Networks are the backbone of most operations in the world today. No matter the size of an organization, there’s always the need to share resources, communicate and exchange data in a manner that is cost-effective, efficient and time-saving. This is where networks come in. A network may be as small as two computers joined together within a small office area or as large as the internet, a global network of users. There are specialized applications designed to handle the overall control and management of networks within any organization they’re deployed.
Networking Operating Systems are software applications that are built to run applications and share resources on server machines. They provide features that support network operations and collaborative functions. They are different from normal operating systems like Windows which just offers stand-alone applications for desktop computer users. Network Operating systems are robust and have the capability to handle a large proportion of users in an organization by providing them with network functions and capabilities. Networks are a means of sharing resources such as files, printers, scanners and so on amongst users connected to the network.
For networks to be implemented there’s the need for software that can dictate how these resources are shared and managed within the organization. Network operating systems provide functions such as file and print sharing, backing up of data, network installations, administration of user accounts and effective security implementation to ensure that the network architecture is kept safe from malicious attackers. Network Operating systems usually have functionalities that support both servers and clients in a networked environment.
Network Operating systems have been in existence for a long time. Examples include the UNIX operating system, Novell Netware, Windows NT, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008 and so on. The initial network operating system developed by Windows was Windows 95 and Windows for Workgroups. These network operating systems have since evolved. Even ordinary systems have been built to support networks because of the increasing popularity of the internet. A network operating system has the capability to implement stacks of protocol and device drivers appropriate for networking hardware.
There are numerous types of network operating systems and the type deployed depends on the need of the organization. Home networks usually require a different configuration from what large corporations or organizations would require. Also, the types of network operating software implemented depend on the amount of resources available to the organization or individual. As an example, some people would prefer Linux as a network operating system because they believe it works better with less hardware and does not require as much memory and processing power as Windows Networking Operating System does.
The fact that Linux is free is also an additional factor most people consider when implementing a Networking Operating System. Windows however exists in different flavors which support networking. It has an easy-to-use Graphic User Interface (GUI) that can easily be navigated and understood by beginners of all classes and levels. Some other schools of thought would criticize windows for having security weaknesses and lop holes. Security vulnerabilities are always addressed with the release of up-to-date patches to ensure that they are corrected and hackers are discouraged from exploiting these loop holes.
There are other alternatives to the two Networking Operating Systems already discussed and they are listed as follows: Macintosh, IBM OS/2, Novell NetWare and other special-purpose NOS that are embedded in network devices. This study however focuses on Windows Network Operating Systems and will discuss on how it handles the various management functions. Introduction to Windows Server Windows Server 2003 is a network operating system that is used in a client/server network architecture. It was released on April 2003 as a successor to Windows 2000 server.
A revision/update was released in December 2005 and was called Windows Server 2003 R2. Windows Server 2003 is believed to have more scalability and is more robust than its predecessors (Microsoft, 2009). Windows Server has advanced features such as Internet Information Services (IIS), improved default security options, message queuing, server management functionalities, active directory, group policy handling and administration, backup system, improved disk management facilities, scripting and command line options and so many advanced features have been introduced to make its utilization and implementation worthwhile.
Management functions of Windows Server 2003 Active Directory Functions One of the most interesting aspects of Windows Sever 2003 is the Active directory service. This service is what makes it extremely capable of providing network operating capabilities. It offers a centralized model for managing the entire network. Networks may be as huge as a building, a city or numerous branches of an organization scattered across the world. It has robust security features that can prevent unlimited access to the network and other organizational resources.
The Active Directory Migration Tool (ADMT) can be used to migrate from the Windows NT environment to Windows 2000 Server Active Directory service. It helps to diagnose the problems that may arise from migration. If any problem occurs, there’s an additional feature for rolling back so as to restore the previous settings (Microsoft, 2009). Active Directory allows the provision of several networking facilities and these are discussed below: 1. It provides a central location for the delegation and distribution of roles including administrative authority.
It acts as a repository for various objects that represent users within the network, devices that may be shared, and all other resources within the network. Groups, which are a combination of users that have something in common, may be also be created so that the attribution of roles, policies and security practices may be applied to any collection of users seamlessly (Microsoft, 2009). 2. Another important function of the Active directory is the provision of information security.
By implementing the single sign-on procedure, users can gain access to network resources by logging into the network through the use of a unique username and password. It is strongly recommended that these passwords be a combination of letters and digits that cannot be easily predicted (Microsoft, 2009). 3. Several domains can be implemented using active directory. These domains can be configured as domain controllers depending on what the needs of the organization are and what purpose the network is meant to fulfill. 4.
Active Directory also has features that include a central storage location for data that is shared between applications. It provides file sharing space for applications and users that need to share their resources across an entire network (Microsoft, 2009). 5. Hardware and Software updates are easily distributed across the network by the execution of replication between domain controllers. 6. Active directory also has the capacity to provide remote administration on the network. Any windows computer that has administrative tools installed can be used to active remote administration.
As the name implies, remote administration is all about providing users with remote support by logging on to the user’s computer and taking control of their system while the administrative job is being performed. 7. Active Directory also offers the additional capability of integrating domain objects with the Domain Name System (DNS). The DNS is the system/service that resolves names into addresses that the computer is capable of understanding and processing. 8. Active Directory also has support for Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) support.
This is the standard for directory access protocol and can be used to access management and query applications on the server (Microsoft, 2009). Windows server 2003 also has many management functions. These are highlighted as follows: Group Policy Functions Group Policy Management is achieved through a console that manages critical IT functions such as security, access to software, and configuration of systems. Tools initially designed to achieve this were prone to errors. It becomes easier to manage administrative objects like computer systems, sites and what is known as organizational Units (OUs).
Management functions are as diverse as they are beneficial to a networking environment. The managerial functions of Windows Server 2003 can be broken down into the following headings: Security and Networking Functions People need to connect to the network in a manner that is secure and effective. For organizations to remain globally competitive there’s an increased need to support the deployment of robust networking architecture. This cannot be done effectively if sufficient attention is not given to security. Windows Server 2003 comes with features that ensure that virtual private networks are easy to configure and deploy.
The Connection Manager Administrator Kit can assist in configuring connection profiles that allow remote access and administration (Microsoft, 2009). Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a type of private network that creates a secure pathway for connecting to the internet. Windows Server 2003 has two varieties of this technology and they are: Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP), and Microsoft Point-to-Point Encryption (MPEE). An additional feature of Windows Server 2003 known as the Internet Authentication Service (IAS) can help to separate the verification and authorization of network connection requests.
The Network Access Quarantine features help to change a user’s settings to what is accepted within the organization as the general level of accepted security. Additional measures that can be taken to enhance security in Windows Server 2003 include the configuration of a firewall and the regular scheduling of updates so that the application will not be vulnerable to attacks from malicious attackers, viruses, worms and hackers (Microsoft, 2009). Windows Server 2003 also has additional platforms that have been created to ensure that security is not compromised. These features are listed and discussed as follows: 1.
Internet Connection Firewall: This is a protective layer in the form of a firewall that provides protection to machines that are directly connected to the internet and also those behind the connection. 90% of all the vulnerabilities a computer can be subjected to come from the internet (Microsoft, 2009). 2. The Secure Internet Authentication Server (IAS) is a form of Remote Authentication Dial-in User Server (RADIUS) that is used to manage the authentication, verification and authorization of users. It supervises connections to the network through technologies such as virtual private networks and firewalls (Microsoft, 2009).
3. Windows Server 2003 has support for IEEE802. 1X protocols which are secure standards that define the use and access to wireless and Ethernet local area connections. 4. Windows Server 2003 also has software restriction policies that can be implemented to prevent executable and harmful programs from running on a computer 5. Windows Server 2003 also increased Web Server security through the introduction of the Internet Information Services 6. 0(IIS 6. 0) which has security features such as cryptographic services, advanced digest authentication, and access control of several processes on the network (Microsoft, 2009).
Server Consolidation Functions Server consolidation is a cost-effective way of simplifying server management within an organization. It comes into play when business players want to achieve more with fewer infrastructures. Tight controls are implemented and resources are appropriately distributed to ensure that applications that are not needed at a particular point are not implemented. Windows Server 2003 comes with in-built file servers that can provide flexibility and high-scale performance to meet varying file consolidation scenarios and demands of an organization.
The type of file consolidation chosen will determine what approach is taken to achieve its implementation (Microsoft, 2009). An organization that has a distributed architecture will have different requirements from one that is data-center focused. Consolidated servers can be installed using different options. One option is to install large file servers that have direct attached storage (DAS) and another is the flexible installation and reallocation of a storage area network (SAN). Remote Administration Functions Remote Administration is a very useful feature for system administrators.
It provides a GUI to remote devices through the network (local area network and wide area network), internet and other network connections. Through this feature, enterprise servers can be managed from anywhere in the world (Microsoft, 2009). Remote Administration is one of the terminal services built into Windows Server 2003 and can be activated to function in two basic modes. One is the Terminal Server node which is equivalent to the Application Server mode that was built into Windows 2000 Server. Another mode is called the Remote Desktop for Administration.
This method is a modification of the Remote Administration mode that was also built into the Windows 2000 Server. The basic function of the remote administration mode is to provide a graphical windows interface through which troubleshooting can take place. Using Remote Desktop does not affect the quality of service rendered to a user, application compatibility or server performance. Only two remote administrative sessions and a console session can be achieved by deploying Windows Server 2003. Remote Administration can be enhanced in Windows Server 2003 by taking advantage of a Terminal Services Client known as Remote Desktop Connection (RDC).
The RDC is able to provide an enhanced framework for implementing remote administration because of its diverse support for different types of hardware devices and its support for the restoration of truncated network connections. This is very necessary for implementing the functions of an administrator on a remote site; network disconnections are a common phenomenon and when this happens, the administrator can recover his role and continue from where he was cut off (Microsoft, 2009). The RDC also provides numerous features that can be used for customizing the graphical interface through which remote connections take place.
Windows 2003 also has a functionality that supports client resource redirection. Through the RDC, it becomes possible to have access to local drives, network drives, printers and other shared resources within the network. Administrative functions such as software installations and updates can also be achieved from a remote location (Microsoft, 2009). Conclusion Networking Operating Systems are built to be robust, scalable and offer the basic functions that an organization would need. They are all different however in terms of their popularity, features, capabilities, usage and cost.
An organization would have to choose a networking operating system based on their requirements, budget and the level of support that can be attained with such applications. As long as the desired network operating system has the functions needed by the organization, they would be able to achieve its full benefits. All it takes is a qualified network administrator that knows what’s going on in the industry. References Microsoft. (2009). Windows Server 2003 R2. Retrieved April 23, 2009, from Microsoft Corporation: http://www. microsoft. com/windowsserver2003/default. mspx