If you’ve spent any time working in an office environment in the last 30-odd years, you’ve run across the expression “network configuration”. But what is network configuration? For something that’s so important to the smooth running of a workplace, it’s surprising how little many people know about it. So let’s look at what a network configuration is — and the benefits of network configuration.
LAN and WAN
There are two primary types of network configuration — LAN and WAN. Many organisations use both to some degree, to compartmentalise information internally while still allowing public access to certain details. An example might be a company intranet, which is intended for staff only, in contrast to a company’s website, which is intended for the general public.
- LAN (Local Area Network) — A LAN is a localised network of computers, usually existing all on one premises. It’s most famously associated with the 90s PC gaming scene — but it’s actually just a way to network a series of devices together to ensure that information can be easily shared across a department or company. LANs can be either permanent or temporary, and they are not generally connected to the wider internet, in order to ensure privacy.
- WAN (Wide Area Network) — A WAN extends further; across multiple buildings or perhaps even around the world. This is a very common solution for organisations with a presence in multiple countries. It may or may not be publicly accessible, but it will need to be online in order to be accessible by the appropriate parties. In fact, the internet itself is a type of WAN!
Networking: A necessary solution
Computers have been a common sight in the workplace since the 80s, but it’s fair to say that they really came into their own in the 1990s, particularly with the mainstreaming of the internet. In 2022, it’s a rare role that doesn’t involve some kind of touchpoint with technology, even if it’s only for something relatively straightforward like logging work orders or responding to emails.
But this boom in the use of computers meant that there needed to be some sort of way for them to interconnect. Network configuration became increasingly important, to ensure that the computers within a business could talk to each other in an efficient manner, and that data could be logged centrally.
This is a process that has increased in importance and complexity with the advent of increased online access, the advent of cloud computing and rising cybersecurity threats, to name a few factors. So what is a network configuration today, then? Well, “network configuration” has evolved into a catch-all term to describe how computers and other devices connect to each other and communicate on a network.
Networking configuration on a day-to-day basis
For the average IT professional, networking configuration involves specifying the physical components of the network (e.g. routers, switches, and cables) as well as the logical components (e.g. IP addresses, subnet masks, and gateway addresses). It’s not just set-and-forget, either — tweaks will need to be made as new software is introduced, new staff join the team or when the business relocates to new premises.
Accordingly, many companies now opt for a managed service to handle it on their behalf, freeing internal IT resources up for other tasks. It’s just important to weigh up the considerations around choosing a managed service provider before deciding whether it’s right for your organisation.
Although the benefits of network configuration are most commonly seen within business settings, they are heavily applied in other environments, too. Schools, universities, community organisations and even private individuals can all benefit from network setup configuration when necessary. People have a wide array of reasons for using networks, ranging from simple file exchanges to gaming — but no matter the reason, it’s always crucial to think of efficiency and security.
Discover more about the benefits of network configuration with MicroRentals
Here at MicroRentals, we provide a broad range of IT services, including network configuration. We’re here to help streamline your services and reduce pressure on your internal team. So why not get in touch with the team today to discover how we can provide effective services for you today?