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Table Of Contents  The TCP/IP Guide
 9  Networking Fundamentals
      9  Fundamental Network Characteristics

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Message Addressing and Transmission Methods: Unicast, Broadcast and Multicast Messages
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Types and Sizes of Networks
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Network Structural Models and Client/Server and Peer-to-Peer Networking
(Page 1 of 4)

I mentioned in my discussion of the advantages of networking that networks are normally set up for two primary purposes: connectivity and sharing. If you have a network with a number of different machines on it, each computer can interact with the hardware and software of the others, to enable a variety of tasks to be performed. How precisely this is done depends to a large degree on the overall design of the network.

Resource Sharing Roles and Structural Models

One very important issue in network design is how to configure the network for the sharing of resources. Specifically, the network designer must decide whether or not to dedicate resource management functions to the devices that constitute it. In some networks, all devices are treated equal in this regard, while in others, each computer is responsible for a particular job in the overall function of providing services. In this latter arrangement, the devices are sometimes said to have roles, somewhat like actors in a play.

Two common terms are used to describe these different approaches to setting up a network, sometimes called choosing a structural model.


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Message Addressing and Transmission Methods: Unicast, Broadcast and Multicast Messages
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Types and Sizes of Networks
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