Chapter 4 Designing a Data-Ready Network Infrastructure

Computer networking can productively be thought about through an analogy with human anatomy. Networks are, after all, startlingly complex systems for the circulation of data and the allocation of resources. Imagine if you would the human circulatory system with its communication system where blood cells are transmission control packets. Plasma as the fluid content supports blood cells that circulate throughout the vasculature, picks up oxygen molecules, and transports them to remote systems that need them to operate. If an oxygen molecule is lost or if low oxygenation were to occur, the body has a fault-tolerant system whereby the next molecule is delivered and acknowledged. We can imagine computer networks in similar terms, if we replace oxygen molecules with data packets and vasculature with physical network media, such as optical cable, coaxial, twisted pair, or Category 6 (CAT6). This can prove a useful thought experiment, especially for those in the biosciences.

Computer networking began with systems that now seem startlingly simple. On November 11, 1973, a 2.94 Mbps Carrier Sense Multiple Access with Collision Detection (CSMA/CD) system connected about 100 workstations on a 1-kilometer cable in the Xerox Palo Research Center [1]. From there Xerox filed the patent, and Robert Metcalfe founded 3Com and over the next handful of years launched collaborative efforts with Digital Equipment Corporation, Intel, and Xerox ...

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