The Advantages (Benefits) of Networking
You have undoubtedly heard the the
whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This phrase describes
networking very well, and explains why it has become so popular. A network
isn't just a bunch of computers with wires running between them. Properly
implemented, a network is a system that provides its users with unique
capabilities, above and beyond what the individual machines and their
software applications can provide.
Most of the benefits of networking
can be divided into two generic categories: connectivity and
sharing. Networks allow computers, and hence their users, to
be connected together. They also allow for the easy sharing of information
and resources, and cooperation between the devices in other ways. Since
modern business depends so much on the intelligent flow and management
of information, this tells you a lot about why networking is so valuable.
Here, in no particular order, are
some of the specific advantages generally associated with networking:
- Connectivity and Communication: Networks
connect computers and the users of those computers. Individuals within
a building or work group can be connected into local area networks
(LANs); LANs in distant locations can be interconnected into larger
wide area networks (WANs). Once connected, it is possible for
network users to communicate with each other using technologies such
as electronic mail. This makes the transmission of business (or non-business)
information easier, more efficient and less expensive than it would
be without the network.
- Data Sharing: One of the most important
uses of networking is to allow the sharing of data. Before networking
was common, an accounting employee who wanted to prepare a report for
her manager would have to produce it on his PC, put it on a floppy disk,
and then walk it over to the manager, who would transfer the data to
her PC's hard disk. (This sort of shoe-based network was
sometimes sarcastically called a sneakernet.)
True networking allows thousands of employees to share data much more
easily and quickly than this. More so, it makes possible applications
that rely on the ability of many people to access and share the same
data, such as databases, group software development, and much more.
and extranets can be used to distribute
corporate information between sites and to business partners.
- Hardware Sharing: Networks facilitate
the sharing of hardware devices. For example, instead of giving each
of 10 employees in a department an expensive color printer (or resorting
to the sneakernet again), one printer can be placed on the
network for everyone to share.
- Internet Access: The Internet is itself
an enormous network, so whenever you access the Internet, you are using
a network. The significance of the Internet on modern society is hard
to exaggerate, especially for those of us in technical fields.
- Internet Access Sharing: Small computer
networks allow multiple users to share a single Internet connection.
Special hardware devices allow the bandwidth of the connection to be
easily allocated to various individuals as they need it, and permit
an organization to purchase one high-speed connection instead of many
- Data Security and Management: In a business
environment, a network allows the administrators to much better manage
the company's critical data. Instead of having this data spread over
dozens or even hundreds of small computers in a haphazard fashion as
their users create it, data can be centralized on shared servers. This
makes it easy for everyone to find the data, makes it possible for the
administrators to ensure that the data is regularly backed up, and also
allows for the implementation of security measures to control who can
read or change various pieces of critical information.
- Performance Enhancement and Balancing: Under
some circumstances, a network can be used to enhance the overall performance
of some applications by distributing the computation tasks to various
computers on the network.
- Entertainment: Networks facilitate many
types of games and entertainment. The Internet itself offers many sources
of entertainment, of course. In addition, many multi-player games exist
that operate over a local area network. Many home networks are set up
for this reason, and gaming across wide area networks (including the
Internet) has also become quite popular. Of course, if you are running
a business and have easily-amused employees, you might insist that this
is really a disadvantage of networking and not an advantage!
Key Concept: At a high level, networks are advantageous because they allow computers and people to be connected together, so they can share resources. Some of the specific benefits of networking include communication, data sharing, Internet access, data security and management, application performance enhancement, and entertainment.
Well, if that list isn't enough to
convince you that networking is worthwhile, then
I have no
idea what it is you do with your computers! J
At any rate, it's quite possible that only some of the above items will
match your particular circumstances, but at least one will definitely
apply to almost every situation, assuming you own or manage more than
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