These are networks that use a common transmission medium to interconnect workstations, computers, servers, and/or other related assets over a limited geographical area (Miller & Cummins, 2000). This paper gives the advantages and disadvantages of LANS.
One of the major advantages of local area networks is their ability to share resources in an economical and efficient manner. Share hardware resources can include high quality printers, plotters, mass storage systems and other devices. On the software end, local area networks allow the sharing of commercial applications, and data sets with one or all user stations. Under some conditions, local area networks allow equipment from different manufacturers to be mixed on the same network. For example it is possible to create a local area network that incorporates IBM-type personal computers with apple microcomputers. Finally, because local area networks can be purchased outright, the entire network and all workstations and devices can be privately owned and maintained. Therefore, an organization can offer its desired services using the software and hardware that it deems best for employees (Sikora, 2003).
On the other hand, local area networks have some disadvantages. For one, the network hardware, operating systems and software that run on the network can be expensive. Despite the fact that a local area network can support many types of hardware and software, the different types of hardware and software may not be able to interoperate. For example, even if a local area network supports two different types of database systems, users may not be able to share data between the two databases. Finally, a local area network is only as strong as its weakest link. For example, a network may suffer terribly if the file server cannot adequately serve all the requests from the network users (White, 2011).
The topologies of local networks are star, ring and bus. In star topology, the LAN hosts are connected point-to-point links to a central hub. The advantage of a star topology is that no cable segment is a single point of failure. If one cable fails, only LAN host is affected while other hosts remain undisturbed. Bus topology uses a single length of cable with attached LAN hosts sharing the cable segment. In ring topology, all hosts in a ring topology are considered repeaters and they are enclosed in a loop (Castelli, 2003).
In conclusion, much planning, support, training and money is required when making a decision to incorporate LAN into an existing environment considering these advantages and disadvantages.
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