Networking

Take advantage of peer-to-peer network technology

Although peer-to-peer networking has been around for a while, it's been used mainly on smaller networks. But as contributor Dallas Releford points out, there are ways to take advantage of this configuration on larger networks, too.


Peer-to-peer networking is the process of connecting several computers so that they can talk to each other without using a main server. This type of networking has been popular with smaller businesses and home users for several years. Experts used to recommend peer-to-peer if you had 10 computers or less. That criterion is not as meaningful today, since newer technology has expanded the number of computers that can be connected using this configuration.

Peer-to-peer has been around since the beginning. I may be dating myself, but a few months after I bought my second PC, I used a software program I wrote with a shareware program I downloaded from the Internet to hook my two PCs together. It was crude, but it worked. Today, many variations of networks are available, but peer-to-peer remains one of the most versatile.

Business uses for peer-to-peer networking
You can use peer-to-peer networking in several business settings. Connecting computers in a small business or home environment provides a way to share printers, modems, and other devices. Larger businesses can also take advantage of this configuration. With a peer-to-peer configuration, you can set up the remote offices or other sites and use the Internet to connect the sites to your local area network or WAN.

By using high-speed switches or hubs, you can connect small groups of users and enable them to join your network. For instance, you might connect all the users in payroll in one group and all the users in marketing in another group. Keep in mind that this setup is easier if the computers in a particular group are part of one peer-to-peer network.

What if there’s only one computer in a group? For instance, a small company might have only one accountant or one receiving clerk. In that situation, it’s best to make them part of an associated group or just give them their own group. Giving them their own group is preferable because it will be easier to manage the system.

Peer-to-peer networking can save you money, help you manage resources more efficiently, and simplify your admin chores. It’s definitely worthwhile to investigate ways you might take advantage of peer-to-peer networking in your organization.
If you'd like to share your opinion, start a discussion below or send the editor an e-mail.

Editor's Picks