Friday, May 11, 2007

Frame Relay - Is this the solution for you?

Frame Relay

Frame Relay is one of the most cost-effective types of data transmission available today. It’s a protocol standard for LAN internetworking which provides a fast and efficient method of transmitting information from a user device to LAN bridges and routers.

Frame Relay is a high-speed packet switched transmission service that connects two or more fixed points across a private network. Access to a Frame Relay network is done through an interface circuit known as a FRAD or Frame Relay Access Device. Sometimes it's called a Frame Relay Assembler/Disassembler. Most often, it's an option card in a router. The physical connection for Frame Relay Service is available in bandwidth anywhere from DS-0 (56k) to full DS-1 (T1) speeds.

Network providers usually employ frame relay for voice and data as an encapsulation technique used between LAN and over a WAN. Private or leased lines at the user end are connected to a Frame Relay node. The frame relay network handles transmissions over dynamic paths transparent to all end-users.

Designers of Frame Relay searched for a cost-efficient data transmission for discontinuous traffic between LANs and between end-points in a WAN. Frame Relay works by sending data in variable-size units called “frames” and leaves all the error-correction, like re-transmission of data, up to the end points; speeding up overall data transmission.

Frame Relay offers an attractive alternative to both dedicated lines and X.25 networks for connecting LANs to bridges and routers. The success of the Frame Relay protocol is based on the following two essential factors:

Virtual circuits only consume bandwidth when they’re transporting data, so they can exist simultaneously across a given transmission line. In addition, each device can use more of the bandwidth as necessary, and thus operate at higher speeds.
The improved reliability of communication lines and increased error-handling sophistication at end stations allows the Frame Relay protocol to discard erroneous frames. This eliminates time-consuming error-handling processing, which also helps in data transfer speeds.

And because Frame Relay uses a simple link layer protocol, your equipment usually requires only software changes or simple hardware modifications, so you don't have to invest a lot of money to upgrade your system. However, required testing is needed to determine that the system works properly and transmitted data is not lost.

Now the question is: Do you really need it?

Frame Relay traffic is a shared bandwidth connection that is provided by your local phone company. It does not use the Internet to route traffic between your installations, although it can be configured to route traffic into and out of the Internet.

If your business only needs Internet access for the computers in your office and you only need TCP/IP communications, then you don't need frame relay. You just need a point-to-point T1 circuit that routes into your local ISP network to enter the Internet through their gateway. Remember to set up a firewall to protect your internal computer systems from the access to the Internet when using a point-to-point circuit.

On the other hand, if you need to network business locations, but don’t want to pay for full-time dedicated trunk lines, or share your T1 line with other connections (like mainframes), then Frame Relay is for you. Frame Relay can maintain a reliable and continuous network connection for your needs.

The network service provider will provide a permanent virtual circuit (PVC) in most cases. This allows the customer to have a continuous, dedicated connection without having to pay for a full-time leased line. The service provider will figure out the route each frame travels to its destination and can charge based on usage.

A company, like yours, can select a level of service quality, allowing certain frames to have priority over less important ones. Frame relay can run on full or fractional T-carrier system providers, and complement a mid-range service between ISDN and Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM).

Frame Relay is available in the following speeds (type and speed of frame relay may vary by ILEC): 56Kbps, 64Kbps, 128Kbps, 256Kbps, 512Kbps, 1.5Mbps, and 2Mbps. If this type if solution is for you, find the best Frame Relay Service in your area!