11 Types of Computer Networks

Choosing the right computer network for your Raleigh business or organization is necessary in order to install proper cabling and security measures and be able to scale your business for growth. For example, choosing a network that can only support one building won’t work if your organization expands into a campus-style setting.  To help you better understand which option is best for you, our structured cabling company is breaking down the 11 types of computer networks. 

Three Common Networks for Smaller Organizations

The three most common computer networks are also generally smaller. They tend to support fewer devices across smaller areas and are easier to maintain. 

Personal Area Network

A Personal Area Network (PAN) is the most basic type, usually used for homes or home offices.  A PAN allows all the devices to be supported from a single terminal, generally a wireless modem.   

Local Area Network

Raleigh structured cabling and network designFor larger buildings that utilize multiple connected devices in a fairly concentrated area, a Local Area Network (LAN) is created. The range is fairly short, only supporting one building, but it allows information and resources to be shared easily within the structure. An example of an LAN would be a retail store with all the point-of-sale systems, inventory computers, and office computers and devices all connected to one network, but don’t rely on portable devices because it’s not a wireless network.

Wireless Local Area Network

Wireless LAN uses a wireless signal, rather than cables, to support devices. While there are fewer cables ran and the ability to support connection to smartphones and tablets, a wireless LAN is often slower than a traditional LAN. 

Scalable Computer Networks for Larger Organizations

These networks listed below tend to be significantly larger, spanning multiple buildings or even several miles. These networks require additional hardware support and maintenance do to the sheer volume of data and information. At their core, they are built using the same kind of infrastructure as either a LAN or WLAN, only much more complex.

Campus Area Network

A Campus Area Network (CAN) is created to allow users to share resources over a close area of multiple buildings, such as a hospital or medical center or a college campus. Some businesses will also use a CAN, especially if they plan on scaling up in the future.   

Metropolitan Area Network

Designed to span over an area of multiple square miles, such as a city, large college campus, or a company headquarters, a Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) connects multiple LANs in different locations through fiber optic lines, telephone lines, or wireless communication. The Metropolitan Area Network supports connectivity to local or large internet service providers. 

Wide Area Network

The Wide Area Network (WAN) is the largest type of computer network and has no limits based on geographic location. The internet itself is an example of a global WAN. A WAN is set up by connecting LANs and MANs via satellite or microwave, making it both very powerful and very expensive. 

Specialized Networks

For more specialized networks with specific purposes or unique security needs, the following specialized networks are designed and implemented: 

Storage Area Network

Built specifically to link storage devices to servers, a Storage Area Network (SAN) moves data away from one network and house it separately, through a drive connected to a server. 

System Area Network

A System Area Network (also called a SAN) is a local network uniquely designed for high-speed interconnection in a cluster environment. These networks include server-to-server, processor-to-processor, and Storage Area Networks all operating as one entity. 

Passive Optical Local Area Network

As technology moves away from switch-based ethernet LANs, Passive Optical Local Area Networks (POLAN), is installed into structured cabling design. It is built on a point-to-multipoint LAN architecture, using optical splitters to send a signal from one fiber into multiple signals across devices. 

Enterprise Private Network 

An Enterprise Private Network (EPN) is owned by large businesses or organizations that want to keep all of their locations on one secure network to easily share resources. 

Virtual Private Network

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) connects your device to a server on the internet, allowing you to use the internet from that server’s connection. If the server is in a different country, it will look like your device is also coming from that country. 

A VPN allows users to hide their location, avoid using public wi-fi hotspots, and can’t be logged if torrenting information. 

Contact Us for Network Design and Consulting

You rely on your network for your business’s functionality, so having the right network in place is essential. If you want to upgrade an outdated network or scale up, we can help! Contact us today for network consultation and design services in Raleigh and throughout North Carolina by filling out our contact form or calling us today at (800) 255-5664.

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