What Is VLAN?


Quick Answer

VLAN is a virtual local area network that groups separate network nodes and computers as if they are sharing the same physical connection. VLAN also enables communication between computers that are a part of separate segments of a local area network as long as users configure them to utilize the virtual network.

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Full Answer

One of the advantages of VLAN is that it allows users to divide the network as necessary without modifying the existing network infrastructure or running new cables. A network administrator uses a network switch that supports the VLAN functionality to specify which network ports gain access to the virtual network. He then groups the ports and forms a VLAN, making it impossible for computers outside the virtual network to access the information that users share within that network.

Although separate VLANs are isolated from each other, a network administrator uses a router that supports VLAN tagging to route the information internally between individual VLAN interfaces. Alternatively, he uses a network switch capable of inter-VLAN routing to share the information between networks without having it leave the switch. To determine which piece of data is intended for specific virtual networks, a network switch examines the data and automatically assigns a VLAN tag to it based on the port configuration settings.

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