There are a number of software components to a network – some essential, some optional. I’ve highlighted a number of them below:
- Centralized Policy Management – Allows a single (or multiple) administrators to control policies across the entire network related to how users utilize the resources available on the network – both hardware and software.
- Domain Name Server (DNS) – Translates a website name that is human understandable (e.g. www.thenetworkengineer.com) into an IP address that is understandable by computers (e.g. 188.8.131.52).
- Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol Server (DHCP) – Assigns devices within the network an IP address based on an available group of IP addresses. Ensures that no two machines are assigned the same IP address.
- Email Server (POP/IMAP/SMTP) – Allows for the sending and receiving of emails. May also handle additional functions such as calendaring and task list management.
- Web Server – Allows the presentation of information using web-based technologies (e.g. HTML, ASP.NET, PHP) to internal or public audiences.
- File Server – Handles the hosting of files, such as documents, music, or images. Enables the sharing of these files between users.
- Database Server – A structured container for organizing, editing, and searching information. Oftentimes centered around SQL – Sequential Query Language – which provides a standardized method for accessing and editing a database.
Depending on the size of your network one or more servers can handle all of these functions. Probably a good place to start is with one robust Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 server. This includes with the Operating System centralized policy management in Active Directory, DNS, DHCP, a web server (in IIS), and file server capabilities with the option of adding on components for email and SQL server
- Security Management – There are entire criminal enterprises dedicated to the exploitation of consumer and corporate networks. These enterprises have become extremely adept at accessing networks and every network requires an active prevention system to protect itself from being compromised.
- Basic Productivity – These applications are used by almost every member of a company. They include word processing, spreadsheets, databases, presentations, browsers, email, and instant messaging.
- Development Tools – Used by developers to create new software applications. These include development languages and the associated tools for rapid development.