Monday, January 5, 2009

Directing Traffic

he router is the only device that sees every message sent by any computer on either of the company's networks. When the animator in our example sends a huge file to another animator, the router looks at the recipient's address and keeps the traffic on the animator's network. When an animator, on the other hand, sends a message to the bookkeeper asking about an expense-account check, then the router sees the recipient's address and forwards the message between the two networks. One of the tools a router uses to decide where a packet should go is a configuration table. A configuration table is a collection of information, including:
  • Information on which connections lead to particular groups of addresses
  • Priorities for connections to be used
  • Rules for handling both routine and special cases of traffic
A configuration table can be as simple as a half-dozen lines in the smallest routers, but can grow to massive size and complexity in the very large routers that handle the bulk of Internet messages.

A router, then, has two separate but related jobs:

  • The router ensures that information doesn't go where it's not needed. This is crucial for keeping large volumes of data from clogging the connections of "innocent bystanders."
  • The router makes sure that information does make it to the intended destination.

In performing these two jobs, a router is extremely useful in dealing with two separate computer networks. It joins the two networks, passing information from one to the other and, in some cases, performing translations of various protocols between the two networks. It also protects the networks from one another, preventing the traffic on one from unnecessarily spilling over to the other. As the number of networks attached to one another grows, the configuration table for handling traffic among them grows, and the processing power of the router is increased. Regardless of how many networks are attached, though, the basic operation and function of the router remains the same. Since the Internet is one huge network made up of tens of thousands of smaller networks, its use of routers is an absolute necessity.

Router - message delivery

When you send e-mail to a friend on the other side of the country, how does the message know to end up on your friend's computer, rather than on one of the millions of other computers in the world? Much of the work to get a message from one computer to another is done by routers, because they're the crucial devices that let messages flow between networks, rather than within networks.

Let's look at what a very simple router might do. Imagine a small company that makes animated 3-D graphics for local television stations. There are 10 employees of the company, each with a computer. Four of the employees are animators, while the rest are in sales, accounting and management. The animators will need to send lots of very large files back and forth to one another as they work on projects. To do this, they'll use a network.

When one animator sends a file to another, the very large file will use up most of the network's capacity, making the network run very slowly for other users. One of the reasons that a single intensive user can affect the entire network stems from the way that Ethernet works. Each information packet sent from a computer is seen by all the other computers on the local network. Each computer then examines the packet and decides whether it was meant for its address. This keeps the basic plan of the network simple, but has performance consequences as the size of the network or level of network activity increases. To keep the animators' work from interfering with that of the folks in the front office, the company sets up two separate networks, one for the animators and one for the rest of the company. A router links the two networks and connects both networks to the Internet.

Ethernet 802.3

You may have heard the term 802.3 used in place of or in conjunction with the term Ethernet. "Ethernet" originally referred to a networking implementation standardized by Digital, Intel and Xerox. (For this reason, it is also known as the DIX standard.)

In February 1980, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, or IEEE (pronounced "I triple E"), created a committee to standardize network technologies. The IEEE titled this the 802 working group, named after the year and month of its formation. Subcommittees of the 802 working group separately addressed different aspects of networking. The IEEE distinguished each subcommittee by numbering it 802.X, with X representing a unique number for each subcommittee. The 802.3 group standardized the operation of a CSMA/CD network that was functionally equivalent to the DIX Ethernet.

Ethernet and 802.3 differ slightly in their terminology and the data format for their frames, but are in most respects identical. Today, the term Ethernet refers generically to both the DIX Ethernet implementation and the IEEE 802.3 standard.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Home Networking Work

The two most popular home network types are wireless and Ethernet networks. In both of these types, the router does most of the work by directing the traffic between the connected devices. By connecting a router to your dial-up, DSL or cable modem, you can also allow multiple computers to share one connection to the Internet.

If you're going to connect your network to the Internet, you'll need a firewall. A firewall is simply a hardware device or software program that protects your network from malicious users and offensive Web sites, keeping hackers from accessing or destroying your data. Although they're essential for businesses looking to protect large amounts of information, they're just as necessary for someone setting up a home network, since a firewall will secure transactions that might include Social Security numbers, addresses, phone numbers and credit card numbers. Most routers combine wireless and Ethernet technology and also include a hardware firewall.

Many software firewalls installed onto your computer block all incoming information by default and prompt you for permission to allow the information to pass. In this way, a software firewall can learn which types of information you want to allow into your network. Symantec, McAfee and ZoneAlarm are popular companies that produce software-based firewalls. These companies usually offer some free firewall protection as well as advanced security that you can buy.

Home Networking

A home network is simply a method of allowing computers to communicate with one another. If you have two or more computers in your home, a network can let them share:
The different network types use different hardware, but they all have the same essential components:

  • More than one computer
  • Hardware (such as a router) and software (either built in to the operating system or as a separate application) to coordinate the exchange of information
  • A path for the information to follow from one computer to another

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Data Packet

Continue :

Depending on the type of network, packets may be referred to by another name:

  • frame
  • block
  • cell
  • segment
Most packets are split into three parts:
  • header - The header contains instructions about the data carried by the packet. These instructions may include:
    • Length of packet (some networks have fixed-length packets, while others rely on the header to contain this information)
    • Synchronization (a few bits that help the packet match up to the network)
    • Packet number (which packet this is in a sequence of packets)
    • Protocol (on networks that carry multiple types of information, the protocol defines what type of packet is being transmitted: e-mail, Web page, streaming video)
    • Destination address (where the packet is going)
    • Originating address (where the packet came from)

Data Packet

On the Internet, the network breaks an e-mail message into parts of a certain size in bytes. These are the packets. Each packet carries the information that will help it get to its destination -- the sender's IP address, the intended receiver's IP address, something that tells the network how many packets this e-mail message has been broken into and the number of this particular packet. The packets carry the data in the protocols that the Internet uses: Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP). Each packet contains part of the body of your message. A typical packet contains perhaps 1,000 or 1,500 bytes.

Each packet is then sent off to its destination by the best available route -- a route that might be taken by all the other packets in the message or by none of the other packets in the message. This makes the network more efficient. First, the network can balance the load across various pieces of equipment on a millisecond-by-millisecond basis. Second, if there is a problem with one piece of equipment in the network while a message is being transferred, packets can be routed around the problem, ensuring the delivery of the entire message.