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Data Network

Data Network Definition

A data network is a system designed to transfer data from one network access point to one other or more network access points via data switching, transmission lines, and system controls. Data networks consist of communication systems such as circuit switches, leased lines, and packet switching networks. Data networks and data networking solutions impact nearly all modern day communication, such as telecommunications and the Internet.

This image shows a data network with all the different access points via various servers, routers, and switches.
Image from Wondershare EdrawMax


What is a Data Network?

The primary purpose of data transmission and networking is to facilitate communication and sharing of information between individuals and organizations. The two predominant types of data networks are broadcast networks, in which one node transmits information to several nodes simultaneously, and point-to-point networks, in which each sender communicates with one receiver.

Signals are typically transmitted via three main methodologies:

  • circuit switching: Before two nodes communicate, they establish a dedicated communications channel through the network.
  • message switching: Each message is routed in its entirety from switch to switch; at each switch, the message is stored and the information is read before being transmitted to the next switch.
  • packet switching: Messages are broken down and information is grouped into packets; each packet is transmitted over a digital network via the most optimum route to ensure minimal lag in data network speed, then the message is reassembled at the destinations. 

In order to establish communication across machines, datacenter networks depend on Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and the Internet Protocol (IP), the Internet Protocol Suite that dictates exactly how data should be packetized, addressed, transmitted, routed, and received.

Categories of Network in Data Communication

There are six primary categories of data communication and networking:

  • Personal Area Network (PAN): a network designed to interconnect electronic devices within an individual personal workspace
  • Local Area Network (LAN): a computer network that consists of access points, cables, routers, and switches that enable devices to connect to web servers and internal servers within a limited area, or to other LANs via Wide Area Networks (WAN) or Metropolitan Area Network (MAN). 
  • Metropolitan Area Network (MAN): a MAN functions similarly to a LAN, but spans an entire metropolitan area or campus. MANs are larger than LANs, but smaller than WANs 
  • Wide Area Network (WAN): a collection of Local Area Networks and other networks that communicate and share information with one another over a large geographic area, likely greater than 50km in diameter. The most expansive WAN is the Internet. 
  • Cellular Data Network: a wireless network distributed over land "cells" in which fixed-location transceiver base stations provide that specific cell with network coverage, transmitting content such as voice and data. Each cell is assigned a unique set of frequencies to avoid interference with other cells in close proximity. 
  • Satellite Network: satellite networks consist of one centralized hub and several thousand remote hubs -- use cases include broadband Internet service, military surveillance, navigation information, radio broadcasts, telecommunications, television programming, transmitting voice and data to mobile devices, and weather data.

What is Data Flow in Networking?

Networking data flows are typically categorized as either simplex communication or duplex communication. Data flow in simplex communication is unidirectional. Data flows only from the designated transmitter to the designated receiver.

Data in duplex communication is bi-directional and can flow back and forth between the designated transmitter and the designated receiver. Duplex communication can be either half-duplex, in which the transmitter and receiver can only operate in succession, or full-duplex, in which the transmitter and receiver can operate simultaneously.

What is the Data Link Layer in Computer Networks?

The data link layer is the protocol layer in the Open Systems Interconnection model of computer networking that manages the transfer of data in and out of a physical link in a network. The data link layer consists of two sublayers: the logical link control (LLC) sublayer and the media access control (MAC) sublayer.

The three primary functions of a data link layer are: managing and developing recovery strategies for issues caused by transmission errors, ensuring the data flow frequency is manageable for sending and receiving devices, and facilitating the transmission of data to the network layer. Data packets are first encoded, decoded, and organized before being transmitted between adjacent nodes.

Frame sequencing capabilities within the data link layer can facilitate the reorder of data frames that are received out of order. The data link layer can identify points of congestion and reroute traffic. The data link layer can also detect if a data packet is impaired and report the errors to high-level protocol layers.

Advantages of Data Networks

There are several advantages for setting up a data network architecture:

  • Shared Resources: A data network enables the sharing of information without requiring a physical connection. Resources such as printers, storage, Internet can be shared.
  • Communication:  Linking computers via a data network enables easy and fast communication, such as emails and file transfers, without requiring a physical transfer medium, such as a USB flash drive.
  • Collaboration: Multiple users at different locations can work collaboratively and simultaneously on the same document or project remotely.   
  • Centrally Stored Software: A single copy of software stored on a central resource can be accessed remotely by a given user with access credentials. 
  • Central Database: Any relevant member of an organization can access a central database via data networks with access credentials

The advancement of data networking technologies has changed the way that computer network systems share data. Where once a single connection was sufficient, the use of computer network technologies such as network hubs, switches, and routers are now necessary to route data across such a wide variety of paths and between such a vast number of different nodes.

Does HEAVY.AI Offer a Data Network Solution?

Big data network monitoring is a crucial, proactive step in predicting how a network behaves, where system failures may occur, where computer network security vulnerabilities may occur, and how best to reconfigure a network to avoid bottlenecks and latency. Embedded network performance monitoring software and tools can help automate this process, providing analysts with the ability to instantly query and visualize billions of transactions and continuous flows of sensor data packets across entire data networks.

HEAVY.AI’s converged analytics platform leverages the parallel processing power of CPUs and GPUs to accelerate SQL queries and facilitate real-time interaction with big network data analytics, enabling data analysts to rapidly discover actionable insights regarding network impairments, points of congestion, signal strength, network security, data flow speeds and transmission errors. Learn more about how HEAVY.AI enables big data analytics in the telecom industry here.