Graphic depicting a typical LAN Network without any restrictions to network access.

In high density office buildings, small businesses often have to share office space and sometimes resources. In one case, a company had excess office space and rented it out to another company. The new tenants suggested that they both use the same existing printer. This necessitated both businesses having access to the same network. Sharing network access between different businesses can be complicated. Neither business wanted the other to have access to any sensitive data on their respective networks. However, with adequate networking and hardware knowledge, both networks can remain secure and protected.

Utilizing A VLAN (Virtual Local Area Network)

Many network hardware appliances support virtual LAN networks. A virtual LAN or VLAN is used to separate networks that are connected to the same network.

Graphic depicting two businesses sharing a network connection using VLANs in order to share a printer.

In the case above, two independent VLANs – one for each business – were created on the network. Each business only had access to their respective network, but they were both accessing the same network hardware. Respective network access was ensured by creating independent wireless signals for both VLANs. Each business only had the password to its own network.

When the VLANs were in place and the wireless signals were established, a specific IP address was assigned to the printer. Then, routing information to the printer’s IP was added to both VLANs. This allowed both networks to access the printer without being able to access each other’s information.

Why Use A VLAN?

Using a VLAN saves a lot of time and money in situations like the one mentioned earlier. The alternative involves splitting network cables and acquiring multiple network devices. Instead, a VLAN allows you to use the network setup already in place.

Not only is it cost efficient and convenient, but it is also very secure. In the case of a network virus outbreak, the virus will only be able to access those devices connected to the VLAN it exists on. This means that both businesses can exist independent of one another. Neither has to live in fear of the other creating problems.


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