I'm in charge of some of the technical training at our programming company. That includes getting some of the project managers up to speed with basic information technology.

I bought a university Management Information Systems textbook, and I was very surprised to find a long discussion about network topologies:

  • Star topology networks and how they require a central host computer
  • Ring networks, and how they send a token around a ring
  • Bus networks, and how they must always be terminated both ends
  • Tree networks which had workstations at the bottom level of the network, minicomputers in the middle, and servers at the top.

This information seems extremely out-of-date for a book that was published in 2012. As I understand networks, the text applies very much to coaxial cable networks (especially ring and bus).

However, these days twisted pair Ethernet (with the occasional wireless router) is used for office networks almost exclusively. The only relevant topology seems to be tree.

Is information about these network topologies still relevant, and if it is, how does it still apply?

  • It's funny, but typical Ethernet network now looks like star, but works like bus. ;) – poige Mar 3 '13 at 10:10
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    Only until you plug the hub into another hub. Suddenly it's a tree! Also, switches are cooler than hubs. But see, none of this was discussed in the book! – Gustav Bertram Mar 3 '13 at 10:16
  • Yep, that'd be a tree which is a bus again. :) – poige Mar 3 '13 at 10:19
  • Does you company do anything via satellite communication? If so, welcome bus network. :-) – Hennes Mar 3 '13 at 11:40
  • @poige, the tree topology is different than a bus. – vonbrand Mar 3 '13 at 20:18

It's still relevant for the networks of ISPs and other content providers.

It's also useful for virtual network layers such as DHT.

But those 2 aside, I wouldn't teach the topologies if you're designing internal company networks. But don't forget to look for bottlenecks during the design.

  • Can you please specify which topologies are still relevant for the examples you give? – Gustav Bertram Mar 3 '13 at 10:26
  • Here you can see Telenet, Belgacom and Deutsche Telecom are using ring networks: link When using optical backbone networks, ring networks are used often – Jeroen Mar 3 '13 at 10:54

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