This proposal highlights the suggested changes to improve the efficiency and throughput of the computer network of Ocper Inc. The changes proposed will implement a client/server model in a Local Area Network (LAN) in replacement of the existing Peer-2-Peer network. A change of the connecting cables from coaxial cable to unshielded twisted pair cable is also suggested.
In the currently used peer-to-peer connection, there is no dedicated computer to provide services to the other computers. Also, the expected growth of the existing 20 computers will reduce the throughput of the network with this topology, since the network will become slow and sluggish and even more difficult to manage.
I propose a change of the existing topology to a Client/Server topology. This will be implemented in a LAN with all the workstations connected to a switch via Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) cables. In this client/server LAN model, the switch is the server because all communication between devices (clients) connected on the LAN network passes through it. It coordinates the communication between all the devices and thus provides ease of management of the LAN.
The replacement of the coaxial cable with UTP cable is justified by the ease of use of UTP cable and being the cheapest of the wired communication media. The twists in the 4 pairs of twisted copper wires in twisted pair cables are extra measures to protect the signal from electrical interference and noise from external sources. UTP category 5 cables carry data up to 100Mbps and the category 6 unshielded cables can support up to 1Gbps. This high bandwidth in the LAN network implies increased data rate and thus higher throughput. The 100m distance limitation of UTP cable can be overcome by centrally locating the switch from all workstations in the office building. An alternative to this is to use a bridge to segment the LAN into two. The network can be easily expanded by just by adding a new connection to a free port on the switch via a RJ-45 plug. This will take care of the expected doubling of the number of users of the network. The client/server architecture of the LAN will not allow the increase in the number of users to reduce the network efficiency because each port on the switch is a collision domain on its own.
Optic fiber cable can also be used to connect the desktop PCs. Fiber cables support transfer of higher data rate and are not susceptible to Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) from power sources and surrounding cables. This is due to the fact that light signals are carried by optic fiber cables and not electrical signals. Optic fiber cables can run up to 300m at speeds up to 100Mbps for the 62.5-micron fiber and 500m for the 50-micron cable. These characteristics of optic fiber would naturally make it the most suitable to be deployed in a network. However, cost is a constraint relative to other media types. Although the difference in cost between copper cables and fiber cables are closing up, there will still be need to deploy switches that will process optical signals or use optic fiber - Ethernet media converter. The benefit derivable from using optic fiber cables will in the long run surpass the slightly higher initial cost of setup.
In the light of the foregoing, I strongly suggest the use of UTP cables (Cat 5e or Cat 6) in the implementation of the LAN network. It is the cheapest of the wired communication media, easy to work with, with minimal EMI due to the twists in the wire and provides excellent speed for a LAN. The cost estimate shown in the table below shows a modest cost of implementation of the LAN that will improve the throughput of the existing Peer-2-Peer network on coaxial cable.
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