In an attempt to understand the types of network architecture, let us first begin with the basic understanding what actually is network architecture. As the name suggests, network architecture is a build up or a layout of a network which consists of hardware components, softwares, certain communication protocols, connectivity and various modes of transmission. The modes of transmission can be either wired or wireless.
Such communication networks are crucial in our day to day lives as we inhabit a world which is so advanced with technology and communication systems. Hence, it is important that we have the know-how of what network architecture is, and what types of network architecture exist.
Four different kinds of network topologies exist and they further give rise to types of network architecture. The four network topologies are-
* A star network
* A bus network (also known as line network)
* A loop network (also known as ring network)
* A mesh network
These four types of network topologies can be arranged in various ways to give rise to what are known as Local Area Network (LAN), Metropolitan Area Network (MAN), and Wide Area Network (WAN). The network coverage of Local Area Network is less than 1 km. That of Metropolitan Area Network is less than 100 kms. The network coverage of Wide Area Network is much larger.
The types of network architecture can be divided into two-
* Client/ Server architecture
* Peer- to- peer architecture
CLIENT/ SERVER ARCHITECTURE
Server refers to that computer which stores and shares information with other computers that are a part of the network. On the other hand, clients are those computers that request for the information from the server. In this network architecture, the server is a service provider and the client becomes the consumer of that service. It is not necessary that a client may have just one service provider (server). A client may have multiple servers. These types of network architecture are commonly divided into tiers.
* A two tier architecture will consist of an application client layer and data server layer.
* A three tier architecture will have an application server layer, a data server layer as well as a client application layer.
* Multi tier architecture, apart from consisting of a superset of the three tier set, this type of tiered architecture is also made of extra layers of data and application servers.
PEER- TO- PEER ARCHITECTURE
What differentiates peer- to- peer types of network architecture from client/ server architecture is the absence of any server. This kind of architecture does not require a server. Each computer is denoted by the term peer. Each computer has the same onus as the other, and has same opportunities to make use of resources too. Any computer in this network can use a file stored in another computer in the network, as well provide files to other computers.
It is also possible that tiered architecture and peer- to- peer architecture occur in a joint form. Such an arrangement is possible when the nodes in each layer of a multi- tier architecture exist in a peer- to- peer relation.