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NETWORK BASICS

Network A system of interconnected computers and computerized peripherals such as printers is called computer network. This interconnection among computers facilitates information sharing among them. Computers may connect to each other by either wired or wireless media. A computer network consists of a collection of computers, printers and other equipment that is connected together so that they can communicate with each other.  


Network application
A Network application is any application running on one host and provides a communication to another application running on a different host, the application may use an existing application layer protocols such as: HTTP(e.g. the Browser and web server), SMTP(e.g. the email-client). And may be the application does not use any existing protocols and depends on the socket programming to communicate to another application. So the web application is a type of the network applications. 
There are lots of advantages from build up a network, but the th…

WIRELESS NETWORK & SOHO

WIRELESS NETWORK & SOHO
Wireless networking equipment is available that supports varying levels of industry communication Standards. At present, the IEEE 802.11b/g/n standard is widely accepted throughout the industry and provides the necessary balance of range, network throughput, and support for device mobility. As newer standards emerge, such as IEEE 802.11i enhancements they will be evaluated and deployed should they offer security and throughput improvements over 802.11b/g/n. Let’s have a quick tour about some definition of common wireless network terms. 

Definitions Wireless Access Point

A wireless communications hardware device that creates a central point of wireless connectivity. A wireless access point behaves much like a "hub" in that the total bandwidth is shared among all users for which the device is maintaining an active network connection. 

Wireless Port

A network port that has been installed for the purpose of connecting a wireless access point to the University's wired network. Wireless ports provide both data and power service to the wireless access point and are clearly distinguished from ordinary network ports by an affixed yellow warning label. Because wireless ports carry both data and electrical power, ordinary end user devices could be severely damaged if they are connected to this type of port. 

WiFi Hotspot

Wireless (or wi-fi) hotspots are essentially wireless access points providing network and/or Internet access to mobile devices like your laptop or smartphone, typically in public locations. To put it more simply, they're places where you can take your laptop or other mobile device and wirelessly connect to the Internet; some devices and smartphones also act as mobile wi-fi hotspots. Typical wi-fi hotspot venues include cafes, libraries, airports, and hotels. 

WiMAX

WiMAX is defined as Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access by the WiMAX Forum, formed in June 2001 to promote conformance and interoperability of the IEEE 802.16 standard, officially known as Wireless MAN. The Forum describes WiMAX as "a standards-based technology enabling the delivery of last mile wireless broadband access as an alternative to cable and DSL". 

Coverage Area

The geographical area in which an acceptable level of wireless connection service quality is attainable. Coverage areas for similar devices can vary significantly due to the presence of building materials, interference, obstructions, and access point placement. 

Interference

Degradation of a wireless communication radio signal caused by electromagnetic radiation from another source including other wireless access points, cellular telephones, microwave ovens, medical and research equipment, and other devices that generate radio signals. Interference can either degrade a wireless transmission or completely eliminate it entirely depending on the strength of the signal generated by the offending device. 

Privacy

The condition that is achieved by successfully maintaining the confidentiality of personal, student, employee, and or patient information transmitted over a wireless network. 

Security

Security is particularly important in wireless networks because data is transmitted using radio signals that, without implementation of specific data encryption mechanisms, can easily be intercepted. 

Wireless Network Infrastructure

The collection of all wireless access points, antennas, network cabling, power, ports, hardware, and software associated with the deployment of a wireless communication network. 

Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP)

A security protocol for wireless networks defined within the 802.11b standard. WEP is designed to provide the same level of security as that of a wired network. Recent reports indicate that the use of WEP alone is insufficient to ensure privacy unless used in conjunction with other mechanisms for data encryption. 

WPA 
Short for Wi-Fi Protected Access, a Wi-Fi standard that was designed to improve upon the security features of WEP. This technology features improved data encryption through the temporal key integrity protocol (TKIP) and user authentication through the extensible authentication protocol (EAP), PEAP – MSChapV2. Wireless Pitt-net utilizes the WPA protocol. 

802.1x 
This standard enhances the security of local area networks by providing an authentication framework allowing users to authenticate to a central authority, such as LDAP or Active Directory. In conjunction with 802.11 access technologies, it provides an effective mechanism for controlling access to the wireless local area network. 

802.11a 
An extension to the 802.11 standard developed by the IEEE for wireless network technology. 802.11a applies to wireless local area networks and supports a maximum a maximum connect rate of 54 Mbps throughput in the 5GHz band. This specification is not backwardly compatible with 802.11b/g and requires special wireless adapters. 

802.11b
 An extension to the 802.11 standard developed by the IEEE for wireless network technology. 802.11b applies to wireless local area networks and supports a maximum connect rate of 11 Mbps with fallback to 5.5, 2, and 1 Mbps in the 2.4GHz ISM band. This standard was ratified in 1999. 

802.11g
 An extension to the 802.11 standard that allows for a maximum connect rate of 54 Mbps while maintaining compatibility with the 802.11b standard in the 2.4Ghz band This specification is compatible and complimentary to the 802.11b standard. 

802.11i 
An extension to the 802.11 standard to provide improved security over that which is available under 802.11 extensions. This extension provides for improved encryption methods and for the integration of the IEEE 802.1x authentication protocol as well as advanced encryption mechanisms such as AES. (Advanced Encryption Standard) for an optional, fully compliant implementation of 802.11i 

802.11n
Uses multiple transmitter and receiver antennas (MIMO) to allow for increased data throughput and range. This is not a ratified standard as of Dec 2006. Pre-standard hardware is commercially available and not compatible with Wireless Pitt-net. 

Wireless operation method

The main methods of operation for wireless LAN are as follows: 
Ad Hoc: Ad-hoc mode is also known as “peer-to-peer” mode. Ad-hoc networks don’t require a centralized access point.  

Instead, devices on the wireless network connect directly to each other. If you set up the two laptops in ad-hoc wireless mode, they’d connect directly to each other without the need for a centralized access point. 

Infrastructure Mode

This is where each PC talks to a central station, normally called an access point. The messages from one PC are passed to the access point then onto the wired network that the access point is connected to or relayed to another PC wirelessly if required.  

This system is better to use as it is easier to manage and set up as each client PC only talks to (normally) one access point. 

Wireless Usage

Some services can have a negative impact on a wireless network because they generate a high level of activity on the network. Such services can negatively affect your wireless network performance and the network performance of other wireless users. The wireless network is a shared resource, which means the bandwidth available to each user of an access point will decline as high-bandwidth services are used. If a student, faculty member, or staff member has a need for a service that requires high bandwidth, a wired network connection should be used.

The following list provides examples of high bandwidth usage. Please note that this list is not all inclusive. 

You cannot use the computer you have connected to the wireless network as a server of any kind, such as: 

  • Web servers 
  • Peer-to-peer file sharing servers
  • FTP servers 
  • Multiplayer game servers 

Some activities may also use excessive wireless bandwidth. Following are some examples of user activities that consume high amounts of bandwidth: 

  • Reinstalling an operating system 
  • Downloading and installing applications 
  • Performing system backups 
  • Transferring large files (images, video, music, databases) to other system 


SOHO network

SOHO network or also termed as single or small office/home office network is mainly referred to a business category involving a small number of workers usually from 1 to 10. It is a type of local area or LAN network connection meant to be used in small businesses. Like many other LANS, SOHO network may also be a mixture of networks of wireless or wired computers. The SOHO router is more or less the conventional broadband router designed to be operated in such organizations. A SOHO network may also support a bit larger group of peoples and is generally a privately owned or owned by self-employed individuals for a smaller business organization. SOHO, nowadays, is becoming more and more popular in different sectors including networking circles. As there is increase in the number of smaller business units, the call for SOHO networks is also in demand and is on the rise day by day. The features and benefits provided by SOHO such as easy to use and setup network etc. makes them an ideal choice for the same. Virtual office is another synonym sometimes used for a SOHO network. SOHO networking is mainly used for the purpose of connecting several computing devices on a single network to share the information effectively with the connected multiple users in the organization. 

Now let’s understand the basic working concept of SOHO network according to the image

  • As seen from the diagram above, a small office/home office (SOHO) network consists of Wired (desktop computers) and wireless (laptops) end stations, a wireless Access point (AP), a Layer 2 (L2) switch, one or more servers, a firewall  and a Layer 3 (L3) router. 
  • The end stations can communicate (exchange data) either with other end stations/servers within the SOHO or with end stations on the Internet. 
  • The L2 switch provides connectivity between the different end stations and the servers in the office, for data exchange purposes. 
  • Additionally, a wireless AP is required for connecting the wireless end stations to the L2 switch. The wireless AP acts as a base station for the wireless nodes inside the office. 
  • A L3 Router connects the SOHO network to the public data network (Internet) via a local ISP (Internet Service Provider). 
  • A firewall device protects the internal SOHO LAN network from malicious/spurious traffic originating from the Internet. The firewall device filters out junk data packets coming from malicious computers via the public data network, primarily aimed at bringing down the internal network. 
  • In some cases, the firewall functionality is built inside the router itself, thereby not requiring a separate firewall device. 

List of requirements

Each and every connection for a SOHO network needs some of the common connecting devices. Below are mentioned some of the top requirements for setting up a SOHO network: 

  • Router tops the list of the most basic and important requirements for a SOHO network access. They are also the best choice to be used in small offices because of their ability of identifying IP address through each of the computing devices. Some of the good routers will also include an inbuilt option of a firewall system which also helps in preventing malicious attacks which generally comes from the files or data coming from the web. 
  • All the computing devices on the SOHO network will also require a network card along with a network adapter or a network cable. This will be helping you in the process of file sharing when single computer on network known as server will be accessing the network and sharing the files with the shared computer on that network. 
  • Modem is also an essential need for this network as it will be mainly responsible for receiving and communicating the signal from the service provider of the internet. Every SOHO communication makes use of a large number of apparatus to ensure that the signal is free flowing and the information is transmitted without any loss in the system. 
  • Network cable is also required for this purpose. The network cable will serve as a medium and set up the link between the modem and the router. Ensure to connect the cable in the appropriate port of each side. Now, begin with SOHO by connecting the computer to the routers and the modem with internet cable. 

Cable Length 

Cable is the most basic element required for the SOHO network to work in the way it should. You will be requiring at least one cable for each of the computers that you will be connecting with the computer. 10 base T and 100 base T are major two types of cables that are used for this purpose and the maximum range allowed for the length of these two cables is 100 meters or alternatively around 328 feet. Always keep in mind not to keep the cable length to short or it may lead you into trouble although, there is no set prescription for a minimum cable length. Three feet or long cable is the least you need for a good network connection and make sure the quality of cables is also better. Don't settle for a cable quality under category 5 which is often termed as Cat 5. Ensure to take this point in every networking cable and may take the cable above the category 5 but below it is a strict no. Copper clad aluminum wire which is ideally used for carrying audio, video or data is advised for this purpose. Solid core and PVC jacket cable will solve your cable issues. Although, there is also a provision if you can make your own cables but it is not highly recommended of creating one. Local computer and general store can easily provide you with the good quality cables and buying them is not that much of a trouble for a small office or a home network. The extra incentive in buying from the store is that if in turn it turns out to be an improper or a bad cable, you can always bring it back and get a new and better quality cable in exchange of it. Also, it will help you with better signal to noise ratios and minimum losses which in turn will help you for a faster and more reliable network connection which is an important issue for any small or home network connections. 

Device types or requirements

There are many other types of requirements which are a necessity for creating a SOHO network. Few of them can be listed as: 
Hardware requirements: These consist of an Ethernet adapter for every computer that you will be connecting on the network. While buying any new equipment, use 100 base T equipment’s. If you already possess 10 base T adapter cards, buy dual speed 10/100 hub which will help you in maintaining backward compatibility along with the previous equipment and forward compatibility with newer equipment. 

  •  Ethernet Hub: The working of a brand is good as the range over which the hub goes. Get the one which has more ports than the number of devices you wish to add to the network. The other thing to be kept in mind while buying is if the hub is 10 base T or 100 base T or both. If you are planning to use older equipment, then it is advised to go for a dual speed hub and if not, then get yourself a 100 base T hub. 
  • Adapter cards: For each of the computer you wish to add to the network, you will need an adapter card. While buying the cards, you will need to make it sure that they will be compatible with operating system and the hardware of the device on which it may be installed. PCI adapters of NE2000 clones are best suited and easy to use on a LINUX operating system. Any of the adapter cards you intend to buy, just make sure they are faster 100 base T cards. You will need to have the knowledge of operating the computer and installing the adapter card for this purpose. 
  • Wireless Network Interface Card (NIC): For each of the computer you wish to add to the network, you will need a wireless network interface card. It is an Ethernet card which also has a built in antenna which helps in communication of the device with the access point. 
  • Wireless Access Point: This will act as central receiver for the device. This wireless access point will be connected to the wired switch or network router. 

Environment limitations

The SOHO network should be carefully planned keeping the environmental limitations and considerations in mind. There is a range of environmental considerations to be kept in mind before designing a SOHO network especially if you are looking to design a wired network. Make sure that the routers or any network switches are in a proper area which is confined from flooding dangers and the high humidity factors or not cold enough so that a proper operating temperature is maintained. In case of a wireless network, structure and design of the building should be taken into account and things responsible for reflection or absorption of the radio waves must be taken care of. You won't need any expensive designing but it will be mandatory that you can see the data yourself and nobody else can. There are also a set of unique and different set of requirements required for a SOHO network. The infrastructure challenge is a big one which can be different from many of the corporate offices Plan a proper outlay of supporting the different devices for longevity. Also, equipment’s will require a moderately cooler temperature so that they do not get heated up quickly and can function properly for longer use. A ventilated area will serve the purpose. An Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) is also a necessity for setting up the SOHO networks in case of any power failure or power outage so the servers can continue to work normally. Be aware of the wireless network around the building to avoid conflicts between them and make a proper control over it. Don't mix or set up the network at the same frequency as the person next door is using to avoid conflicts. 

Equipment limitations

Most of the devices purchased and used in a SOHO network are basically a scale down version of the exact equipment that is used for the enterprise network. For instance, a router can also add security configuration and specific static routes, but it most probably be in graphical user interface system so that one can easily understand the process without any training requirement. There will also not be available the redundancy and flexibility that you will be getting in an enterprise networking system. Thus, this should probably not be suitable for use in larger networks. SOHO equipment should only be used in a SOHO environment and not meant to be used at larger networks. You need to know that the equipment’s are less capable and are a smaller version of the big ones. Network, power and environmental conditions are all different for these types of equipment’s. Also, this will be costing you some lesser bucks because of the lesser features and can help in financial trade off. The device is designed to meet the needs of fewer people, so it will have lesser speed and also contains redundancy limitations. These also do not have a lot of management options available to them, there are not a lot of command line and not a lot of diagnostics that you can perform in an enterprise network. There are also not a lot of options available for upgradability, this means that it will be limited by the amount of internet bandwidth that will be coming to your home or the building. 

Compatibility requirements

The most important process for setting up a SOHO network is to know about the compatibility requirements. The hardware requirements, software requirements, adapter cards etc. and all the basic equipment’s required have to work in collaboration to build up a good working SOHO network. This will make it easier to troubleshoot and make up for a stronger network. Every site for the SOHO network will be configured identically to make the network as a standardized unit. Make sure the network pieces can all talk between them properly even if it is a wired connection or a wireless one. The wireless access points may not function or communicate the same way all the other wireless technologies does. So, the enterprise will be providing that standard set of SOHO for both the wired and wireless infrastructure. TCP/IP protocol is generally used these days to communicate the wireless technologies and in a SOHO configuration setting, the TCP/IP may also be standardized from site to site. An interesting compatibility requirement between the various operating systems like Windows, MAC OS or LINUX etc. need to be made sure that they are built in a SOHO. Backup requirements in a SOHO may also be a little bit different. 

SOHO businesses are exaggerating with the advancement in technology which allows the workers from home to attach to internet whenever and wherever they want. With the services and goods being made especially for these smaller networks, the SOHO network and its demand is on the rise and you just need to make sure of the whole system working together. Get ready to even open you small office at maybe from your home with these little yet big SOHO networks. 

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