Research Papers

Research Paper on Computer Networks

1. Introduction
In this research paper I would like to describe basic types of network. When we are performing particular tasks there can be many ways of doing that as well as if one decides to connect several computers together, there can be many variants. In some cases one ways of connection are better then others, but first it is necessary to define needs and it is also essential to take into account security issues.

As I have already mentioned before starting to connect computers in the office, for example, it is essential to decide why this should be done- the purpose of the connection, peripherals to share, define documents are needed to be accessed by several persons. The more information is gathered, the easier the future installment will be.

There are three basic types of networks- Peer-to-peer, Application- Server and Client-Server networks. Each particular type has its advantages and disadvantages in different cases and for different needs. Herein after I will investigate in each type of network and evaluate their benefits and downsides.

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2. Peer-to-Peer network
Almost all Operating Systems can be servers and share their resources. Different computers can be setup to permit other computers to use their printers or some drivers, share files that are stored at the hard disc or provide access to their Internet connection. When a computer allows to the other computers from its workstation to become servers and share files, it is generally called Peer-to-peer network. The example of such network can be a small office or several computers connected at one’s home. In this type of network there is usually no central server. Several computers with peripheries are connected together and can use assigned peripheries of each other. They also have access to the necessary documents of each other and share Internet from one computer, which is main in this network. Speaking about of the advantages of such networks I must say that they are very cheap and comparatively easy to install, as OS that are primarily installed on the computers allow installing definite changes regarding files share.

As to the disadvantages of this particular type of network, there are several rather serious one. First regards the security issues, as it is impossible to guarantee the security of this network without a central server. On each computer that acts as a server the same login and password should be entered. And if system administrator decides to change it takes hours of work and finally everyone starts to use the same passwords and usernames or even leave them blank, which is a great threat to overall security, especially when the network has access to Internet. The second problem is about the installation of good back up system, as people usually store importance documents on different hard disks. And the threat is that some important documents may not be archived because people saved them in the wrong location.

Over time such networks can turn cost advantage into disadvantage. As each computer in the network has something important then it should be always on and correctly configured.

The users of peer-to-peer network should be experienced enough as strict guidelines should be followed and they should be able to locate different shares of network and cope with small network problems.

3. Client-Server Networks
This type of network consists of one or more servers that provide with information and services workstation computers. Those services include: web services, e-mail services, file services, document version system services, domain name lookup services, sharing, Internet, etc. The brightest example of this type of network is World Wide Web, in which web sites are acting as servers. The difference from the peer-to-peer network is in the fact that those servers do not dually act as workstations.

Client-server network has the firewall computer that provides the network with Internet connection and forwards email to file server. That file server can have different shares of access to the people from different departments as well as commonly shares files. Each user has an opportunity to have the personal directory to which no one else has access to. Benefits of this type of network primarily include the fact that it presumes presence of the central repository that combines all necessary services. Security is also easy to be implemented as if there is only one single server it can be easily controlled and handled. The only necessary thing is login and password for each computer in the network. If the change of password is needed one should only change it on server and it will be changed for the whole network. Information in client-server network can be easily controlled as there is only one central server that stores all important documents. This provides a system administrator with ability to archive documents easily as well as provide secure access to them to all network users. This also decreases the possibility of documents misallocation. Adding servicing to the network is more secure and convenient with the single server computer as well. Even though there are many advantages of this type of network, there also some disadvantages that are useful to be discussed.

First it is the network cost that is high, as network hardware and software should be purchased. And second involves the case when the server has some problems, as it will block the work of the whole network. There are several decisions in this case- a redundant server, which is again costly, or waiting for extermination of problems, if it is affordable to the business.

4. Application-Server Networks
The third and the final type of networks is application- server network, which also can be called terminal server based. The idea of network operation is that there is one high-end server/ mainframe and many other machines that can be called ‘thumb terminals’, which only serve for input and display.

When working on such a terminal there is an impression that is it fully independent modern standalone computer. The example of application-server network can be the public library with many terminal computers on several floors. There is an application server on each floor, which has its basic application that are necessary to work of attendants- Internet Explorer, MS Word, e-mail, some program for processing images, etc. In general the package content may vary. Each server serves those applications to the definite number of terminals, and therefore each terminal has access to all applications as well as necessary peripherals, such as scanners or printers. If there is some problem with an application server, then terminal computers automatically log into the servers, which are situated on the other floors. If there are problems with separate terminal, then they can be solved without any information losses for the whole system. Such networks are not very costly, as they include purchases of application servers, firewall, file server, terminal computers as well as software for the entire system. To the advantages of this network I can relate its cost for purchase and maintenance. Great disadvantage is the case when the application server goes down. The other downside that all Proprietary Software packages are licensed for such networks and substantial investments will be needed.

In the conclusion I would like to summarize that each type of network has its benefits and downsides. The choice should be made only after defining needs and possibilities of the particular business. Available financial resources should be evaluated as well as future expectation from the network installed. And only after that it will be possible to find the best ratio of convenience and cost and enjoy operations.

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