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In middle school, we studied what are the types of computer networks, and their use cases. Not just in school, but when you opt for a BCA course, BTech course, MCA program or MTech program, you can study the depth of computer networks. You’ll learn about how many types of computer networks, and can grab a high-paying job using this course. If you go through BCA or MCA syllabus and subjects, you’ll find different areas to resolve your computer network queries.
Before we move forward, you should know that - networks use protocols and standards such as TCP/IP, Ethernet, and Wi-Fi to ensure that devices can communicate with each other. Networks can provide many benefits, such as the ability to share resources and data, improve communication, and enhance productivity. However, they also come with challenges, such as security risks, maintenance and management requirements, and potential network failures.
What is a Computer Network?
A computer network is a group of interconnected devices such as computers, servers, printers, and other networking equipment that can communicate with each other to exchange data and share resources.
Computer networks can be categorised based on their size, geographical span, and purpose. For example, a Local Area Network (LAN) is a network that connects devices within a small geographic area like an office, while a Wide Area Network (WAN) connects devices over a larger geographic area, often across multiple cities or even countries.
Computer networks can be used for various purposes, such as sharing files and printers, accessing the Internet, and communicating with other devices on the network. They can also provide security and facilitate remote access to resources.
What are the Different Types of Computer Networks?
There are many types of computer networks to learn about. Some of the important types of networks in computer networks are covered below.
A Local Area Network (LAN) is a network that covers a small geographical area, such as a single building or campus. It connects devices such as computers, printers, servers, and other peripherals, allowing users to share resources and communicate.
In this section, we'll discuss the characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages of LANs.
Characteristics of LANs:
- LANs cover a small geographical area, typically within a single building or campus.
- It connects devices in a single building or campus. Users can share resources such as printers, files, and internet access.
- LANs are owned and managed by a single organisation, such as a company or a school.
- They can be implemented using different topologies such as bus, ring, or star.
- LANs offer high bandwidth, allowing for fast data transfer speeds.
- They allow for resource sharing, including printers, files, internet access, and software applications.
- LANs have centralised management and control, allowing administrators to manage network resources and control access.
- The size of a LAN is limited by the physical infrastructure, making it less scalable than other network types.
Advantages of LANs:
- LANs enable the sharing of resources such as printers, files, and internet access, improving efficiency and reducing costs.
- They enable users to communicate and collaborate easily, improving productivity and teamwork.
- LANs have centralised management and control, making it easy for administrators to manage and maintain network resources.
- It offers high bandwidth, allowing for faster data transfer speeds.
Disadvantages of LANs:
- LANs are limited to a small geographical area, making it difficult to connect devices outside of the LAN.
- Setting up and maintaining a LAN can be expensive, especially for small businesses.
- The size of a LAN is limited by the physical infrastructure, making it difficult to scale up as the organisation grows.
- LANs can be vulnerable to security risks, especially if the network resources are shared among many users.
A Wide Area Network (WAN) is a network that covers a large geographical area, such as a city, country, or even multiple countries. It connects devices over long distances, allowing users to communicate and share resources. In this section, we'll discuss the characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages of WANs.
Characteristics of WANs:
- WANs cover a large geographical area, often spanning multiple cities, countries, or even continents.
- It connects devices over long distances, often using leased lines or satellite links.
- WANs can be owned and managed by a single organisation, or a consortium of organisations.
- WANs can be implemented using different topologies such as point-to-point or mesh.
- They offer lower bandwidth than LANs, making data transfer speeds slower.
- WANs allow for resource sharing, but the distance and lower bandwidth can affect the efficiency and speed of resource sharing.
- They can be managed centrally or distributed among connected organisations.
- WANs can be easily scaled up or down to meet the changing needs of the organization.
Advantages of WANs:
- WANs connect devices over a large geographical area, allowing organisations to communicate and share resources across different locations.
- It enables organisations to share resources such as files, applications, and databases, improving efficiency and reducing costs.
- WANs enable users to communicate easily, improving productivity and collaboration.
- They can be easily scaled up or down to meet the changing needs of the organization.
- WANs allow users to access resources that are not available locally, such as cloud-based applications or databases.
Disadvantages of WANs:
- WANs offer lower bandwidth than LANs, making data transfer speeds slower.
- Setting up and maintaining a WAN can be expensive, especially for small businesses.
- WANs can be vulnerable to security risks, especially if the network resources are shared among many users.
- They are often more complex than LANs, requiring specialised skills and knowledge to manage and maintain.
A Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) is a type of computer network that uses wireless communication technology to connect devices within a limited area, such as a home, office, or campus. WLANs provide users with the ability to connect to the internet and share resources without the need for cables or wires. In this section, we'll discuss the characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages of WLANs.
Characteristics of WLANs:
- WLANs use wireless communication technology to transmit data between devices.
- They have a limited coverage area, typically ranging from a few meters to several hundred meters.
- WLANs use various frequency bands, such as 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, to transmit data wirelessly.
- It can be implemented using different topologies, such as peer-to-peer or infrastructure.
- WLANs use encryption and authentication protocols to ensure the security of data transmitted over the network.
- This network uses access points (APs) to connect wireless devices to the network.
Advantages of WLANs:
- WLANs provide users with the ability to connect to the internet and share resources without the need for cables or wires, increasing convenience and flexibility.
- It allows users to move freely within the coverage area, maintaining their connection to the network.
- WLANs can be cost-effective, as they require less cabling and infrastructure than wired networks.
- It can be easily expanded to meet the changing needs of the organisation, making them highly scalable.
- WLANs are relatively easy to install, requiring less technical expertise than wired networks.
Disadvantages of WLANs:
- WLANs have a limited coverage area, making them unsuitable for large-scale deployments.
- They can experience interference from other wireless devices or nearby networks operating on the same frequency band.
- WLANs can be vulnerable to security risks, such as unauthorised access, interception of data, or attacks on the network.
- It offers lower bandwidth than wired networks, making data transfer speeds slower.
- WLAN signals can experience attenuation or loss of signal strength over distance or due to obstacles such as walls or other physical barriers.
A Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) is a type of computer network that covers a larger geographical area than a Local Area Network (LAN) but smaller than a Wide Area Network (WAN). MANs are designed to provide connectivity to a city or a large campus-like environment such as a university. In this section, we'll discuss the characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages of MANs.
Characteristics of MANs:
- MANs cover a larger geographical area than LANs but are smaller than WANs, typically ranging from several kilometres to tens of kilometres.
- It also provides high-speed data transfer rates, typically ranging from 10 Mbps to 100 Gbps.
- It requires dedicated infrastructure, such as fibre-optic cables, microwave links, or leased lines, to connect different nodes within the network.
- MANs can be implemented using different topologies, such as ring, bus, or star.
- They are designed to provide redundancy and fault tolerance, ensuring network availability and reliability.
- MANs use different switching technologies, such as Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM), Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), or Ethernet.
Advantages of MANs:
- MANs provide high-speed data transfer rates, making them suitable for applications that require large bandwidth, such as video streaming, online gaming, or cloud computing.
- It provides connectivity to a larger geographical area than LANs, making them suitable for interconnecting different sites within a city or a campus.
- MANs can be easily expanded to meet the changing needs of the organisation, making them highly scalable.
- It provides redundancy and fault tolerance, ensuring network availability and reliability.
- MANs can be designed to provide a high level of security, using encryption, authentication, or access control mechanisms.
Disadvantages of MANs:
- MANs require dedicated infrastructure, such as fibre-optic cables or microwave links, which can be expensive to install and maintain.
- It can be complex to design, install, and manage, requiring specialised technical expertise.
- It may not be available in all locations, especially in rural or remote areas.
- MANs are vulnerable to disasters, such as earthquakes, floods, or power outages, which can cause network disruptions.
- It may be less flexible than LANs or WANs, as they are designed to serve a specific geographical area and may not be easily modified or reconfigured.
Other Types of Computer Networks
Apart from the types of computer networks mentioned above, there are several other important types of networks in computer networks.
- CAN (Campus Area Network): A CAN is a type of network that connects devices within a specific geographic area, such as a university campus or a military base. This type of network is designed to provide high-speed connectivity and access to resources for the devices on the network.
- SAN (Storage Area Network): A SAN is a network that connects storage devices, such as disk arrays and tape libraries, to servers. This type of network is designed to provide high-speed access to storage devices and is often used in data centres and large organisations.
- VPN (Virtual Private Network): A VPN is a type of network that uses public networks, such as the Internet, to connect devices securely. This type of network is often used by organisations to provide remote access to their employees or to connect devices in different locations.
- P2P (Peer-to-Peer) Network: A P2P network is a type of network where all devices on the network are equal and can act as both clients and servers. This type of network is often used for file sharing, such as in peer-to-peer file-sharing applications.
- Passive Optical Local Area Network (POLAN): This type of LAN uses fibre optic cabling and passive optical splitters to provide high-speed connectivity between devices within a building. POLAN can support data, voice, and video applications and is designed to be more energy efficient than traditional copper-based LANs.
- System Area Network (SAN): This is a specialised network designed for high-performance computing (HPC) and used in data centres and other environments where large amounts of data must be processed quickly. SANs typically use specialised protocols and high-speed interconnects to provide low-latency, high-bandwidth connectivity between servers and storage devices.
- Virtual Private Networks (VPNs): Provide secure remote access to a private network over the internet, allowing remote workers to access resources as if they were on the same LAN.
- Cloud Networks: Connects devices and resources across multiple data centres, allowing users to access cloud-based services and applications from anywhere with an internet connection.
- Home Area Network (HAN): This is a type of network that connects devices within a home or a small residential building. HANs typically use wired or wireless connections to connect devices such as computers, smartphones, smart TVs, and home automation systems. HANs can be used for a variety of applications, such as home entertainment, home security, and energy management.
Best Paying Jobs in Computer Networking
The scope of computer networks is wide and varied, with a range of job roles and opportunities available in India and abroad. Some of the best paying jobs in technology are:
- Network Administrator: responsible for managing and maintaining computer networks, including hardware, software, and security.
- Network Engineer: responsible for designing, building, and implementing computer networks, as well as troubleshooting and resolving network issues.
- Network Security Specialist: responsible for ensuring the security of computer networks by implementing security measures such as firewalls, antivirus software, and intrusion detection systems.
- Network Architect: responsible for designing and planning complex computer networks, including selecting hardware and software components, and defining network protocols.
- Network Analyst: responsible for analysing network performance and identifying opportunities for improvement.
In India, the average salary for a network administrator is around ₹ 4-5 lakhs per annum, while network engineers can earn around ₹ 6-7 lakhs per annum. Network security specialists and network architects can earn even higher salaries depending on their experience and qualifications.
Some of the top companies that hire network professionals in India include TCS, Infosys, Wipro, HCL, and Cisco. In the US, some of the top companies that hire network professionals include Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Apple, and salaries for these roles can range from USD 70,000 to USD 150,000 per annum, depending on experience and location.
Overall, the field of computer networks is expected to grow in the coming years as more organisations rely on technology to operate and communicate. This provides a range of job opportunities and career paths for professionals in this field. To grab the opportunity in the best brands, you need the help of industry experts and top recruiters from Sunstone. Along with the training and skill development sessions, Sunstone will help you build a professional portfolio of your work experience that improves your chances of getting placed in top companies.