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Networking: What it is, types and components

Networking, usually referred to as computer networking, is the process of moving data between nodes in an information system through a common media. Networking includes managing, maintaining, and running the network infrastructure, software, and rules in addition to designing, building, and using the network.

Computer networking allows for the connection of endpoints and devices to one another on LANs as well as to larger networks like the internet or private wide area networks (WAN). For service providers, enterprises, and customers all across the world, this function is crucial for resource sharing, using or providing services, and communicating. Everything is made possible via networking, including phone conversations, text messages, streaming videos, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

The complexity of a particular network directly relates to the level of expertise needed to operate it. A major organization, for instance, can have thousands of nodes and strict security specifications, such as end-to-end encryption, necessitating the use of expert network administrators to manage the network.

On the other hand, with a brief instruction booklet, a layperson may set up and carry out basic troubleshooting for a home Wi-Fi network. These instances are examples of computer networking.

Types of networking

Wired networking and wireless networking are the two main categories of computer networking.

Wired networking demands that data be sent between nodes using a physical media. Because to its low cost and dependability, copper-based Ethernet cable is frequently utilized in households and companies for digital communications. As an alternative, optical fiber is utilized to move data farther and quicker, but it comes with a number of drawbacks, such as higher costs and more delicate parts.

Wireless networking enables devices to be connected to a network without any wiring by using radio waves to carry data over the air. The most popular and commonly used type of wireless networking is wireless local area networks (LANs). Microwave, satellite, cellphone, and Bluetooth are a few alternatives.

In general, wired networking is faster, more dependable, and more secure than wireless networks, which typically offer better adaptability, mobility, and scalability.

It should be emphasized that these networking methods focus on the network’s physical layer. Moreover, networking can be divided into categories based on the architecture and design used, including overlay networks and software-defined networking (SDN). LAN, campus, WAN, data center, and storage area networks are just a few examples of the different environments and scales that networking can take.

Components of Computer Network

A computer network is composed of two fundamental building blocks: nodes, or network devices, and links. The linkages link together two or more nodes. Communication protocols specify how these links transmit the data. The origin and destination devices, which serve as the communication endpoints, are frequently referred to as ports.

Network Devices

Computing devices that need to be connected to a network are known as network devices or nodes. Some network gadgets are:

Switches: Repeaters are electrical devices that receive network signals and clean or enhance them, much like transformers are to electricity grids. Repeaters with several ports are called hubs. They distribute the data to any open ports there may be. Bridges are more intelligent hubs that only transmit data to the intended port. A switch is a bridge with many ports. To enable connectivity with numerous network devices, switches can accept multiple data cables.

Mobile phones, laptops, and other consumer electronics: Users often and directly visit these endpoints. For instance, an email is created using the mail program on a laptop or smartphone.

Gateways: Hardware components known as gateways serve as ‘gateways’ between two different networks. These could be servers, routers, or firewalls.

Servers: The primary computing and data storage take place on these application or storage servers. The servers receive all requests for particular operations or data.

Routers: The process of routing involves choosing the network path that data packets will take. These packets are sent by routers between networks in order to get to their destination. They boost the effectiveness of big networks.

Network Defense

While nodes, connections, and protocols serve as a network’s building blocks, it is impossible for a contemporary network to function without protections. When enormous amounts of data are generated, transported, and processed across networks, security is crucial. Firewalls, intrusion detection systems (IDS), intrusion prevention systems (IPS), network access control (NAC), content filters, proxy servers, anti-DDoS devices, and load balancers are a few examples of network security tools.

Communication protocols

All nodes involved in the information transfer must abide by a set of rules known as a communication protocol. The internet protocol suite (TCP/IP), IEEE 802, Ethernet, wireless LAN, and cellular standards are a few examples of popular protocols. A theoretical paradigm called TCP/IP standardizes communication in a contemporary network. It proposes that these communication linkages have four functional layers:

  • Transport layer: This layer makes that the connection is reliable and authentic, allowing devices to continue talking to one another.
  • Network access layer: This layer specifies the physical transport of the data. It covers the method through which hardware transmits data bits over actual cables or fibers.
  • Application layer: This layer specifies how high-level apps can connect to the network and begin transferring data.
  • Internet layer: This layer is in charge of encapsulating the data in decipherable packets and enabling transmission and reception.

The open systems interconnection (OSI) concept, which is comparable to TCP/IP but has seven layers instead of two, continues to have a significant influence on the structure of the modern internet.

Metropolitan area networks (MANs) and local area networks (LANs) are covered by the IEEE802 family of standards (MAN). The most well-known component of the IEEE 802 family is wireless LAN, also referred to as WLAN or Wi-Fis.

Networks can be categorized as follows according to organizational intent:

Internet: Several networks are joined by routers and stacked by networking software to form the internet (or the internetwork). Governments, researchers, businesses, the general public, and individual computer networks are all connected by this international system.

Extranet: Similar to an intranet, an extranet connects to specific external networks. It is typically used to share resources with business partners, clients, or distant workers.

Intranet: An intranet is a collection of networks maintained and managed by a single organization. Due to the limited access granted to authorized users, it is typically the most secure sort of network. In a local area network, the router is typically hidden by an intranet.

Darknet: The darknet is an internet-based overlay network that only specialist software may access. It makes use of particular, tailored communication protocols.

Key Objectives of Deploying Computer Network

Without well-designed computer networks, no industry, including education, retail, banking, technology, government, or healthcare, can survive. The network becomes more sophisticated as an organization grows larger. These are some important goals that need to be taken into account before beginning the difficult effort of building and deploying a computer network.

Availability and dependability of resources

Resources are available from numerous points and are not kept in inaccessible silos thanks to a network. Due to the fact that there are typically several supply authorities, the reliability is very high. In order to be available in the event of disasters like hardware failures, important resources must be backed up across many machines.

Performance supervision

As a business expands, its workload only gets heavier. The system’s overall performance is enhanced and this expansion is accommodated when one or more processors are added to the network. Data storage in well-designed databases can significantly reduce lookup and retrieve times.

Resource exchange

Critical assets are shared across divisions, locations, and time zones in today’s globalized businesses. Customers are no longer restricted by location. Any relevant user can access hardware and data thanks to a network. Processing interdepartmental data is aided by this as well. To support top-level executive choices, the marketing team, for instance, examines customer data and product development cycles.

Higher storage capacit

Employees that deal with large amounts of data benefit greatly from network-attached storage devices. For instance, due to the enormous volume of records the data science team analyzes, no individual member needs their own data repository. Using centralized repositories increases productivity even further. The ability to increase storage capacity is essential in the modern world because organizations are receiving unprecedented amounts of client data into their systems.

Cost savings

It makes more sense to add processors at key locations within the system rather than purchasing large mainframe computers, which are an expensive investment. This boosts efficiency while simultaneously reducing costs. Networks reduce operational time and expenses by allowing staff to access information quickly. Less money needs to be invested in IT support thanks to centralized network administration.

Secured remote access

Computer networks encourage flexibility, which is crucial in tumultuous times like these, when pandemics and natural calamities are wreaking havoc on the globe. Even when they are off the company’s facilities, users may access and work on important data safely thanks to a secure network. Several layers of authentication are even available on mobile handheld devices connected to the network to prevent unauthorized access to the system.

Streamlined collaboration & communication

Networks significantly affect how a firm runs on a daily basis. Workers can more easily share files, view one another’s work, sync calendars, and discuss ideas. Internal chat platforms like Slack are used by every modern business to provide unrestricted communication and information flow. Emails remain the official channel of communication with customers, partners, and suppliers, nevertheless.

Reduction of errors

By ensuring that all people involved obtain information from a single source, even if they are accessing it from various locations, networks minimize errors. Data backups ensure consistency and continuity. A large number of people can easily be provided with standard copies of employee and customer manuals.


With the least amount of overhead, a good network increases efficiency, security, and innovation. Only a solid design and implementation based on an understanding of the demands of the business can achieve this. Even though building a network may just appear like a technical task, it also involves commercial input, especially in the beginning. Workflows must adapt to new technologies and expand and change as a result of network management.