A network can be defined as the interconnection of autonomous computers linked together to facilitate communication while networking is the simple concept of connected computers.
Networks and networking have grown exponentially over the last 15years; they have evolved at light speed just to keep up with huge increases in basic critical user needs such as sharing data and printers, as well as more advanced demands such as video conferencing.
TYPES OF NETWORKS
LOCAL AREA NETWORK (LAN)
A LAN (Local Area Network) is a group of computers and network devices connected together, usually within the same building. A Local Area Network (LAN) is a high-speed communication system designed to link computers and other data processing devices together within a small geographical area, such as a workgroup, department, or building. Local Area Networks implement shared access technology. This means that all the devices attached to the LAN share a single communications medium, usually a coaxial, twisted pair or fibre optic cable.
METROPOLITAN AREA NETWORK (MAN)
Metropolitan area networks or MANs are large computer networks usually spanning a city or a town. They typically use wireless infrastructure or optical fibre connections to link their sites.
The IEEE 802-2001 standard describes a MAN as being: “A MAN is optimized for a larger geographical area than is a LAN, ranging from several blocks of buildings to entire cities. MANs can also depend on communications channels of moderate to high data rates. A MAN might be owned and operated by a single organization, but it usually will be used by many individuals and organizations. MANs might also be owned and operated as public utilities. They will often provide means for internetworking of local networks. Metropolitan area networks can span up to 50km.”
WIDE AREA NETWORK (WAN)
Wide Area Network (WAN) is a computer network that covers a broad area. A WAN in compares to a MAN, is not restricted to a geographical location, although it might be restricted to a geographical locations, it might also be confined within the bounds of a state or country. A WAN connects several LANs, and may be limited to an enterprise (a corporation or organization) or accessible to the public.
The technology is high speed and relatively expensive. The INTERNET is an example of a worldwide public WAN.
Routers are used to connect networks together and route packets of data from one network to another. Routers, by default break up a broadcast domain, which is the set of all devices on a network segment that hear all broadcasts sent on that segment.
Routers also break up collision domains. This is an Ethernet term used to describe a network scenario where one particular device sends a packet on a network segment, forcing every other device on that segment to pay attention to it. At the same time, a different device tries to transmit, leading to a collision, after which both devices must retransmit one at a time.
Routers run on the layer 3 of the OSI (Open System Interconnection) reference model.
Switches are used for network segmentation based on the MAC addresses. Switches look at the incoming frame’s hardware addresses before deciding to either forward the frame or drop it.
Switches break up collision domains but the hosts on the switch are still members of one big broadcast domain.
A hub is really a multiple port repeater. A repeater receives a digital signal and re-amplifies or regenerates that signal, and then forwards the digital signal out all active ports without looking at any data. An active hub does the same thing. This means all devices plugged into a hub are in the same collision domain as well as in the same broadcast domain, which means that devices share the same bandwidth. Hubs operate at the physical layer of the OSI model.
An IP address is a numeric identifier assigned to each machine on an IP network. It designates the specific location of a device on the network. An IP address is a software address and designed to allow host on one network to communicate with a host on a different network regardless of the type of LANs the hosts are participating in.
Bit: A bit is one digit, either a 1 or a 0.
Byte: A byte is 7 or 8 bits, depending on whether parity is used.
Octet: An octet, made up of 8 bits is just an ordinary 8 bit binary number. In most cases byte and octet are completely interchangeable.
Network address: This is the designation used in routing to send packets to a remote network. For example 10.0.0.0, 172.16.0.0, and 192.168.10.0 are network addresses.
Broadcast address: The address used by applications and hosts to send information to all nodes on a network is called the broadcast address. Examples include 255.255.255.255 which is all networks, all nodes; 172.16.255.255, which is all subnets and hosts on network 172.16.0.0.
HEIRARCHICAL IP ADDRESSING SCHEME
An IP address consists of 32 bits of information (IPV4). IPV6, a new version of IP consists of 128 bits of information. The 32 bits IP is divided into four sections referred to as octet or bytes each containing 1 byte (8bits).
An IP address is depicted using any of these 3 methods.
Dotted decimal, as in 172.16.30.56
Binary, as in 10101100.00010000.00011110.00111000
Hexadecimal, as in AC.10.1E.38
All this examples represent the same IP address. But the most commonly used is the dotted decimal. The Windows Registry stores a machine’s IP address in hex.
The 32 bit IP address is a structured or hierarchical address, as opposed to a flat non hierarchical address. Although either type of addressing scheme could have been used, hierarchical addressing was chosen for a good reason. The advantage of this scheme is that it can handle a large number of addresses, namely 4.3 billion (a 32 bit address space with two possible values for each position that is either 1 or 0 gives 237, or 4,294,967,296).
The disadvantage of the flat addressing scheme relates to routing. If every address were unique, all routers on the internet would need to store the address of each and every machine on the internet. This would make efficient routing impossible.
NETWORK ADDRESS RANGE
The network address uniquely identifies each network. Every machine on the same network shares that network address as part of its IP address. In the IP address of 172.16.30.56, 172.16 is the network address.
The node address is assigned to and uniquely identifies each machine on a network. This number can also be referred to as host address. In 172.16.30.56, 30.56 is the node address. Class A network is used when a small number of networks possessing a very large number of nodes are needed. Class C network is used when numerous networks with a small number of node is needed.