Cover image for Frame relay : technology and practice
Frame relay : technology and practice
Buckwalter, Jeff T.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Reading, Mass. : Addison-Wesley, [2000]

Physical Description:
xx, 338 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library TK5105.38 .B83 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Frame Relay: Technology and Practice is the most comprehensive, current, and practical handbook available for understanding and deploying frame relay. Gathering information from many different sources, this book provides essential facts and techniques in one convenient volume. It explains frame relay technology in understandable terms, interprets frame relay standards, and discusses vital deployment issues. This book offers an overview of the benefits and limitations of frame relay and how it compares to other networking technologies. It contains a thorough description of frame relay technology, including architecture, interfaces, virtual circuits, and traffic management. In addition, the book describes the differences between the various carrier implementations and discusses real-world issues in design and management of frame relay networks, pricing, and procurement. The book also features several exercises, as well as numerous useful diagrams. You will find coverage of the most current frame relay topics, including: *Voice over frame relay (VoFR) *Data-oriented virtual private networks (IP VPNs) *Frame relay-to-ATM integration *Quality of service (QoS) offerings from carriers and

Author Notes

Jeff T. Buckwalter teaches graduate and undergraduate computer network courses at the University of San Francisco. In the business sector, he conducts data communications and networking seminars for communications professionals. He has written extensive training materials for Sprint as well as a frame relay seminar manual for Business Communications Review.




Networking professionals who are trying to learn about or use frame relay technology have many questions. Why has frame relay been so successful in the marketplace? How does frame relay work? What are the potential problems when migrating to frame relay? How does frame relay compare to other technologies? The answers to these general questions and many more are here. This book takes a current, practical, wide-ranging look at the issues a network manager must face when migrating to a frame relay network. It collects what is known about, and what is important about, frame relay networks in one place. My intent was primarily to write a book that is useful. Thus, this book explains frame relay technology, gives relevant facts, interprets frame relay standards, discusses issues, spotlights "gotchas," and compares alternatives. It pulls together information from many sources, such as vendor white papers, Web sites, standards documents, trade journal articles, email newsletters, seminar discussions, private conversations, Usenet newsgroups, and conference proceedings. Intended Audience This book is aimed at readers who are new to frame relay or who want to extend their understanding of its technology and practice. The primary audience is network managers who are considering migrating to or expanding their use of public frame relay services. Until the foundations are understood, it can be easy to make the mistake of believing that data networking is now a commodity marketplace. However, in my opinion there are real technical differentiators among data services and products that many managers are unaware of. This book can help lay the foundations for becoming an intelligent consumer. In addition to networking managers, several other related groups will find this book helpful: Network engineers, designers, architects, and administrators who need to ramp up on their frame relay knowledge. Staff members who are responsible for implementing a frame relay network. Network managers who are building private frame relay networks for their enterprises instead of purchasing services from public carriers. Sales and marketing professionals and sales engineers who need to be able to talk more knowledgeably with their customers about frame relay services and products. Computer science, engineering, and technical students who need more education about a technology they will likely be using during their careers. Consultants who want to better understand frame relay technology so that they can make useful recommendations to their clients. Vendors' research and development engineers who want a foundation for reading the frame relay standards documents and trade literature. Technicians and operations personnel who need a basic background for understanding their product manuals and procedures. In short, the audience includes anyone involved in the commissioning, design, pricing or costing, selection, installation, and day-to-day operation of a frame relay network. I have attempted to provide an international perspective so that the book will be useful worldwide. Recommended Background This book assumes no particular knowledge of frame relay. However, some background about the larger field of networking and data communications is helpful. Professionals already working in the networking field will likely have sufficient background. To help with unfamiliar terms encountered, an extensive glossary is included. Plan of the Book The general approach here is to introduce the basic terms, concepts, and organizations involved with frame relay in the first two chapters, then to expand on all of these topics in later chapters. Thus, Chapter 1 explains why frame relay has been so successful, introduces the basic components of a frame relay network, describes benefits and limitations of the technology, and compares frame relay to other networking technologies in use today. Chapter 2 sketches the standards organizations, service providers, and vendors involved in frame relay. Chapters 3 through 6 provide a solid description of frame relay technology, including architecture, interfaces, virtual circuits, and traffic management. These are important chapters for grasping how frame relay technology works, and they are frequently referenced in the remaining chapters. Chapters 7 through 11 deal with additional topics of interest to a network manager, such as differences between carrier implementations of frame relay, network management, pricing, procurement, and design of frame relay networks. Finally, Chapters 12 through 14 describe how frame relay networks interact with other traffic, such as voice, TCP/IP and other router-based protocols, IBM's System Network Architecture (SNA), and asynchronous transfer mode (ATM). Scope Frame Relay: Technology and Practice covers all the important topics related to frame relay networks, although not in exhaustive detail. For instance, I include current "hot" topics--voice over frame relay, data-oriented virtual private networks (IP VPNs), integration of frame relay and ATM, new options for accessing frame relay networks, service level agreements (SLAs), quality of service (QoS) offerings from carriers and vendors, and switched virtual circuits (SVCs). The focus is on fundamentals and content valuable to practitioners, such as network managers, rather than on esoteric topics. Only topics that are related to frame relay are included. In short, this book is not a primer on computer networks in general. The intent was to be attempt to be vendor neutral and unbiased in the discussion of service providers. Features This book evolved from the third edition of a 250-page manual that I wrote to accompany the two-day seminar, Frame Relay Technology and Applications, offered by Business Communications Review. Thus, the core material has been field-tested by hundreds of networking professionals in dozens of seminars over three years. This has benefits for the reader: crisper explanations, sharper focus, streamlined flow, added experience "from the trenches," and field checking of facts and conclusions. The following are some more specific features of the book: More than 85 diagrams and charts, which are especially beneficial for those of us who learn visually Wide-ranging sources for preparing the book, which provide the reader with a current, balanced, and broad perspective on frame relay Several exercises, with answers supplied, which allow the reader to reinforce certain key concepts An unusually extensive glossary, which can help fill in any holes in the reader's networking background An extensive index so that the book can be used as a quick reference An appendix on general sources of information about frame relay topics, which will be helpful for readers who want to keep up with the field Footnotes to books, articles, and Web sites so that the reader can further explore topics mentioned in the book The overall benefit of this book is that it helps readers understand what they should be looking for when investigating frame relay services and products. It is estimated the the global revenue from frame relay products and services in the year 2000 will be $15 billion. Many people will be investigating this technology. Acknowledgments Many people have contributed to this book in many ways. I would like to express my deep thanks to: Alan Schaevitz of AYS Associates, who inspired me to write the manual on which this book is based, and who carefully discussed many aspects of this material and its presentation with me. The hundreds of networking professionals who have attended my frame relay seminars and the hundreds of university students who have attended my graduate and undergraduate networking classes. I have learned much from all of you. My family, Regina and Derek, who were so cooperative and supportive of my writing this book. The Computer Science Department and administrators at the University of San Francisco, who provided an extended leave so that I could write this book. The book's reviewers who contributed so marvelously with suggestions and critiques--Lou Breit, First Data Corporation; Guptila de Silva, Australian Federal Police; Michael Easley; Michelle Famiglietti; Larry Greenstein, Nuera Communications and the Frame Relay Forum; Richard P. Jussaume, Breakaway Solutions, Inc.; Mark Kaplan, Newbridge Networks, Inc.; Dana Love, Radnet, Inc.; Ravi Prakash, Cisco Systems, Inc.; Dr. Robert C. Raciti; Richard Rogers, Intel Network Systems; Lawrence A. Van Buren; Linas Vepstas; Joanie Wexler, independent technology analyst and editor; and the anonymous reviewers. The people who helped by sharing information, giving advice, telling stories, or offering encouragement--Gary Audin, Delphi, Inc.; Bill Branson, Frank Russell Co.; Zak Cohen, Briarwood Associates; Liz Duncan, Electronic Payment Systems; Keith Falter, AT&T; Michael Finneran, dBrn Associates, Inc.; Russ Hansen and Chuck Jarzbek, Williams Communications Solutions; Chris Johnson, Bell Atlantic; Michael Kudlick, University of San Francisco; Gerry Litton, User-Friendly Consulting; Loren Meissner, University of San Francisco; Mark O'Leary, AT&T; Dave Pace, BCR Enterprises, Inc.; David Peterson, Transition Data Group; Rick Sant'Angelo, LAN Tech Systems; Buddy Shipley, Shipley Consulting Intl.; and Mehdi Sif, Nortel Networks. The publishing professionals at Addison Wesley Longman, who turned ideas and diskettes into a real book. Thanks go especially to Mary Hart, project editor, for her continual support; Marilyn Rash, production coordinator; and Dianne Cannon Wood, copy editor. 0201485249P04062001 Excerpted from Frame Relay: Technology and Practice by Jeff T. Buckwalter All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

1 Introduction
Driving Forces for Frame Relay
The Need for Frame Relay
Accelerators for the Growth of Frame Relay
Frame Relay Network Basics
Benefits and Limitations of Frame Relay
Frame Relay and Other Networking Technologies
Dial-Up Modem Lines
ISDN and Other Switched Digital Facilities
Leased Lines.X
25 Packet-Switching Services
Asynchronous Transfer Mode
Data-Oriented Virtual Private Networks
Switched Multimegabit Data Service
2 Who's Who in Frame Relay
Standards Organizations
The American National Standards Institute
The Frame Relay Forum
The Internet Engineering Task Force
Other Standards Organization
Commercial Organizations
Frame Relay Service Providers
Frame Relay Vendors
3 Frame Relay Architecture
Frame Relay Layers
Frame Relay and X
25 Packet Switching
Network Interfaces
User-Network Interface
Network-to-Network Interface
Local Management Interface
Frame Relay Layer 2 Formats
Frame Format
Header Format
Data Link Connection Identifiers
How DLCIs Identify Visual Circuits
Mapping DLCIs within a Network
Globally Significant DLCIs
4 Connecting to the Network
Access Circuits
Leased Access Circuits
Local Frame Relay Services
Dial-Up Access
Physical Connections to the Access Circuit
Physical Interfaces
Data Service Units/Channel Service Units
Port Connections
Network-to-Network Interfaces
Access Devices
Routers for Frame Relay Networks
Frame Relay Access Devices
Other Interfaces for Frame Relay Access
Recovery from Physical Circuit Failures
Failure of the Access Circuits
Failure of the Backbone Trunks
5 Frame Relay Virtual Circuits
Virtual Circuits
Differences between PVCs and SVCs
Permanent Virtual Circuits
Switched Virtual Circuits
More on SVCs
SVC Signaling Specifications
Advantages and Disadvantages of SVCs
Switched Physical Access and SVCs
Recovery from Virtual Circuit Failures
6 Traffic Management
Committed Information Rate
The User View of CIR
The Standards View of CIR
Capacity Allocation
Dynamic Allocation
Oversubscription of Port Connections
Asymmetric PVCs
Congestion Management and Flow Control
Frame Discarding and the Discard-Eligible Bit
Explicit Congestion Notification Using the FECN and BECN Bits
Implicit Congestion Notification
Where Congestion Can Occur
Congestion across the Local Access Circuit
Congestion across the Provider's Network
Congestion across the Network-to-Network Interface
Congestion across the Remote Access Circuit
Limitations of Congestion Management
Proprietary Implementations of CIR and the DE, FECN, and BECN Bits
The Customer's Inability to Respond to the FECN and BECN Bits
Use and Misuse of the DE Bit
7 Engineering of Frame Relay Networks
Frame Relay Switch Families
Public Service Provider Switches
The Non-CIR Approach
PVC Services and Bursting
Capacity Planning
Traffic Handling
Congestion Management
The Flow-Controlled Approach
PVC Services
Capacity Planning
Traffic and Burst Handling
Congestion Management
Comparison of Non-CIR and Flow-Controlled Approaches
Advantages of Non-CIR
Advantages of Flow-Controlled Networks
Second-Generation Frame Relay Switches
Quality of Service Support
Greater Speeds and Scalability
Improved Traffic Routing
The Zero CIR Controversy
8 Network Management
Network Management System Functions
Management Data Sources
Data from Switches
Data from Routers
Data from Protocol Analzyers
Data from Enhanced DSU/CSUs
Frame Relay Standards versus Proprietary Network Management Systems
Frame Relay Standards in Network Management
The Local Management Interface
Consolidated Link Layer Management
Review of the Simple Network Management Protocol
The Management Information Base for Frame Relay Service
Frame Relay Management Approaches
User-Based Monitoring
Carrier-Based Monitoring
Managed Network Services
Open Network Management Systems
Frame Relay Network Management Functions
Configuration Management
Fault Management

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