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Old 21-11-2010, 01:06 PM
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lectures What is Networking.

What Is Networking?

For such an extensive and involved subject, which includes so many different technologies, hardware devices and protocols, the definition of networking is actually quite simple. A network is simply a collection of computers or other hardware devices that are connected together, either physically or logically, using special hardware and software, to allow them to exchange information and cooperate. Networking is the term that describes the processes involved in designing, implementing, upgrading, managing and otherwise working with networks and network technologies.

Key Concept: A network is a set of hardware devices connected together, either physically or logically to allow them to exchange information.

Networks are used for an incredible array of different purposes. In fact, the definitions above are so simple for the specific reason that networks can be used so broadly, and can allow such a wide variety of tasks to be accomplished. While most people learning about networking focus on the interconnection of PCs and other “true” computers, you use various types of networks every day. Each time you pick up a phone, use a credit card at a store, get cash from an ATM machine, or even plug in an electrical appliance, you are using some type of network.

In fact, the definition can even be expanded beyond the world of technology altogether: I'm sure you've heard the term “networking” used to describe the process of finding an employer or employee by talking to friends and associates. In this case too, the idea is that independent units are connected together to share information and cooperate.

The widespread networking of personal computers is a relatively new phenomenon. For the first decade or so of their existence, PCs were very much “islands unto themselves”, and were rarely connected together. In the early 1990s, PC networking began to grow in popularity as businesses realized the advantages that networking could provide. By the late 1990s, networking in homes with two or more PCs started to really take off as well.

This interconnection of small devices represents, in a way, a return to the “good old days” of mainframe computers. Before computers were small and personal, they were large and centralized machines that were shared by many users operating remote terminals. While having all of the computer power in one place had many disadvantages, one benefit was that all users were connected because they shared the central computer.

Individualized PCs took away that advantage, in favor of the benefits of independence. Networking attempts to move computing into the middle ground, providing PC users with the best of both worlds: the independence and flexibility of personal computers, and the connectivity and resource sharing of mainframes. in fact, networking is today considered so vital that it’s hard to conceive of an organization with two or more computers that would not want to connect them together!

The Advantages (Benefits) of Networking

You have undoubtedly heard the “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. This phrase describes networking very well, and explains why it has become so popular. A network isn't just a bunch of computers with wires running between them. Properly implemented, a network is a system that provides its users with unique capabilities, above and beyond what the individual machines and their software applications can provide.

Most of the benefits of networking can be divided into two generic categories: connectivity and sharing. Networks allow computers, and hence their users, to be connected together. They also allow for the easy sharing of information and resources, and cooperation between the devices in other ways. Since modern business depends so much on the intelligent flow and management of information, this tells you a lot about why networking is so valuable.

Here, in no particular order, are some of the specific advantages generally associated with networking:

Connectivity and Communication: Networks connect computers and the users of those computers. Individuals within a building or work group can be connected into local area networks (LANs); LANs in distant locations can be interconnected into larger wide area networks (WANs). Once connected, it is possible for network users to communicate with each other using technologies such as electronic mail. This makes the transmission of business (or non-business) information easier, more efficient and less expensive than it would be without the network.

Data Sharing: One of the most important uses of networking is to allow the sharing of data. Before networking was common, an accounting employee who wanted to prepare a report for her manager would have to produce it on his PC, put it on a floppy disk, and then walk it over to the manager, who would transfer the data to her PC's hard disk. (This sort of “shoe-based network” was sometimes sarcastically called a “sneakernet”.)

True networking allows thousands of employees to share data much more easily and quickly than this. More so, it makes possible applications that rely on the ability of many people to access and share the same data, such as databases, group software development, and much more. Intranets and extranets can be used to distribute corporate information between sites and to business partners.

Hardware Sharing: Networks facilitate the sharing of hardware devices. For example, instead of giving each of 10 employees in a department an expensive color printer (or resorting to the “sneakernet” again), one printer can be placed on the network for everyone to share.

Internet Access: The Internet is itself an enormous network, so whenever you access the Internet, you are using a network. The significance of the Internet on modern society is hard to exaggerate, especially for those of us in technical fields.

Internet Access Sharing: Small computer networks allow multiple users to share a single Internet connection. Special hardware devices allow the bandwidth of the connection to be easily allocated to various individuals as they need it, and permit an organization to purchase one high-speed connection instead of many slower ones.

Data Security and Management: In a business environment, a network allows the administrators to much better manage the company's critical data. Instead of having this data spread over dozens or even hundreds of small computers in a haphazard fashion as their users create it, data can be centralized on shared servers. This makes it easy for everyone to find the data, makes it possible for the administrators to ensure that the data is regularly backed up, and also allows for the implementation of security measures to control who can read or change various pieces of critical information.

Performance Enhancement and Balancing: Under some circumstances, a network can be used to enhance the overall performance of some applications by distributing the computation tasks to various computers on the network.

Entertainment: Networks facilitate many types of games and entertainment. The Internet itself offers many sources of entertainment, of course. In addition, many multi-player games exist that operate over a local area network. Many home networks are set up for this reason, and gaming across wide area networks (including the Internet) has also become quite popular. Of course, if you are running a business and have easily-amused employees, you might insist that this is really a disadvantage of networking and not an advantage!
Key Concept: At a high level, networks are advantageous because they allow computers and people to be connected together, so they can share resources. Some of the specific benefits of networking include communication, data sharing, Internet access, data security and management, application performance enhancement, and entertainment.

The Disadvantages (Costs) of Networking

Now that I have portrayed the great value and many useful benefits of networking, I must bring you crashing back to earth with that old nemesis of the realistic: TANSTAAFL. For those who are not Heinlein fans, this acronym stands for “There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch”. Even though networking really does represent a “whole that is greater than the sum of its parts”, it does have some real and significant costs and drawbacks associated with it.

Here are a few of the items that balance against the advantages of networking.

Network Hardware, Software and Setup Costs: Computers don't just magically network themselves, of course. Setting up a network requires an investment in hardware and software, as well as funds for planning, designing and implementing the network. For a home with a small network of two or three PCs, this is relatively inexpensive, possibly amounting to less than a hundred dollars with today's low prices for network hardware, and operating systems already designed for networks. For a large company, cost can easily run into tens of thousands of dollars—or more.

Hardware and Software Management and Administration Costs: In all but the smallest of implementations, ongoing maintenance and management of the network requires the care and attention of an IT professional. In a smaller organization that already has a system administrator, a network may fall within this person's job responsibilities, but it will take time away from other tasks. In more substantial organizations, a network administrator may need to be hired, and in large companies an entire department may be necessary.

Undesirable Sharing: With the good comes the bad; while networking allows the easy sharing of useful information, it also allows the sharing of undesirable data. One significant “sharing problem” in this regard has to do with viruses, which are easily spread over networks and the Internet. Mitigating these effects costs more time, money and administrative effort.

Illegal or Undesirable Behavior: Similar to the point above, networking facilitates useful connectivity and communication, but also brings difficulties with it. Typical problems include abuse of company resources, distractions that reduce productivity, downloading of illegal or illicit materials, and even software piracy. In larger organizations, these issues must be managed through explicit policies and monitoring, which again, further increases management costs.

Data Security Concerns: If a network is implemented properly, it is possible to greatly improve the security of important data. In contrast, a poorly-secured network puts critical data at risk, exposing it to the potential problems associated with hackers, unauthorized access and even sabotage.
Most of these costs and potential problems can be managed; that's a big part of the job of those who set up and run networks. In the end, as with any other decision, whether to network or not is a matter of weighing the advantages against the disadvantages. Of course today, nearly everyone decides that networking is worthwhile.

Key Concept: Networking has a few drawbacks that balance against its many positive aspects. Setting up a network has costs in hardware, software, maintenance and administration. It is also necessary to manage a network to keep it running smoothly, and to address possible misuse or abuse. Data security also becomes a much bigger concern when computers are connected together.

Thank You.

Last edited by bonfire; 25-11-2010 at 11:10 AM.
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Old 23-11-2010, 10:47 PM
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Default Re: What is Networking.

thnx for this useful post
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