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Computer Networking

Definition - What does Computer Networking mean?

Computer networking is an engineering discipline that aims to study and analyze the communication process
among various computing devices or computer systems that are linked, or networked, together to exchange
information and share resources.
Computer networking depends on the theoretical application and practical implementation of fields like
computer engineering, computer sciences, information technology and telecommunication.

Techopedia explains Computer Networking

A router, network card and protocols are the essential pillars upon which any network is built. Computer
networks are the backbone of modern-day communication. Even public switched telephone networks are
controlled by computer systems; most telephonic services are also working with IP.
The increasing scope of communication has led to much advancement in the networking field and in its
relative industries like hardware, software manufacturing and integration. As a result, most households have
access to one or more networks. There are three broad network types:

 Local Area Network (LAN): Used to serve a small number of people located in a small geographical
space. Peer-to-peer or client server networking methods can be employed.
 Wide Area Network (WAN): Formed to connect a computer with its peripheral resources across a
large geographical area.
 Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN)/Wireless Wide Area Network (WWAN): Formed without the
use of wires or physical media to connect hosts with the server. The data is transferred over radio

What Are Network Topologies?

Network Topology refers to the layout of a network and how different nodes in a network are connected to
each other and how they communicate. Topologies are either physical (the physical layout of devices on a
network) or logical (the way that the signals act on the network media, or the way that the data passes
through the network from one device to the next). This Webopedia Study Guide describes five of the most
common network topologies.

1. Mesh Topology
Mesh Topology: In a mesh network, devices are connected with many redundant interconnections between
network nodes. In a true mesh topology every node has a connection to every other node in the network.
There are two types of mesh topologies:

Full mesh topology: occurs when every node has a circuit connecting it to every other node in a network.
Full mesh is very expensive to implement but yields the greatest amount of redundancy, so in the event that
one of those nodes fails, network traffic can be directed to any of the other nodes. Full mesh is usually
reserved for backbone networks.
Partial mesh topology: is less expensive to implement and yields less redundancy than full mesh topology.
With partial mesh, some nodes are organized in a full mesh scheme but others are only connected to one or
two in the network. Partial mesh topology is commonly found in peripheral networks connected to a full
meshed backbone.
2. Star Topology
Star Topology: In a star network devices are connected to a central computer, called a hub. Nodes
communicate across the network by passing data through the hub.

Main Advantage: In a star network, one malfunctioning node doesn't affect the rest of the network.
Main Disadvantage: If the central computer fails, the entire network becomes unusable.

3. Bus Topology
Bus Topology: In networking a bus is the central cable -- the main wire -- that connects all devices on a local-
area network (LAN). It is also called the backbone. This is often used to describe the main network
connections composing the Internet. Bus networks are relatively inexpensive and easy to install for small
networks. Ethernet systems use a bus topology.

Main Advantage: It's easy to connect a computer or device and typically it requires less cable than a star
Main Disadvantage: The entire network shuts down if there is a break in the main wire and it can be difficult
to identify the problem if the network shuts down.

4. Ring Topology

Ring Topology: A local-area network (LAN) whose topology is a ring. That is, all of the nodes are connected in
a closed loop. Messages travel around the ring, with each node reading those messages addressed to it.
Main Advantage: One main advantage to a ring network is that it can span larger distances than other types
of networks, such as bus networks, because each node regenerates messages as they pass through it.

5. Tree Topology
Tree Topology: This is a "hybrid" topology that combines characteristics of linear bus and star topologies. In a
tree network, groups of star-configured networks are connected to a linear bus backbone cable.
Main Advantage: A Tree topology is a good choice for large computer networks as the tree topology
"divides" the whole network into parts that are more easily manageable.
Main Disadvantage: The entire network depends on a central hub and a failure of the central hub can cripple
the whole network.

What is Network Hardware and How Does It Work?

Network hardware is the individual components of a network system that are responsible for transmitting
data and facilitating the operations of a computer network. Although a network contains many hardware
components, there are several basic categories that make up the complete operations of a network system.
Here are some of the different categories and how they contribute as a whole to the overall functioning of a
network system.

Categories of Different Network Hardware

Basic network infrastructure is connected by components that fall under several categories of different types
of network hardware.

 Network Router: A network router is a hardware device that is connected to multiple channels for
different networks through an interface that is situated on each network. The router is usually located
within the layers of a network that determine the path for the transfer of data with the router acting as a
processing unit for information packets. The router duplicates information packets for use during
transmission from one network to another. The router uses a specific protocol or set of rules to determine
which information packets are to be routed to certain interfaces within the network. Different types of
routers perform different functions depending upon the requirements of the network system.
 Network Interface Card: Network interface cards are used to connect each computer to the network so
they can communicate with the network router to receive information packets. The interface cards
determine the infrastructure of a local area network (LAN) and allow all of the computers to connect to the
network. There are many different types of network interface cards that perform different functions within
the network which include Ethernet cards and wireless network interface cards.
 Network Switches: Network switches work similar to routers because they both copy information from
one area of the network to the other. However, network switches contain multiple ports for copying frames
of information from one port to the other. Like routers, switches operate within the layers of a network
and evaluate every frame before determining the port in which the frame should be copied. Network
switches are more sophisticated then their predecessor the network hub, which copied all frames to all
ports instead of determining individual destinations. This required more bandwidth than what is required
with network switches.
 Network Bridge: A network bridge divides traffic on a local area network by separating the LAN into
several different segments. It is also responsible for filtering data by determining the data destination or
discarding unnecessary data. Network bridges operate within the layers of the network and also control
the data that crosses the boundaries from one local area network to the other.