ATM Trunks

Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) technology has the inherent capability to transport voice, video, and data over the same infrastructure. And because ATM does not have any collision domain distance constraints like LAN technologies, ATM deployments can reach from the desktop to around the globe. With these attributes,

ATM offers users the opportunity to deploy an infrastructure suitable for consolidating what are traditionally independent networks. For example, some companies have a private voice infrastructure between corporate and remote offices. The business leases T1 or E1 services to interconnect private branch exchanges (PBXs) between the offices. The company can deploy or lease a separate network to transport data between the offices. And finally, to support video conferencing, an ISDN service can be installed. Each of these networks has its own equipment requirements, maintenance headaches, and in many cases recurring costs. By consolidating all of the services onto an ATM network, as in Figure 8-12, the infrastructure complexities significantly reduce. Even better, the recurring costs can diminish. Most importantly, this keeps your employer happy.

Figure 8-12 Service Consolidation over an ATM Network

Figure 8-12 Service Consolidation over an ATM Network

Atm Experts

For those installations where ATM provides a backbone service (either at the campus or WAN levels), users can take advantage of the ATM infrastructure to trunk between Catalysts. By inserting a Catalyst LANE module, the Catalyst can send and receive data frames over the ATM network. The Catalyst bridges the LAN traffic onto the ATM network to transport the frames (segmented into ATM cells by the LANE module) through the ATM system and received by another ATM-attached Catalyst or router.

Catalysts support two modes of transporting data over the ATM network: LANE and MPOA. Each of these are covered in detail in other chapters. LANE is discussed in Chapter 9, "Trunking with LAN Emulation, and Chapter 10, "Trunking with Multiprotocol over ATM," covers MPOA operations. The ATM Forum defined LANE and MPOA for data networks. If you plan to use ATM trunking, you are strongly encouraged to visit the ATM Forum Web site and obtain, for free, copies of the LANE and MPOA documents. The following sections on LANE and MPOA provide brief descriptions of these options for trunking over ATM.


LANE emulates Ethernet and Token Ring networks over ATM. Emulating an Ethernet or Token Ring over ATM defines an Emulated LAN (ELAN). A member of the ELAN is referred to as a LANE Client (LEC). Each ELAN is an independent broadcast domain. An LEC can belong to only one ELAN. Both Ethernet and Token Ring networks are described as broadcast networks; if a station generates a broadcast message, all components in the network receive a copy of the frame. ATM networks, on the other hand, create direct point-to-point connections between users. This creates a problem when a client transmits a broadcast frame. How does the broadcast get distributed to all users in the broadcast domain? ATM does not inherently do this. A client could create a connection to all members of the ELAN and individually forward the broadcast to each client, but this is impractical due to the quantity of virtual connections that need to be established even in a small- to moderately-sized network. Besides, each client does not necessarily know about all other clients in the network. LANE provides a solution by defining a special server responsible for distributing broadcasts within an ELAN.

In Figure 8-13, three Catalysts and a router interconnect over an ATM network. On the LAN side, each Catalyst supports three VLANs. On the ATM side, each Catalyst has three clients to be a member of three ELANs.

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