Networking: A Beginner's Guide
here are a lot of aspects to networking, and this tends to make the subject seem
more complex than it really is. This chapter discusses some basic and key
networking concepts. If you're new to networking, getting a good understanding
of the subjects in this chapter will enable you to build a mental framework into which
you can fit more detailed knowledge as it is presented in the remainder of this book.
In addition, the rest of this book assumes you're comfortable with all the concepts
presented in this chapter.
Knowing Network Relationship Types
The term network relationships refers to how one computer makes use of another
computer's resources over the network. Two fundamental types of network relationships
exist: peer-to-peer and client/server. These two types of network relationships define
the logical structure of a network. To understand them better, you might compare them
to different business management philosophies. A peer-to-peer network is much like a
company with a decentralized management philosophy, where decisions are made
locally and resources are managed according to the most immediate needs. A client/server
network is more like a company that uses centralized management, where decisions are
made in a central location by a relatively small group of people. Circumstances exist
where both peer-to-peer and client/server relationships are appropriate, and many
networks incorporate aspects of both types.
Both peer-to-peer and client/server networks require certain network layers.
Both types require a physical network connection between the computers, use of the
same network protocols, and so forth. In these respects, the two types of network
relationships are the same. The difference comes in whether you spread the shared
network resources around to all the computers on the network or use centralized
The mechanics of how a network actually functions are broken down into layers.
The concept of layers and what goes into each layer are described later in this chapter, in the
"Understanding the OSI Networking Model" section.
Peer-to-Peer Network Relationships
In a peer-to-peer network relationship, the computers on the network communicate
with each other as equals. Each computer is responsible for making its own resources
available to other computers on the network. These resources might be files,
directories, application programs, devices (such as printers, modems, or fax cards),
or any combination of these items. Each computer is also responsible for setting up
and maintaining its own security for those resources. Additionally, each computer