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Study Notes for the CompTIA Network+ N10-007 Exam: What is a VLAN?

A virtual local area network, more commonly known as VLAN, maps network devices on a specific basis other than their location, such as by primary location, user type, or department. It is a collection of devices used on a network that act like they’re connected to one network segment, even if they may not be. The traffic that flows among various VLANs should first go through a router, as if they’re on two different local area networks.

Below is more information on VLANs to help you study for your CompTIA Network+ N10 007 certification exams.

How to Create a VLAN

To build a VLAN, network devices such as switches and routers should support the configuration of the VLAN. Hardware must be configured by use of a software administration tool to enable the network administrator to personalize the virtual network. This software could also be used for assigning groups of ports or individual ports on a particular switch to a particular VLAN. For instance, you can assign ports 1 to 10 on switch number 1 and ports 11 to 20 on switch number 2 to one VLAN.

Let’s say that you have two departments in one building, product development and marketing. Even if these departments are at different locations inside the building, you can create VLANs for each department. For example, every personnel of the product development department can be assigned to the product development network, and the marketing department can’t access this network. Since all product development personnel are assigned one VLAN, they’re able to share bandwidth and resources as if they’re connected to one segment. This configuration reduces unnecessary access to sensitive data and offers enhanced security within the LAN or local area network. Also, you can also configure the VLAN to be accessed only by specific product development personnel or select personnel from other departments.

Benefits of VLANs

  • Easy to manage. In a VLAN, you can change or add network nodes and implement other modifications by using the switch management interface instead of manually in the wiring closet.
  • Allows you to segment and personalize networks. You can easily group people who are in constant communication with each other in just one VLAN, no matter their location. The traffic between communications will be efficiently contained within the VLAN, which in turn reduces improves overall network efficiency and reduces unnecessary traffic.
  • Improved network security. With a VLAN, you’ll have virtual boundaries that could only be crossed via the router so you can just use router-based, standard security protocols for restricting access to the VLAN.
  • Enhanced performance. VLANs are very effective in freeing up bandwidth by restricting broadcast and node-to-node traffic within a network.

Summing Up

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VLAN stands for virtual LAN or virtual local area network. It is a customized network that can be built from one or more LANs or local area networks. It allows groups of network devices from various wireless and wired networks to be merged into one logical network and administered the same as a standard physical area network.

VLANs enable network administrators to form virtual work groups and offer improved security, simplified administration, and enhanced network performance.