Many small businesses can use a simple LAN design to make business communications easier. For example, consider a small law office that can benefit from having a LAN. The office consists of four attorneys and one secretary. Your research about the law firm’s needs reveals that each attorney keeps information about clients strictly on his or her computer, with the exception of sharing case information when they are working with one or more of the other attorneys on a case. When working together, the lead attorney keeps information about that case on her computer and periodically prints a copy to distribute. One problem with this method is that distribution of the information is sometimes forgotten when the lead is busy on another case. When it is time to bill a client, each attorney prints a rough draft of the billable hours and hand carries it to the secretary, who compiles the information and mails the bill. The secretary also keeps the books for the law practice on her computer. Finally, your research shows that each member of the office has his or her own computer and printer. Also, when you research the potential for using a wireless connection in the building, you learn that other offices in the building have decided to use cable connections. Wireless access is intermittent because of the building materials in the walls and because of wireless interference from surrounding electrical devices.
A solid design for this office using what you have learned so far consists of the following:
- A star-bus hybrid topology that is a logical bus network employing the physical layout of a star.
- A switch connecting the computers in the middle of the star layout and connected using network cable.
- The computers are able to share certain information through the network.
- The printers are shared on the network.
The rationale for this design is as follows:
The star-bus hybrid topology enables the firm to economically connect all of the computers using common network components. The advantage of a star-bus hybrid topology is that it is popular and components are economical, easy to obtain, and relatively easy to support.
Using cable instead of wireless connectivity due to sources of radio wave interference in the building assures that network communications will be reliable.
Using a switch to join the links on the network satisfies the need for fast communications between computers.
The network design enables the law office to share documents through the network using a basic peer-to-peer approach—and without having to configure a server. A peer-to-peer network is one of the simplest ways for computers to share information. Through a peer- to-peer network each computer in a small office can share files and printing resources. Modern operating systems, such as Windows, UNIX/Linux, and Mac OS X, support peer- to-peer networking. In this way, each computer user controls which files or printers are shared. In the situation described for the law firm, there is no need to have a central server, which would create extra expense and technical support overhead.
Sharing documents over the network, such as case files and billing information, enables the attorneys and secretary to work more efficiently.
Creating a network for the law office enables printers to be shared, so that if one or more printers are not working, a different printer can be used.
The star-bus hybrid design with a switch and peer-to-peer communications keeps the network simple and easy to maintain.
Using a star-bus hybrid design and switch creates opportunities to easily add Internet com- munications for all office members.
Published on Thu 21 March 2002 by Daisy Batty in Networking with tag(s): lan