1.3.1 Networks are the foundation
Fifty billion things provide trillions of gigabytes of data. How can they work together to enhance our decision-making and interactions to improve our lives and our businesses? Enabling these connections are the networks that we use daily. These networks provide the foundation for the internet and, ultimately, the IoE.
Networks continue to evolve
The methods that we use to communicate continue to evolve. Whereas we were once limited to face-to-face interactions, breakthroughs in technology have significantly extended the reach of our communications. From cave paintings, to the printing press, to radio, to television, and to telepresence, each new development has enhanced our ability to communicate with others.
Networks of many sizes
Networks form the foundation of the IoE. Networks come in all sizes. They can range from simple networks consisting of two computers to networks connecting millions of devices.
Simple networks in homes enable sharing of resources, such as printers, documents, pictures, and music between a few local computers.
In businesses and large organisations, networks can provide products and services to customers through their connection to the internet. Networks can also be used on an even broader scale to provide consolidation, storage, and access to information on network servers. Networks allow for email, instant messaging, and collaboration among employees. In addition, the network enables connectivity to new places, giving machines more value in industrial environments.
The internet is the largest network in existence. In fact, the term internet means a 'network of networks'. The internet is literally a collection of interconnected private and public networks. Businesses, small office networks, and even home networks usually provide a shared connection to the internet.
Table 5 Four types of network
|Small home networks||Small office/home office networks||Medium to large networks||World wide networks|
|Small home networks connect a few computers to each other and the internet.||The small office/home office network enables computers to connect to a corporate network, to access resources.||Medium to large networks can have many locations with thousands of interconnected computers. These networks could include newer places in the network (PINs). Examples are plant area networks (PANs) and field area networks (FANs) that extend the reach and power of the network for new applications and devices.||The internet is a network of networks that connects hundreds of millions of computers everywhere.|