#TechStaff: What is a VLAN?

VLAN is an acronym for Virtual Local Area Network. VLANs are implemented in all the networks we use everyday to segment user traffic per departmental basis. VLANs have become an essential part of the Network due to the rapid increase of Internet users across the globe.

By Cisco Eng. Shingie Lev Muringi 

Within a switched internetwork, VLANs provide segmentation and organizational flexibility. VLANs provide a way to group devices within a LAN. A group of devices within a VLAN communicate as if they were attached to the same wire. VLANs are based on logical connections, instead of physical connections.

VLANs allow an administrator to segment networks based on factors such as function, project team, or application, without regard for the physical location of the user or device. Devices within a VLAN act as if they are in their own independent network, even if they share a common infrastructure with other VLANs.


A company’s network can be segmented into VLANs to cater for user traffic per departmental basis.

Any switch port can belong to a VLAN, and unicast, broadcast, and multicast packets are forwarded and flooded only to end stations within the VLAN where the packets are sourced. Each VLAN is considered a separate logical network, and packets destined for stations that do not belong to the VLAN must be forwarded through a device that supports routing.

A VLAN creates a logical broadcast domain that can span multiple physical LAN segments. VLANs improve network performance by separating large broadcast domains into smaller ones. If a device in one VLAN sends a broadcast Ethernet frame, all devices in the VLAN receive the frame, but devices in other VLANs do not.

VLANs enable the implementation of access and security policies according to specific groupings of users. Each switch port can be assigned to only one VLAN (with the exception of a port connected to an IP phone or to another switch).

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