What Is The Networking Information Technology Essay
In our todays society, networks and networking are everywhere and are basically applied in our day to day activities. The internet technology has revolutionized not just in the computer world, but in the lives of millions of people in different ways. In this chapter, I will give a brief introduction to networking, types of network technology, its general application and terms. I will initialize by defining what computer network is and discussing and describing some of its advantages and disadvantages overall.
2.1.1 What Is Networking?
The term Network in computer language, is said to be ideally the connection or linking of two or more computers to each another for a certain purpose, while Networking is said to be when two or more computer system connects to one another in regards to sharing of information data and resources, this could be done using wired –based or wireless means. In today’s world, majority of businesses, which includes, financial institutions, airlines, cooperate organisation, academics institutions (universities etc.) running down to homes (individuals) make use of computers and they need network to enable them communicate with other people. Over the years network technology has gone through a lot of improvement and developing into different standards, which are meant to meet up with the growing demand for a more suitable means of actualising day to day businesses activities. Generally computer network needs a highly protected, secured, and reliable environment so as to enable it perform to the required standard. One important issue about networks is it vulnerability to security threat which can be liable to damaging a whole network connectivity. Network can be secured, and this can be done using different means and methods, which includes updating and upgrading of any security facility such as antivirus program, monitoring of emails, update of operating systems and many other security measures. This will enable only authorised and certified individual to gain access into a network resource.
2.1.2. Types of Network Technology:
Looking at the speed rate at which technology is advancing and its high rate of usage, this has lead to the existence of different types of network which are in use today. These different types of networks in existence today are used by different organisations in resource sharing and receiving. These different types of network can be used for either personal or commercial purposes. Normally computer network designs can be categorised in different ways, but they are mainly done based on their scales and scope, geographical area.(ref) They can also be classed using historical reasons, preferences for networking industries, and its design and implementation issues. Lets briefly look into the history and evolution of networking, it can be generalised that they are classified into two main types which is wired based network technology and wireless technology. In computer networking ,wired connectivity has always been used in the sharing of information, before wireless technology was introduced . As the years went by with technology developing and more researches being carried out, which has led to the introduction of other different types of networks as listed below.(Ref)
PAN - Personal Area Network
CAN - Campus Area Network
LAN - Local Area Network
DAN - Desk Area Network
MAN - Metropolitan Area Network
WLAN - Wireless Local Area Network
WAN - Wide Area Network
Personal area network
This is known to be a means of communication between different electronic devices whose resources are close to each other. These network devices are: telephone, printers, scanner etc. PAN, can be connected using wired or wireless connections between devices when engaging in resource sharing and distributions between devices. It has an area coverage of about 20-30feet, which is approximately 6-9 meters of network travel, with the growth in technology improvement, its coverage areas is expected to increase . (Ref),
Local area network
Local area network (LAN) also known to be the traditional network method of connection, can be said to be computer network coverage within a certain physical geographical area, this can be within a home, office, and small group of public buildings, such as a school, airports, shopping malls, and even used in small business organizations. Local area network (LAN) can be connected using wired –based which mainly use Ethernet technology, which a computer is designed to be a file server in its configuration.(Ref)Here all the software that enables the workability and control of the network are stored in a main computer and any computers connected to the file server is known as workstations.(Ref) In the nutshell LANs makes use of cables to connect to other devices. In recent times there are other new standards which provides ways of building wired LANs with the use of home cables e.g. coaxial cables, phone lines etc.(ref wikipedia)
WAN - Wide Area Network
As the name implies, is said to be a computer network connection which covers a larger and broader geographic areas, such London, England as a whole, Scotland, Nigeria, or the world at large. The network transmission is usually done using secured transoceanic cabling or satellite uplinks, transfer network information to other devices. (Ref). The internet is the biggest example to site for wide area network (WAN), this covers the entire globe.(Ref) Normally a WAN network makes use of routers and public communications links; it also uses a network protocol like ATM, Frame relay for long distance connections. (Ref).
Wireless - Local Area Network
The term WLAN which is a LAN connection based on Wi-Fi wireless network technology. In the case of LAN we have wired connection while WLAN is a wireless network connection, it can make use of radio signals which are used as medium for communication. To be able to operate on a wireless environment, one needs to have a wireless card installed in the system which enables it towards accessing any wireless network within reach.(ref)
MAN - Metropolitan Area Network
It is said to be a network connection which links more than one local area network together. This connection maintain a region and do not extend beyond it’s know boundaries. Here routers, hubs and switches are usually connected together to create metropolitan connections. Generally it has a larger coverage than that of the LAN and smaller than WAN.(Ref)
CAN - Campus Area Network
Is said to be a network connection which is deployed in an interconnection with a LAN, its coverage is basically within a specified geographical region. (Ref) It can be used to link metropolitan area network, e.g. using educational institution which has other campuses and they will be link to other building such as library, departments, administration etc. it is known to be large than the local area network and it is.
SAN - Storage Area Network
Is a technology which is used for data storage and most organisations mainly uses it for data oriented issues. They connect servers to information storage device with the help of fibre channels technology.
SAN - System Area Network
System area networks also called cluster area network, it normally uses a cluster configuration in connecting with high performance computer with high speed connections. (Ref)
2.1.3 Network Topologies
In computer networking, topology is referred to as the layout in which a computer connects with other; it describes the layout of the devices and also the paths used in transmission of information. Computer networks are usually classified based on the topology of its network; these are as follows star topology, ring topology, bus topology, mesh topology, tree or hierarchical network topology(Ref) The network topology generally entails and defines the way which a device in a network relates to one another logically. Network topology can either be Physical or logical. The commonly used topologies includeRef)
Bus: Here all its network devices are connected to a centralised cable, which is called a Bus or backbone. When a connecting device wants to link or communicate with other network devices, it will signal a broadcast message onto the cables, with all surrounding devices getting the signal and just the device which the message is meant for accept and act on the message sent.
Fig 2.1. Bus Topology (Ref)
Star: It is known to have a powerful computer in which all of its devices are mainly connected to the central hub which takes charge of controlling the entire network. It has a node which helps to end information data using the hub. if the hub fails then the whole network fails. Another major disadvantage of the star topology is its use of to many cables, this makes it expensive to setup. However, one of the biggest advantages of the star networks its fastness, this I due to the computer terminals attached to the central computer directly.(ref)
Fig 2.2 Star Topology(Ref)
Tree (hierarchical): it is a hybrid topology. This link is grouped as star-configured networks and they connect linearly to a bus backbone. In this topology only the hub devices is connected directly to the tree bus, with each of its hubs working as independent source. The tree topology system supports future expansion compared to the other network topologies.
Fig 2.3 Tree topology (Ref)
Ring: They are connected to each another in closed loop circular shape, this enable each device to connect directly to other devices around it. The messages sent in a ring travels in same direction either "clockwise" or "anti- clockwise". (Ref) If there is any form of failure in the cable or device, this can affect the whole network loop and the connection can be lost.
Fig 2.4 A ring topology (ref)
Mesh: Devices in this topology are linked together with other redundant interconnections which are between network nodes. Generally, a true mesh connects to its entire node and also other surrounding nodes .Messages which are sent on a mesh network, has different possible paths to its destination, either through one direction like the ring. WANs technology for example uses the mesh routing for its applicable in internet.(ref)
Fig 2.5 Mesh topology (ref)
2.2 .0 Introduction to Wireless Network Technology
The first wireless transmitter was established in the early 20th century, which was using radiotelegraphy later, which was used as a modulator, and it made voice and music transfer possible via wireless means and this medium was called radio.(Ref) Looking at the world today, network connectivity is very important for accessing and transferring of data information, with the rate at which technology is growing we all need awareness of the latest development, and to do that we need to be connected either through wired or wireless connections. Basically networks can be designed and built with connection that is not of the traditional hard-wired (LANs) or the dial –up phone connection which is normally used during network connections.(Ref) Let’s put this into consideration, I am a network administrator and I am required to link two building which are apart from one another and obstructed by a bridge in a major road, what will be my best option? Due to the impossibility of direct connection using cables, here a wireless means of connection will be my best option.
2.2.1 Wireless Network Technology Overview
Wireless technology in general has many benefit and support to the up growth of computing network ,it also has a good responses to data queries, time usually spent on paper work are reduced, one has a real time control over activities, it increases online usability and providing tighter means of communication between a client and hosts. Wireless Technology provides a set of recognized building block and user application, and this helps to determine the kind of operations which can be carried out effectively and efficiently based on request. Lets briefly take a look into the generation and history of networking in general ,it can be gathered that in 1971,a research work carried out by the university of Hawaii, resulted to the first Wireless Local area network and then was named ALOHA net.(ref).Back then when the wireless technology was initially invented its hardware were costly and was mostly deployed as substitute device to assist wired connection where cabling proved impossible or difficult to run for the transfer of data. In the 1990’s as improvement of this wireless technology grew over time, they now were replaced by standards, i.e. Different versions of IEEE802.11 (WiFi) protocols. (Ref)
A Wireless LAN connects computers without the need for any network cables. A device known as access point or wireless router sends and receives data information from computer and devices which are compatible, it uses the electromagnetic waves and they are spread by spectrum technology and are based on radio waves to transfer information in form of signals between devices and main server.(Ref: March 28, 2007 by Abdul Rahman Malik, www.associatedcontent.com)
During setup of a wireless system, we have different operating mode for different wireless networks. In a wireless LANs the devices can travel within its coverage areas without experiencing disruption or hindering in connectivity once they are located around the access point or extension point (Ref)
2.2.3 Why wireless?
Delivers real time information,
Helps in quick and accurate decision making
Continuous supply of information when it is needed
It increases productivity
Reduces costs via more accurate and timely data capture
It incorporates professionalism in the working area of an organization.
2.2.4 Types of wireless network
In network technology as we have the wired network connections, e.g LAN, PAN, WAN, etc. We also have the wireless network technology of the wired type of network .This network are listed below
WLAN: Wireless Local Area Networks
WLAN as I have spoken about in previous topic allows users within a local area, for example like university campus, café, hotels, and even airports etc, to be able to connect and access the internet within the network range. It can be build for temporary use (peer2 peer) with a small number of users; the need for access point is not really needed.
WPAN: Wireless Personal Area Networks
Infra Red (IR) and Bluetooth (IEEE 802.15) are known to be the two major type of wireless personal area network technology. They permit one to connect to a personal device within a short range of distance of about 0 – 30 feet. (Ref)
WMANS: Wireless Metropolitan Area Networks
WMAN enables wireless device connection of multiple networks within a metropolitan region, this could include multiple buildings in an area, and they could be backed up using cable fiber laying networks.
WWANS: Wireless Wide Area Networks (WIMAX)
These are a network which covers a very large area, such as cities, states, country, and a multiple satellite system or antenna is used. Basically these type of network systems are referred to as 2G (2nd Generation) systems.(Ref)
2.2.5 Building a Wireless Network Connection
To set up a wireless network, we will need to follow the pathway (Ref)
We need a wireless router.
A wireless network adapter (wireless card) is of important which is either inbuilt in each computer to be used for the wireless network connection (the Intel(R) Wireless WiFi Link 4965AGN adapter).
Generally if we need an internet access for the WLAN, we need to also make available an internet broadband service such as cable or DSL. This also includes a broadband modem.
2.3. Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN)
In the year 1997, 802.11 were implemented as the first WLAN standard. It was generally based on communicating using radio technology operating in the 2.4 GHz frequency and it had a maximum output of 1 to 2 Mbps. The currently most spread and used standard, is the IEEE 802.11b, with was introduced in the late 1999. This standard operates in the same frequency range as the IEEE 802.11 but has a maximum speed of 11 Mbps.(Ref: Internet from 01/05/09)http://www.sans.org) A recent report carried out by In-Stat predicts that wireless market will grow over the years to from about 140 million wireless chipsets 2005 to 430 million in 2009 and even more as the years goes by.(Ref). With the development of the new security standards, this has also increased confidence in the use of WLANs. Users are becoming more familiar with the technology and are increasingly expecting wireless access to be of high increase over the year with sectors ranging from corporate, education healthcare, finance, retail, manufacturing, and warehousing to personal individual. Wireless technology is increasingly becoming an important technology which will satisfy the needs for flexible and ease installation mobility, cost reduction towards ownership and scalability. There are wider range of products and standards involved in the WLAN technology and more are emerging. (Ref) In this section I will focus on the wireless LANs and it surrounding issues and implementation.
What is a Wireless LAN: Basically wireless technology is said to be when a group of computer system or network devices term to connect and communicate with one another using radio waves, without the need for wires connection. The Wireless LAN utilizes spread-spectrum technologies which are based on frequencies from radio waves to assist its communication with other surrounding devices in a confined area. According to recent researches, it has been seen that network technology in Wireless Local area network (WLAN) is slower in performance compared to that of wired LAN. It has a data transfer rate ranging from 11 and 54 Megabits per second (Mbps) compared to most wired LANs, whose data transfer rate could ranges from 100Mbps to 1000Mbps. (Ref: http://foi.becta.org.uk) Wireless LANs basically augments or replace wired computer networks, and it provides users with flexibility and mobility (freedom of movement) within its coverage area in a workplace. In using wireless Local area network connectivity, all users of this technology connection can gain access to the transmitted network (Intranet) without replying on the use of wired cables for connection linkages. I have noticed that in most homes ,wireless network technology are now used for network connection and one of the reasons for that is it economical and easy mode of installation. On the other hand laptops now has inbuilt wireless connectivity making its flexible and having mobility freedom. There are new improved wireless standard which will be discussed as we proceed. Many will be wondering what the word Wi-Fi stands for; it means Wireless Fidelity and has a standard known to be IEEE802.11,it was tested and certified by the wireless network body know to be Wi-Fi Alliance. This body was working under a regulatory standard making sure all different wireless manufacturers compile with the standard making them able to operate with one another.
2.3.1 Types of wireless Network Technology Configuration
Generally we have two main types of wireless LAN network configuration, and this were made known to many as a result to the availability of the 802.11 standard from the IEEE. This standard specifies the operation mode of WLAN, which are known as: Ad-hoc network mode, Infrastructure network mode.
I will briefly look into this type of networks, explaining its impact on wireless network technology. The diagram below is used to differentiate "ad-hoc" from "infrastructure" networks,
Figure 2.7 : (a) Infrastructred Wireless LAN; (b) Ad-hoc Wireless LAN. [RefChen K. Medium Access Control of Wireless LANs for Mobile Computing. IEEE Network. (Sept/Oct 1994) pp 50-63]
Figure 2.8 : Architecture for Wireless LANs [Ref] (Links C. , Diepstraten W. and Hayes V. Universal Wireless LANs. Byte. (May 1994) Vol. 19 No. 5 pp 99-108.)
In the diagram above, Fig 2.7b shows an ad-hoc network means of connection. This type of network setup is quite an easy one, it is done by configuring two or more wireless enable network devices(computers) which communicates between each other directly without the need for any form of cabling. (Ref). They are useful for in creating a small dynamic network. They are two ways of implement this network and the network has limitations as wired peer to peer network .Generally they do not provide strong security as that of implemented infrastructure mode of networks.(Ref)
In figure 2.7a shown above is an illustration of the infrastructure-based network. Generally, the infrastructure network enables mobility in area of connectivity to all its users while still connected to its computer recourses. In the nutshell it means the network permits mobility during data transmission. Here in this type of wireless network connection, makes use of cells known to be Basic service Area (BSA), and a number of wireless stations are included in it.(Ref) The general size of the BSA all depends on the transmitter power and the receivers units as well as it environment. Mainly the infrastructure mode makes use of more than one AP (access point) which is used by the network card during communication. (Ref)
Wireless LAN usually have its transmitter and receiver (Access Point) devices and are usually linked to wired network physically by making use of standard Ethernet cabling. This are meant to stand as bridge between the remote computer(s) and wired network. (Ref) The access point can have different amount of in- built intelligence and functionality devices. We have two main types of access point which are said to be Thick AP which can handle all processes and are fully functional, while on the other hand we have the Thin APs, they are made up of antenna’s and radios .This device mainly make use ofn controllers for there functionality which also includes managing APs ,security and authentication. (Ref)
2.3.2 How does a WLAN work?
One big question which runs in the minds of a many is how a network transmission is been operated without any wired/physical connection, this has always been a technology misery to many .Before I proceed I will like to state this, We should all bear in mind that WLANs make use of electromagnetic airwaves (Radio or Infrared) in communicating of information from one point to the other, without any need to rely on physical connection. To access a wireless network connection, its surrounding devices are to have either installed or built in wireless network interface card (NIC). These NICs are of different types and form which enables it to fit into different network interface .e.g. PCMCIA and PCI cards; CF (Compact Flash) and SD (Secure Digital) cards; and USB wireless network adaptors. (Ref) In most cases an installation of all necessary software drivers is need .As I earlier mentioned about wireless local area network making use of radio waves for communication, this is to enable it to extract accurate transmitted data at the receiving end. In general when a data information is transmitted, it is been modulated on the radio carrier which occupies a lot of frequencies that are single, this then transmits it to the receiver at the other end. (Ref) In this present times most Laptops now have inbuilt wireless devices and this allow one to access wireless network once it is has been turned on. Noting this in mind during network connectivity, the adapters in a WLAN provides an interface between the client network operating system(NOS) and the airwave using antenna.(Promix 1998)With the present technology growth, in built wireless adapter cards have now overtaken external wireless adapter cards in the market.
2.3.3 Wireless LAN Standards and Standard Associations:
The (IEEE) Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers which are the main authority in the ratification and specification of network standards; which must also meet European standards. The IEEE specifications that are currently in use, also those that are expected and yet to be available in the near future, will be explained below.
According to reports, IEEE workshop on wireless local area network was first held in 1991, during that period was when the early wireless LAN products where brought into the market light.(Ref) At that same period the IEEE 802.11 committee just started its activities towards the development of a standard for wireless LANs. (Ref) According to research in 1996, the technology was matured and different applications had been addresses and the technologies that enable this application were all known and understood. The IEEE 802.11 standard, variants and alternatives, such as the wireless LAN interoperability forum and also the European HiperLAN specification over the years has made positive progress in wireless technology. (Ref) .Initially the hardware of wireless technology (WLAN) was expensive which made it to be used as an alternative of the wired based LAN, in areas where cables could not be used, or proves impossible. Over the years technology has be improved to meet up with the growing demand for wireless LAN, which has lead to the introduction of different WLANs IEEE standards.
Advantage/Disadvantages & More Info
About 2Mbps in a 2.4GHz band
FHSS or DSSS
Wire equivalent privacy / Wi-Fi protected access
It has been re-modified to 802.11b.
Is about 54Mbps in a 5GHz band
Wire equivalent privacy / Wi-Fi protected access
The entire product which complies with this standard are considered "Wi-Fi Certified." It is less potential for RF interference than that of 802.11b and 802.11g. And it is better than 802.11b when it comes to the supporting of multimedia voice, video and large-image transfer in high usage environments. It has a relatively shorter range than that of b.
Is about 11Mbps in the 2.4GHz band
DSSS with CCK
Wire equivalent privacy / Wi-Fi protected access
The entire product which complies with this are known to be "Wi-Fi Certified." It does not interoperate with 802.11a. It needs less access points compared to 802.11a for larger area network coverage. It has high-speed rate access to data which is up to 300 feet from its base station.
Up to 54Mbps in the 2.4GHz band
OFDM above 20Mbps, DSSS with CCK below 20Mbps
Wire equivalent privacy / Wi-Fi protected access and AES
Any products using this standard are known to be "Wi-Fi Certified. It has improved security enhancements over 802.11. And has compatible with 802.11b.
Known to be in the 10 to 66 GHz range
DES3 and AES
Worldwide Inter-operability for Microwave Access, Commonly referred to as (WiMAX), IEEE 802.16 is known to have a fixed broadband specification for the wireless metropolitan access networks.
Added support for the 2 to 11 GHz range.
DES3 and AES
This is know as WiMAX( Worldwide Inter-operability for Microwave Access) or called Air Interface Standard. The IEEE 802.16 generally known to have a fixed broadband specification for its metropolitan access networks (MANs)
About 2Mbps in the 2.45GHz band
PPTP, SSL or VPN
This does not support the use for IP, and also TCP/IP including wireless LAN applications too. It is best used for connecting PDAs, cell phones and PCs within a short range interval.
Up to 100Mbps in the 40MHz Band
Product using the standard are know to be Wi-Fi Certified, it has as high speed and better security, and It must be compatible with the existing standards. It has high cost and power implications.
Up to 20Mbps in the 5GHz band
It has a per-session encryption and individual authentication.
This is only used in Europe. HiperLAN it is totally ad-hoc built, no configuration and central controller needed. It is isochronous services are not real. It is Relatively expensive to operate likewise maintaining.
Up to 54Mbps in the 5GHz band
Its security features are tight, and supports individual authentication with per-session encryption keys.
It is used only in Europe. This is designed mainly for ATM cells, IP packets, Fire wire packets and digital voice mostly from cellular phones. It has better quality of service than that of HiperLAN/1 also guarantees bandwidth.
Table 2.:(ref: webopedia)
2.3.4 Advantages and Disadvantages of a WLAN
In this section I will look into the pros and cons as well as it benefit and disadvantages of wireless local area network in general.(Ref)
It easier to deploy and configure a workstation
Ultimately more cost-effective (scalable)
Facilitates office relocation (network portability)
It can used to provide connectivity in area that are difficult to lay cables
It has a long-term cost benefits which are found in environments that requires frequent relocation and changes
It is easier to handle and maintain
It reduces cost of ownership and installations
Here it makes the availability of real-time data in a confined range of coverage areas
When there is an increase in the numbers of computers in use, the rate at which data are transferred to other computers will decrease.
Any changes in the standards, may lead to replacement of both the wireless cards access points.
The security in wireless network is more difficult to guarantee and requires standard configuration.
A wired LAN is usually needed to provide a backbone to the WLAN; and the WLAN are meant to be used as supplement to wired LAN and not as complete solution.
Long-term cost benefits are difficult to achieve in static environments ,which support few movement and changes
It is slower – The Ethernet speeds ranges between 10 mbps to 100 mbps; In which a corporate network requires a high bandwidths
It has signal interference and this often causes disruptions in connection
With the invention from different manufacturer, the system may not be interoperable during application.
2.3.5 Application for wireless LANs
Wireless LANs are mainly used for the augmentation of wired LAN rather than its replacement. The following list describes some of the many applications made possible through the power and flexibility of wireless LANs:(Ref)
In hospitals workers are more productive because computers connection with wireless LAN helps delivers patient information instantly.
Network managers in dynamic environments minimize the overhead cost of movement, and changes with wireless LANs, thereby reducing the cost of LAN ownership.
Training sites at corporations and universities use wireless connectivity to improve access to information, information exchanges, and learning.
Store owners use wireless networks to simply frequent network reconfiguration.
Warehouse workers use wireless LANs to exchange information with central databases and increase their productivity.
Office worker use them in conference rooms meeting make quicker decisions as real-time information at their fingertips.
This chapter generally introduced the wireless network technology in general, also showing its importance to the developing world. In the next chapter we critically look into the major issue of the paper work, which is the suitability for wireless LANs as a replacement to the traditional system. An in-depth on the security issue will be carried out and also comparing both wired LANs with that of wireless LANs.
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