Network architecture means how the computers on the network interact and communicate with each other. It is the combined form of network topologies and mode of data transmission between the computers in the network.
Generally, network architecture can be classified into two types:
- Client-server network
- Peer-to-peer network
A more common type of network is called a client-server network. This type of network uses a central server and specialized network software. The server is dedicated and is only used to store files and run server tasks. The computers that connect to the server are called clients and these are the machines the company staff would use. In this network, each client can share the processing and storage with the server. In this network, the server provides the services to the clients whereas clients request the server for services. The server should be a powerful computer with greater processing speed and large storage capacity than the client. Depending on the types of work the server may be various types such as File server, Printer server, Message server, Application server, Web server, etc.
Benefits of a Client-Server Network
- The server stores all of the shared files for each user.
- A server runs the file backups which can be scheduled in the middle of the night, minimizing network interruptions.
- The server manages user security and ensures that all users who access the network are authorized to do so.
- This server manages printer sharing and acts as a central repository for the printer drivers and settings.
- It manages other common tasks such as Internet access, email routing, Windows updating, and anti-virus definition management.
- It can also share software applications out to multiple users.
- Client-Server can also provide for an “Intranet”, an internal website which holds shared company information such as news announcements, HR policies, training documents, and more.
In short, a client-server network provides for easier network administration and provides a much more robust environment which provides secure and manageable access to company data.
Limitations of Client-Server Computer Network
Some limitations of the client-server network are as follows:
- A server-based computer network is more expensive to implement. Server computers are powerful machines with built-in redundancy and other hardware to provide data safety. Hence, they cost much more than a simple desktop computer.
- The server network software is also much more powerful, complicated, and must be installed correctly to run all of the required tasks, and so the cost is higher for both the software and installation charges.
- The server is a critical point of failure. If it goes down, the entire network comes to a halt. This drawback can be minimized with the installation fo redundant drives in the server (so that if one fails, the others will still be working), and even a second server that can take over if the primary server fails completely.
The most basic type of network is called a peer to peer network. This type of network consists of several computers which are connected to each other. The “network” consists of shared folders located on computers within the network.
These folders are set to a “shared” status so that other people connected to the network can access them. Each shared folder is accessed by the users of the network, who set up a certain drive letter (say H:) as a “pointer” to the shared folders on other computers. In addition, any printers connected to any computer can be shared with other users. This type of network, all the computers function both as a client and a server. In which, all the computers have equal responsibilities of providing and using resources. It has no central data storage. This type of network is suitable in home, office and small organizations.
Benefits of a Peer to Peer Network:
- A peer to peer network is inexpensive to set up. It uses the built-in networking capabilities of Windows XP Professional or Vista Business or Windows-7, so no special software is needed. It allows for the file and printer sharing and can be an adequate choice for a very small office.
Limitations of a Peer to Peer computer Network
Some limitations of Peer to Peer network are as follows:
- Peer to peer networks is dependent upon the computer knowledge of each employee, as certain rules must be followed in order to minimize network interruptions. If a user shuts down his machine, other users on the network lose access to the files in that machine’s shared folder.
- Network and data security are weak.
- Files are not centralized, so getting a back up of all critical files is more difficult.
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