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Network Types

A Discussion On The Different Existing Networks

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Subnetting IPv4 Addresses

General Network Types

There are basically two types of networks in use, the Flat Network and the Hierarchical Network. We will compare and contrast the two here.

Flat Networks

A flat network is one network segment and each network ID is represented individually in the routing table. The network IDs have no network or subnet structure and they cannot be summarized. In flat networks, RIP based IPX inter-networks, for example, use flat network addressing and have a flat routing infrastructure.

Flat networks are usually deployed in SOHOs, (Small Office Home Office.) This is because the network requirements are low and do not require greater security or separation of departments. These environments usually don’t require multiple switches for departmental separation. Flat networks are also easier to administer and maintain because of the lack of complexity.

The Disadvantages of a Flat Network

Though Flat Networks are easier to maintain, this ease of administration does have its drawbacks. These drawbacks include:

  • Redundancy – Since only one switch is used, if this device fails there is no alternate path for the data and therefore the network will fail and become inaccessible causing loss of connectivity.
  • Low Security – Again, because of only one switch or router is used, segmentation of networks is not possible and does not prevent users from accessing all parts of the network. This makes unauthorized access much easier.
  • Speed – By connecting all devices to only one switch will reduce the data transfer rate, or speed.
  • Scalability – Flat Networks scale poorly and makes it possible for network failure easier.

Hierarchical Networks

In hierarchical routing infrastructures, the internetwork can be divided into routing domains (also known as regions or areas). A routing domain is a collection of contiguous networks connected by routers that share the routing information for the routes within the domain. Routing domains are connected by a common routing domain called the backbone. Intra-domain routing is performed by the routers within the domain. Inter-domain routing is performed by domain routers connected to the backbone.

The Disadvantages of a Hierarchal Network

Though Hierarchical Networks are by far more secure, this security as well as complexity does have drawbacks as well. These drawbacks include:

  • Maintenance and Administration – The maintenance and administration of Hierarchical Networks by their own design are harder to control and troubleshooting these types of networks is more complex.
  • Device Communication – This type of network is not usually homogeneous in nature and not all devices will communicate readily without special configuration.
  • Extravagant Design – This type of network would be somewhat overkill for a small business where segregation of networks is not needed. Moreover, the use of a collapsed core structure, where the core and distribution layers are combined, is a much more feasible approach.

Enterprise Networks

The backbone that connects computers and related devices across departments in a company or other organization is known as an Enterprise Network. This network reduces communication protocols and facilitates system and device interoperability along with the improved internal and external Enterprise Data Management.

The purpose of an Enterprise Network, (actually all networks in general) is the elimination of isolated users. All users and systems should be able to communicate, provide and to retrieve information. Enterprise computing models assure that physical systems and devices are able to maintain and provide performance, reliability and security.

An Enterprise Network can include both local, (LAN) and wide area networks, (WAN). An enterprise network can integrate all systems, including Windows and Apple computers and operating systems (OS), Unix systems, mainframes and related devices like smart phones and tablets. If the Enterprise Network is tightly integrated, it will combine and use different device and system communications protocols.

The Challenge For The I.T. Professional

The growth of IT demands place an ever growing challenge to the IT professional. Access to new applications and services are being demanded by users. Unfortunately, they want these services immediately giving the I.T. Professional minimal time to plan and make these applications operational. Making these challenges greater, users are wanting access to these services and applications available on any device that they chose to use during business hours as well as after hours. This demand forces I.T. to have to consider how these services will be delivered securely.

The 11 Network Types

  1. Personal Area Network (PAN)
  2. Local Area Network (LAN)
  3. Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN)
  4. Campus Area Network (CAN)
  5. Metropolitan Area Network (MAN)
  6. Wide Area Network (WAN)
  7. Storage-Area Network (SAN)
  8. System-Area Network (also known as SAN)
  9. Passive Optical Local Area Network (POLAN)
  10. Enterprise Private Network (EPN)
  11. Virtual Private Network (VPN)

Personal Area Network (PAN) are usually found in small offices or residences, and are managed by one person or organization from a single device. This network is usually made up of a wireless modem, a computer or two, phones, printers, tablets, etc.

Local Area Network (LAN) are the most frequently discussed networks as well as one of the most common. These networks connect groups of computers and low-voltage devices together across short distances. Most LANS are managed by Enterprises.

Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) make use of wireless network technology, such as WiFi.

Campus Area Network (CAN) are networks that are larger can LANs but smaller than MANs, (see MAN listed next.) These networks are typically seen in universities, large K-12 school districts or small businesses and can be spread across several buildings that are fairly close to each other.

Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) are larger than LANs but smaller than WANs. These networks span an entire geographical area such as a town or city.

Wide Area Network (WAN) are more complex than a LAN. This network can expand great distances, even globally. The most commonly known LAN is the Internet.

Storage-Area Network (SAN) connects shared pools of storage devices to several servers and don't rely on a LAN or WAN. SANs move storage resources away from the network and place them into their own high-performance network.

System-Area Network (known also as a SAN) and though fairly new within the last 20 years, this is a network that is designed to provide high-speed connection in server-to-server applications (cluster environments), storage area networks and processor-to-processor applications.

Passive Optical Local Area Network (POLAN) is an alternative to the switch-based LAN. It can be integrated into structured cabling to overcome concerns about supporting traditional Ethernet protocols and network applications such as PoE.

Enterprise Private Network (EPN) are networks are built and owned by businesses that want to securely connect its various locations to share computer resources.

Virtual Private Network (VPN) is an extension of a private network across the Internet. This network lets its users send and receive data as if their devices were connected to the private network even when the are not directly connected.