Information is of no use unless you share it. This is especially true in an increasingly competitiveworld. Organizations in the nineties operate in a world that has become devilishly competitive. Toensure its success, one of the parameters that an organization may need to work at is the speed withwhich it reacts to its environment: market fluctuations, changes in government policies, competitor’smoves. And this is where speed of exchange of information is of paramount importance.Many organizations today look to the computer as an invaluable means of obtaining, storing,processing and exchanging information; doing it fast and efficiently. And one way of making this assetthat an organization possesses, in the form of computer power, more formidable is to link it to make ita synergistic whole. This is called computer networking. It is a challenging concept, the impact of which is being increasingly felt throughout the world.
What is computer networking?
Well, first things first. What does the term network mean to you?Perhaps it means an arrangement, or a complex grid. For instance, you may often have come acrossphrases such as the state has a very good network of roads. This signifies that there is a good systemof roads that read out to every corner of the state. In other words, the cities towns, and villages of thestate are well connected through the extensive network of roads, it also signifies that these cities,towns, and villages are, at least partly, dependent on the interconnectivity that this network of roadprovides.We can extend this analogy to computers too. When we say that a group of computers is networked, itimplies that these computers are linked by means of a communication system. Technically speakingthe term computer network refers not just to the computers and the cables (or any other mode thatmay be used to communicate), but includes the software that helps them to communicate, and thetransmission methods used in such communication. In short, it encompasses the whole gamut of hardware and software components that make a computer network operate.A computer network can also be compared to telephone network in a city. A city may have millions of telephone instruments, and needs millions of telephone instruments, and needs demand that when auser in one part of the city dials a number, he or she be connected to another user in another part of the city. In fact, a telephone user in one part of the city can be connected to a user in any other partof the city through telephone lines. Is each telephone physically connected through cables to everyother telephone? No. That would be impossible. Each telephone connects to a local exchange. Anumber of local exchanges are connected to the district exchange, which in turn is connected to thecentral exchange of the city. Similarly in a computer network, each computer is capable of communicating with every other computer in the network, through each computer is not directlyconnected to every other computer through communication channels. Instead, there is a network of communication channels interconnecting these computers that make this possible.
Reasons for networking
The first and most obvious reason is that once you link these computers and they are capable of communicating with each other, they form a huge information chain. This information chain ensuresthat information is available to users at the time and at the location where they need it.Another advantage of having a network is that it helps an organization to make better use of itshardware and software resources. Let us say an organization has a high speed mainframe computer inits office at Bombay. The power of this mainframe computer needs to be used by users in the Delhioffice. One alternative is to have a mainframe computer in Delhi, but that is not practical because it istoo expensive. A more feasible solution is to network this mainframe with computers in the Delhi officeso that the users in Delhi can use the mainframe while working on the computers. Similarly, softwareresources too can be shared amongst computer users once an organization networks these computers.