Networking is a process of connecting two or more computers for sharing. Through the networking, computers share information such as email, file, documents and resources such as printer, internet and disk storage. This article presents a brief overview of what computer networking is and how it works.
Introduction of Networking
Networking has single purpose and that is sharing. So if you have nothing to share, networking has nothing for you. If you anything to share, networking is everything for you. Computer networking is not a new concept. It has been here since the computers used to look like abacuses. At that time networking was used to share abacus answer with others. Over the time abacuses became computers and networking became more sophisticated. However the purpose of networking is still same: sharing the information as fast as possible. To achieve this goal networks now use electrical cables, fiber optical cables, and wireless radio signals.
A computer network includes at least two computers. Following figure illustrate a simple computer network.
A complex network may have thousands of computers connected via different communication links. For example Internet that is the largest computer network ever created by mankind.
Internet interconnects thousands of millions of computing devices including PCs, Laptops, Workstations, Server, Smartphones, tablets, TVs, Webcams, Environmental devices, Automobiles, Security cameras and many mores. In Networking all these devices are known as Hosts or End system or End devices. Computer networks use communication links to connection end devices with each other's. Communication links use different types of physical media such as coaxial cable, electrical cable, copper cable, fiber optical cable and radio spectrum. Different media types can transmit data at different rate that is measured in bits/second. Every media type has its limit that is measured in speed, distance, signal loose etc.
When a computer has data for another computer in network it initiates a session for transmission. During this process both computers finalized the rules of transmission such as speed of transmission, size of data file, security measurement of transmission, flow control etc. These rules are called protocols. Protocols control the entire data transmission through the network. Protocols are defined in various network models such as TCP/IP Layer model, OSI Layer model.
During the data transmission sender computer break the data file in small pieces. These pieces are called segment. Each segment properly wrapped with network information. Resulting segments are known as packets. Packets are sent to the destination computer through the network, where they are reassembled into the original data.
Requirement of Networking
Every network requires specialized hardware and software to make them work. Following are the essential components for network:
End devices that users use to access the shared resources. Usually they run desktop version of OS such as Window 10, Window 7, and Window XP. Client computers are also known as workstations.
Computers that provide shared resources. Usually they run sever version of OS such as Window Server 8 or 2003, Linux and NetWare. Server computers run many specialized services to control the shared resources.
Network interface card
NIC is an interface that enables the computer to communicate over the network. Every computer must have a NIC in order to connect with the network. In earlier time it was a separate card and need to be installed on motherboard. All modern computers have it as the integral part of motherboard.
Communication links are physical media. Every computer network needs some sort of media to transmit the data.
When we have more than two computers in network, we cannot connect them directly. We need a mediator device that allows us to connect all computers together. Switches do this job happily. Each switch contains a certain number of ports. We can use an eight port switch to connect eight computers.
Router is an intermediate device that speaks all language of network. It makes communication between two different networks.
Benefits of Networking
Networking is all about sharing. Networking allows us to share three main things: information, resources and applications.
Networking makes it easy to share the information across the network. We can send or receive data files from other computers. We can communicate with each other in network via messaging application for example email service, chat service etc. We can store data in a centralized sever for easy management.
Certain computer resources can be shared in the network such as hard disk, printer, scanner, modem etc. This allows us to track down the uses of resources. For example a network administrator can setup a printer server and share it in network. Then user can use printer server for printing. Now administrator needs only to monitor the print server instead of individual workstations.
Application sharing is the most common in companies. Companies may have business application that needs to be update by several users. Sharing make it possible. It allows several users to work together on a single application.
That's all for this article. I hope you may know understand the basic terms of networking. In next articles of this section we will explorer networking concepts in more details.