In IT, the term “interconnection” refers to the practice of connecting different infrastructure elements. This is generally done to make it easier for people to access and use resources. Interconnection can mean connecting different types of networks. It can also mean connecting different types of devices. Often, it means a combination of both.
As with other systems, the more interconnected components you have, the more complicated the system becomes. The key to making interconnection work is enabling the various components to communicate with each other effectively. This is done through the use of common protocols and standard network technologies.
The two main protocols used for interconnection are TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) and BGP/IP (Border Gateway Protocol). TCP/IP is the most common networking protocol in use today. It governs the workings of LANs (Local Area Networks and WANs (Wide Area Networks) as well as the internet.
TCP/IP essentially creates a path between two endpoints. BGP essentially functions as an application that sits on top of TCP/IP. When there is more than one path toward the desired endpoint, BGP will identify which one is best.
Ethernet (technically known as IEEE 802.3) is the baseline technology for interconnection. It is a combination of a protocol and associated hardware. Ethernet is the backbone of most wired networks. These days, this tends to mean that it is used at the core of the network. It creates high-speed connections through the key components of network infrastructure.
Wireless Fidelity (based on the IEEE 802.11 family of standards) is much better known as WiFi. It is a combination of a protocol and a radio signal. As its name suggests, WiFi creates wireless connections between networked devices. It is used where mobility is more important than raw power. This tends to mean at the edges of networks.
Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) is used to create Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). VPNs are often known as tunnels. They are a means of creating secured paths for data to travel through networks.
VPNs are mainly used when data is sent over the public internet. They are particularly important when people have to use connections they cannot secure. The most obvious example of this is public WiFi. Arguably, internet connections used by remote workers also fall into this category. Remote workers may not have the IT skills to secure them properly.
The benefits of interconnection in IT are much the same as the benefits of interconnection in other environments. The main ones are improved performance, increased reliability, more flexibility, better scalability, and higher security.
The more connectivity options you have, the more chance you have of finding the perfect option in any situation.
For example, you could choose to have numerous LANs leading up to WANs and then the internet. This would allow smaller locations to keep most of their traffic internal. They would, however, still have wider connectivity when they needed it.
The local area networks could be customized to the exact requirements of the users. They would take some of the pressure off the WANs and then the internet. Everyone would benefit.
Using interconnection essentially gives you a much bigger pool of network resources from which to draw. This means that any failures at any point of the overall network are likely to have a much smaller impact.
For example, if a LAN fails a WAN can take over. If a WAN fails, the internet can take over. If the internet fails, traffic can still be handled on LANs and/or WANs.
Similarly to the previous point, using interconnection increases your options. In particular, it gives you far greater opportunities for managing traffic in line with your business priorities.
Interconnection fits perfectly with the modern preference for modular design. It’s now widely understood that separating out different components of an overall system makes the system easier to manage.
In particular, using interconnection means that changes are easier to implement. Essentially, you just have to work on a small element of a whole rather than a whole. Just as importantly, it means that changes are easier to back out of if they do go wrong.
Again, using interconnection gives you more options for handling your data in the most secure way. For example, you could choose between having data handled at the source versus sending it to be processed in a remote location. If you did choose to send it to a remote location, then you could choose between using a WAN and using the internet.
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