Bridges versus Routers in Java

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Bridges versus Routers
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As we learned in 4, routers are store-and-forward packet switches that forward packets using IP addresses Although a bridge is also a store-and-forward packet switch, it is fundamentally different from a router in that it forwards packets using LAN addresses Whereas a router is layer-3 packet switch, a bridge is a layer-2 packet switch
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Even though bridges and routers are fundamentally different, network administrators must often choose between them when installing an interconnection device For example, for the network in Figure 56-2, the network administrator could have just as easily used a router instead of a bridge Indeed, a router would have also kept the three collision domains separate while permitting interdepartmental communication Given that both bridges and routers are candidates for interconnection devices, what are the pros and cons of the two approaches
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Figure 56-6: Packet processing and bridges, routers and hosts First consider the pros and cons of bridges As mentioned above, bridges are plug and play, a property that is cherished by all the over-worked network administrators of the world Bridges can also have relatively high packet filtering and forwarding rates -- as shown in Figure 56-6, bridges only have to process packets up through layer 2, whereas routers have to process frames up through layer 3 On the other hand, the spanning tree protocol restricts the effective topology of a bridged network to a spanning tree This means that all frames most flow along the spanning tree, even when there are more direct (but disconnected) paths between source and destination The spanning tree restriction also concentrates the traffic on the spanning tree links when it could have otherwise been spread through all the links of the original topology Furthermore, bridges do not offer any protection against broadcast storms -- if one host goes haywire and transmits an endless stream of Ethernet broadcast packets, the bridges will forward all of the packets and the entire network will collapse Now consider the pros and cons of routers Because IP addressing is hierarchical (and not flat as is LAN addressing), packets do not normally cycle through routers even when the network has redundant paths (Actually, packets can cycle when router tables are misconfigured; but as we learned in 4, IP uses a special datagram header field to limit the cycling) Thus, packets are not restricted to a spanning tree and can use the best path between source and destination Because routers do not have the spanning tree restriction, routers have allowed the Internet to be built with a rich topology which includes, for example, multiple active links between Europe and North America Another feature of routers is that they provide firewall protection against layer-2 broadcast storms Perhaps the most significant drawback of routers is that they are not plug and play -- they and the hosts that connect to them need their IP addresses to be configured Also, routers often have a larger prepackage processing time than bridges, because they have to process up through the layer-3 fields Finally, there are two different ways to pronounce the word "router", either as "rootor" or as "rowter", and people waste a lot of time arguing over the proper pronunciation [Perlman 1999] Given that both bridges and routers have their pros and cons, when should an institutional network (eg, university
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campus network or a corporate campus network) use bridges, and when should it use bridges Typically, small networks consisting of a few hundred hosts have a few LAN segments Bridges suffice for these small networks, as they localize traffic and increase aggregate throughput without requiring any configuration of IP addresses But larger networks consisting of thousands of hosts typically include routers within the network (in addition to bridges) The routers provide a more robust isolation of traffic, control broadcast storms, and use more "intelligent" routes among the hosts in the network
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