Important trends in Softwire communication
Network Management II
Important trends in Softwire communication
By: Jacy Logue
Student #: 2025949
Important trends in Softwire Communication
Computers are found in basically every large business around the world, this is because it helps business’s become more effective and efficient. One of the main factors that help business’s become more effective and efficient includes communication. Computers allow employees and business’s to communicate in a far more effective way, including file sharing, hardware and software sharing as well as communicating in general.
In order for communication to occur between computers they must be connected in some form or another to allow the transmission of data, which, when connected form networks. Networks can be anywhere from two computers connected together, hundreds in a university or office all the way to the internet, which is basically a series of smaller networks all combined. Networks are more commonly connected through different forms of cables (hardwire), however now a days as technology is ever advancing more computers are beginning to be connected to networks without wires. Dividing connections to a network into two main categories, Soft and Hard wire, each possessing unique advantages and disadvantages to individual consumers and business’s.
Hardwire essentially means a physical objects used for data transmission, such as cables. There are three main cables currently used to connect networks and they include; twisted pair wire, coaxial cable and fiber-optic cable.
The most commonly used type of hardwire is the twisted-pair wires because of their relatively cheap cost, however this does bring a couple of disadvantages. Twisted-pair wires are more prone to interference and errors then the other two forms of cables. Coaxial cables offer less interference and are less prone to errors, but despite that fact they are about three times more expensive the twisted-pair wires. The price difference does not reflect the additional benefits and therefore few people choose to use this form of cabling. Unlike the previous two forms of cable, fiber-optic cables does not use traditional electrical form to carry signals, they use high speed streams of light which is able to carry information. This offers a much faster method of transmitting data then the two previous forms of hardwire. Fiber-optic cables are the most desired as they have the capability of transmitting vast amount of data at a very fast rate, it is also more reliable and offers further benefits as it is strong and very durable. As the prices are beginning to drop for fiber-optic cables they are becoming increasingly popular and used.
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Softwire refers to the term more commonly used, wireless, and as the name states it includes network connections that are not connected with a physical object. Wireless networks work by transmitting the data through the air in forms of radio waves, microwaves and inferred transmission. Radio waves use the same data transmission methods as the radio we listen to. Computers have specific devices that allow them to transmit and receive the radio waves, just like our radios do with different frequencies. Most commonly used forms of this are mobile phones and PDA’s. This form of wireless communication offers only very limited power as signals can only travel short distances.
Microwaves have very short wave lengths, unlike normal radio waves, and therefore are able to transmit data over extremely long distances. In fact they act very much like cables do only that the data travel through the air in forms of microwaves. Terrestrial microwave signalling is strictly line of communication. Satellite microwave communication allows greater flexibility of terrestrial microwave communication as it can be sent to more places over the globe but must first travel into space and then sent back down.
After a general understanding of hard and soft wire components it is vital to understand when to use each type of media. Depending on the purpose of the networks desired each type of media has its advantages and disadvantages, these must be understood to assist managers in determining which media to use when setting up a network. With an overall perspective, cables offer networks to be connected at relatively lower speeds then softwire components, with the ability to only transmit data over short distances, this however not true for fiber-optic cables.. But the advantages they have over softwire components are better security and lower rates of error. Despite this fact they become much more expensive to use when networks are desired to be connected over greater distances.
Fiber-optic cables offer the most advantages; offering very good security, low rates of error, very high speeds and the ability to transmit data over longer distances before having to have the data regenerated. However this does come at much higher cost, which is its biggest disadvantage. Like other hardwire components it faces further problems when building a network for business’s. Although it may seem ideal and feasible to use cables to form local area networks (LAN’s), it still ties down the whole network. Offering very little flexibility for employees and business’s while they are on the move and constantly changing locations. This causes further problems in cases when man made objects or natural objects make it very difficult to directly connect computers or networks together.
Wireless media offer solutions to these problems and offer benefits that cables cant. Wireless media such as radio waves, microwaves and satellite can be used when cables cant and are able to offer further benefits such as; greater mobility allowing people to be connected for longer periods as they can be connected while on the move. It can also be used in cases mentioned above where objects block the way for cables to be installed. Wireless networks are also much easier and faster to install, and therefore networks can be set up quickly in meetings and conferences as long as business’s have the necessary equipment. Wireless networks may seem like the perfect answer and alternative but it does have several disadvantages just as cables do. The main problem with having a wireless network would be security issues. As data is transmitted through the air it becomes easier for anyone with the right equipment to intercept the data. With cables data can be directed more specifically to a target; however wireless networks depend on data to be broadcasted everywhere or over a larger area where the target may possibly be.
There is also a great chance for errors to occur when network are wireless. This will be the case for those who are not stationary during use. Factors such as terrain, weather conditions and other environmental factors can affect the performance and the data received or if it can be received at all.
It is clear that both cables and wireless forms connections offer different advantages and disadvantages, and deciding on which one to use and what component within each category to choose may not be easy and will depend greatly on what the network is designed for and required to do. This will be different for every company and also different for various departments within the same company. Media selection will also depend on other factors important to business’s a major one including cost.
Even though it is a managers choice to select how to connect networks some forms of media are not built or capable of supporting various types of networks. Companies that wish to set up a wide area network (WAN) for example would not use twisted-pair wires, well not nowadays. They are also very unlikely to use infrared, radio waves and coaxial cables due to their individual disadvantages.
One of the main factors influencing the choice of media to use is cost. If cost was not a matter fibre-optic cables would be a common choice as it offers the greatest amount of advantages. It would be chosen for both LAN’s and WAN’s and leaving wireless networks to those that really need the mobility, however money is a major issue in all business’s. If a companies main concern was cost and wanted to set up a LAN then their best choice would be to use hardwire. Starting with the cheapest it would be twisted pair wires then coaxial cables and then fiber-optic cables. If the company required a wireless connection for their LAN then it would go in this order from cheapest to most expensive; radio and infrared then microwave and then satellite.
If a bank for example wanted to set up a network then security would obviously be their major concern. Softwire media will then not be a preferred choice and would rather choose fiber-optic cables. The same choice would be true for companies that need their networks to be able to transmit large amounts of data at fast rates, also with minimal error.
It may seem that wireless networks only offer the ability to transmit over longer distances and the chance to be more mobile, but these advantages which they offer are of great benefit. Wireless technology is still very much undergoing much research and in time further developments will come through helping to reduce the disadvantages of a wireless network.
Offering wireless networks allow people to be constantly connected to a network and even more appealing, always connected to the internet. This offers great benefits to business’s for both its employees and customers. Employees can always access needed information as can customers and more importantly for business’s customers can always be reached as long as they want to be reached and if they have there mobile computer or PDA on them. Giving a rise to the ubiquitous internet and as mobile computing and communication devices have become popular tools people can communicate and collect data from anywhere where such devices are able to work.
This brings a whole new meaning to contextual marketing, allowing companies to reach consumer with PDA’s and mobile devices at the most appropriate time and location. Marketers dream of being able to this and with wireless communication and internet they are able to do so. This also benefits the consumer as they can be in more control for what advertisements are bombarded at them and also benefiting from receiving information at a more appropriate time and place.
The ubiquitous internet also allows employees to be connected while on the move, and allowing them to obtain data when necessary from wherever they are located.
Overall it can be seen that wireless technology has the potential to offer many benefits that cables are unable to do without enduring further costs. Although the idea of being mobile and being able to transmit data over longer distances is something business’s wish to have, using wireless media presents greater security risks and increases the rate of errors. It is therefore dependent on what a company wants the network to do, and what constraints they have; e.g. cost constraints, physical barriers or the need for extra security and privacy. While wireless components have disadvantages they should not be neglected when the use for them is required, it simply means there are different implications for managers to deal with. There are also methods to deal with these problems as new standards for encrypting data on wireless networks are emerging and therefore security will become less of a problem in future. Provided attention is paid to these issues, wireless networks could be a good option for many organisations and will no doubt become increasingly common in the future.
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