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Networks are classified on basis of scale. The area a network covers determines the type of network it is. Originally, there were only two types of networks: LAN and WAN. But over the years, other types of networks have evolved, like MAN, SAN, PAN, CAN and DAN. Let’s take a look at the more popular ones:
LAN: LAN is the acronym for Local Access Network. A LAN network is a short-distance network. It connects computers that are close together, usually within a room or a building. Very rarely, a LAN network will span a couple of buildings. An example of a LAN network is the network in a school or an office building. A LAN network doesn’t need a router to operate.
WAN: WAN stands for Wide Area Network. WANs cover a huge geographical area. A WAN is a collection of LAN networks. LANs connect to other LANs with the help of a router. The router has a LAN address and a WAN address, which lets it send data to the desired location. The biggest WAN in the world is, of course, the Internet. WANs are different from LANs in that they’re not owned by a single person/organization. They also use different technology that enables them to communicate over long distances, like Frame Relay and ATM.
VPN: VPN stands for Virtual Private Networks. VPNs are very important today. They let you connect to your network from a remote location through the Internet. This saves you time and money- you don’t need to set up a physical connection with your network. The Internet acts as a medium between you and your network. For example, you can access your computer at work through your computer at home.
MAN: MAN stands for Metropolitan Area Network. The network in a metro area is a MAN. They are usually more limited in scope than WANs, but essentially work the same way.
CAN: CAN stands for Campus Area Network. The network that spans a University or College campus is a CAN. CANs are like WANs or LANs, except they have more restrictions on them. They let students communicate with each other as well as the administration.
There are two major types of network architectures at the moment. The first model connects computers with each other without the need for an intermediary computer. This is known as the peer to peer style of networking.
Now that you are familiar with the basics of networking, you can begin learning more about the different networking models and network architecture. We will be covering more on this in the following weeks to come.