Networking: A Beginner's Guide
n the preceding chapters, you learned about networking systems together through
a local area network (LAN) and through a wide area network (WAN), and about
the technologies that go into both types of networks. You also need to know about
another important type of network connection: remote access to a network. With
today's travel-happy corporate cultures, and with companies needing to support such
things as working from home and small remote offices, remote access has become more
important than ever. Unfortunately, it's also one of the most difficult parts of a network
to get right, as you will see in this chapter.
One of the big problems with remote access is that it can seem as though all the
remote users have different requirements, the various solutions address different needs,
and none of those solutions takes care of all the needs. Finding solid solutions that meet
those needs is usually nontrivial and requires a fair amount of time and effort. This
chapter describes how you might analyze your company's needs and then discusses
the remote access technologies that can provide a solution (or solutions) for your
Determining Remote Access Needs
Every company has a different mix of remote users, and their specific needs may vary
from company to company. Moreover, even when needs are identical, the solutions you
employ might change based on other criteria. For instance, you might handle access to
an accounting system from a remote location differently, depending on whether it's a
client/server or a monolithic application.
Understanding Application Implications for Remote Access
Client/server applications consist of processes (programs) that run on both the
server side and the client side, and work in concert. For example, a database
server performs queries for the client, and then transmits to the client only the
results of that query. The client's job is just to display the results and maybe
format them for printing.
A monolithic application, on the other hand, performs all of its work on one
computer, typically the client computer. The server for a monolithic application
serves up only the files needed for the application to run and the data files that
the application manipulates.
Generally, client/server applications require much less bandwidth to work
at acceptable speeds than monolithic applications. A slow network connection
might be adequate for a client/server application, such as an accounting system,
whereas that connection would be totally inadequate for that same application
designed to be monolithic.