Hybrid topology advantages, disadvantages, and features

A hybrid topology is a computer network layout type that uses multiple topologies such as a bus-star combination. The hybrid is sometimes also known as tree topology where the linear bus topology is used as the trunk of the tree and the star topology becomes the tree branches.

The hybrid combines the advantages of the 2 topologies and tries to reduce the disadvantages of each. Its other main benefits are reliability and scalability. However, it is complex and expensive to implement. A hybrid network topology can either be a star-bus, star-ring, or hierarchical layout.

Hybrid topology diagram and architecture

This type of topology is mostly used when dealing with a complex network. It is designed for fault tolerance, flexibility, scalability, and high-traffic network. The most common types of hybrid topology combinations are:

Star-bus hybrid topology

This is the most common hybrid. In this combination we have the bus cable being the main cable that distributes the network to different buildings. When the network is within the building we can have network switches that are used to connect different devices within that building. 

hybrid bus-star topology

The combination can also use coaxial cable for bus or fiber and then for stars within the building, we have twisted pair cables.

Star-ring topology

Hybrid ring-star topology

In this topology the devices are connected on a ring topology then on some of the nodes within the ring we have switches. These switches create a star at that particular node point. You can think of the network as many star topologies that are connected together to form a ring. 

Hierarchical hybrid network

In this setup, the devices are arranged in levels where we have nodes that have either a high or lower level on the hierarchy. Those devices at a high level are root or parent nodes while the others are either child or leaf nodes.

How devices communicate within a hybrid topology

A hybrid layout is a complex network topology. When a device needs to communicate it requires a network router to direct the message to the right destination. The most hybrid network uses network switches that are intelligent to send the message to the destination device instead of broadcasting. This reduces the issues of packet collision.

Feature of hybrid topology

For a network topology to be classified as hybrid or tree topology it has the following characteristics.

  1. Combination of more than one topology. The most common combination is bus-star, however, we can also have star-bus or bus-star-ring.
  2. Network segmentation. The topology is made up of different segments of the network that can be using different topologies. The segment can be in terms of different buildings, departments, or users. 
  3. High-traffic network. This topology is mainly implemented in high-traffic organizations.

Advantages of hybrid network topology

  1. Combination of benefits from the 2 used topologies like bus and star.
  2. It is more fault tolerance. If one section of the network is down it doesn’t affect the others.
  3. It is suitable for the high-traffic network.
  4. It is a more scalable network. It is simple to add a new device to the network without compromising on the network quality and efficiency.
  5. The topology is flexible to fit any organizational requirement. It can be customized to individual business needs.
  6. It is easy to detect and troubleshoot any problems. This is possible since the network is segmented into different networks that can be isolated and issues resolved.

Disadvantages of hybrid topology.

  1. It is a complex network to develop and maintain. Since it combines more than one topology it requires more time to design and implement and later to manage.
  2. The equipment required to establish the network is expensive compared to other types of network topologies. 
  3. It requires constant monitoring of the network for optimum operation. This means it may require to have a network administrator who monitors the network hence the extra cost.
  4. The topology requires more network hardware components and also cables than other topologies.

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