A computer network refers to an interconnection of computers and periphery devices such as scanners and printers that allows sharing of information and data through the use of some predefined procedures and rules. The connections can be wired or wires. Most popular computer networks are; Local Area Network (LAN) and Wide Area Network (WAN). Creating a computer network has major benefits or advantages (University of South Florida, 2011, pp.1)
According to Tanenbaum (2003, pp.423), the major advantage of computer network is increased efficiency for file sharing. Considering the scene of John and Sally, John has to pass orders to sally through printing or writing them down manually. In the case of a computer network; then Sally and John can be able to share the orders as files. This will save on time, efforts and costs involved in printing or writing the order details physically on papers. File sharing also ensures timely updating of information, in this case order files between John and Sally.
Another advantage of computer networks is resource sharing. In the case study given, John and Sally will be able to share resources such as printers and scanners connected to one of the computer work station. Sharing of the scanner and printer connected to one workstation in the network would increase processing efficiency (McKeown, 2011, pp.1).
Computer networks increases the storage capacity. Image processing demands a lot of storage space, with the introduction of a network, a shared and a larger storage space would be created. Finally, computer networks increases costs efficiency in data processing. This is mainly through shared resources and software (McKeown, 2011, pp.1).
Despite these benefits, computer networks have some disadvantages. Security issues such as data theft and alteration exists in computer networks. This introduces the costs of installing security software such as firewalls. Computer viruses are also common within networks especially public networks. These may slow down computer's performances or destroy certain files. The costs involved for the initial setup may also impede its performance. Computer networks will require additional equipments such as cabling, access points, switches and routers (Technical Publications, 2005, pp.15).
Extra equipments to buy for the network includes, switches, cabling if it is wired or wireless access points for wireless communications, network adapters and security software such as anti-viruses and firewalls. According to Hsu (1996, pp.17), for communication through the network to be successful, a communication medium such as a network cables or a wireless connection is essential. For wired, she may have to buy fiber or coaxial cables and incur the costs of patching. A network switch would be essential to interconnect different forms of networks such as fiber and Ethernet. A router would enable a connection to the internet such that John's clients can be able to place orders directly to the network. For wireless networking, a wireless access point would be essential. A network adapter of network interface card will enable the physical computer to connect to the available network. A modem to provide regulation of analog and digital signals would also be necessary. Security software such as anti-viruses and firewalls are essential to keep files and order details secure (Black, 2003, pp. 42).
Wireless networking is a concept used to describe a network that does not engage use of networking cables. The communication engages radio or microwave for the transfer of data and information. Major advantages of wireless networking includes; reduction of cabling costs associated with wired networks, covers a wider geographical area, it allows access of files from a computer anywhere in the world; a case of the internet, it allows portability or mobility. Wireless networks are also more scalable in the sense that one can add additional equipments more easily compared to wired networks (Dhotre & Bagad, 2009, pp.42).
Wireless networks also experiences some disadvantages. Signal interferences are a common problem that slows down the speed of communication. The initial costs of purchasing expensive wireless equipments such as access points may also discourage its establishment. Security issues are also more pronounced in wireless communications, suggesting the needs of expensive security mechanisms. When employed for long distances, its speed may be compromised (Davie & Peterson, 2011, pp.152).
To connect the network to the internet, an Internet Service Provider (ISP) will be required. ISPs are business companies that connect businesses or other institutions to the internet through coaxial copper wires, fiber optics or wireless connections. Most ISPs also provides some email account services and server storage space (hosting services) which their clients can lease. An IP or internet protocol address, is a unique address that is used to identify a particular device in a network. It is represented by a 32-bit address number separated by periods for example, 220.127.116.11. There are three classes of IP address namely; Class A, B and C (Black, 2003, pp. 42).
With Sally's computer configured to access the internet, she can be able to use it to communicate through the internet. This will involve configuration of the IP protocol and use of appropriate media to connect to the internet. This will require an ISP to provide the internet services. With a private network between Sally and John, then it would be not possible for Peter to connect from Norwich. But incase the private network shared between John and Sally is connected to the internet through an ISP, then Peter would be able to connect with Sally's computer. A private IP address is a special reserved address that are used by companies, organizations or homes to offer network connection within the institutions. They range from 10.0.0.0 to 10.255.255.255, 172.16.0.0 to 172.31.255.255 and 192.168.0.0 to 192.168.255.255. To connect to the internet, a public IP address will be required (Network Startup Resource center, 2011, pp.1).
A website would be very important for Sally's business to achieve a global feel. This would be possible. There are website designers and programming companies that Sally can hire. After the website is created, she can then host it through the help of hosting companies which can also be done by her Internet Service Provider.
Black, U.S., 2003. Computer networks: protocols, standards, and interfaces. New Jersey: PTR Prentice Hall.
College of Education, University of South Florida, 2011. NETWORKS. [online] Available at: < http://fcit.usf.edu/network/chap1/chap1.htm> [Accessed 26 October 2011].
Davie, B. S. & Peterson, L.L., 2011. Computer Networks: A Systems Approach. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
Dhotre, I.A. & Bagad, V.S., 2009. Computer networks. Canada: Technical Publications.
Singh, A.K., 2005. Computer networks. Firewall Media.
Hsu, J.H., 1996. Computer networks: architecture, protocols, and software. Canada: Artech House.
McKeown, N., 2011. Introduction to computer networks. [online] Available at: < http://www.stanford.edu/class/cs244a/> [Accessed 26 October 2011].
Network Startup Resource center, 2011. Network Resources. [online] Available at: < http://www.nsrc.org/networking/> [Accessed 26 October 2011].
Tanenbaum, A.S., 2003. Computer networks. New Jersey: Prentice Hall PTR.
Technical Publications , 2005. Computer networks. Canada: Technical Publications.