Networks: Connecting your people and resources
Networking can connect your people, computers, and peripherals — and centralize software and information. An in-house network can streamline your business operations, increase productivity, and reduce operating costs. You can improve access to essential business information and access and distribute information from the Internet
Moreover, workers can share peripherals, and applications — as well as information. Electronic mail and facsimile transmissions can enhance communications — with highly effective data security. All of which cuts costs and boosts productivity.
For example, online database access speeds order processing, credit authorization, billing, and collections. A network can also help increase timeliness and accuracy in critical areas such as inventory control, client contact management, and professional time-keeping.
There are basically three classes of networks: local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and intranets. (The Internet, of course, is the ultimate network, and we’ll address that separately next.)
Some helpful definitions:
LAN: a local area network is a collection of physically connected personal computers and peripherals, located in a single location. There are two types of LANs: client/server and peer-to-peer.
Client/server LANs: these flexible, secure networks have a dedicated host computer called a server on which data and software are stored. The server allows users of networked PCs — called clients — to access that information and share printers, modems, and other peripheral devices. These are the most common type of LANs because of their high-capacity, high performance capabilities.
Peer-to-Peer LANs: these simple networks are best in low-volume situations where you need merely to give users mutual access to computer files and peripherals
WANs: a wide area network connects a collection of LANs in remote locations through telephone lines, as well as satellites or other wireless technologies. WANs are client/server networks.
Intranets: this is a secure, internal-use-only company network that uses the same software technologies as the publicly accessible Internet (next).
The major components of a network are:
Workstation: any desktop or laptop personal computer connected to the network.
Fileserver: again, this is the heart of a LAN or WAN, a central host system for storing and managing information — and sharing peripherals.
Networking Operating System (NOS): this is the system software that manages the file server and other devices on the network. Novell Netware and Microsoft Windows NT are the leading network operating systems.
Network adapter: this hardware component, usually installed inside the PC, allows workstations to communicate via the network — this is where the cable to the rest of the network “plugs in.”
Network hub: through special cabling, the hub allows the data communication among networked devices.