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Networking Components in Commercial Networks

Instructor: Vignesh Sivabalan
This lesson gives an insight into home networks and commercial networks and the ways to build them. The components needed to build a commercial network are also discussed in this lesson.

What is a Computer Network?

A computer network is a digital network allows data sharing between various devices. A network ranges from a small office/ home network to a large commercial enterprise. Home networks have fewer users whereas commercial networks have thousands of users. And home networks don't need much whereas a commercial network needs many networking components.

Home Networks versus Commercial Networks

Let's briefly compare various home networks to commercial networks.

Home Network

Nowadays, almost all homes and offices have a local network, along with internet connectivity. Small office networks and home networks enable several devices such as computers, PCs, laptops, etc., to connect and communicate with each other. These small work networks can be built in two ways:

  • Wired
  • Wireless

Wired Home Networks

Wired home networks make use of Ethernet connectivity over copper cables. Compared to wireless home networks, wired home networks are comparatively faster (100 Megabytes per second to 10 Gigabytes per second), more reliable, and more secure. On the downside, wired networks do not work with networking devices that lack Ethernet ports (for example, smart phones and tablets) which is something wireless set ups can do.

A simple wired small network can be set up as shown in the diagram below.


Figure 1: Wired Home Network
homewired


Wireless Home Networks

Wireless home networks use Wi-Fi for a connection and are easy and quick to install. They are slower and less secure than wired networks however. But since there is no need to run cables, installation is simpler.


Figure 2: Wireless Home Network
wireless


Commercial Networks

Commercial networks are large networks, and the major difference between home networks and large commercial networks is the size. Commercial networks make use of similar protocols, networking topology, and services as their smaller cousins, home networks do. Whereas a home network has somewhere between one to twenty devices, commercial networks have thousands of devices connected to each other. A large commercial network is often a combination of both wired and wireless technologies.

Things to consider when building a commercial network

1. Identify the size of the commercial network. The larger the network, the more powerful and expensive the networking equipment will be.

2. Security is another important factor to keep in mind. In order to prevent unauthorized access, servers can be kept locked in private rooms.

3. Prevention systems, intrusion detection mechanisms, and firewalls need to be installed to enhance the logical security of the large networks.

4. Keep fault tolerance in mind while building a commercial network. Keep critical equipment such as switches, routers, and servers redundant.

5. Schedule and plan network services. Document every installation for better troubleshooting.

Components Required to build a Commercial Network

Internet

The Internet is a public network, making readily available the majority of services needed by an organization. Organizations can be connected to the Internet through broadband, Internet leased line, 4G, and so on. VPN / MPLS / managed leased lines can also be used for connecting other branches of an organization with the Internet.

Routers

Commercial routers are layer 3 networking devices that connect various separate networks together. A router is a gateway between the local area network and the wide area network. The broadband networks/ MPLS circuits/ Internet leased lines get terminated on routers. Routers have LAN and WAN ports for connecting to LAN and WAN respectively. Modern day routers have advanced configurations for security such as content filtering, intrusion detection, and VPN set-up. Advanced routers also come with high-end features like built-in VOIP and wireless support.

UTM

UTM (Unified Threat Management software) provides network security at gateway levels (for example, a router's level) and secures various end points of organizational connectivity. The security options provided by UTM are: intrusion prevention (IPS), firewall, content and URL filtering, Virtual Private Network (VPN), etc.

Core Switches

A core switch is a layer 3 switch that connects several access switches and distribution switches using copper or fiber optic cabling. Core switches are outermost layers that connect the commercial network to the Internet.

NAS Devices

A Network Area Storage (NAS) device is used for storing bulk data or files for servers or individual users. An NAS can also be a storage area network in some cases. NAS devices are storage-array or disk-based and are connected to the commercial network through the Internet so that anyone can store their data on the NAS and access their data whenever needed.

Wireless Controllers

In a Commercial Network, wireless access points provide Wi-Fi or wireless access to devices (e.g. laptops, PCs, and tablets). All these wireless access points are controlled or managed by a 'wireless controller'. A wireless controller offers encryption, authentication, frequency management, policy management, load balancing, fail-over, intrusion scanning and various other activities needed for wireless users of the commercial network.

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