Introduction to Virtual Network Components
We’re all familiar with the internet - most of us use it every day. There are about 4 billion internet users around the world.
The internet is basically ungoverned, except for two key technical points:
IP Classification – which is defined by the IANA, or Internet Assigned Numbers Authority.
And DNS – defined by the Internet Engineering Task Force (or IETF).
Apart from these, the Internet is controlled by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and network providers – who determine how the internet is accessed.
The internet is the collection of hardware and software that connects everything together. The thing we refer to as the internet in everyday life is the World Wide Web – the content you access on a PC, phone, or tablet with a web browser.
The World Wide Web Consortium sets the standards for how this content is created and interlinked.
We can show the evolution of the World Wide Web through four stages:
Web 1.0 was created in the 1990s was largely an era of static read-only websites –and was used to distribute information.
Into the new century, Web 2.0 saw the web get interactive with read-write functions allowing people to connect in new ways such as messaging, forums, and comments pages.
In the second decade of the 21st century, Web 3.0 brought a focus on web services, semantic searches and databases with read-write-execute ability. This allowed for the connection and sharing of knowledge - like increasingly powerful search engines and community-editable knowledge bases like Wikipedia.
Which brings us to today, where Web 4.0 continues the evolution with Distributed Searching and Intelligent personal agents.
Intranets and Extranets
An intranet is a private computer network implemented by an organisation to enable data to be shared with employees anywhere around the world.
To the end-user it looks and feels like the world wide web and shares the same technology.
However, users must be authenticated before a connection is established – meaning only authorised users can connect and the public on the world wide web are kept out.
Intranets are used to share information, collaborate, and access operational applications like customer databases and other computing services.
An organisation might refer to its intranet as its private website, and it is likely to form part of their public-facing website.
An extranet is like an intranet but, instead of being restricted to employees, an extranet can be accessed by suppliers, customers, and any other approved parties. They are often used to allow information sharing.
Just like the intranet, authentication is needed to make sure only authorised access is given – and that the public do not gain access by accident.
Virtual Private Networks or VPNs allow connections between two remote networks. Many home workers use a VPN to access their employer’s network, so they can securely connect to the tools and applications they need to do their jobs.
The homeworker uses their regular internet connection to gain access. Because the internet is not secure, a VPN uses data encapsulation and encryption to create a tunnel through the internet between them and their employer. Even if data was intercepted, it cannot be read as the content is transmitted in code.
Once they’ve logged on, the end-user has a similar experience to being in the office.
The evolution of the World Wide Web and technologies like VPN, intranets and extranets have seen the internet grow from a relatively static information source to a powerful tool for leisure, collaboration, and secure working – touching all our lives.
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