A computer network is a group of computer systems and other computing hardware devices that are linked together through communication channels to facilitate communication and resource-sharing among a wide range of users. Networks are commonly categorized based on their characteristics.
When designing a new computer network, whether for five people or 500, it's important to weigh the needs and desires of those who will be using the network with the budget of those who will be paying for it. Some important things to consider that may not be on anyone's wish list include balancing security issues with the desire for easy access to information; building redundancy into the network in anticipation of breakdowns; and standardizing hardware and software to keep maintenance costs in check. In case something terrible happens, a disaster recovery plan should be in place. In case things go well for the organization, room for future growth should be built into the network design.
Network connectivity today means more than Ethernet cables and wireless access points. People today are more connected while mobile than ever before and many of them want access to company email and data while they are out of the office. Balancing those needs while maintaining security is a challenge that needs to be addressed in the design phase of any network. This includes where data is stored, either in-house or offsite with cloud-based solutions, what types of information should be accessible, who should be able to access it, and which types of devices should be included. Firewalls and access servers need to be secure without slowing down operations.