids

Although Ethernet and Wi-Fi usually use the same router in a home network, this doesn’t mean that the technology behind them is identical. Both have different specifications developed by the IEEE Standards Association. Ethernet cable networks use the 802.3 standards, while Wi-Fi networks use 802.11. These standards have different rules about how data is transferred. A home WiFi Ethernet router is a hybrid device that brings these two different technologies together. Without such a hybrid device, there would be no way to connect an Ethernet-based desktop to a Wi-Fi-based tablet on the same network.

Business Network Hybrids

Business networks often rely on hybrid networks to ensure employees using different devices can access the same data, which may be stored in different locations. Since businesses seldom upgrade an entire network to the latest technology at the same time, a typical enterprise network today may include components from different eras. For example, two offices may be joined with an ATM fiber optic connection, with some people connecting to the network using Ethernet, others using Wi-Fi and home users connecting through the Internet or, more recently, 4G wireless. Technologies like Multi-Protocol Label Switching, or MPLS, allow businesses to route traffic from different technologies into the same network.

Advantages of Hybrids

The two main advantages of a hybrid network are cost-savings and accessibility. If you have an Ethernet network at home and buy a tablet, rather than replacing all of your Ethernet components with Wi-Fi, you can simply add a Wi-Fi router to your existing network. The same is true for business networks, but on a larger scale. Few businesses have the budget to replace an entire network all at once. Hybrids allow a business to bring in new networking technologies, while phasing out old technologies over the course of several years.

Disadvantages of Hybrids

The main disadvantage of hybrids are security and support costs. Each network technology introduces new security concerns. Having a router with a good firewall becomes meaningless, for example, if you add a Wi-Fi access point that hasn’t been encrypted with a strong password. In business networks, supporting different types of network technologies can become expensive, since they usually need someone with expertise in each technology. Business hybrid networks are always the result of balancing the need for a fast, accessible network with the need for data security.

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