One of the primary purposes of a network is to increase productivity by linking computers and computer networks, so that people have easy access to information regardless of differences in time, place, or type of computer system.

Components of a network

Because companies have adopted networks as part of their business strategy, they typically subdivide and map corporate networks to the corporate business structure. In the figure, the network is defined based on the grouping of employees (users) into a main office and various remote access locations.

A main office is a site where everyone is connected via a LAN and where the bulk of corporate information is located. A main office can have hundreds or even thousands of people who depend on network access to do their jobs. It may have several LANs, or it may be a campus that contains several buildings. Because everyone needs access to central resources and information, it is common to see a high-speed backbone in a LAN as well as a data center with high-performance computers or servers and networked applications.

A variety of remote access locations connect to the main office or each other using WAN services as follows:

  • In branch offices, smaller groups of people work and connect to each other via a LAN. To connect to the main office, these users must use WAN services such as Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN). Although some corporate information may be stored at a branch office, it is more likely that branch offices have local network resources, such as printers, but have to access information directly from the main office.
  • A home office is where individuals are set up to work from their own home. Home office workers most likely require on-demand connections to the main office or a branch office to access information or use network resources such as file servers.
  • Individuals who are mobile users connect to the main office LAN when they are at the main office, at the branch office, or on the road. Their network access needs are based on where they are located.

In order to understand what types of equipment and services to deploy in a network and when to deploy them, it is important to understand the business and user needs. The figure shows how to map an organization’s business or user requirements to a network.

Computer networks

In this example, the business needs may require LAN connectivity within the campus to interconnect the servers and end-user PCs, and WAN connectivity to connect the campus to the remote branch office and telecommuters. The WAN connection to the remote branch office requires a permanent connection, such as a leased line, and the home office connection requires a dial-up connection, such as ISDN.