In any type of IT Infrastructure, the network component is of utmost importance. After all it is at this level where all communications and data packet traffic transpire in order for employees and even individuals to access shared resources from a central server.
There are many components that go into this, such as Firewalls, Routers, Switches, Hubs, Bridges, Virtual Private Networks, Network Amplifiers, etc.
In this post we focus primarily upon a Router.
What Is A Router?
A router can be specifically defined as follows:
“A router is a device that directs data traffic along specific routes. A router sends information, such as email and the content of web pages, between your computer and the network server. A router is also the device that keeps single computers, or entire networks, connected to the internet.”
Based on the definition, a router essentially connects and communicates with all devices (such as workstations, servers, and even the wireless devices) that are on an internal network, such as the corporate intranet in an organization.
From there it also connects this intranet to the “outside world” so that network communications can transpire all over the world.
In a way it is very similar to that of a network modem, that is very commonly used in home-based networks.
For example, in order to get access to the Internet, the computer has to be connected to this type of modem, whether it’s hard wired, or wireless.
However, a router is unique in the sense that it consists of other features that make it more sophisticated than that of the traditional network modem. For example:
> It forwards the data packets to the correct TCP/IP address of the device in question; a Routing Table is used for this very purpose.
> It provides network traffic segmentation, and also segregates among different multiple broadcast domains. This simply means that a router can be used as an effective tool to divide up a complex network structure.
> It defines network layer addressing subnets. A subnet is a uniquely identifiable segment in an entire network.
> It also acts as a “gateway”, meaning it can connect the various subnets to together, and even be used to connect to a specific network that is outside of the internal network.
> It facilitates communications with other network that are non-ethernet based, such as those that are based upon serial interfaces, DSL connections, and other forms of WAN connectivity.
> It can also act as a sophisticated Firewall, in that it examines for all incoming data packets. If any of them appear to be malformed or suspicious, it will discard them immediately before they can penetrate the corporate Intranet.
An example of what a wireless router looks like can be seen below:
As you can see, a router can be quite beneficial to your business or organization’s computer network. If anything, you’re probably already using one – wink wink.
To get a wee bit deeper on this subject, our next post on routers will review the heart of the router – the routing table.