4 Telecommunications and Networks I. CHAPTER OVERVIEW Foundation Concepts: Foundations of Information in Business presents an overview of the five basic areas of information systems knowledge needed by business professionals, including the conceptual system components and major types of information systems.
Telecommunications Trends -Organizations are becoming internetworked enterprises that use the Internet, intranets, and other telecommunications networks to support e-business operations and collaboration within the enterprise, and with their customers, suppliers, and other business partners. Telecommunications has entered a deregulated and fiercely competitive environment with many vendors, carriers, and services. Telecommunications technology is moving toward open, internetworked digital networks for voice, data, video, and multimedia. A major trend is the pervasive use of the Internet and its technologies to build interconnected enterprises and global networks, like intranets and extranets, to support enterprise collaboration, electronic commerce, and other e-business applications.
The Internet Revolution –The explosive growth of the Internet and the use of its enabling technologies have revolutionized computing a telecommunications. The Internet has become the key platform for a rapidly expanding list of information and entertainment services and business applications, including enterprise collaboration and electronic commerce systems. Open systems with unrestricted connectivity using Internet technologies are the primary telecommunications technology drivers in e-business systems. Their primary goal is to promote easy and secure access by business professionals and consumers to the resources of the Internet, enterprise intranets, and interorganizational extranets.
The Business Value of the Internet - Companies are deriving strategic business value from the Internet, which enables them to disseminate information globally, communicate and trade interactively with customized information and services for individual customers, and foster collaboration of people and integration of business processes within the enterprise and with business partners. These capabilities allow them to generate cost savings from using Internet technologies, revenue increases from electronic commerce, and better customer service and relationships through interactive marketing and customer relationship management.
The Role of Intranets - Businesses are installing and extending intranets throughout their organizations (1) to improve communications and collaboration among individuals and teams within the enterprise; (2) to publish and share valuable business information easily, inexpensively, and effectively via enterprise information portals and intranet websites and other intranet services; and (3) to develop and deploy critical applications to support business operations and decision making.
The Role of Extranets –The primary role of extranets is to link the intranet resources of a company to the intranets of its customers, suppliers, and other business partners. Extranets can also provide access to operational company databases and legacy systems to business partners. Thus, extranets provide significant business value by facilitating and strengthening the business relationships of a company with customers and suppliers, improving collaboration with its business partners, and enabling the development of new kinds of Web-based service for its customers, suppliers, and others.
Telecommunications Networks– The major generic components of any telecommunications network are (1) terminals, (2) telecommunications processors, (3) communications channels, (4) computers, and (5) telecommunications software. There are several basic types of telecommunications networks, including wide area networks (WANs) and local area networks (LANs). Most WANs and LANs are interconnected using client/server, network computing, peer-to-peer, and Internet networking technologies.
Network Alternatives - Key telecommunications network alternatives and components are summarized in Figure 4.9 for telecommunications, media, processors, software, channels, and network architectures. A basic understanding of these major alternatives will help business and end users participate effectively in decisions involving telecommunications issues. Telecommunications processors include modems, multiplexers, internetworked processors, and various devices to help interconnect and enhance the capacity and efficiency of telecommunications channels. Telecommunications networks use such media as twisted-pair wiring, coaxial cables, fiber-optic cables, terrestrial microwave, communications satellites, cellular and PCS systems, wireless LANs, and other wireless technologies. Telecommunications software, such as network operating systems and telecommunications monitors, controls and manages the communications activity in a telecommunications network.
II. LEARNING OBJECTIVES Learning Objective
Identify several major developments and trends in the industries, technologies, and business applications of telecommunications and Internet technologies.
Identify the basic components, functions, and types of telecommunications networks used in business.
Explain the functions of major types of telecommunications network hardware, software, media, and services.
III. TEACHING SUGGESTIONS One of the important issues to emphasize in this chapter is the role that telecommunications has played in increasing computer connectivity. Knowledge of technical details may not be that important, but a good understanding of the concepts and basic terminology is. The opportunities provided to businesses through telecommunications should be particularly emphasized. Figure 4.1 is a good example of the major trends taking place in the telecommunications industry. Figure 4.3 gives excellent examples of the business value of electronic commerce applications of telecommunications. Most students are very interested in the Internet. This part of the chapter normally generates a fair amount of discussion. Figure 4.4 can be used to discuss the most popular uses of the Internet. As well, it will stimulate students to more discussion on the uses of this type of technology, and how it can be used in business. Figure 4.5 can be used by instructors to generate open and in-depth discussions with their students on whom and why companies are connecting to the Internet. This discussion should instil in students the fact that in today’s global marketplace (marketspace) just how important a presence on the Internet is for survival. Figure 4.6 illustrates how companies are deriving business value form their e-business and e-commerce applications. Figure 4.7 is a good slide to use when discussing how a companies Intranet can provide an enterprise information portal for applications in communication and collaboration, business operations and management, Web publishing, and intranet portal management. This is a “busy” slide, so instructors should take their time to ensure that students know how all of these interconnecting parts contribute to the communication and collaboration tasks required to function smoothly in an organization.
Figure 4.10 introduce the five basic components in a telecommunications network, in that a telecommunications network is any arrangement whereby a sender transmits a message to a receiver over a channel consisting of some type of medium. Figure 4.11 can be used to discuss with students the concept of a global wide area network (WAN). Figure 4.12 can be used to explain and generate discussion on the topics of local area networks. The main thrust of Chapter 6 is that the Internet and Internet-like networks inside the enterprise (Intranets), and other types of networks have become the primary information technology for many organizations. Figure 4.13 gives an excellent example of complexities and components involved with intranets and extranets. Figure 4.14 illustrates the client/server networks and network computing. Figure 4.15 can be used to raise a discussion with the students on the functions of the computer system in network computing. Figure 4.16 is a good slide to use to discuss the two major forms of peer-to-peer networks (a peer-to-peer network architecture with a directory of al peers on a central server and a pure peer-to-peer network architecture with no central directory server. Figure 4.22 outlines the different types of network topologies – ring, star, and bus networks. Remember, a basic understanding and appreciation, not a detailed knowledge, are sufficient for most business end users. Use Figure 4.23to discuss the seven layers of the OSI communications network architecture, and the five layers of the Internet’s TCP/IP protocol suite. Figure 4.24 is a good example of telecommunications speed by type of media and network technology in use today.
Instructors are encouraged to contact their cable companies for a sample of telecommunications cables that they may show in class. Many students have difficulty with the different types of communications processors that are available. If at all possible, instructors would be encouraged to take their students to a computer centre where they may see these items in operation.
NETWORKING THE ENTERPRISE Businesses are becoming networked enterprises. The Internet and Internet-like networks inside the enterprise (Intranets), between an enterprise and its trading partners (extranets), and other types of networks have become the primary information technology infrastructure of many organizations. Telecommunications networks enable managers, end users, teams, and workgroups to electronically exchange data and information anywhere in the world with other end users, customers, suppliers, and business partners. By using such networks, companies can: