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Kinds of Network

Peer-to-Peer Networks

In a peer-to-peer network, there are no dedicated servers, and there is no hierarchy among the computers. All the computers are equal and therefore are known as peers. Each computer functions as both a client and a server.

And there is no administrator responsible for the entire network. The user at each computer determines what data on that computer is shared on the network. Below figure shows a peer-to-peer network in which each computer functions as both a client and a server.

Computers in a peer-to-peer network are called peers. In a peer-to-peer network, all computers are considered equal; they all have the same abilities to use the resources available on the network.

Each computer can function both as a client and a server. Computers are not dedicated to function as servers. They use the network to share resources among the independent peers. The computer whose applications are required by the other networked computers functions as a server. The other computers function as clients. Therefore, a dedicated administrator is not assigned for network management.

A peer-to-peer network is a small group of people using a network. Peer-to-peer networks members usually perform similar tasks, which necessitates the sharing of resources. The peer-to-peer networks support 10 computers. The users in a peer-to-peer network are located in the same geographical area.

Operating systems, such as Microsoft Windows 98 or Microsoft Windows XP, can be used to set up a peer-to-peer network. Additional software is not required because peer-to-peer networking is built into the systems. 

Advantages of a peer-to-peer network:

  • Less initial expense - No need for a dedicated server.
  • Setup - An operating system (such as Windows XP) already in place may only need to be reconfigured for peer-to-peer operations.

Disadvantages of a peer-to-peer network:

  • Decentralized - No Centralized server.
  • Security - Does not provide the security available on a peer-to-peer network. 

Server Based Networks

A dedicated server is one that functions only as a server and is not used as a client or workstation. Server based networks have become the standard models for networking.
In a server-based network, clients rely on the services that the server provides, such as file storing and printing.

Client computers are generally less powerful than server computers.

A server-based network using network operating system is that the networks are organized into domains.

A domain is a collection of networks and clients that share security information.

Domain security and logon permissions are controlled by special servers called domain controllers. Users cannot access the resources of servers in a domain until a domain controller has authenticated them.

In server-based networks, a network administrator centrally manages the resource security. The administrator defines and manages user access to network resources. 

Advantages of a client/server network :

  • Centralized - Resources and data security are controlled through the server.
  • Security - More security then Peer-to-peer network.
  • Flexibility - New technology can be easily integrated into system.
  • Interoperability - All components (client /server) work together.
  • Accessibility - Server can be accessed remotely and across multiple platforms.

Disadvantages of a client/server network :

  • Expense - Requires initial investment in dedicated server.
  • Maintenance - Large networks will require a staff to ensure efficient operation.
  • Dependence - When server goes down, operations will cease across the network.  


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