What is Mesh Topology?

Mesh topology is a type of networking in which all the computers are inter-connected to each other. In Mesh Topology, the connections between devices take place randomly. The connected nodes can be computers, switches, hubs, or any other devices. In this topology setup, even if one of the connections goes down, it allows other nodes to be distributed. This type of topology is very expensive and does not have any hierarchy, interdependency, and uniform pattern between nodes. The connections of the mesh topology are not easier to establish.

All computers, in a mesh topology, not only responsible for sending their own signals but also relays for other nodes. Usually, it is used for wireless networks, and its connections can be wired or wireless. Also, there is a point-to-point connection between all nodes in the mesh topology setup. The below picture is an instance of a mesh topology network.

Characteristics of a mesh topology

• In a mesh topology, on the basis of the availability of connection between nodes, all devices decide the route of the data flow and work as a router.
• If a break occurs in a segment of cable, the traffic load of the network is redistributed between all nodes, which maintains the availability of the network.
• It is a type of network topology that offers redundant links across the network, but it is rarely used due to work involved in having a network and significant cost, as the network components are directly connected to every other component
• Furthermore, for installing partial mesh topologies, the mesh network setup is ideal as it balances the need for redundancy as well as cost.

Types of mesh topology

The full mesh and partially-connected mesh are two forms of the mesh topology, which are discussed below:

1. Full Mesh Topology: In a full mesh topology, all the devices are connected with all other devices. Full Mesh is a network where every node will have an n-1 number of connections if there are n number of nodes available in the network. A full mesh topology is usually reserved for network backbones, which offers a great deal of redundancy. However, it can be excessively costly to implement. Although it can be expensive to implement, it provides a benefit that if one of the nodes goes down, the traffic load of the network is redistributed to other nodes.
2. Partial Mesh Topology: Only a few nodes, in the partial mesh topology, are attached with all the other nodes. It means that in this network, it is not necessary to connect all the devices are attached with other. As compared to full mesh topology, it is less costly, and it provides basic redundancy to control the failure of any nodes. The partial mesh topology is used in peripheral networks through which they work with a full-mesh backbone in tandem.

How does Mesh Topology Works?

The mesh topology functions on two principles: Routing and flooding.

Routing

In the routing mode, before delivering data packets to the destination, the data is communicated in a prearranged path containing many hopping across nodes. All the intermediate nodes require to active and remain connected in order to transmit the data over the network.

Flooding

In the Flooding model, in the network, the data is transmitted to every active nodes. The addressed data is consumed by a node otherwise, if it finds that the data is not addressed, it passes it to the next node.

Protocols in Mesh Topology

Protocols are the set of rules; these are fit in layer 3 of the OSI model that defines standards for data communication between two nodes. The three kinds of protocols, Proactive, Hybrid, and Reactive, are used in the mesh topology. Each protocol plays an important role in managing the network through its own features and impacts performance and scalability.

• Proactive protocol: In the network path, this protocol provides constant self-monitoring of the nodes with the help of feedback from the nodes. Also, if any node gets fails, it facilitates reroute the network path. It ensures maximum uptime of the network, and offers quick recovery from any failure, and provides robust performance. It consumes more resources in a dynamic environment and has a chance of collusion, but in the static environment, it is much ideal where the network path does not often change. Therefore, it is better to use this protocol for the right environment.
• Hybrid Protocol: This protocol offers the best combination based on the environment and the communication needs and uses reactive methods and the characteristics of the proactive protocol. The cost of network operations is optimized through this method.
• Reactive Protocol: This protocol helps to determine the network path at the time of request for data transmission. It determines the optimal path and scans with the help of the whole network. It has better scalability that makes it capable of righting fit for a dynamic environment.

There are various benefits of mesh topology, which are discussed below:

• Scalable: In a mesh topology, each node acts like Router. However, there are no exclusive Routers. It easy to add an additional node in this topology and connect it to the network. Additionally, to scale up the network, extra effort is not needed.
• Robust: If any single node gets fails in the system, the network availability will not be affected and will be maintained. And, robust features are included in this topology to overcome any situation. Furthermore, this topology has no total shutdown.
• Lower Cost: It needs less investment in infrastructure as it is a highly decentralized system. Also, to manage the network, there are no central servers.
• Redundancy: This topology built a lot of redundancy to keep maximum uptime and offers numerous paths to reach the destination.
• As any failure does not disrupt its processes, therefore, data transmission is more consistent.
• This topology offers the benefit of adding a new node without disrupting the data transmissions.

There are many demerits of mesh topology, which are given below:

• Complex: In this topology, each node works as a router that increases complexity.
• Planning: This topology offers flexibility and scalability as it allows the addition of new devices in the existing network, which will have to ensure uniform latency across all nodes. Hence, network planning makes it a little difficult.
• Power Consumption: All the time in this network setup, each node will have to remain active that led to high power consumption and increase the load.
• As compared to other network topologies, such as point to point, star, bus, the cost of mesh topology is high.
• With the mesh topology, maintenance is challenging, and all nodes need a further utility cost to think about.
• Furthermore, in the mesh topology, the installation is much hard.