When you’re faced with a task, you often wish you had the help of a friend. As they say, two heads are better than one, and collaboration can be the key to solving a problem or overcoming a challenge. With computer networks, we can say two nodes are better than one. These unique environments consist of at least two interconnected nodes that share and exchange data and resources, for which they use specific rules called “communications protocols.” Every node has its position within the network and a name and address to identify it.

The possibilities of computer networks are difficult to grasp. They make transferring files and communicating with others on the same network a breeze. The networks also boost storage capacity and provide you with more leeway to meet your goals.

One node can be powerful, but a computer network with several nodes can be like a super-computer capable of completing challenging tasks in record times.

In this introduction to computer networks, we’ll discuss the different types in detail. We’ll also tackle their applications and components and talk more about network topologies, protocols, and security.

Components of a Computer Network

Let’s start with computer network basics. A computer network is comprised of components that it can’t function without. These components can be divided into hardware and software. The easiest way to remember the difference between the two is to know that software is something “invisible,” i.e., stored inside a device. Hardware components are physical objects we can touch.

Hardware Components

  • Network interface cards (NICs) – This is the magic part that connects a computer to a network or another computer. There are wired and wireless NICs. Wired NICs are inside the motherboard and connect to cables to transfer data, while wireless NICs have an antenna that connects to a network.
  • Switches – A switch is a type of mediator. It’s the component that connects several devices to a network. This is what you’ll use to send a direct message to a specific device instead of the entire network.
  • Routers – This is the device that uses an internet connection to connect to a local area network (LAN). It’s like a traffic officer who controls and directs data packets to networks.
  • Hubs – This handy component divides a network connection into multiple computers. This is the distribution center that receives information requests from a computer and places the information to the entire network.
  • Cables and connectors – Different types of cables and connectors are required to keep the network operating.

Software Components

  • Network operating system (NOS) – A NOS is usually installed on the server. It creates an adequate environment for sharing and transmitting files, applications, and databases between computers.
  • Network protocols – Computers interpret network protocols as guidelines for data communication.
  • Network services – They serve as bridges that connect users to the apps or data on a specific network.

Types of Computer Networks

Local Area Network (LAN)

This is a small, limited-capacity network you’ll typically see in small companies, schools, labs, or homes. LANs can also be used as test networks for troubleshooting or modeling.

The main advantage of a local area network is convenience. Besides being easy to set up, a LAN is affordable and offers decent speed. The obvious drawback is its limited size.

Wide Area Network (WAN)

In many aspects, a WAN is similar to a LAN. The crucial difference is the size. As its name indicates, a WAN can cover a large space and can “accept” more users. If you have a large company and want to connect your in-office and remote employees, data centers, and suppliers, you need a WAN.

These networks cover huge areas and stretch across the globe. We can say that the internet is a type of a WAN, which gives you a good idea of how much space it covers.

The bigger size comes at a cost. Wide area networks are more complex to set up and manage and cost more money to operate.

Metropolitan Area Network (MAN)

A metropolitan area network is just like a local area network but on a much bigger scale. This network covers entire cities. A MAN is the golden middle; it’s bigger than a LAN but smaller than a WAN. Cable TV networks are the perfect representatives of metropolitan area networks.

A MAN has a decent size and good security and provides the perfect foundation for a larger network. It’s efficient, cost-effective, and relatively easy to work with.

As far as the drawbacks go, you should know that setting up the network can be complex and require the help of professional technicians. Plus, a MAN can suffer from slower speed, especially during peak hours.

Personal Area Network (PAN)

If you want to connect your technology devices and know nobody else will be using your network, a PAN is the way to go. This network is smaller than a LAN and can interconnect devices in your proximity (the average range is about 33 feet).

A PAN is simple to install and use and doesn’t have components that can take up extra space. Plus, the network is convenient, as you can move it around without losing connection. Some drawbacks are the limited range and slower data transfer.

These days, you encounter PANs on a daily basis: smartphones, gaming consoles, wireless keyboards, and TV remotes are well-known examples.

Network Topologies

Network topologies represent ways in which elements of a computer network are arranged and related to each other. Here are the five basic types:

  • Bus topology – In this case, all network devices and computers connect to only one cable.
  • Star topology – Here, all eyes are on the hub, as that is where all devices “meet.” In this topology, you don’t have a direct connection between the devices; the hub acts as a mediator.
  • Ring topology – Device connections create a ring; the last device is connected to the first, thus forming a circle.
  • Mesh topology – In this topology, all devices belonging to a network are interconnected, making data sharing a breeze.
  • Hybrid topology – As you can assume, this is a mix of two or more topologies.

Network Protocols

Network protocols determine how a device connected to a network communicates and exchanges information. There are the five most common types:

  • Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) – A communication protocol that interconnects devices to a network and lets them send/receive data.
  • Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) – This application layer protocol transfers hypertext and lets users communicate data across the World Wide Web (www).
  • File Transfer Protocol (FTP) – It’s used for transferring files (documents, multimedia, texts, programs, etc.)
  • Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) – It transmits electronic mails (e-mails).
  • Domain Name System (DNS) – It converts domain names to IP addresses through which computers and devices are identified on a network.

Network Security

Computer networks are often used to transfer and share sensitive data. Without adequate network security, this data could end up in the wrong hands, not to mention that numerous threats could jeopardize the network’s health.

Here are the types of threats you should be on the lookout for:

  • Viruses and malware – These can make your network “sick.” When they penetrate a system, viruses and malware replicate themselves, eliminating the “good” code.
  • Unauthorized access – These are guests who want to come into your house, but you don’t want to let them in.
  • Denial of service attacks – These dangerous attacks have only one goal: making the network inaccessible to the users (you). If you’re running a business, these attacks will also prevent your customers from accessing the website, which can harm your company’s reputation and revenue.

What can you do to keep your network safe? These are the best security measures:

  • Firewalls – A firewall acts as your network’s surveillance system. It uses specific security rules as guidelines for monitoring the traffic and spotting untrusted networks.
  • Intrusion detection systems – These systems also monitor your network and report suspicious activity to the administrator or collect the information centrally.
  • Encryption – This is the process of converting regular text to ciphertext. Such text is virtually unusable to everyone except authorized personnel who have the key to access the original data.
  • Virtual private networks (VPNs) – These networks are like magical portals that guarantee safe and private connections thanks to encrypted tunnels. They mask your IP address, meaning nobody can tell your real location.
  • Regular updates and patches – These add top-notch security features to your network and remove outdated features at the same time. By not updating your network, you make it more vulnerable to threats.

Reap the Benefits of Computer Networks

Whether you need a network for a few personal devices or want to connect with hundreds of employees and suppliers, computer networks have many uses and benefits. They take data sharing, efficiency, and accessibility to a new level.

If you want your computer network to function flawlessly, you need to take good care of it, no matter its size. This means staying in the loop about the latest industry trends. We can expect to see more AI in computer networking, as it will only make them even more beneficial.

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Il Sole 24 Ore: 100 thousand IT professionals missing
OPIT - Open Institute of Technology
OPIT - Open Institute of Technology
May 14, 2024 6 min read

Written on April 24th 2024

Source here: Il Sole 24 Ore (full article in Italian)

Open Institute of Technology: 100 thousand IT professionals missing

Eurostat data processed and disseminated by OPIT. Stem disciplines: the share of graduates in Italy between the ages of 20 and 29 is 18.3%, compared to the European 21.9%

Today, only 29% of young Italians between 25 and 34 have a degree. Not only that: compared to other European countries, the comparison is unequal given that the average in the Old Continent is 46%, bringing Italy to the penultimate place in this ranking, ahead only of Romania. The gap is evident even if the comparison is limited to STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) where the share of graduates in Italy between the ages of 20 and 29 is 18.3%, compared to the European 21.9%, with peaks of virtuosity which in the case of France that reaches 29.2%. Added to this is the continuing problem of the mismatch between job supply and demand, so much so that 62.8% of companies struggle to find professionals in the technological and IT fields.

The data

The Eurostat data was processed and disseminated by OPIT – Open Institute of Technology. an academic institution accredited at European level, active in the university level education market with online Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in the technological and digital fields. We are therefore witnessing a phenomenon with worrying implications on the future of the job market in Italy and on the potential loss of competitiveness of our companies at a global level, especially if inserted in a context in which the macroeconomic scenario in the coming years will undergo a profound discontinuity linked to the arrival of “exponential” technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and robotics, but also to the growing threats related to cybersecurity.

Requirements and updates

According to European House Ambrosetti, over 2,000,000 professionals will have to update their skills in the Digital and IT area by 2026, also to take advantage of the current 100,000 vacant IT positions, as estimated by Frank Recruitment Group. But not only that: the Italian context, which is unfavorable for providing the job market with graduates and skills, also has its roots in the chronic birth rate that characterizes our country: according to ISTAT data, in recent years the number of newborns has fallen by 28%, bringing Italy’s birth rate to 1.24, among the lowest in Europe, where the average is 1.46.

Profumo: “Structural deficiency”

“The chronic problem of the absence of IT professionals is structural and of a dual nature: on one hand the number of newborns – therefore, potential “professionals of the future” – is constantly decreasing; on the other hand, the percentage of young people who acquires degrees are firmly among the lowest in Europe”, declared Francesco Profumo, former Minister of Education and rector of OPIT – Open Institute of Technology. “The reasons are varied: from the cost of education (especially if undertaken off-site), to a university offering that is poorly aligned with changes in society, to a lack of awareness and orientation towards STEM subjects, which guarantee the highest employment rates. Change necessarily involves strong investments in the university system (and, in general, in the education system) at the level of the country, starting from the awareness that a functioning education system is the main driver of growth and development in the medium to long term. It is a debated and discussed topic on which, however, a clear and ambitious position is never taken.”

Stagnant context and educational offer

In this stagnant context, the educational offer that comes from online universities increasingly meets the needs of flexibility, quality and cost of recently graduated students, university students looking for specialization and workers interested in updating themselves with innovative skills. According to data from the Ministry of University and Research, enrollments in accredited online universities in Italy have grown by over 141 thousand units in ten years (since 2011), equal to 293.9%. Added to these are the academic institutions accredited at European level, such as OPIT, whose educational offering is overall capable of opening the doors to hundreds of thousands of students, with affordable costs and extremely innovative and updated degree paths.

Analyzing the figures

An analysis of Eurostat statistics relating to the year 2021 highlights that 27% of Europeans aged between 16 and 74 have attended an entirely digital course. The highest share is recorded in Ireland (46%), Finland and Sweden (45%) and the Netherlands (44%). The lowest in Romania (10%), Bulgaria (12%) and Croatia (18%). Italy is at 20%. “With OPIT” – adds Riccardo Ocleppo, founder and director – “we have created a new model of online academic institution, oriented towards new technologies, with innovative programs, a strong practical focus, and an international approach, with professors and students from 38 countries around the world, and teaching in English. We intend to train Italian students not only on current and updated skills, but to prepare them for an increasingly dynamic and global job market. Our young people must be able to face the challenges of the future like those who study at Stanford or Oxford: with solid skills, but also with relational and attitudinal skills that lead them to create global companies and startups or work in multinationals like their international colleagues. The increasing online teaching offer, if well structured and with quality, represents an incredible form of democratization of education, making it accessible at low costs and with methods that adapt to the flexibility needs of many working students.”

Point of reference

With two degrees already starting in September 2023 – a three-year degree (BSc) in Modern Computer Science and a specialization (MSc) in Applied Data Science & AI – and 4 starting in September 2024: a three-year degree (BSc) in Digital Business, and the specializations (MSc) in Enterprise Cybersecurity, Applied Digital Business and Responsible Artificial Intelligence (AI), OPIT is an academic institution of reference for those who intend to respond to the demands of a job market increasingly oriented towards the field of artificial intelligence. Added to this are a high-profile international teaching staff and an exclusively online educational offer focused on the technological and digital fields.

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Times of India: The 600,000 IT job shortage in India and how to solve it
OPIT - Open Institute of Technology
OPIT - Open Institute of Technology
May 2, 2024 3 min read

Written on April 25th 2024

Source here: Times of India 

The job market has never been a straightforward path. Ask anyone who has ever looked for a job, certainly within the last decade, and they can tell you as much. But with the rapid development of AI and machine learning, concerns are growing for people about their career options, with a report from Randstad finding that 7 in 10 people in India are concerned about their job being eliminated by AI.

 Employers have their own share of concerns. According to The World Economic Forum, 97 million new AI-related jobs will be created by 2025 and the share of jobs requiring AI skills will increase by 58%. The IT industry in India is experiencing a tremendous surge in demand for skilled professionals on disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, cybersecurity and, according to Nasscom, this is leading to a shortage of 600,000 profiles.

 So how do we fill those gaps? Can we democratize access to top-tier higher education in technology?

These are the questions that Riccardo Ocleppo, the engineer who founded a hugely successful ed-tech platform connecting international students with global Universities, Docsity, asked himself for years. Until he took action and launched the Open Institute of Technology (OPIT), together with the Former Minister of Education of Italy, Prof. Francesco Profumo, to help people take control of their future careers.

OPIT offers BSc and MSc degrees in Computer Science, AI, Data Science, Cybersecurity, and Digital Business, attracting students from over 38 countries worldwide. Through innovative learning experiences and affordable tuition fees starting at €4,050 per year, OPIT empowers students to pursue their educational goals without the financial and personal burden of relocating.

The curriculum, delivered through a mix of live and pre-recorded lectures, equips students with the latest technology skills, as well as business and strategic acumen necessary for careers in their chosen fields. Moreover, OPIT’s EU-accredited degrees enable graduates to pursue employment opportunities in Europe, with recognition by WES facilitating transferability to the US and Canada.

OPIT’s commitment to student success extends beyond academics, with a full-fledged career services department led by Mike McCulloch. Remote students benefit from OPIT’s “digital campus,” fostering connections through vibrant discussion forums, online events, and networking opportunities with leading experts and professors.

Faculty at OPIT, hailing from prestigious institutions and industry giants like Amazon and Microsoft, bring a wealth of academic and practical experience to the table. With a hands-on, practical teaching approach, OPIT prepares students for the dynamic challenges of the modern job market.

In conclusion, OPIT stands as a beacon of hope for individuals seeking to future-proof their careers in technology. By democratizing access to high-quality education and fostering a global learning community, OPIT empowers students to seize control of their futures and thrive in the ever-evolving tech landscape.

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