LANs, SANs and Ram. IT Jargon Explained. What you need to Know about your Network.
Your information systems are critical to your business. Your business and every business is a tech company. Yet, few people understand how IT works. Everyone doesn’t need in-depth knowledge, that’s what experts are for, like CPAs and electricians. However, not understanding the basics puts your company at risk just like not understanding addition or how to turn on the lights. The intention of this article is to reduce that risk and increase understanding of IT jargon.
Cloud computing has changed networks massively. However, whether you have equipment at your office or use the cloud the basics are the same. The typical network will have a server, switches, routers, wireless access points, a modem, a NAS and workstations. Here’s how they all connect and what they do.
A server holds the tech systems/programs and provides the computing power for them. Operating systems, shared files, email, printers, spam filters and other critical systems are held here and the server gives the resources for these programs to work. Another post will go into further detail on how the server works but for this article think of it like a brain holding info and distributing power. Some networks may have a SAN. A SAN is another separate physical device that holds all the info mentioned above and connects to the server through a switch. The server in this case will only distribute computing power. You can think of the SAN as a storage device to take the load off of the server. The SAN will hold the programs and server will make them work and the switch allows the two to talk.
The LAN. You can think of the LAN as a physical device, a switch, that allows the server to talk to all the other physical hardware. The LAN is what connects to your workstations (laptop, desktop mobile device) and allows your email and other apps like office or outlook to work. Your applications are on your workstations, for them to work it needs to talk to the server this is done through the LAN. The LAN also connects to your wireless access points that allow your wifi to work. Your wifi and internet connection runs through a modem that connects to a router. The LAN connects to this router. The router is your firewall between the internet and your network, it is kind of like a spam filter for the internet controlling access to certain sites and IP addresses. An IP address is an address connected to any device that connects to the internet. Think of IP addresses like home addresses and VINs or serial numbers, unique and identifiable. A NAS is a storage device that backs up and holds all the data of your network, this is also connected to the LAN.
All of these components come together to form your network. There can multiples of everything described. Also your network can be in the cloud. All the physical hardware would still exist but not at your office. Cloud networks are held in a large data centers. You connect to them through your workstation and an internet connection. In a cloud environment the only physical equipment you need on site is a router, the firewall.