1 1 Requirements for the internet connection




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Summary

An understanding of the following key points should have been achieved:

  • The physical connection that has to take place for a computer to connect to the Internet

  • The primary components of a computer

  • Installation and troubleshooting network interface cards and/or modems

  • Basic testing procedures to test the Internet connection

  • Web browser selection and configuration

  • The Base 2 number system

  • Binary number conversion to decimal

  • The hexadecimal number system

  • Binary representation of IP addresses and network masks

  • Decimal representation of IP addresses and network masks

Module 2. Networking fundametals

Bandwidth is a crucial component in networking. Bandwidth decisions are among the most important when a network is designed. This module discusses the importance of bandwidth, explains how it is calculated, and how it is measured.

Functions of networking are described using layered models. This module covers the two most important models, which are the Open System Interconnection (OSI) model and the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) model. The module also presents the differences and similarities between the two models.

In addition, this module presents a brief history of networking. It also describes network devices, as well as cabling, physical, and logical layouts. This module also defines and compares LANs, MANs, WANs, SANs, and VPNs.

Students completing this module should be able to:

  • Explain the importance of bandwidth in networking.

  • Use an analogy from their experience to explain bandwidth.

  • Identify bps, kbps, Mbps, and Gbps as units of bandwidth.

  • Explain the difference between bandwidth and throughput.

  • Calculate data transfer rates.

  • Explain why layered models are used to describe data communication.

  • Explain the development of the Open System Interconnection model (OSI).

  • List the advantages of a layered approach.

  • Identify each of the seven layers of the OSI model.

  • Identify the four layers of the TCP/IP model.

  • Describe the similarities and differences between the two models.

  • Briefly outline the history of networking.

  • Identify devices used in networking.

  • Understand the role of protocols in networking.

  • Define LAN, WAN, MAN, and SAN.

  • Explain VPNs and their advantages.

  • Describe the differences between intranets and extranets

2.1 Networking terminology

2.1.1 Data networks

Data networks developed as a result of business applications that were written for microcomputers. At that time microcomputers were not connected as mainframe computer terminals were, so there was no efficient way of sharing data among multiple microcomputers. It became apparent that sharing data through the use of floppy disks was not an efficient or cost-effective manner in which to operate businesses. Sneakernet created multiple copies of the data. Each time a file was modified it would have to be shared again with all other people who needed that file. If two people modified the file and then tried to share it, one of the sets of changes would be lost. Businesses needed a solution that would successfully address the following three problems:

  • How to avoid duplication of equipment and resources

  • How to communicate efficiently

  • How to set up and manage a network

Businesses realized that networking technology could increase productivity while saving money. Networks were added and expanded almost as rapidly as new network technologies and products were introduced. In the early 1980s networking saw a tremendous expansion, even though the early development of networking was disorganized.

In the mid-1980s, the network technologies that had emerged had been created with a variety of different hardware and software implementations. Each company that created network hardware and software used its own company standards. These individual standards were developed because of competition with other companies. Consequently, many of the new network technologies were incompatible with each other. It became increasingly difficult for networks that used different specifications to communicate with each other. This often required the old network equipment to be removed to implement the new equipment.

One early solution was the creation of local-area network (LAN) standards. Because LAN standards provided an open set of guidelines for creating network hardware and software, the equipment from different companies could then become compatible. This allowed for stability in LAN implementation.

In a LAN system, each department of the company is a kind of electronic island. As the use of computers in businesses grew, it soon became obvious that even LANs were not sufficient.

What was needed was a way for information to move efficiently and quickly, not only within a company, but also from one business to another. The solution was the creation of metropolitan-area networks (MANs) and wide-area networks (WANs). Because WANs could connect user networks over large geographic areas, it was possible for businesses to communicate with each other across great distances. Figure summarizes the relative sizes of LANs and WANs.

2.1.2 Network history

The history of computer networking is complex. It has involved many people from all over the world over the past 35 years. Presented here is a simplified view of how the Internet evolved. The processes of invention and commercialization are far more complicated, but it is helpful to look at the fundamental development.

In the 1940s computers were large electromechanical devices that were prone to failure. In 1947 the invention of a semiconductor transistor opened up many possibilities for making smaller, more reliable computers. In the 1950s mainframe computers, which were run by punched card programs, began to be used by large institutions. In the late 1950s the integrated circuit that combined several, then many, and now millions, of transistors on one small piece of semiconductor was invented. Through the 1960s mainframes with terminals were commonplace, and integrated circuits were widely used.

In the late 1960s and 1970s, smaller computers, called minicomputers came into existence. However, these minicomputers were still very large by modern standards. In 1977 the Apple Computer Company introduced the microcomputer, also known as the personal computer. In 1981 IBM introduced its first personal computer. The user-friendly Mac, the open-architecture IBM PC, and the further micro-miniaturization of integrated circuits led to widespread use of personal computers in homes and businesses.

In the mid-1980s users with stand-alone computers started to share files using modems to connect to other computers. This was referred to as point-to-point, or dial-up communication. This concept was expanded by the use of computers that were the central point of communication in a dial-up connection. These computers were called bulletin boards. Users would connect to the bulletin boards, leave and pick up messages, as well as upload and download files. The drawback to this type of system was that there was very little direct communication and then only with those who knew about the bulletin board. Another limitation was that the bulletin board computer required one modem per connection. If five people connected simultaneously it would require five modems connected to five separate phone lines. As the number of people who wanted to use the system grew, the system was not able to handle the demand. For example, imagine if 500 people wanted to connect at the same time. Starting in the 1960s and continuing through the 70s, 80s, and 90s, the Department of Defense (DoD) developed large, reliable, wide-area networks (WANs) for military and scientific reasons. This technology was different from the point-to-point communication used in bulletin boards. It allowed multiple computers to be connected together using many different paths. The network itself would determine how to move data from one computer to another. Instead of only being able to communicate with one other computer at a time, many computers could be reached using the same connection. The DoDs WAN eventually became the Internet.

2.1.3 Networking devices

Equipment that connects directly to a network segment is referred to as a device. These devices are broken up into two classifications. The first classification is end-user devices. End-user devices include computers, printers, scanners, and other devices that provide services directly to the user. The second classification is network devices. Network devices include all the devices that connect the end-user devices together to allow them to communicate.

End-user devices that provide users with a connection to the network are also referred to as hosts. These devices allow users to share, create, and obtain information. The host devices can exist without a network, but without the network the host capabilities are greatly reduced. Host devices are physically connected to the network media using a network interface card (NIC). They use this connection to perform the tasks of sending e-mails, printing reports, scanning pictures, or accessing databases. A NIC is a printed circuit board that fits into the expansion slot of a bus on a computer motherboard, or it can be a peripheral device. It is also called a network adapter. Laptop or notebook computer NICs are usually the size of a PCMCIA card. Each individual NIC carries a unique code, called a Media Access Control (MAC) address. This address is used to control data communication for the host on the network. More about the MAC address will be covered later. As the name implies, the NIC controls host access to the medium.

There are no standardized symbols for end-user devices in the networking industry. They appear similar to the real devices to allow for quick recognition.

Network devices provide transport for the data that needs to be transferred between end-user devices. Network devices provide extension of cable connections, concentration of connections, conversion of data formats, and management of data transfers. Examples of devices that perform these functions are repeaters, hubs, bridges, switches, and routers. All of the network devices mentioned here are covered in depth later in the course. For now, a brief overview of networking devices will be provided.

A repeater is a network device used to regenerate a signal. Repeaters regenerate analog or digital signals distorted by transmission loss due to attenuation. A repeater does not perform intelligent routing like a bridge or router.

Hubs concentrate connections. In other words, they take a group of hosts and allow the network to see them as a single unit. This is done passively, without any other effect on the data transmission. Active hubs not only concentrate hosts, but they also regenerate signals.

Bridges convert network transmission data formats as well as perform basic data transmission management. Bridges, as the name implies, provide connections between LANs. Not only do bridges connect LANs, but they also perform a check on the data to determine whether it should cross the bridge or not. This makes each part of the network more efficient.

Workgroup switches add more intelligence to data transfer management. Not only can they determine whether data should remain on a LAN or not, but they can transfer the data only to the connection that needs that data. Another difference between a bridge and switch is that a switch does not convert data transmission formats.

Routers have all the capabilities listed above. Routers can regenerate signals, concentrate multiple connections, convert data transmission formats, and manage data transfers. They can also connect to a WAN, which allows them to connect LANs that are separated by great distances. None of the other devices can provide this type of connection.

2.1.4 Networking topology

Network topology defines the structure of the network. One part of the topology definition is the physical topology, which is the actual layout of the wire or media. The other part is the logical topology, which defines how the media is accessed by the hosts for sending data. The physical topologies that are commonly used are as follows:

  • A bus topology uses a single backbone cable that is terminated at both ends. All the hosts connect directly to this backbone.

  • A ring topology connects one host to the next and the last host to the first. This creates a physical ring of cable.

  • A star topology connects all cables to a central point of concentration.

  • An extended star topology links individual stars together by connecting the hubs and/or switches. This topology can extend the scope and coverage of the network.

  • A hierarchical topology is similar to an extended star. However, instead of linking the hubs and/or switches together, the system is linked to a computer that controls the traffic on the topology.

  • A mesh topology is implemented to provide as much protection as possible from interruption of service. The use of a mesh topology in the networked control systems of a nuclear power plant would be an excellent example. As seen in the graphic, each host has its own connections to all other hosts. Although the Internet has multiple paths to any one location, it does not adopt the full mesh topology.

The logical topology of a network is how the hosts communicate across the medium. The two most common types of logical topologies are broadcast and token passing.

Broadcast topology simply means that each host sends its data to all other hosts on the network medium. There is no order that the stations must follow to use the network. It is first come, first serve. Ethernet works this way as will be explained later in the course.

The second logical topology is token passing. Token passing controls network access by passing an electronic token sequentially to each host. When a host receives the token, that host can send data on the network. If the host has no data to send, it passes the token to the next host and the process repeats itself. Two examples of networks that use token passing are Token Ring and Fiber Distributed Data Interface (FDDI). A variation of Token Ring and FDDI is Arcnet. Arcnet is token passing on a bus topology.

The diagram in Figure shows many different topologies connected by network devices. It shows a network of moderate complexity that is typical of a school or a small business. It has many symbols, and it depicts many networking concepts that will take time to learn.

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