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Computer Network Architecture

Patrick, a computer technician, is a dedicated writer who wishes to make the world better by informing individuals who seek more knowledge.

Definition of Network Architecture

The term network architecture defines how computers in a network system are set or organized and how tasks are allocated between computers in a given network.

In simple words, Network architecture refers to the general layout of the network, which involves the hardware, software, connectivity, communication protocols and mode of transmission, such as wired or wireless.

It is important to know about the types of computer networks that are classified according to the areas covered such as LAN, MAN, and WAN.

When it comes to computer network topology they are usually categorized according to the layout of equipment and computers and we end up having the star, loop, bus, or mesh topologies.

The most common computer network architectures in use are the peer to peer and the client-server.

Peer to Peer Network

When nodes or workstations perform the same communication functions, they are referred to as peers. In this network model, both server and client operations are performed by the same computer.

Each user administers his/her workstation and the resources in it. In a peer-to-peer network, there are no dedicated servers, and there is no hierarchy among the computers.

All the computers are equal and therefore are known as peers. Each computer functions as both a client and a server, and there is no administrator responsible for the entire network.

The client-server situation arises because the peers make a portion of their resources, such as processing power, disk storage or network bandwidth, directly available to other network participants.

This is achieved without the need for central coordination by servers or stable hosts. The user on each computer determines which data on that computer is shared on the network.

Security is also managed by the user of the devices. This model is not quite secure and is suited for small computer networks (with 10 computers or less) where users do not want to share files.

User’s files are decentralized – they are not stored in a single location.

Peer to Peer Network Model

P2P Network Model

P2P Network Model

Criteria for Selecting Peer to Peer

  1. Where ten or fewer users will be sharing available resources.
  2. No server is available.
  3. Nobody has the time or knowledge to act as a network administrator.
  4. There is little or no concerns about security (security in data processing is the ability to protect data from unauthorized access or, theft or damage)
  5. The organization and the network will experience only limited growth within the foreseeable future.

Advantages of Using Peer to Peer

  • They are easy to configure
  • Computers communicate easily.
  • They don’t require additional server hardware or software
  • Users can manage their own resources.
  • They don’t require a network administrator
  • They reduce the total cost of the network setup.

Disadvantages of Using Peer to Peer

  1. They provide a limited number of connections for shared resources.
  2. Computers with shared resources suffer from sluggish performance.
  3. They don’t allow for central management.
  4. Users are responsible for managing resources. These resources include data in shared directories, printers, fax cards, and so on.
  5. They offer very poor security as compared to the server-based model.
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Client-Server Network Model

Client-Server Network Model

Client-Server Network Model

Client Server Network Architecture

This is a network model that offers centralized access to services and devices. One computer plays the role of a server.

It is the most common type of network architecture today that provides centralized data storage, security, manning of applications and network administration.

Most servers operating system are Novel Netware, Windows NT, Apple Talk, Linux, Banyan VINES among others.

Disadvantages of Client Server Architecture


  • Cost: - More expensive in terms of hardware and network operating system.
  • Complexity: - Experienced system administrators are required to manage the systems.
  • Dependence: - When the server goes down, operations will cease across the network.

Advantages of Client Server Architecture

  1. They are best suited for 10 or more users.
  2. Security: - All major server-based systems provide sophisticated security.
  3. Administration: - Servers are centralized making them easier to manage.
  4. Stability: - Server-based systems are designed to support a wide range of organization sizes. Additional servers are added to increase capacity.
  5. Client-server networks offer centralized backup where data can be stored in one server.
  6. Flexibility - New technology can be easily integrated into the system.
  7. Accessibility - The server can be accessed remotely and across multiple platforms.

Client-Server Network Model

True or False

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Client-Server Architecture is more expensive in terms of hardware and network operating system
    • True
    • False

Answer Key

  1. True

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Patrick Kamau


Patrick Kamau (author) from Nairobi, Kenya on May 01, 2012:

Thanks a lot hari krishna for reading and commenting. I am glad you liked it.

hari krishna on April 30, 2012:


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