Typical services provided by networks include directory services, telecommunication services, file services and application services, all of which are described below…
Organising the many users, applications, services, and systems within a network can be a complex process. Directory services are software systems which help to make that process easier to execute. Directory services store and organise information whilst also providing various types of access to this information to end users. Some of the functions of directory services are as follows:
This is necessary to create, edit and remove user accounts. In a large organisation, it’s important each person has their own set of login details both for security reasons and for legal reasons. For example if multiple people were using the same account, it could mean the new employee has the same level of access to information and features as the CEO.
If the CEO saves file and documents in a folder and someone else removes them, that’s obviously a big problem and for this reason and many others, it’s always advised to create an account for each person. Account management good practice would also suggest to keep a log of all account activity such as times of login, IP address of login, changes to password, changes made to any account files etc…
Passwords should always be stored in encrypted format and there should only ever be one person who has admin access to create and remove accounts.
Authentication management is the process of identifying a user when they try to log on to a network system. When they enter a username and password, the system checks that that set of credentials exists in the database and if it does, the user is given access to the system with the appropriate level of privileges that have been assigned to that user.
Where sensitive data is being held and transferred, it’s important that this information can’t be accessed by the public, which is why accounts are needed. Additional security measures can include security questions or puzzles to login (which can’t easily be guessed or automated by a computer) or two factor authentication which involves identifying a user based on something a user knows AND something they psychically posses. A good example is a bank card – in order to withdraw cash from an ATM, a user needs their personal card and they must also know their pin code.
DNS (domain name server)
This is server that matches domains names to IP address. Domain names only exist because it makes it easier for us humans to remember website locations and read at a quick glance. It also helps businesses for branding purposes.
If you visit google.com in a browser, what you’re effectively telling the browser is “send me to the IP address for google.com”. Your computer then contacts your ISP’s DNS server and the DNS server says “google.com is located is located at 126.96.36.199”. You’re then sent to that address.
DNS is also a database system so if one DNS server doesn’t know how to translate a domain name, it can ask another one and so on until the correct IP address is retrieved.
Active directory is a directory service, developed by Microsoft for Windows domain networks. It provides services such as account management, authentication management and domain services. Active directory contains all the components necessary for the creation of user accounts and user authentication. It also provides permission features and group policies which dictate what users can and cannot access through their account. Users can be grouped by status, department, job role etc… You can also use active directory to ‘name’ a computer or server by linking the IP address to a name as active directory can store an address list of all connected computers and servers.
In business, active directory is by far the largest directory services solution and has been since the 90’s. As of 2015, Over 90% of Fortune 1000 companies use it.
Telecommunication is a system traditionally used to carry voice or data over long distances. Nowadays, many businesses have internal digital telecommunication systems that use VOIP. It can be managed by a network which enables one telephone to connect to another within a network without having to connect to an outside line and go through a traditional telecommunications company. This saves the business money and time. Businesses often manage other telecommunication systems in-house such as:
Email today is a large part of communication between users and business and business to business. Sending and receiving messages electronically speeds up communication. Email servers send, receive, store and filter data. Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) is a standard used for email transmission and together with DNS servers and MX (mail exchange) servers, they figure out how and where to send email based on the ‘to’ email address.
IRC (internet relay chat)
Similar to texting, this is used in a lot of social media platforms today for instant chat and can be used quickly and easily by users to communicate with other users within various departments in a business or outside of a business.
Also known as forums, these provide users with a platform to create threads (topics of discussion) and add comments in response to other people. Discussion boards can be used to provide help and support to users, to enable users to share ideas and tips or simply to discuss interests and hobbies.
Remote access is useful for technical support or working from home. If a user requires technical support, remote access enables tech support to log in remotely to that user’s device and fix the problem. This means for example that a company in London could hire a company in China to provide technical support if the company in China can remotely log in to devices in London.
If staff want to work from home but need access to their computer at work, remote access would also enable them to do work on their office computer from their home computer.
Most of us are familiar with social networking but there are dedicated social networks designed for business use too in internal networks. Social networks provide features similar to discussion boards, IRC and email.
File servers are servers that enable users to store and share files on a network. The transfer of files is usually performed using the File Transport Protocol (FTP) which is a standard network protocol used to transfer files over a network. Some of the services a file server provides are as follows:
- File transfer – This allows users to transfer different types of files over a network such as downloading information from the internet.
- File sharing – If a user wants to share a file, they can set permissions on the file so that only a specific user/s can access the file. They could also grant a specific user access to all files within a certain folder or sub folder. These files can be shared in a local network or on the internet.
Application services are used within a network for a variety of tasks, some of which can be seen below:
Database applications allow users to access information stored in databases. They provide structure and organisation for information which enables users to quickly and easily retrieve information they need. This information can then be stored and manipulated on the users own computer which doesn’t affect the original database information.
This is any resource that can be shared by many users on a network e.g. a networked printer or scanner.
Disc space or storage space is the quantity of capacity a user has available on a computer or network to store data such as documents, images & videos.
Internet browsers such as Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Internet Explorer all provide ways to access the internet and access any websites research, business, entertainment, pleasure etc..
VoIP (Voice Over IP)
Using IP phones, users can make phone calls over the internet, if users are on the same network these calls can be free.
Apps or applications have become a part of daily life for most of us. They enable us to quickly and easily communicate, share information and browse the web whilst also enabling us to edit documents and media locally, on our phones. eCommerce, finance and banking apps are also becoming increasingly important in business as more and more people have come to demand real time communication and information. Today, orders can be placed and received regardless of where employees are located thanks to mobile apps, smart phones and mobile networks.