Basics of Computer Networks

Computer Network:
A computer network, often simply referred to as a network, is a collection of computers and devices connected by communications channels that facilitates communications among users and allows users to share resources with other users.

Network Goals:





The main goal of networking is "Resource sharing", and it is to make all programs, data and equipment available to anyone on the network with out the regard to the physical location of the resource and the user. A second goal is to provide high reliability by having alternative sources of supply. For example, all files could be replicated on two or three machines, so if one of them is unavailable, the other copies could be available. Another goal is saving money. Small computers have a much better price/performance ratio than larger ones. Mainframes are roughly a factor of ten times faster than the fastest single chip microprocessors, but they cost thousand times more. This imbalance has caused many system designers to build systems consisting of powerful personal computers, one per user, with data kept on one or more shared file server machines. This goal leads to networks with many computers located in the same building. Such a network is called a LAN (local area network). Another closely related goal is to increase the systems performance as the work load increases by just adding more processors. With central mainframes, when the system is full, it must be replaced by a larger one, usually at great expense and with even greater disruption to the users. Computer networks provide a powerful communication medium. A file that was updated/modified on a network can be seen by the other users on the network immediately.

Network Applications:
1. 2. 3. 4.

Business Applications Home Applications Mobile Users Social Issues

Network Components:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Gateway Router Bridge Switch Hub Repeater Network Interface Card (NIC)

Gateway: Many networks exist in the world, often with different hardware and software. People connected to one network often want to communicate with people attached to a different one. The fulfillment of this desire requires that different, and frequently incompatible networks, be connected, sometimes by means of machines called gateways to make the connection and provide the necessary translation, both in terms of hardware and software. Router: A router is a networking device that forwards packets between networks using information in protocol headers and forwarding tables to determine the best next router for each packet. Routers work at the Network Layer (layer 3) of the OSI model and the Internet Layer of TCP/IP. a specialized network device that determines the next network point to which to forward a data packet toward its destination. Unlike a gateway, it cannot interface different protocols. Works on OSI layer 3. Bridge: A network bridge connects multiple network segments at the data link layer (layer 2) of the OSI model. Bridges do not promiscuously copy traffic to all ports, as hubs do, but learn which MAC addresses are reachable through specific ports. Once the bridge associates a port and an address, it will send traffic for that address only to that port. Bridges do send broadcasts to all ports except the one on which the broadcast was received. a device that connects multiple network segments along the data link layer. Works on OSI layer 2. Switch: A network switch is a device that forwards and filters OSI layer 2 datagram (chunk of data communication) between ports (connected cables) based on the

MAC addresses in the packets. This is distinct from a hub in that it only forwards the frames to the ports involved in the communication rather than all ports connected. A switch breaks the collision domain but represents itself a broadcast domain. Switches make forwarding decisions of frames on the basis of MAC addresses. A switch normally has numerous ports, facilitating a star topology for devices, and cascading additional switches. Some switches are capable of routing based on Layer 3 addressing or additional logical levels; these are called multilayer switches. The term switch is used loosely in marketing to encompass devices including routers and bridges, as well as devices that may distribute traffic on load or by application content (e.g., a Web URL identifier). Hub: Connects multiple Ethernet segments together making them act as a single segment. When using a hub, every attached device shares the same broadcast domain and the same collision domain. Therefore, only one computer connected to the hub is able to transmit at a time. Depending on the network topology, the hub provides a basic level 1 OSI model connection among the network objects (workstations, servers, etc). It provides bandwidth which is shared among all the objects, compared to switches, which provide a dedicated connection between individual nodes. Works on OSI layer 1. Repeater: A repeater is an electronic device that receives a signal, cleans it from the unnecessary noise, regenerates it and retransmits it at a higher power level, or to the other side of an obstruction, so that the signal can cover longer distances without degradation. In most twisted pair Ethernet configurations, repeaters are required for cable which runs longer than 100 meters. Network Interface Card: A network card, network adapter, or NIC (network interface card) is a piece of computer hardware designed to allow computers to communicate over a computer network. It provides physical access to a networking medium and often provides a low-level addressing system through the use of MAC addresses. Network Topology: Network topology is the physical interconnections of the elements (links, nodes, etc.) of a computer network. A local area network (LAN) is one example of a network that exhibits both a physical topology and a logical topology. Any given node in the LAN has one or more links to one or more other nodes in the network

and the mapping of these links and nodes in a graph results in a geometrical shape that may be used to describe the physical topology of the network. Likewise, the mapping of the data flows between the nodes in the network determines the logical topology of the network. The physical and logical topologies may or may not be identical in any particular network. Any particular network topology is determined only by the graphical mapping of the configuration of physical and/or logical connections between nodes. The study of network topology uses graph theory. Distances between nodes, physical interconnections, transmission rates, and/or signal types may differ in two networks and yet their topologies may be identical. The study of network topology recognizes five basic topologies:
• • • • •

Bus topology Star topology Ring topology Tree topology Mesh topology

Bus: In local area networks where bus technology is used, each machine is connected to a single cable. Each computer or server is connected to the single bus cable through some kind of connector. A terminator is required at each end of the bus cable to prevent the signal from bouncing back and forth on the bus cable. A signal from the source travels in both directions to all machines connected on the bus cable until it finds the MAC address or IP address on the network that is the intended recipient. If the machine address does not match the intended address for the data, the machine ignores the data. Alternatively, if the data does match the machine address, the data is accepted. Since the bus topology consists of only one wire, it is rather inexpensive to implement when compared to other topologies. However, the low cost of implementing the technology is offset by the high cost of managing the network. Additionally, since only one cable is utilized, it can be the single point of failure. If the network cable breaks, the entire network will be down. Star: In local area networks where the star topology is used, each machine is connected to a central hub. In contrast to the bus topology, the star topology allows each machine on the network to have a point to point connection to the central hub. All of the traffic which transverses the network passes through the central hub. The

hub acts as a signal booster or repeater which in turn allows the signal to travel greater distances. As a result of each machine connecting directly to the hub, the star topology is considered the easiest topology to design and implement. An advantage of the star topology is the simplicity of adding other machines. The primary disadvantage of the star topology is the hub is a single point of failure. If the hub were to fail the entire network would fail as a result of the hub being connected to every machine on the network. Ring: n local area networks where the ring topology is used, each computer is connected to the network in a closed loop or ring. Each machine or computer has a unique address that is used for identification purposes. The signal passes through each machine or computer connected to the ring in one direction. Ring topologies typically utilize a token passing scheme, used to control access to the network. By utilizing this scheme, only one machine can transmit on the network at a time. The machines or computers connected to the ring act as signal boosters or repeaters which strengthen the signals that transverse the network. The primary disadvantage of ring topology is the failure of one machine will cause the entire network to fail. Mesh: Fully connected The physical fully connected mesh topology is generally too costly and complex for practical networks, although the topology is used when there are only a small number of nodes to be interconnected. Partially connected The type of network topology in which some of the nodes of the network are connected to more than one other node in the network with a point-to-point link – this makes it possible to take advantage of some of the redundancy that is provided by a physical fully connected mesh topology without the expense and complexity required for a connection between every node in the network. Tree: Also known as a hierarchical network. The type of network topology in which a central 'root' node (the top level of the hierarchy) is connected to one or more other nodes that are one level lower in the

hierarchy (i.e., the second level) with a point-to-point link between each of the second level nodes and the top level central 'root' node, while each of the second level nodes that are connected to the top level central 'root' node will also have one or more other nodes that are one level lower in the hierarchy (i.e., the third level) connected to it, also with a point-to-point link, the top level central 'root' node being the only node that has no other node above it in the hierarchy (The hierarchy of the tree is symmetrical.) Each node in the network having a specific fixed number, of nodes connected to it at the next lower level in the hierarchy, the number, being referred to as the 'branching factor' of the hierarchical tree. Hybrid: Hybrid networks use a combination of any two or more topologies in such a way that the resulting network does not exhibit one of the standard topologies (e.g., bus, star, ring, etc.). For example, a tree network connected to a tree network is still a tree network, but two star networks connected together exhibit a hybrid network topology. A hybrid topology is always produced when two different basic network topologies are connected. Two common examples for Hybrid network are: star ring network and star bus network

Types of Network:

Local Area Network (LAN):
Local area networks, generally called LANs, are privately-owned networks within a single building or campus of up to a few kilometers in size. They are widely used to connect personal computers and workstations in company offices and factories to share resources (e.g., printers) and exchange information.

Metropolitan Area Networks (MAN):
A metropolitan area network, or MAN, covers a city. The best-known example of a MAN is the cable television network available in many cities. This system grew from earlier community antenna systems used in areas with poor over-the-air television reception. In these early systems, a large antenna was placed on top of a nearby hill and signal was then piped to the subscribers' houses.

Wide Area Network (WAN):
A wide area network, or WAN, spans a large geographical area, often a country or continent. It contains a collection of machines intended for running user (i.e., application) programs. We will follow traditional usage and call these machines hosts. The hosts are connected by a communication subnet, or just subnet for short. The hosts are owned by the customers (e.g., people's personal computers), whereas the communication subnet is typically owned and operated by a telephone company or Internet service provider. The job of the subnet is to

carry messages from host to host, just as the telephone system carries words from speaker to listener. Separation of the pure communication aspects of the network (the subnet) from the application aspects (the hosts), greatly simplifies the complete network design.

Many networks exist in the world, often with different hardware and software. People connected to one network often want to communicate with people attached to a different one. The fulfillment of this desire requires that different, and frequently incompatible networks, be connected, sometimes by means of machines called gateways to make the connection and provide the necessary translation, both in terms of hardware and software. A collection of interconnected networks is called an internetwork or internet.

Broadcast Networks:
Broadcast networks have a single communication channel that is shared by all the machines on the network. Short messages, called packets in certain contexts, sent by any machine are received by all the others. An address field within the packet specifies the intended recipient. Upon receiving a packet, a machine checks the address field. If the packet is intended for the receiving machine, that machine processes the packet; if the packet is intended for some other machine, it is just ignored. Broadcast systems generally also allow the possibility of addressing a packet to all destinations by using a special code in the address field. When a packet with this code is transmitted, it is received and processed by every machine on the network. This mode of operation is called broadcasting. Some broadcast systems also support transmission to a subset of the machines, something known as multicasting. One possible scheme is to reserve one bit to indicate multicasting. The remaining n - 1 address bits can hold a group number. Each machine can ''subscribe'' to any or all of the groups. When a packet is sent to a certain group, it is delivered to all machines subscribing to that group.

Point-To-Point Networks:
Point-to-point networks consist of many connections between individual pairs of machines. To go from the source to the destination, a packet on this type of network may have to first visit one or more intermediate machines. Often multiple routes, of different lengths, are possible, so finding good ones is important in point-to-point networks. As a general rule (although there are many exceptions), smaller, geographically localized networks tend to use broadcasting, whereas larger networks usually are point-to-point. Point-to-point transmission with one sender and one receiver is sometimes called unicasting.

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