An Overview of Networking
The term “networking” applies to either, (1) the exchange of information among individuals, groups, or institutions, or (2) the process of electronic voice or data communications. Job seekers and business-people are concerned about the first definition. However, we are seeking to further explain the latter. Often, the network is used for networking!
Communication networks are broken down into two primary categories; the Wide Area Network (WAN) and the Local Area Network (LAN). WAN technology connects sites that are in diverse locations, while LAN technology connects people and machines within a site.
Actually, there is a lot of confusion between what is a WAN technology and what is a LAN technology. Historically, the answer lies in how data is switched. From a switching perspective, if information is switched somewhere, its a WAN technology. If information is broadcast, its a LAN technology. Switching techniques are described later on in this document.
It is the LAN/WAN integration that makes the network work. After all, people and machines not only need to be accessible locally, but from different sites as well. In today’s network framework, the WAN addresses those network interfaces that interconnect the local network with other networks or the Internet.
|LANS & Novell||Of LANs and Novell|
|Protocols||Here’s some datacom protocol information.|
If your company tries to separate LAN and WAN concepts from a personnel management perspective, you can be in for trouble; with a capital T.
Voice networking was historically a Wide Area Network technology. A phone was deposited on one’s desk and presto, instant telephony. Very little thought was put into how the system actually worked.
However, in today’s world, this is slowly changing. Voice does belong in the Local Area Network also. New technologies such as Isochronous Ethernet and ATM techniques are making this happen. Other factors, particularly video conferencing are contributing to this integration. There are existing voice applications, such as the traditional building intercom, that can already be considered to be a LAN technology because of its broadcast approach. The same concept can be applied to video or television broadcasts as well.
|Voice Networking||Learn about modern-day voice networking.|
There are two basic types of computing models:
— Centralized computing
— Distributed, Client/Server computing
In the past, the mainstay of corporate data communications involved accessing a “central” computer. Everybody went to this one computer to take care of a particular task or business process. This computer did all processing associated with that task. Wherever possible, this computer did other tasks also. After all, computers were very expensive!
Initially, input to the computer was performed using interactive “dumb terminals”. Later, “smart terminals” provided for batched input to the mainframe. Batch terminals help to reduce network costs by taking advantage of switching networks. These are often found in retail chains where stores download sales information to the mainframe at the end of the day!
And IBM flourished, with the dominance of the 360-series in the 70’s and 80’s!
|Data Interfaces||Data Interface Standards|
The general availability of microprocessor-based Personal Computers changed the way people thought about computing. Now, much of the processing load can be offloaded from the mainframe and performed at the desk through a Personal Computer.
Along with the Client/Server computer model came new methods of getting computers to talk to one another. A high-speed transmission media was needed, called a Local Area Network (LAN). Also, computers had to talk the same network language, to form a Network Operating System (NOS). With a NOS, your computer’s operating system is integrated into the network.
And companies like Novell, LanTastic, Banyan-Vines, DEC, IBM, 3Com, Xerox, and Microsoft have flourished!
|LANS & Novell||Of LANs and Novell|
So, which is better? Centralized computing, or Client/Server computing? The answer to this question is: either, both, or neither!
The Centralized computing model has the following attributes:
- Relies heavily on WAN technologies
- Ideally suited for mission-critical information
- High computer cost
- Low end-user equipment costs
- Lower network management costs
- Higher transmission facility costs
- Lacks flexibility and customization
The Client/Server computing model has the following attributes:
- Relies on both LAN and WAN technologies
- Flexible deployment – easily customized
- Low computer cost
- Increased end-user equipment costs
- Lower transmission facility costs
- Increased network management costs
Until the end of time, both architectures are likely to be found within a typical company’s network. When looking at costs, mainframe computers and WAN facility costs have traditionally been the impetus for implementing the Client/Server model. However, as both mainframe and WAN facility costs decrease, there will be an increase in centralized computing!
To ensure a company’s success, its software and hardware must be prepared to adapt quickly and easily to either model, without excessive loss of data and productivity. At the time of this writing, mainframe and facilities costs are decreasing, resulting in more justifiable use of centralized computing.
In corporate networking terms, you’ve got a Private Data Network and a Public Data Network. This is so, and will forever be so, but the term “Internet” has really muddled with a user’s concept of the network. Let me explain:
An Intranet describes the internal workings of a Private Data network. Internet should be used to described how two internal networks (Private Data Networks) are connected.
However, the “Internet” as used today really describes a Public TCP/IP-based Data Network. Things would be so much easier to understand if the “Internet” was actually called the “Public Internet” or some such. The term Intranet, which really should include internal voice networks and other data switching techniques, really describes TCP/IP-based applications transported within the Private Data Network.
In reality, private Intranets can be interconnected without using the Internet. On the other-hand, the Internet is a good vehicle through which other Intranets and/or the general public can be reached. Successful companies need to understand what applications require private interconnection, what applications can be made available to the public, and what applications should be made available to other Intranets, from the Internet! Every application should be explored for suitability to the media. Only then will a company make the most of its network!