Network operating systems diverge into two categories: peer-to-peer networks and client-to-server operating systems. Each of these methods of tying multiple devices into a given system has its unique advantages from the flexibility of adding new software and ease of expansion that is the hallmark of client-to-server operating systems, to the ease of setup and inexpensive operating cost that is main attractor to peer-to-peer connections. Disadvantages arise when networks require troubleshooting as client-to-server networks often have a dedicated IT staff to handle the potentially expensive problems whereas peer-to-peer networks have only each other to solve problems large and small.
Cost Versus Maintenance
Of the two main networking operating systems, a peer-to-peer network is the lowest cost in terms of initial start up. Users do not need to purchase a centralized server to store data as all information is stored on and accessed from computers connected to the network. A client-to-server network operating system is of course the more expensive route as a centralized server is required when the network is first established and will require a staff or some form of information technology personnel to adequately service it. Cost (an initial disadvantage) is mitigated by the return investment in technical staff when a problem arises with the network and a trained professional is on-hand to troubleshoot the issue.
Dependency on the System
Client-to-Server network operating systems depend on the operating system to function. Should the centralized server go down or malfunction, operations will cease across the entire network. Peer-to-peer systems have the advantage of an existing operating system for each computer linked into the network to depend on so each computer can function easily as a separate unit. As information can only be stored on systems linked into the network in peer-to-peer systems, if a computer does go down the information stored there will not be accessible for the rest of the network until it is repaired.
New technology is easily integrated into client-to-server network connections as the operating system is controlled centrally. Of course when this new technology is integrated into the system, a given staff must then be trained to use the new technology which can be time consuming and have a few pitfalls as workers integrate the new system into existing protocols. Peer-to-peer systems depend largely on existing software platforms installed on computers linked to the network and while systems for the entire network cannot be changed, each user is able to customize a work station to optimize personal efficiency.