Networking Guide : Network Components
Besides a physical medium, a network operation needs devices that
are designed to handle certain network functions. The devices are often
called networking devices or equipment and specifically referred to as network components in this guide. Each network component
has a name that is related to its functions. For example, a
network adapter works to "adapt" a computer message that is going
to be sent to a network, to a format that is defined by the
Picture: Networking Hardware
A network component's functions are not necessarily handled by a
device. If you browse a networking products catalog, you will find
that many products combine several networking components in a
device. For example: a router that has a built-in switch, a residential gateway that includes a broadband modem,
etc. So, be sure to check the product specification before buying to avoid duplication.
You must also check interfaces that are supported by a product. They
must be compatible with the ports available in your computers or
A network component's functions may also be performed by a
software application. For example, Windows XP provides built-in
support for Network Bridging that handle a bridge's functions in a
home network with mixed media. There are also built-in or add-on
software applications that handle modem, router, or gateway functions.
software-only alternative is mostly suitable for small networks.