High-performance network connectivity is the backbone of modern enterprises. However, with more than 328 million terabytes of data created daily1 – fueled by the proliferation of cloud computing, big data analytics, and IoT – organizations must proactively seek solutions to maximize available bandwidth and ensure uninterrupted uptime.

Link aggregation is a powerful technique that helps organizations address these challenges head-on. In this blog, we'll explain how link aggregation works and the many benefits it can offer your enterprise business.

What Is Link Aggregation

Link aggregation, sometimes referred to as trunking, Ethernet bonding, or NIC teaming, is a technology that combines multiple physical Ethernet links into one logical link. This logical link functions as a unified, high-bandwidth connection between two networked devices, such as switches, servers, storage devices, or access points. By treating the aggregated links as a single entity, network devices can seamlessly distribute traffic across the available physical connections to provide increased capacity, redundancy, and fault tolerance.

Types of Link Aggregation Groups

A link aggregation group (LAG) can be categorized into two main types: static and dynamic.

Static LAGs

Static LAGs, also known as manual LAGs, require manual configuration on both ends of the link aggregation setup. In this approach, administrators must ensure the settings on each network device match precisely, as there is no automated negotiation process. While static link aggregation offers a straightforward way to connect multiple network connections, it's unable to dynamically adapt to network topology changes or detect misconfigurations, which can lead to errors and connectivity issues.

Dynamic LAGs

Dynamic LAGs leverage the Link Aggregation Control Protocol (LACP) to automate the negotiation and establishment of link aggregation connections. Dynamic link aggregation provides several advantages for businesses, including automatic detection and removal of failed links, prevention of misconfigured settings, and improved fault tolerance through continuous monitoring and adjustment of the LAG.


What Is Link Aggregation Control Protocol?

The Link Aggregation Control Protocol is an essential component of a dynamic link aggregation group. It operates by enabling devices to exchange LACP Data Units (LACPDUs) to negotiate and establish the link aggregation connection. LACP ensures both devices have a consistent understanding of the LAG configuration, preventing potential misconfigurations that could lead to connectivity issues or packet loss.

A primary benefit of LACP is its ability to dynamically detect and remove failed links from the LAG. For example, if a cable is unplugged or a link stops sending LACPDUs, LACP will promptly remove that link from the aggregation group, rerouting traffic to the remaining active links and minimizing the impact on network performance.


Top 9 Benefits of Link Aggregation

Implementing link aggregation offers businesses several advantages, including:

1. High Network Availability

One of the primary benefits of link aggregation is increased availability and fault tolerance. By combining multiple physical connections into a single logical link, traffic is dynamically and transparently reassigned to the remaining active links within the same logical switch if an individual link fails. This seamless failover capability ensures continuous network uptime and minimizes disruptions to mission-critical applications and services.

2. Improved Reliability

Over 90% of global businesses experience at least one network outage each quarter.2 Link aggregation increases the reliability of network connections. With multiple links in place, the failure of a single link does not result in complete connectivity loss. Instead, the remaining links within the LAG continue to carry traffic, providing redundancy and reducing the risk of total network outages.

3. Efficiency and Load Balancing

Link aggregation enables efficient load balancing of network traffic across the aggregated physical links. This traffic distribution optimizes resource utilization, preventing bottlenecks and ensuring that no single link becomes overwhelmed. Additionally, link aggregation allows for seamless scaling by adding or removing individual links from the LAG as bandwidth requirements evolve.

4. Network Flexibility

Link aggregation provides enterprises with greater flexibility in configuring and managing their network infrastructure. By allowing multiple physical links to be treated as a single logical connection, organizations can easily adapt to changing bandwidth requirements or network topologies by adding or removing individual links from the LAG without disrupting ongoing operations.

5. Increased Bandwidth

By aggregating multiple Ethernet links, link aggregation effectively multiplies the available bandwidth between connected devices. For example, if four 1 Gigabit Ethernet links are combined into a single LAG, the resulting logical link can provide up to 4 Gigabits per second of total bandwidth. This increased capacity enables enterprises to support data-intensive applications, high-volume traffic patterns, and growing user demands without the need for immediate hardware upgrades.

6. Improved Network Management

The ability to manage and monitor multiple physical links as a single entity simplifies network administration tasks. Network administrators can configure and troubleshoot the LAG as a unified component, streamlining management processes and reducing the complexity associated with managing multiple links.

7. Enhanced Security

92% of CIOs in the U.S. have increased their budget over the past 12 months to improve network resilience.2 Businesses can distribute traffic across multiple physical links to mitigate the risk of a single point of failure and make it difficult for potential attackers to eavesdrop or disrupt communication channels. Additionally, some implementations of link aggregation support load-balancing algorithms that can help hide traffic patterns, further enhancing security.

8. Cost-Effectiveness

Implementing link aggregation can be a cost-effective solution for enterprises seeking to increase network bandwidth and redundancy. Rather than investing in expensive hardware upgrades or new cabling infrastructure, organizations can leverage their existing Ethernet links and combine them into a high-performance link aggregation group. 

9. Vendor Interoperability

Link aggregation protocols promote interoperability between devices from different vendors. This interoperability allows enterprises to leverage best-of-breed solutions and integrate diverse network components seamlessly, reducing vendor lock-in and enabling greater flexibility in their technology choices.


Leverage Link Aggregation With Expert Help From TailWind

Link aggregation is key to helping enterprise businesses optimize their network infrastructure as data demands and network requirements increase. For organizations seeking to leverage link aggregation to streamline and optimize their network infrastructure across multiple locations, TailWind can help.

Our broadband aggregation service consolidates all internet connections from various carriers into a single source, eliminating the complexity of managing multiple providers, bills, and support channels. This aggregated approach not only simplifies operations but also improves network reliability through diverse connection paths and automatic failover capabilities. With our industry-leading service level agreements and expertise in designing cost-effective aggregation solutions, we deliver high-speed connectivity to help businesses like yours minimize downtime risks and future-proof their networks to meet evolving data demands.

Ready to optimize your connectivity with broadband aggregation? Reach out to TailWind today to get started.

  1. https://explodingtopics.com/blog/data-generated-per-day
  2. https://www.digi.com/company/press-releases/2023/only-9-percent-of-organizations-avoid-outages