Network operating systems are used to manage multiple computers on a single system. Every computer has an operating system for the individual device, but a network system is used as a central system for an entire grouping of computers. The types of network systems vary according to the specific demands of the system.
Client Server Systems
These are the most common types of network operating systems and they are frequently used in business, government, schools and other organizations that require a central server. The server houses all of the files for the network, and each computer is tied into the server.
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The centralization of the server creates a single, secure point of entry for the network. Security is critical and the business can build a very large network using this model while retaining exceptional security protocols.
Microsoft is one of the most common server systems. The UNIX/Linux system is another common server used in the client server model. Some centralized networks frequently working off these models include Cumulus, Stratum, Open Network Linux, White Box Switch and even Dell Systems. Numerous companies are operating in this field.
Peer-to-Peer Network Operating System
These networks are far less common as they involve storing the files on individual computers rather than a centralized network. This means each computer must share hard-drive contents with all other computers on the network. Collectively, the computers make the network possible. This model is more common when used by a single individual while connecting multiple devices.
The peer-to-peer network also comes with some advantages for small businesses and budget minded startups. Setting up a peer-to-peer network is cost effective, as a central server is not required. In a business with only a few dedicated computers, using a peer-to-peer system is possible.
Many of the Microsoft operating systems have the functionality built into their platform. This means nothing additional is required outside of the setup process to merge the computers into a single, decentralized network. The downside to this process is the lower level of security, limited capabilities and storage space associated with a decentralized system. The peer-to-peer model is less relevant today than ever and the process is not commonly used for networks associated with more than one individual. Simple device sharing procedures or cloud based systems link devices without the need for a full network setup.
Cloud Based Alternatives
While network operating systems are highly valuable in many businesses, they are not always necessary. Cloud based storage and browser based software has changed the way many businesses operate. Cloud based systems are more effective and efficient in most cases. The only downside to the cloud systems is the need for connectivity. A stable connection to the cloud is mandatory for file access.
Rather than storing everything on a centralized, physical server, the business hosts all files on a cloud based account. They can manage permissions for file access, and each employee has a login to access files on the cloud account. This removes the server entirely and relies on the highly specialized security offered by the cloud company and their server network.
Browser based communication platforms also remove the need for peer-to-peer networks. In modern business, employees use chat programs to communicate and share files and important information. Actually linking the computers through a peer network is simply not necessary. The number of cloud account options also provide a wide variety of pricing and functionality in different systems.