All network engineers should be familiar with the method for virtualizing the network at Layer 2: the VLAN. VLANs are used to virtualize the bridging table of Layer 2 switches and create virtual switching topologies that overlay the physical network. Traffic traveling in one topology (ie VLAN) cannot bleed through into another topology. In this way, traffic from one group of users or devices can be kept isolated from other users or devices.

Traffic Isolation Using VLANs

VLANs work great in a Layer 2 switched network, but what happens when you need to maintain this traffic separation across a Layer 3 boundary such as a router or firewall?