Network admins constantly face challenges when implementing security procedures and bandwidth optimization processes in their network. Using a Virtual Local Area Network (VLAN) is one smart solution to effectively managing workstations, security, and bandwidth allocation. Although VLANs can be very useful, they can also present a lot of issues when managing them in huge enterprise networks. In this blog we’ll discuss some of the common challenges admins face when implementing VLAN’s and best practices to manage them. Before we dive into that though, let’s take a look at the basics of VLANs and how they work.
What is VLAN?
A VLAN is a logical group of workstations, servers, and network devices in a Local Area Network (LAN). A VLAN can also be referred to as a network implementation where users access a proprietary, private network from the Internet. It allows communication among users in a single LAN environment who are sharing a single broadcast or multicast domain.
Why Do We Need VLAN?
The purpose of implementing a VLAN is to utilize security features and to improve the performance of a network. Assume you have two different departments: finance and sales. You want to separate them into VLAN groups for reasons such as tighter security (limited visibility to financial data), better bandwidth allocation (for VoIP calls in sales), and load balancing. In this case, VLAN would allow you to optimize network usage and map workstations based on department and user accounts.
Typical Challenges in VLAN and How to Manage them!
Although there are many benefits of implementing VLAN, there are also certain disadvantages. In a logically connected network, a high-risk virus in one system can infect other users in the same network. If you want users to communicate between two VLANs, you might need additional routers to control the workload. Controlling latency can be a bit more ineffective within a LAN than within a WAN. Network administrators and managers can run into problems even after implanting a VLAN properly and efficiently. In a traditional LAN, it’s easy to find out if the network device is performing or not. However, understanding what’s causing your network to run slowly in VLANs with virtual trunks or paths is a more difficult process. For instance, assume you want to configure a VLAN in your network. You can choose to separate users based on departments and enable security, but if you’re creating networks within your physical switches you also have to think about routing, DHCP, DNS, etc.
Network administrators effectively manage VLANs by taking a step back and understanding whether the number of VLANs is appropriate for the number of endpoints in the network. It’s also important to understand what data needs to be protected from other traffic using a firewall. In addition, VLANs can become more efficient when combined with server virtualization. In a virtualized data center environment, the VLAN brings the physical servers together and creates a route. By allowing virtual machines to move across physical servers in the same VLAN, administrators can keep tabs on the virtual machines and manage them more efficiently.
Managing a VLAN becomes much easier for network administrators when network traffic, user access, and data transfers are isolated and routed separately. It’s also highly recommended to ensure primary network devices work properly before troubleshooting VLANs.