There are five different types of network hardware: signal managers, cables, adapters, interface units and data centers. Network hardware is a general term for the physical devices and units that are required to create a computer network. A computer network is a system of multiple computers that are interconnected in order to create efficiencies and maximize resources.
Signal managers are a broad category of network hardware. This type of equipment includes routers, switches, hubs and gateways. The purpose of this equipment is to move the signals along the network to the correct location.
Information is transmitted along a network using information packets. The header of the packet provides the recipient address, among other information. The signal managers read the header and moves the packet to the nearest stop in the network. As it moves along, the header information is read again, and the packet is routed to the next location, until it reaches the final destination.
Cables provide connections between the signal managers. They come in a wide range of sizes, thickness and colors. Up to 25% of all network problems are cable-related.
The cables used to create a network are low priority item. The ethernet cables that connect individual workstations to a network backbone can run for miles and the temptation is to purchase the cheapest cable available. Keep in mind how far you would have to go and the total cost to troubleshoot and replace this type of cable. Invest wisely in the original set up to avoid excess cost later on.
Adapters are used to allow technology to work together, regardless of manufacturer. These units are central to the network hardware and are often the tool that cables plug into. Interface units perform a similar function, but on a broader scale. Instead of connecting cables, the create bridges among different hardware.
Data centers are the heart of all network hardware. This technology includes servers, firewalls, storage centers and specialized management tools. All network hardware is designed to maximize the effective use of these tools to provide resources to a wide number of users.
The infrastructure and software used to manage the data centers plays an important role in the overall effectiveness and efficiency of the network. The size, breadth, and depth of the application, users, and infrastructure are all essential to the system performance and support required. Special attention to design and hardware management should be part of any implementation project.