Networking Overview What is Networking?

In Information Technology, the term “Networking” refers to the hardware and software used to connect computers, allowing them to communicate with one another. Cabling, network operating systems, and a wide variety of components flesh out a network that can include a wide variety of computers and devices. Brief History of Networking Making devices talk to each other for the purposes of communication is nothing new. Early forays into telephony such as the telegraph and telephone have since evolved into more complicated devices, and now a computer can be networked to the Internet, another PC, or even a home stereo. In the early 1960s, individual computers had to be physically shared, making the sharing of data and other information difficult. Seeing this was impractical, researchers developed a way to “connect” the computers [1] so they could share their resources more efficiently. Hence, the early computer network was born. Through the then- new communication protocol known as packet switching, a number of applications, such as secure voice transmission in military channels became possible. These new circuits provided the basis for the communication technologies of the rest of the 20th century, and with further refinement these were applied to computer networks. These networks provided the basis for the early ARPANET, which was the forerunner of the modern Internet. The Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) submitted the proposal for the project on June 3, 1968 [2] which was approved a few weeks later. This proposal entitled “Resource Sharing Computer Networks” would allow ARPA not only the further sharing of their data, but would allow them to further their research in a wide variety of military and scientific fields. After being tested in four locations, the network spread and the new protocols created for its use evolved into today’s World Wide Network. In 1977, early PC-based Local Area Networks, or LANs (Local Area Networks) were spreading [3] and while initially restricted to academics and hobbyists, they eventually found their way into the workplace and in homes, although the explosion into the latter two arenas is a relatively recent phenomenon. LAN variants also developed, including Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs) to cover large areas such as a college campus, and Wide Area Networks (WANs) for university-to-university communication. With the widespread use of computers in the corporate world, the speed and convenience of using them to communicate and transfer data has forever altered the landscape of how people conduct business. Why is Networking Necessary? An early goal of computer developers was to make it possible for computers to talk to one another, and this simple means of communication has grown to include millions of computers the world over. Sharing resources and communication are two of the many reasons a computer network is beneficial in this Internet society, and numerous applications for e- mail, entertainment, commerce and other functions are becoming increasingly

dependent upon them as well. Networks have proliferated in many walks of life and have become an integral part of the corporate world. Ubiquitous computing and Internet-capable cellular phones have allowed people to remain connected, even if the individual is away from a fully wired office environment. With the Internet, the daily functions of corporate life have been mutated and improved, allowing for files, information, and other information to be trans mitted at nearinstant speeds. However, with it also comes the simultaneous requirement to keep data and communications secure. Market Leaders Much of the technological advances in networking come from a wide variety of sources, but a number of companies continue to innovate and lead by providing the infrastructure and necessary hardware. While Microsoft dominates the field of operating systems on workstations and on many servers with Windows, the open source Apache Web server provides the foundation for more Web servers than any competing product by a tremendous margin [4]. Numerous companies continue to develop and invent new technology, such as hardware from Cisco Systems. Known for their routers and countless other products, they also provide diverse wireless networking solutions through their Linksys brand. Other networking market leaders include Nortel Networks, Novell, Lucent Technologies and Juniper Networks. The Future of Networking While the initial concept behind networking computers was to see every person on the planet being “wired,” the evolution of the technology aims to do just the opposite. Wireless technologies are emerging as a popular, cable- free alternative to traditional wired networks. By 2009, it is predicted that wearable computers – which will replace the personal digital assistant, or PDA – will be fully integrated in the workplace, with the ability to connect to both wired and wireless networks [5]. Other emerging technologies include smart appliances -- products that have enhanced capabilities and/or the ability to access the Internet, to fully automated homes that have all appliances, heating and cooling systems, entertainment and other home needs connected via a LAN. As far as what’s driving networking trends in 2004, the leading developments are Voice-Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and convergence [6]. References 1. Kurose, Jim and Ross, Keith W. “A Brief History of Computer Networking and the Internet.” Computer Networking. 2. Hauben, Michael. “The history of ARPA leading up to the ARPANET.” History of ARPANET. 3. Wikipedia. “Local Area Network.”

4. Netcraft Ltd. “June 2004 Web Server Survey.” 5. Weinberg, Neal. “Networks of the Future.” Network World Fusion, May 3, 1999. 6. Reardon, Margueritte. “Networking industry hopes worst is behind.”, May 10 2004.

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