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Types of Networks and Networking Consideration

Types of networks include the Internet; Extranet; Intranet Local

Area Network (LAN); Metropolitan Area Network (MAN); Wide
Area Network; Value Added Network (VAN); and Virtual Private
Network (VPN).
The Internet
The history of the internet began about the late 1960s when the US
Department of Defence became interested in using computer networks.
Through the Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA), the military
funded research on networking using a variety of technologies. By the late
1970s ARPA had developed a wide area network called ARPANET that
used TCP/IP protocols. This internet project aspired to produce an open
system that permitted computers from all vendors to communicate. Open
meant that researchers published all discoveries about the internet and all
specifications needed to build TCP/IP software.

Extranet works similarly to the intranet. However these are hosted by
service providers. So for example you would have to pay a subscription fee,
or register in order to access information or services on these web sites.

An intranet is a network that contains file servers containing different
databases, or internal web sites. It may also be defined as a website set up
for internal use, usually within a company or educational instituition. This is
a closed site which may be accessed from outside if the hardware, software
and passwords are known. It is an efficient way to disseminate information
to employees and visitors. It is effectively the same as providing and
managing your own web site within an organisation which may contain
confidential information not intended for outsiders. It has great potential in
the area of staff training and finding information that would normally be
printed in manuals. The time savings aspects of these activities alone make
the system all worth while.

Local Area Network (LAN)

These are privately owned networks within a building or a campus up to a
few kilometers. Here all the different hardware is permanently connected by
cable so there is no need to use a modem and telephone link to
communicate. A LAN is distinguished from other types of networks by their
size; their transmission technology and their topology. LANs are restricted
in size meaning that the worst case transmission time is bounded and known
in advanced. Knowing this bound makes it possible to use certain kinds of
designs which would otherwise not have been possible. It also simplifies
network management. A LAN can be of great help to the organisation
particularly since 80% of an organisations mail can be internal. A LAN may
consist of a piece of cable (coaxial, twisted pair or fibre-optic link) which
runs around a building with connection points at regular intervals. It may
form a ring or start at one end of the building and finish at the other. There
are also wireless LANs.
LANS are typically capable of carrying data, text, voice and voice.
Although installation costs for wiring up are high, adding a device to a link
is relatively cheap and easy. A wide range of devices can be connected to it
such as file servers, printers, and workstation. Users can communicate with
each other using the LAN. LANs permit the sharing of information, so each
member in a work group can update a common database, combine
spreadsheet information from several users, or access common templates, all
from his or her own computer. Managers and secretaries can send messages,
reports, memos, etc. They can have quick and easy access to data files, and
access via gateways to external databases or other parts of the company.
LANs can handle data transfer rates higher than the telephone system and
are less prone to errors.
Unlike a timesharing system where users share the facilities of a large
computer, LANs are not dependent on a powerful central computer. Users
have their own computers for processing which will meet most of their
needs. LANs represent a low-cost solution for low volume data transfer
over relatively short distances.

The reduction in the price of microprocessors means that processing power

is cheap and so no longer has to be shared. LANs are therefore independent
of the central processor and offers the following advantages: workstations
with independent local processing and most times storage; shared resources;
shared information; easy expansion, increased productivity and shared
software. For shared resources there would be cost savings on expensive
resources, such as a printers and high speed modems. The information for
some applications, e.g. accounting and databases must be shared by several
Shared data can be kept up to date more easily and work can be coordinated
more effectively. It is possible to plug in extra workstation, all of which can
be used for any application. Users are able to do their jobs more quickly and
efficiently since each user has access to the same file and does not need to
search for the most up to date version, or wait until another user is finished
making changes to that version. Shared software can be cheaper, since the
cost per user is less with networked versions of software than buying single
copies for a number of standalone systems. Also since everyone is using
the same version it is easier to update everybody at the same time and avoid
incompatibility issues.
Disadvantages of a LAN are high set up costs; need for greater
standardization; underpowered; shortage of software; dependency; need for
greater security. There are different manufacturers, with different operating
systems. This can make it difficult for communication between LANs. Poor
response times may result as the number of users increase. There are fewer
software packages available for networks than for stand alone computers.
This is partly because software companies fear loss of revenue and increased
piracy. Data may be corrupted or viewed by others accidentally or
deliberately. Hence the need for access controls using identifiers and
passwords, as well as file and program access restrictions and encryption.
You will need to have backups, such as redundant hard disks.
LAN Software
There are different ways of categorizing software: LAN ignorant, LAN aware, LAN
intrinsic and LAN specific. LAN ignorant software are those designed for stand alone
machines. They have no concurrency control built in so that multiple users can access
and update at the same time without overwriting the work of other users. A LAN can use
software designed for single user computers, but these software cannot take full
advantage of the LAN. These will suffice if your LAN is only designed to share printers
and disk drives.

LAN aware software refers to stand alone programs that have been modified to work on a
LAN. They allow multiple users access to applications and files and take full advantage
of the peripheral attached to the network. Concurrency controls such as file and record
locking are built into the programs, and communication features such as electronic mail
are available.
LAN intrinsic software refers to programs designed to share the processing power of
several computers, distributing data and computer power across a network. There are few
LAN intrinsic applications currently available, but a database client/ server software is an
LAN specific software refers to software that requires a LAN to operate effectively.
Email and groupware fall into this category. Groupware is a broad class of software that
allows members of a group of users to work together without participants having to be in
the same place or available at the same time, for example several people working to
perfect a document. Popular groupware include scheduling, document processing, time
management and conferencing.

LAN Management Software

LAN Management Software is used to monitor and diagnose every aspect of the LAN
including security, performance, accounting (audit trail), fault, configuration, and file and
directory. Security management includes restricting access, recording user activities,
auditing data, creating passwords and access codes, and encrypting files. Performance
management entails monitoring network capacity and loading, identifying which
applications are being used, how long they are being used, and from which workstation
they are being used. Accounting management covers reporting and allocating the cost of
the network to specific network users. An audit trail keeps track of what goes on in the
network, who uses what resources at what time, and so on. Fault management involves
trouble shooting, finding, reporting and correcting failing equipment on the network.
Configuration management includes network installation, booting, and tracking
hardware/ software configurations. File and directory management allows you to utilize,
change and manipulate everything stored on the hard disk of the LAN. It also provides
backup utilities. Backup is one of the most important management activities that can be
done on a LAN. No matter what the type or price of the hardware and software you are
using, problems still arise through mechanical failures or more likely human error. You
can back up the LAN to disk or to tape, but floppy disks are not practical. Many LANs
have redundant file servers; however this is an expensive option. Removable hard disks
are also an option because they are inexpensive and convenient. Rewritable optical disks
with large capacities and durability are also being used; however they are expensive.
Backups only work if you perform them regularly.

Using LANs
Using a LAN is different from using a stand alone computer. You depend on equipment
that is not on your desktop. You have no control over the version of software or the type

of peripheral devices that are available to you. You must learn to remember your access
code and password, recall where files and data are stored on the LAN, and remember
how to direct your output to the desired printer. You will be required to learn the
appropriate email application so you can communicate with your co-workers; and if you
are involved in a work group you are required to learn the appropriate groupware

Metropolitan Area Network (MAN)

A MAN covers a city. An example would be a television cable network.
With the increased popularity of the internet cable companies realized that
they could with some changes to their system provide two-way internet
service along unused parts of the spectrum (frequencies). Therefore both
television and internet signals are being fed into the centralized head end for
subsequent distribution to peoples homes.
There have also been
developments in high speed wireless internet access.
Metropolitan Area network based on cable TV.

Junction Box


Head End


Wide Area Network (WAN)



A WAN consists of two or more geographically dispersed nodes or host

computers (country or continent) that are connected by long distance
communication links called channels, for example the telephone system or
microwave relays. The hosts might be connected by a communication
The hosts are usually owned by the customers and the
communication subnet is typically owned or operated by a telephone
company or a internet service provider. It may also be considered a large
scale distributed computer system. The hardware is not permanently linked
usually because of the wide geographic spread of the network and so can be
international. Most subnets consist of two distinct components: transmission
lines or channels and switching elements. A node is used to direct any data
along the correct channel. A channel will normally be a telephone line or
integrated services digital line (ISDN) using copper wire, fibre optic or even
radio links. Using a modem the telephone system can be used, however it is
limited in speed. ISDN can be provided that will both data and speech along
the same communication links. These links are much faster and operate
digitally so speech has to be digitized before it is transmitted. This network
is often used by large corporations and governmental agencies to transmit
data. Satellite transmits data across large distances divided by geographic
barriers, such as mountains or oceans. For example the National Science
Foundation (NCF) in Washington, D.C. has connected six supercomputers in
a WAN that eliminates logistical problems and links schools and research
centres around the nation to the supercomputers. The switching elements

must choose an outgoing line on which to forward data from the incoming
line. These are commonly your routers.
It is quite feasible to have a LAN at each branch of a company.
Occasionally they will need to call on bigger facilities and there may be
hook ups to other computer systems. So a WAN can be made up of several
different LANs.

Value Added Network (VAN)

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

Networking Considerations include cost, security, management,

expandability, and interconnectivity.



It is important to build extra communication links in the network to ensure
reliability and to share the workload.