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Peer-To-Peer Networking Vs. Network Domains

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Peer-To-Peer Networking Vs. Network Domains

Peer-to-Peer Networking vs. Network Domains

Difference Between

A network can be based on either a peer-to-peer level or server-based, also referred to as domain-based. To distinguish the difference, a peer-to-peer network, also known as a workgroup, is a network in which a group of computers are connected together to share resources, such as files, applications, or peripherals. The computers in a peer-to-peer network are peers to one another, meaning no single computer has control over one another. There is also no central location for users to access resources, which means that each individual computer must share their files in order for other computers to have access (Muller, 2003, p.411). “In a peer-to-peer environment, access rights are governed by setting sharing permissions on individual machines.” (Cope, 2002) On the other hand, in a domain-based network, the computers connected together are either servers or clients. All of the other computers connected to the network are called client computers. The server is a dedicated machine that acts as a central location for users to share and access resources. The server controls the level of authority each user has to the shared resources. When logging on to the network, users on client machines are authenticated by the server, based on a user name and password (Lowe, 2004, p.13).

Cost Differences

A peer-to-peer network is relatively less expensive and much simpler to manage and setup, than client/server because money does not have to be invested in establishing server hardware or software and the number of users are minimal. Since, a peer-to-peer network is only preferable on networks operating on at least five to ten computers that do not need heavy file or application sharing, the cost is reasonable. On another note, based on a network with fifteen workstations, using a peer-to-peer configuration may save money upfront, but it could cost a business a lot of time and money in the long run. The reasons for this include, the lack of a central organization, which make data harder to find, no central storage location for archiving files, which may degrade client workstation performance, and lack of overall network management.

Server-based networks are higher in cost because money is invested for dedicated servers, network operating software, and network administrators with technical expertise required for network management and configuration. On a small network consisting of fewer than five workstations, client/server architecture is not recommended and is very costly. But, for a network with the potential for growth, a server/client-based network would by cost effective, as compared to peer-to-peer. Using a sample network of fifteen workstations, a client/server network can provide more control, can be configured for high security, and allow workstations to function without more efficiently, moreover than peer-to-peer. The sophisticated server-based features will be beneficial to productivity.

For a home or small office, a peer-to-peer network is favorable, due to its simplicity and low cost. But, for a larger business where growth is anticipated, a client/server network is more cost effective and productivity efficient, regardless of the cost difference (Wolf, 2002).

Problems of each Implementation

In a peer-to-peer network, problems that may be encountered are through size, growth, security, training, and hosting resources. Regarding size and growth, these networks are designed for networking a small number of computers and may outgrow a network with around ten to fifteen computers. Security on a peer-to-peer network is not very powerful, because the users will be required to give access to each folder they want to share. This lack of hierarchy has an incredible impact on the security of a network and adequate user training must be provided for problem prevention. In a peer-to-peer network, the users handle their own administration. Users need to be instructed on how to provide sharing capabilities to files, folders, and even printers. In a peer-to-peer network, suddenly shutting down a computer can cause another user’s inability to print. In our nature, humans make plenty of mistakes. As an analogy, for example, think about a store without a manager on duty. The store employees are based only on their trust to protect the items from being shoplifted either by a customer or themselves. An employee happens to see a customer taking an item without paying and walk out the store. The employee does not want to have his job at stake, so he acted as if he didn’t see it, since there was no manager on duty. As compared to the security in a peer-to-peer network, it works the same way. If there is no chain of command or proper training, then the network

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