Before continuing our study on networks let us first learn about some terminologies commonly used in networking.
i) Nodes (Workstations)
A computer becomes a node (also called a workstation) as soon as it is attached to a network. Each user on a network works on a workstation. If there are no nodes there would be no network.
A computer that facilitates sharing of data, software and hardware resources on the network is known as the server. A network can have more than one server also. Each server has a unique name by which it is identified by all the nodes on the network. Servers can be of two types:a) Dedicated and
b) Non dedicated servers
Dedicated Servers: These are generally used on big network installations where one computer is reserved for server’s job. It helps all nodes access data, software and hardware resources. Since it does not double up as a workstation but only manages the network, so it is known as a dedicated server and such type of networks are called master- slave networks.
Non dedicated servers: In small networks, a workstation can double up as a server. These servers are known as non dedicated servers. The small networks using such a server are known as Peer to Peer networks.
iii) Network Interface Unit (NIU)
A network interface unit is a device that is attached to each of the workstations and the server which helps to establish communication between the server and workstations. As soon as a standalone computer becomes a workstation, it needs an interface to help establish connection with the network because without this the workstations will not be able to share network resources or communicate with each other. The NIC basically acts like an interpreter and is also known as Terminal Access Point (TAP) or Network Interface card(NIC).The NIC manufacturer assigns a unique physical address to each NIC card and this physical address is known as the MAC address.