Computer networks have become increasingly important to the operations of modern businesses. From simple email communications to storing files on a company's servers, businesses need reliable and secure networks. The network administrators who manage these systems undergo network management training that usually involves learning about the physical hardware that create networks, the software needed for the distribution of IP addresses, and methods for both securing and troubleshooting networks.
Students in network management training programs generally begin by learning about basic networking equipment. This can include the modem that establishes a connection to the Internet, and the routers that distribute the signal to multiple machines. Routers not only share an Internet connection between different computers, but connect the machines that are connected to it into a local area network (LAN). Creating a network with a small number of computers can be accomplished with a single router, but larger networks require network administrators to use network switches to connect many computers to a router.
Computers access machines, on the local network or the greater Internet, using a system of IP addresses. Each address is a number that is unique to a particular machine on the network. These numbers allow any machine to request data from another on the LAN. Network management training involves lessons on how a local network has several IP addresses for machines that are directly connected to it, while the entire network is only visible to the Internet through a single IP address. Students of network management will learn to recognize the difference between IP addresses on a LAN and IP addresses for machines outside the network.
Network management training usually requires students to learn how IP addresses are distributed, both by Internet-facing servers and within local networks. Internet servers have unique IP addresses, but they are usually linked to domain names that are easier for users to remember, such as wiseGEEK.com. In local networks, these IP addresses are distributed either manually by a network administrator or automatically with Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) software. This software takes the form of a server program on network routers, and a client program on individual machines. The client and server software work together to ensure that every machine on the local network has a unique IP address, which can save the network administrator a great deal of work.
Any network administrator needs to know how to troubleshoot issues with the network itself. This involves learning how to use a variety of network diagnostic tools to discover both parts of the network that are not working, as well as security vulnerabilities. These include programs to see if individual machines or network components respond to network connections, and applications that can map the path through which data requests travel on a given network. With this component of network management training, administrators can usually isolate the location and cause of problems in order to fix them.