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Lesson 3 LANs and WANs
Objective Describe the function of LANs and WANs.

What are LANs?

LAN stands for local area network. LANs enable computing devices within the same local area, such as the same building, to share information, as illustrated here.
An interconnected set of information resources under the same direct management control which shares common functionality. A system normally includes hardware, software, information, data, applications, communications, and people. A system can be, for example, a local area network (LAN) including smart terminals that supports a branch office, an agency-wide backbone, a communications network, a departmental data processing center including its operating system and utilities, a tactical radio network, or a shared information processing service organization (IPSO).

The above image illustrates a LAN

Most LANs do not require the use of common telecommunications carriers. Given their limited physical reach, most LAN wiring is done either internally by organizations or by local wiring contractors.

Lans and Wans

What are WANs?

Now that you have a solid understanding of LANs, it will be easy for you to understand how WANs work. A WAN is a wide area network. WANs enable remote computers and computer devices beyond the same building or physical structure to share information, as illustrated below. Typically, a WAN consists of two or more local area networks (LANs).

This diagram illustrates a WAN.

Computers connected to a WAN are often connected through public networks, such as the telephone system. They can also be connected through leased lines or satellites. In a sense, the largest WAN in existence is the Internet.

Considerations in implementing LANs and WANs

Most organizations install LANs and a WAN, whether or not they participate in eBusiness. As a result, their installation may not be part of planning an eBusiness solution. But they will be if your company is new and needs such an installation. For these reasons, it is important to be aware not only of the utility of LANs and WANs, but also of the challenges they pose.
  1. For LANs, the biggest challenge is managing bandwidth. If there is a bottleneck in your eBusiness solution, it may be that the LAN isn't performing efficiently. LANs need to be maintained regularly to prevent such slow-downs.
  2. When considering implementing a WAN, it is necessary to consider its performance, reliability, and manageability.
The next lesson discusses more networking technologies, the Internet, VPNs, intranets and extranets.

lans wans - Quiz

Click the Quiz link below to test your knowledge of LANs and WANs.
Lans Wans - Quiz