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Tech Writing Sample:
Frame Relay Tutorial
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This excerpt (before formal editing) is from an original piece written
by Kass Johns for U S WEST (copyright).
Frame Relay Tutorial...
Frame Relay technology is used to connect more than one LAN (Local Area Network) to another. By connecting LANs, the network expands into a WAN (Wide Area Network). If your company has a headquarters in one building whose computers are all networked together, that is a LAN. When you need to connect that network to the LAN from a branch site--across town, across the country or around the globe, you would use Frame Relay technology to connect them. This would then appear to your users on the network as if the network was one network. No more "boundaries" or limitations. If you need to send a proposal to the Tokyo branch office, just print it from your computer to their printer directly, drop an email to the recipient and tell them to pick it up in the tray of their printer!
Frame Relay operates via "packet" technology. Frames are made up of pieces of the data to be sent, as well as addressing and error checking sections. These data pieces and sections combine to make a frame packet. Originally, standard switched packets contained many error checking sections because when this technology was first utilized, the data transmission systems (networks) were not as reliable as they are today. We needed the repeated checking and validation to insure that the data reached its destination intact. With more reliable networks, the extra error checking has become superfluous. Frame Relay packets are the faster incarnations of the original packet technology. The error checking(and validation) is at a minimum and so moves across the network much more quickly.
The FRAD (Frame Relay Access Device) is the interpreter or conduit that your computer network uses to connect or converse with another computer network (and their FRAD) at a remote location. In order for one computer network (LAN-- Local Area Network) to connect to another, the FRAD allows for a common connection point. To demonstrate, letıs imagine a company headquarters and three satellite branches across the country. Each of these locales has their own LAN network. You wish to connect all the locations as if they were one large network. If you were to connect them via dedicated lines, you might have 3 lines exiting/entering each locale to make sure that the other three LANs can connect to you. This would be duplicated at each LAN. (diagram)
By using FRADs and Frame Relay, you have one line exiting/entering each LAN. The FRAD is smart enough to address and send the data packet to the appropriate LAN/FRAD. The complexity of the network is significantly reduced and the cost is cut. The sending FRAD receives the data from its LAN, breaks it into packets, addresses it and sends it. The receiving FRAD receives the packet, checks it and reassembles it , sending it on its way on that LAN.
What happens inside the Frame Relay "cloud"? This is the portion of the process maintained and managed by !NTERPRISE. Inside the cloud are a number of edge switches--checkpoints for the data to pass through on its journey. The programmers at !NTERPRISE set up a PVC (Permanent Virtual Circuit) through these edge switches for your data packets. This is, essentially, a path for your data to travel toward the final destination. This path is yours, for your data. In the event that your data needs require more flexibility, then you may be set up with a SVC (Switched Virtual Circuit). This is a dynamic path that changes as network traffic dictates. You might want this option as an alternative if fluctuating heavy data traffic might impede the speed of your data reaching its destination.
© Copyright 1996-2001 for U S WEST (written by Kass Johns), all rights reserved world wide.
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