Networking Fundamentals: The Most Common Terminologies Explained


Networking Fundamentals: The Most Common Terminologies Explained

Networking is one of the basic terms related to information technology. Any IT enthusiast would have a firm understanding of what networking really is, its vast array of types, functions of each category, and the complexities associated with it. In simple terms, a computer network is made up of two or more computers connected to each other for the purpose of sharing information and resources. The built connection is called a network because it allows for data to be shared across two units. A simple computer network can be built using only two computers whereas a complex network is built using more than two computers. Typically, in a complex network, thousands of devices are connected to each other to form a network. A network can be used for simply printing a document, downloading an email attachment, or accessing the web. Networks are fundamentally recognized to be integrated everywhere computers are used. Computer networking has opened great opportunities for the progression of computers and their incorporation to the world. A network is categorized on the basis of its characteristics and geographical location.

It is integral to develop a concrete understanding of computer networks and their functions for every individual stepping into the world of information technology. As mentioned above, computer networks are the center point where all actions begin and end in information technology; its assimilation is seamless. This is why IT professionals need to have the fundamental concepts at the forefront of their minds when studying far greater things in the world of information technology. Lastly, a basic understanding of networking fundamentals would be vital for anyone looking forward to prepare for Cisco Certification. With that being said, here is everything you ought to know regarding the fundamental networking types:

PAN or Personal Area Network

PAN happens to be the most basic type of computer network. It comprises of a wireless modem, one, two or more computers, phones, tablets, printers, or other devices and revolves around one user in a single area. PAN is a kind of network that you would typically witness being set up in residential areas or small offices. They are managed by an organization or an individual from a single device.

LAN or Local Area Network

It is a term that you must have heard of innumerable times before and is the most common term associated with computer networking. LANs are not only the most common types but the simplest and original. LAN sets up groups of devices together across a distance that is short with respect to the area. LAN would be set up between a single building or more typically in close proximity to one another. As usual, a network is built for the exchange of resources. LAN is most commonly used in commercial purposes, where enterprises manage and maintain the network. For a seamless, fast, and secure transfer of data, LANs can be connected using routers to wide area networks, which brings us to the next type WAN.

WLAN or Wireless Local Area Network

As explained above, WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network) functions similar to LAN and is built using wireless network technology, the most common type being the Wi-Fi. This type of network does not need a connection formed using physical cables since they rather function on infrared signals. With the incorporation of WLAN, physical cables are rapidly becoming obsolete among users.

MAN or Metropolitan Area Network

MANs are larger than LANs but as compared to WANs, they can be much smaller. However, a Metropolitan Area Network utilizes aspects of both LAN and WAN. MAN covers a whole geographical region, such as a town or city. The management, ownership, and maintenance of MANs are taken up by large organizations.

CAN or Campus Area Network

This type is usually larger than LANs but smaller than MANs. The SME sector around the world typically relies on Campus Area Network, however, as the name suggests, they are also widely built on university or college campus sites in order to facilitate students and the institute’s administration. CANs are set up in close connection to each other and they can cover up several sites across a location.

WAN or Wide Area Network

Another category which is equally popular as Local Area Network, however, as opposed to LANs, WAN is rather increasingly complex. WANs allow computers to be connected on a long distance. They are highly used to connect devices and exchange resources sitting miles away. A remarkable example of Wide Area Network or WAN remains the Internet. The Internet uses WAN in order to connect devices present all across the globe. WAN has the widest reach among all computer networks, so it is managed and maintained by the federal government or the public.

SAN or Storage Area Network

SAN does not dependent on WAN or LAN. SANs have a high speed and connect spaces of storage devices to services. SANs transfer storage content away from the network and take them into their own network which is actually very high performing. These networks grant access in the same manner as a typical driver attached to a server. Their usual types are unified, virtual, and converged SANs.

SAN or System Area Network

It is a term which is often confused by Storage Area Network. This category has been recently brought into the limelight and it is a network which facilitates high-speed connection in storage networks, processor to processor applications as well as server to server.

POLAN or Passive Optical Local Area Network

It is treated as a substitute to the traditional LAN since POLAN are better structured in cable forms. It is set up from one point to multi-points LAN architecture. Usually requires optical splitters in order to split an optical signal from a single strand of single-mode optical fiber into signals that can be picked up by devices.

EPN or Enterprise Private Network

Cyber security concerns are looming everywhere and the vulnerability of networks has led to companies increasingly adopting the model of EPN. They are built and managed by organizations that wish to connect locations to share resources in a highly encrypted manner.

VPN or Virtual Private Network

This introduces a private network over the network and allows users to send and receive data with an assumption that a device is connected to the same private network, which in reality is not. Users can access a private network since it has a point to point a strong connection. Apart from the network types, there are a number of various networking terms that are crucial to one’s understanding. Network Layers, Protocols, Interfaces are a vital example. Each of these terms is comprehensively explained in the following text:

Network Layers

Networking is perceived in an understanding of topology and it is set to be constructed in a horizontal manner between hosts, while its implementation is rather layered vertically all through a network. It basically means that there are multiple protocols sitting on top of one another for the purpose of communication functioning more conveniently. Every top layer shows raw data more easily which makes it simpler for users. Further, a user can make use of lower layers in various other ways without the need of having to invest in developing new applications and protocols to oversee the traffic. Every layering model has its own language and it does not matter which model is used to discuss layers since the path of data remains the same.

Data is poured out of one device and it sticks on top of the layer and the channels downward. Data is transmitted to another machine at the lowest level of the layers. In the transferring process, the data travels on the top layers of the other computer. Every layer can add its own covering around the data that it gets from the other layer so that they can decide what should be done with the data when it is transferred to the other computer.

The OSI Model

A method of talking about different layers of network communication remains the famous OSI model which stands for Open Systems Interconnect. It has seven layers, separate to each other:

  • Application – Users and user-apps most frequently interact with this particular layer. Communication is discussed on the basis of partners with whom communication can be built, data synchronization, and availability of resources.
  • Session – This particular layer oversees the entire connection. It is responsible for creating, destroying, and maintaining connections between nodes in a consistent manner.
  • Presentation – It basically creates contest and map resources. It also translates networking data sitting on the lower level into data that applications would be seeing. Hence the term, presentation.
  • Network – It carries data between various nodes on the network. It makes use of addresses in order to detect which computer to transfer resources. Additionally, the network layer can disengage complex and large messages in smaller pieces which can be neatly assembled on the other end.
  • Transport – It is responsible for maintaining a reliable connection among layers that are present above it. By reliable connection, it means verifying if a particular piece of data was received in an intact condition at the other side of the connection. It also sends back information that has been corrupted.
  • Physical – It handles the physical devices which are being used to form a connection. It bears software that oversees hardware and physical connections.
  • Data Link – This layer is used to establish and maintain reliable links between various devices on a network using physical connections.

The TCP/IP model

It is also known as Internet protocol suite and is a much simpler layering model that is now being widely used. It comprises of four layers that are also separate and carry the same function as some of those in the OSI model. TCP model is more fluid than OSI and its implementation is easier. It has now become the foreground of how networking layers are managed.

  • Transport – This layer manages communication between processes. It uses ports in order to address various services and can structure both reliable and unreliable connections depending on the category of the protocol being used.
  • Application – It creates and transmits user data across applications. These applications can be sitting on remote systems.
  • Link – It consists of the local network topology which enables the internet layer to give an addressable interface. It forms a connection between nodes to transfer data.
  • Internet – It is responsible for carrying data from one node to another in a network. This layer knows about the seizing points of connections but cannot be affected by any disruption of the network when getting from place-to-place.


It refers to networking communication points for your device and every interface is linked with a device having a virtual or physical presence. A server usually has a network interface that can be configured and is for each wireless internet card a user may have. Additionally, it will be able to define the local host interface more comprehensively. It is an interface that is used to connect applications on a single device to other applications. In many examples, it is referenced using “lo”. Administrations set up a configuration of a single interface to facilitate traffic to the internet and another interface for private network or LAN.


Networking works by carrying various protocols on top of one another. This is way a data to transmit a single piece of data using many protocols stuck to each other.

Let us explore the most known protocols which you may have stumbled upon in part of your study.

Media Access Control

It is a communications protocol that performs the function of distinguishing between particular devices. Every specific device gets a unique media access control address when it is manufactured so that it can be distinguished from all the rest of the devices connected over the internet. Finding hardware using the media access control address enables a user to reference a specific device using its own credentials. It is especially useful when software may attempt to change the name of the specific device when it is working. This protocol remains the only one from the original link layer which you are most likely to interact with during your usage.

IP Protocol

It is a protocol that has an extremely important function because it allows the internet to work. IP addresses are the unique credentials on every network and they enable devices to address one another across a network. It is part of the TCP/IP layer model. Networks can easily be assimilated together but traffic must be channeled when transgressing network boundaries. IP protocol can assume any network and the paths leading to the same direction that it can conveniently shift from between. Many implementations of the IP protocol are used today. IPv4 is the one which is highly used. On the contrary, IPv6 is another which is being considered as a substitute to IPv4. The latter implementation is becoming scarce and not many improvements are being observed in its capabilities. Thus, IPv6 is thriving as the likely option to replace IPv4 completely.

Internet Control Measure Protocol or ICMP

ICMP is utilized in order to transfer messages between devices for the purpose of notifying conditions of errors or availability status. These are used in various network diagnostic tools including traceroute and ping. ICMPs are sent when a packet of another kind is experiencing any sort of a problem. So, it can be said that ICMPs are used to generate feedback for network communications.

Transmission Control Protocol or TCP

TCP is used to form reliable connections and this protocol is implemented in the Transport layer of the IP/TCP model. It is a protocol that carries data into forms of packet. Then, it transfers data to the very end of the connection utilizing the ways presented on the bottom layers. In addition to their primary function, TCP can scan for errors, reassemble data into a logical form to send to the application layer and request information to be resent. Using three-way handshake, TCP creates a connection before sending any data. This way, two points of the communication can accept the request and move forward with the method of making sure data remains reliable. Afterward, the connection is disrupted using a four way handshake, once the data has been transferred.

Many internet users in the world find transmission control protocol as the ideal choice, and the most common examples are Email, SSH, WWW, and FTP. If TCP did not exist, the internet we widely use on a minute-by-minute basis in the world would not remain, which is why its significance is well regarded.

User Datagram Protocol or UDP

UDP is a companion-like protocol to transmission control protocol or TCP and is implemented in the Transport layer as well. However, there is a vital difference between TCP and UDP. The latter does not maintain reliable data transfer. In addition, it does not notify with verification that data has been received on the opposite end of the connection. It may appear that UDP does not have a proper function or it is of no fundamental use. However, UDP yet remains crucial for its specific functions which are explained below:

UDP has a higher speed of data transmission than TCP. How? This is because it does not verify receiving data, and therefore, takes no time at all. It does not look to build a connection with the host, rather directly sends data to the host and has no concern whether it is accepted or not. Since the transmission is seamless without any sort of distraction, it is ideal for the framework of simple communications, in other words, “yes” or “no”. It is used to transfer data for real-time demands. UDP is perfect for video games and other specific applications which cannot make room for any kind of delay in their function model.

Hypertext Transfer Protocol or HTTP

HTTP is used to form the basis of all communication carried out over the internet. It carries many functions that inform the remote system what a user is adding as a request. For example, DELETE, POST, etc., all act with the requested data in a distinctive manner.

File Transfer Protocol or FTP

FTP is also present in the Application layer and facilitates the transfer of complete files from host to host. However, FTP is not highly used because it is inherently not secure.

Domain Name System or DNS

DNS is also part of the Application layer and is used to provide a humane naming structure for internet resources. It is actually what binds a domain name to an IP credential and so allows a user to seek access to websites by their name in an internet browser.

Secure Shell or SSH

Implemented in the Application layer, SSH is highly encrypted and its function lies in communication with a server in a more secure manner. Since SSH can offer end to end encryption and maximum security, many other technologies are built around the protocol. It is one of the most integral protocols ever. Many other examples entail in the category of protocols. However, the above mentioned protocols are adequate for one’s fundamental understanding of computer networks and the function of protocols in it. These are technologies which make networking possible and are very significant for your understanding.

If you wish to further seek comprehensive knowledge regarding computer networks and their complex functions, then it is always advisable to sign up with QuickStart’s Cisco Certification Training programs. The program is a one-stop solution for all professionals who want to explore and develop a firm understanding of advanced computer networking. This program is headed by top-notch professionals who are dedicated to revitalize your concepts and prioritize your prior understanding of computer networking knowledge.

You do not have to get into the hassle of attending classes or sparing some hours from your busy schedule since the training program is carried out virtually and you can simply learn sitting at home. The platform seeks to add value in every aspect where the understanding of contemporary information technology knowledge is important for your career ahead.

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