Everything is a Computer
In Part I of Demystifying the Computer: Computer & Server, we deconstructed the computer and server, so now it's time to talk about the purpose of a network, demystifying the cloud, and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Demystifying the Network
The purpose of a network: A computer network is quite simply two or more computers that are linked in order to share resources (e.g., printers), exchange files, or communicate electronically. Most modern computers connect to a local network that uses a router to connect to other networks, like the internet. Networks can either be wired (connected to a router via a physical cable) or wireless (connected to a router via a radio frequency). Wired connections are traditionally faster, while wireless connections offer greater portability; however, modern wireless networks offer the same or higher speeds than wired networks.
The main advantage of having a faster network connection is that the amount of time it takes to transfer information over the network is reduced. This is because your local network is generally faster than your internet connection and may not make your internet any faster unless you are using an older wireless connection. The purpose of a network in the workplace is to provide employees with access to business applications, communications, and other resources.
The Internet: A Network of Networks
The purpose of the internet: The internet is effectively a “network of networks”, allowing private networks to communicate with each other across vast distances. Likely the most significant invention of the 20th century, the internet enables us to share data and information with people throughout the planet. A practical (though perhaps not productive) example is allowing anyone in the United States to watch a YouTube video of someone in Japan playing with their cat.
The internet is architected much like a phonebook, with a specific number known as an “IP address” assigned to each website. IP addresses can be searched via a web browser to reach a specific site or web location, but the long strings of numbers make them difficult to remember and impractical to use. Instead, networks use the domain name system (DNS) to convert complex IP addresses (e.g., 18.104.22.168) to easier-to-remember web addresses (e.g., www.dataprise.com), making the internet much more user-friendly. Most organizations use a dedicated DNS server to perform this function.
The purpose of a VPN: Virtual private networks (VPN) are used to connect two private networks securely over the internet. Businesses commonly use this technology to allow two separate physical locations to communicate with each other as if they were one, enabling employees in San Francisco to work on the same server as another employee in Washington D.C. This remote solution is especially valuable to organizations whose employees telework or telecommute. A VPN is commonly used by businesses when implementing network security.
Demystifying the Cloud
Someone Else’s Computer
The purpose of the cloud: The cloud has become one of the most-used buzzwords in modern technology. But many laymen are still unclear on exactly what the cloud is. Simply put, the cloud is someone else’s server(s) which your computer(s) can securely access over the internet to perform the tasks your business needs. Setting up cloud-based infrastructure eliminates the need for businesses to purchase and maintain server hardware on-premises; instead, this responsibility is transferred to a cloud solutions provider, with businesses utilizing the service typically paying a monthly fee based on the server space they consume.
Public vs. Private
When demystifying the cloud, it is important to know there are multiple types of cloud computing, and each has its advantages and disadvantages. Private cloud refers to a cloud computing model in which a single organization is connected to a single cloud service that is not shared with other organizations. Alternatively, the public cloud connects an organization to a shared service accessed by multiple organizations, even though each organization’s systems and applications are not accessible to the others.
Think of the private cloud like renting a house, and the public cloud like renting an apartment in a high-rise; the house is more private, but it also typically costs more to rent, and it's not the most efficient use of resources. Maintenance in the apartment is handled by the building supervisor, but you’re responsible for coordinating any work that needs to be done on your house.
Redundancy / DR
One of the most significant advantages of cloud computing is the ease of implementing redundancy and disaster recovery. Because cloud computing server infrastructure exists outside of your office, any issue that arises in your building will have a less significant impact on your data and services. For example, if you lose power, or experience major flooding, you may lose access to the internet, but your servers will continue to operate and remain accessible to teleworkers. The major public cloud providers (i.e., Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS)) also invest billions in massive, hyper-secure datacenters with professional management and world-class power and cooling systems, making their infrastructure less susceptible to failure than on-premises equipment.
Computerization in the Modern World
As technology roars forward into the 2020s, this trend of computerization only seems to be growing. According to Forbes, the smart home device market alone is predicted to grow to a $174 billion dollar industry by 2024, more than triple its value in 2016. With this in mind, we hope this article was informative and useful to you as you continue to learn the purpose of a network and go about your computer-powered life. If your business needs cloud computing services, turn to Dataprise as your trusted partner.