A network topology is the way in which hardware devices and cables are connected. A hybrid topology (sometimes called a mesh or mixed topology) connects network components by combining the features of two or more other topologies (such as star, bus, ring and token-ring). The resulting hybrid topology exhibits features (and limitations) of its comprising network components. Examples of hybrid topologies include the star-wired ring and star-wired bus.
Hybrid topologies are reliable and have increased fault tolerance than other topologies. A hybrid topology can efficiently diagnose and isolate faults. A network fault (such as a faulty node or a break in a network cable) will not affect the performance of the rest of the network. A hybrid network quickly scans all nodes and hardware points to detect where a fault lies, isolates it, and carries out further diagnostic tests. The rest of the network remains fully functional while this fault isolation and diagnosis is carried out.
Hybrid topologies are flexible and are designed to suit a variety of network environments and needs. They are built after a careful assessment of the requirements of the network and available resources. Hybrid topologies combine various configurations to bring about the most optimal conditions to suit network traffic, processing loads and data latency. Hybrid networks can be expanded easily to add new systems and nodes. Each concentration point (or the point at which a network connection is made) is designed to hold extra lobes. Additional network hardware peripherals can be attached to these lobes in order to increase capacity.
A hybrid topology is able to tap into the strengths of other topologies and ignore their weaknesses. This results in a complex network that is more efficient and effective than individual topologies. It combines the optimal features of its combined topologies. For instance, a star-wired ring topology combines the features of a star topology with those of a ring topology. This hybrid topology combines the fault tolerance capability of the star topology with the data reliability of the ring topology. A star-wired bus topology combines the features of a star topology with a linear bus topology. It combines the network extension features of the bus topology with the simplicity and fault tolerance of the star topology.