Why can’t we simply do our business on a day to say basis on standalone machines, without enlisted the services of networks? The answer to that question is simple, networks provide so many benefits, that they simply cannot be ignored. Granted, their design, implementation and cost, do afford us barriers, but these barriers are far from being insurmountable. In fact, with correctly skilled professionals in place, the barriers are really not barriers at all. The only real obstacle is actually cost. However, the benefits far outweigh the consequences imposed by cost.
Consider the benefits:
- Data Sharing – Groups of users are able to exchange information routinely and quickly from one individual to another. This could be a detailed report created by an employee in the UK and accessed by another in New York, saving considerable amounts of time and money.
- Application Sharing – Groups of users can get access to the set of applications installed to the server. This eliminates the need to install programs on multiple machines. Also, the server is able to keep track of how many users are accessing any program, and can prohibit access to users as licensing permits.
- Device Sharing – Groups of users are able to take advantage of printers, scanners, fax machines and other devices that can be attached to a network. Companies can buy much fewer devices and spend more on each one, so that better capabilities, and higher levels of service are available. Also, it means that costly devices will be utilised more in a shared environment, thus justifying their high costs.
- Communication – E-Mail allows users to communicate via text massages, making communication between users fast, easy, and efficient. · Centralisation – All data is stored centrally. This can include items like reports, help guides, templates and curriculum material like assessments and tutorials in an education environment.
- Compatibility – Since software applications are installed and maintained centrally, it means that users will have access to a standard set of tools and will eliminate diverse formats. Upgrades carried out by administrators need only be performed once on the server and the new software is available to all on the network
- Security – Each user can only gain access to a network by virtue of an account. Each machine will display a screen asking the user for a username and password before gaining access to the network and its resources. Also, the ability to apply permissions on shared items and data items, prohibits users from gaining unauthorised access to sensitive materials or devices that they are not permitted to use. Accounts can also be configured to force users to change their password at regular time intervals, and prevent them from logging onto certain machines or at certain times.
- Internet Access – With the proper equipment and software in place, it is possible to connect a network to the Internet either as part of the Internet, or to simply allow users to access the Internet from their place of work. This is advantageous, since it gives users a much wider base for acquiring information and other resources like drivers and software utilities etc.