Network Architecture: The forms and structures

Network Architecture

A Network Architecture is the form in which all network services together with devices are structurally built together to solve the connection needs of applications and devices for clients.

Synonymous Words 

  • Design
  • Drawing
  • Sketch
  • Idea
  • Abstraction
  • Structure
  • Model
  • Peer-to-peer
  • Client-server
  • Model
  • OSI
  • TCP/IP

Topics in Network Architecture

  1. Client to Server Structure Network
  2. Peer–Peer structure Network
  3. Networking Dilemma structure
  4. OSI Reference Model structure
  5. TCP/IP Reference Model structure

Peer to Peer Network Architecture

  • This type of structure is also called ad hoc It is not infrastructure controlled.
  • A one system tier links same capability computer machines and functions.
  • They are not structured hence simple in that they don’t need an infrastructure. An example is a Bluetooth.
  • They are easy to configure and install.
  • Machines in this network architecture do not require the presence of server dedication.
  • Allocated users have control of shared resources.
  • They are inexpensive to purchase and also to operate.
  • There is no need for additional equipment or software programs other than an operating system.
  • There is no need for dedicated administrators.
  • It is most suitable for networks of 10 users or less.
  • The Network security is applicable to single resource at time.
  • Users can apply as many passwords as possible because there are shared resources allocations.
  • Every personal computer has to be backed up for shared data security protection.
  • Performance is greatly affected when shared resources is accessed where it resides.
  • It lacks a centralized scheme of organization in control to access data.
  • Access to a shared resource is unavailable if PC where resource resides is turned off/crashes.
  • It does not work well with 10 or more users.
Image of architecture
            Courtesy: Image of architecture

Two Tier/Client server Network Architecture

It is a network architecture whereby every computer on the network is a client or a server.


This is where applications are run on one user workstation that gives appropriate computing services including database services and connectivity and gives an interface to appropriate business needs that rely on servers for files, devices and processing power. A good example is E-mail client application that allows you to send and receive emails.


Servers run multi-user processors where the memory provides computing, connectivity alongside database services. It interfaces all appropriate business needs.The computers or process mechanism that help manage network resources are:
    1. Disk drives or file servers.
    2. Printers or print servers.
    3. Network traffic or network servers.
A good example is a Database Server that processes database queries.

Client Server Models

Applications are pushed to:
  • Fat clients
  • The Client has both hardware and software resources.
  • The client is in the know of how both data is organized and stored.
  • Access to same applications by different clients is possible through different ways.
  • Fat servers (thin-client) g n-computing
  • Clients are dependent on servers for resources.
  • The server is more or less complicated.
  • The clients are much less complex.
  • More codes run on the server.
  • There is minimal network interaction.
  • The client is the interface.
Image of Network structures contrasted
  Courtesy: Image of Network Structures Contrasted

Networking Dilemma

Due to its simplicity nature, it is easier to design a peer-to-peer network. However, complexities of a client server networks, it is necessary for standardization to make communication effective. The many issue that bring about complexities that hence need to be addressed through standardization include are:
  • The many types of different media transmissions .example twisted pairs, fibre optics, coaxial cables, infrareds, radio waves and so on
  • A wide Variety of hardware including NICs, PCIs, hubs, repeaters, bridges, switches, Routers.
  • The protocols IP, ICMP, SMTP, UDP, TCP
  • The web browser applications
  • The Packet size and Packet structure
  • The Speed transmission and synchronization of receivers and senders.
  • Detection of errors and correction.
  • The physical sender and receiver circuitry.

OSI Reference Model

Open systems interconnection model (OSI) was developed by international standards organization (ISO). It puts the hardware and software networks into 7 layers where a layer represents a collection of closely related functions that give service to both layers above it and below it.


2Data link


The last three layers at the bottom of ISO provide service to the network while the top upper four 4 layers end user services.
Image of OSI Reference Model

Courtesy: Image of OSI Reference Model


  • The layer prepares and produces transmission of data over network and deals with all applications that written to specifically run over a network, allow network accessibility and represents services that support user applications.
  • It also handles the access top network, the flow control and error recovery modes i.e., Word, Email, FTP, DHCP, Telnet, SNMP etc.
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