Networking Fundamentals: Campus Area Network (CAN)


Networking Fundamentals: Campus Area Network (CAN)

Local Area Network (LAN) and Wide Area Network (WAN) are perhaps two of the network types everyone would have heard of. And even though these networks are most commonly heard of, there are a bunch more networks based on the users requirements generally pertaining to speed, security and even geographical distances. No matter what network type, networks are essential and considering the widespread adoption and dependence on the internet and technology over each and every sphere of life in this world, the importance of computer networks have grown even more. In this article, another significant and practical network type will be discussed, known as a Campus Area Network.

What is a CAN and how it works?

CAN is the abbreviation of Campus Area Network and as it is apparent from the name, this network is specifically designed and used for educational institutes such as colleges, schools and universities. Even though CANs are ideally implemented in educational institutes, its utilization also extends to corporations and government agencies. Considering the example of educational institutes again, the network is spread across multiple buildings and areas in the campus based on the geographical area covered by the campus and the connection is formed by connecting multiple LANs through routers and switches.

By combining multiple individual LAN connections, a massive joint connection is formed which ensures rapid networking speed to be enjoyed by users ranging from students to the administration of the campus and more. It must be noted however, that to be considered as a CAN, a network must be connected between two buildings or departments having the same domain. Apart from routers and switches, CAN also makes use of transmission media consisting of optical fiber, copper plant or Cat5 cabling.

This also makes it evident that CAN covers a relatively extensive geographical area than LAN. CANs are however smaller networks in comparison to a Metropolitan Area Network which is based in a city and also a Wide Area Network which spreads throughout countries and the globe. A CAN usually covers areas of around 1 to 5 km. Another distinguishing feature of CAN lies in its ability to be based on both a wired and a wireless network. One of the most popular examples of CAN adoption comes from Stanford University called SUNet.

As mentioned above, Campus Area Networks are implemented by corporations as well, primarily to link buildings that consist of critical departments and staff members. These networks are established through the utilization of high-quality Ethernet links based on optical fiber such as 10 Gigabit Ethernet.  Apart from gigabit Ethernet technology, Wi-Fi hotspots and hot zones are also other ways of accessing the network. Similar to the practical example given in the case of educational institutes, a great example of corporate adoption of CAN is by Google at their GooglePlex.


A cost-effective solution

The adoption of CAN comes with numerous benefits. The primary benefit lies in its ability to minimize costs thus being a cost-effective solution for educational institutions. This is because a major chunk of network establishment and maintenance budget is spent on the cablings and wirings.

As a Campus Area Network can be enabled wirelessly, all the costs associated with expensive cabling and wiring is no more a concern, which results in major cost savings for educational institutions. As majority of educational institutes are not profit driven and most of them are government operated, knowing the trick to reduce costs by adopting the appropriate network becomes beneficial. Due to this increasing demand in network expertise, institutions and organizations are opting for trained network professionals to offer them ideal solutions.

Wireless, Multi-Department and Fast

A CAN’s ability to work as a wireless network results in smoother network transmission and ease of accessibility. Additionally, CANs allow multi departmental access which is particularly handy for educational institutes which may have dozens of separate buildings and departments such as academic buildings, libraries, student centers, residence halls, conference centers and technology centers to name a few. CANs lead to quicker transfer speeds as the network is based on a local network, in comparison to sharing files through typical internet speeds.

Improved network security

It is also necessary to mention here that Campus Area Networks are more reliable and secure. This is due to the fact that it is entirely maintained and operated by the campus IT team. This IT team is not only experienced but is also capable of adopting measures to overcome recurring flaws of the network and implement procedures to improve the overall effectiveness of the network. Such procedures may include implementing and installing firewalls to secure the accessibility of networks and to protect it from external threats.

It is necessary to ensure protection against external threats such as hacking because universities, institutes, or even organizational networks have sensitive data that can be exploited. Additionally, the network allows the network administrators to monitor its usage and even adopt certain standards and apply proxy server to limit the websites and internet ports that users can access. All of this requires expertise and adequate knowledge about network management, which is easily attainable through network training.

This article looked at one of the widely adopted network types called Campus Area Networks. As hinted throughout the article, experiencing the art of managing, operating and deploying networks practically requires serious skill, skill which is earned through rigorous training. This is why QuickStart offers extensive and exhaustive courses pertaining to networks, which are taught by networking specialist. These training courses facilitate network professionals and individuals seeking to grow a career in networking to clear the Cisco certification examinations.

Cisco certification is considered the highest standard in network certification and is based on numerous levels of varying specialization but all equally challenging. Clearing this certification not only helps a network professional build reputation but it also helps them in achieving new career heights and exploring opportunities which once seemed impossible. So make sure to check out the endless list of affordable yet exceptional courses offered by QuickStart.

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