Category Archives: Switching

Understanding and Configuring VLANs

All devices that are connected in a switch or switching environment (with the default settings) belong to a single broadcast domain. But what is a broadcast domain? There are certain frames that when a switch receives them, it has to broadcast them out to all its ports (except the port where it received them from). This regards frames with unknown destination MAC address or with broadcast destination address. For more detailed information about how a switch forwards frames, you can read my post: Switch Learning and Forwarding.

So in other words, all devices that belong to that switch environment will be able to receive those broadcast messages, and that is what we call a single broadcast domain. The picture below shows an example of four users connected to four ports of a switch. They are all connected with the default port configuration, and they belong to the same broadcast domain. Continue reading

Switch Learning and Forwarding

A switch is a layer 2 device, which means that it processes frames and forwards them based on MAC addresses. But how does a switch actually think and take forwarding decisions?

A switch learns MAC addresses from the frames it receives and then stores this information in an internal table. Every time a switch receives a new frame, it stores the source MAC address of that frame along with the port from where it received it in its table. That means that next time the switch receives a frame with this MAC address as a destination, it will know –by looking in its address table- to which port to forward that frame.

What happens though when the switch receives a frame with a destination MAC address that is not included in the table? Continue reading