Back to basics #4 : What is Networks ?

Networks are all about paths of communication. Whether these are interconnected highways in a country or the connection of the neurons in the brain or an electrical subsystems joined with each other, the term Network is applicable to all of them.
A computer network is formed when a number of computers and associated peripherals are connected together to form channels of communication between them. The primary advantage of a computer network lies in sharing of resources and data.

Computer networks can be built using physical media like Ethernet LAN, WAN on Copper and WAN on Optical fibre. While the latter two are mainly used for long-distance communication, Ethernet is the most popular and cost-effective method of building computer networks. For Wireless purpose, the usual technologies used are, microwave, satellite, Wi-Fi and IR (Infra Red).
All networks employ a number of basic hardware devices for interconnection between the computers or Nodes like Network Interface Cards – NIC (you can find this in your PC), Hubs, Routers, Switches, Bridges, Repeaters and Firewalls (all of these are in the Datacenter).

Computer networks are categorized based on reach (area covered), types of user and data. To name a few, these are :

  • Local Area Network (LAN),
  • Wide Area Network (WAN),
  • Metropolitan Area Network (MAN),
  • Personal Area Network (PAN),
  • Virtual Private Network (VPN),
  • Campus Area Network (CAN),
  • Storage Area Network (SAN).

Still another classification exists for computer networks according to the type of logical relation between the nodes or the topology.These are bus, star, ring and mesh. A number of factors affect the right choice of topology. Networks is identified by the functional relationships of the nodes. The most widely used are client-server (medium to large networks) and peer-to-peer (small LAN or PAN) architectures.

The greatest avatar of a global network is the World Wide Web (WWW). It interconnects all the networks belonging to diverse agencies including personal ones, overseen and administered by a single authority and forms the backbone of the Web (WWW). The main communication protocols for using internet is Internet Protocol (IP) and Transmission Control Protocol (TCP).

The terms like ‘Information Highway’ and ‘Global Communication’ are real thanks to the Networking Technology. Now that the computers have moved into the Clouds and smartphones can surf the Internet we can say : No Networking – No Cloud Computing !!!

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