LAN Applications - Office Networks

The most widely used application of a local area network is in the office environment. LANs are used in the office today for three purposes: sharing hardware and software, interoffice communication, and external communication.

Sharing Hardware

Most companies use sophisticated and expensive hardware equipment such as fast, highly-quality printers. However, the cost does ot justify the installation of a printer for each individual user. Because a printer is not used all of the time, it can be shared. Users can be connected, through the local area network, to the shared printer. Jobs from each user are queued and printed on the same printer.

Sharing Software

Large and sophisticated programs, such as accounting programs, can be stored n a machine and shared by all or some users. LANs can replace the time-sharing environment of the past in which the central processing was done by a mainframe computer with each user connected by a dumb terminal to the mainframe.

Data Sharing

Sharing large files and databases between users is another advantage to having a local area network. In a typical company, different users may need to access a large file or database.

Interoffice Communication

Local area networks have created a new type of communication in an office environment. The employees of a company can communicate with each other using the network. They can send one-to-one, one-to-many, and one-to-all messages. This type of communication is sometimes more effective than voice communication by phone.

External Communication

Another way that the local area network can be used in an office environment is external communication, via the Internet. Each employee can use the LAN to connect to the Internet.