network architecture - Computer Definition
The design and framework of a network, including the characteristics of individual hardware, software, and transmission system components and how they interact in order to ensure the reliable transfer of information. Prior to the development of such architectures, interoperability between the various systems of a single manufacturer was unusual, and it certainly did not exist between the products of multiple manufacturers. IBM's Systems Network Architecture (SNA) and the Digital Equipment Corporation's (DEC's) Digital Network Architecture (DNA), aka DECnet, corrected these shortcomings within the IBM and DEC domains, but they still did not interoperate. Truly open systems architectures still remain in the distant future, although great strides have been made in this regard through the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model fostered by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Network architectures tend to be layered, which serves to enhance their development and management.While they primarily address issues of data communications, they also include some data processing activities at the upper layers.These upper layers address application software processes, presentation format, and the establishment of user sessions. Each independent layer, or level, of a network architecture addresses different functions and responsibilities.The layers work together, as a whole, to maximize the performance of the process. See also ISO, OSI Reference Model, and SNA.
Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
(1) The design of a communications system, which includes the backbones, routers, switches, wireless access points, access methods and protocols used. See communications protocol, LAN and enterprise networking.
(2) May refer only to the access method in a LAN, such as Ethernet or Token Ring. See access method.
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