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Hybrid Networking Topologies: Types, Uses & Examples

Hybrid Networking Topologies: Types, Uses & Examples

Hybrid Networking Topologies

Physical design of a network requires proper planning, which for certain cases requires multiple topologies being combined (hybrid topology) to address all organizational needs. This lesson explains hybrid network topologies, their examples, and uses.

Hybrid Network Topologies

Hybrid topologyis an interconnection of two or more basic network topologies, each of which contains its own nodes. The resulting interconnection allows the nodes in a given basic topology to communicate with other nodes in the same basic topology as well as those in other basic topologies within the hybrid topology. Advantages of a hybrid network include increased flexibility as new basic topologies can easily be added or existing ones removed and increased fault tolerance.

Types of Hybrid Network Topologies

There are different types of hybrid network topologies depending on the basic topologies that make up the hybrid and the adjoining topology that interconnects the basic topologies.

The following are some of the hybrid network topologies:


1. Star-Wired Ring Network Topology
In a star-wired ring hybrid topology, a set of star topologies are connected by a ring topology as the adjoining topology. Joining each star topology to the ring topology is a wired connection.

Figure 1 is a diagrammatic representation of the star-wired ring topology:

In Figure 1, individual nodes of a given star topology like Star Topology 1are interconnected by a central switch which in turn provide an external connection to other star topologies through a node Ain the main ring topology.

Information from a given star topology reaching a connecting node in the main ring topology like Aflows either in a bidirectional or unidirectional manner. A bidirectional flow will ensure that a failure in one node of the main ring topology doesn't lead to the complete breakdown of information flow in the main ring topology.

2. Star-Wired Bus Network Topology
A star-wired bus topologyis made up of a set of star topologies interconnected by a central bus topology. Joining each star topology to the bus topology is a wired connection.

Figure 2 is a diagrammatic representation of the star-wired bus topology:

In this setup, the main bus topology provides a backbone connection that interconnects the individual star topologies. The backbone in this case is a wired connection.

3. Hierarchical Network Topology
Hierarchical network topologyis structured in different levels as a hierarchical tree. For this reason, it's also referred to as tree network topology.

Figure 3 shows a diagrammatic representation of Hierarchical network topology:

Connection of the lower levels like level 2 to higher levels like level 1 is done through wired connection. The top most level, level 0, contains the parent (root) node. The second level, level 1 contains the child nodes which in turn have child nodes in level 3. All the nodes in a given level have a higher parent node except for the nodes at the top most level.

The nodes at the bottom most level are called leaf nodes, since they are peripheral and are parent to no other node. At the basic level, a tree network topology is a collection of star network topologies arranged in different levels. Each level, including the top most, can contain one or more nodes.

Hybrid Network Topologies Uses

The decision to use the hybrid network topology over a basic topology in a network is mostly based on the organizational needs to be addressed by the network envisioned. The following are some of the reasons that can make an organization pick a hybrid as the preferred network topology:

1. Where There Is Need for Flexibility and Ease of Network Growth
Network growth is when more network nodes are added to an existing network. A hybrid network eases addition of new nodes to the network as changes can be done at the basic network levels as well as on the main network.

For example, in a campus set up, there could be different hostels each of which could be having its own network. The individual hostel networks have the liberty of adding new nodes to its network at any time without affecting the other hostels network. Additionally, new hostel networks can be added to the existing main network. In case there is a user that needs to leave a hostel network, the other hostel's network configuration is not affected.

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2. Where There Is Need for Isolation of Individual Networks
In certain cases, there is need for a distributed network administration. In this case, there is an overall network administrator (admin) while the individual basic networks are administered locally. In the campus network example, each hostel network can have its local admin who is able to manage addition of new nodes or removal of existing nodes. Each network can have its network policies and controls different from other networks.

3. Where There Is Need to Increase Reliability
Reliability is the ability of the network to deliver communication to the target recipient. In a hybrid network, this is achieved due to the existence of alternative paths to a target recipient. Isolation of the basic networks also provide a simple way of finding any source of failures.

For example, the campus network provided can have a bidirectional ring topology as the main network topology, while the basic networks are star topologies. In such a hybrid network topology, if there is a failure in one of the nodes of the main topology, the basic topologies can be able to communicate with each other except for the one that is directly connected to the failed node. If the failure is on a section of the cable joining the ring nodes, there will be normal network communication as the traffic of adjacent nodes can be rerouted to pass through the other cable connections of the ring topology.

4. Where There Is Need to Overcome the Weaknesses of the Basic Network Topologies
Each of the basic topologies like star, ring, and bus have their own inherent weaknesses. When a combination of two or more of the basic topologies is made into a hybrid network topology, the weaknesses of a given topology is addressed by another.

For example, in the campus network example where the basic topologies are star topologies joined together by a ring topology, failure in one of the basic topologies does not ground the entire network to a standstill. Star topology is known to have a single point of failure, and if the network topology was to be a hybrid of a star topology joining together other star topologies, there would still be a single point of failure for the network.

Lesson Summary

Let's take a couple moments to review what we've learned about hybrid network typologies, their types, and their applications in the real world. A hybrid network topologyis an interconnection of two or more basic network topologies, each of which contains its own nodes. The resulting topology will exhibit characteristics of all the constituent topologies, thereby limiting the inherent weaknesses of each topology.

Examples of hybrid network topologies include the following:


  • The star-wired ring, which is a set of start topologies connected by a ring topology as the adjoining typology, and
  • The star-wired bus, which is made up of a set of star topologies interconnected by a central bus topology


We also looked a hierarchical network topology, which is structured in different levels as a hierarchical tree. The choice to implement any of these hybrid topologies is largely determined by the organizational needs.

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