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Device Servers

A device server is defined as a specialized, network-based hardware device designed to perform a single or specialized set of server functions. It is characterized by a minimal operating architecture that requires no per seat network operating system license, and client access that is independent of any operating system or proprietary protocol. In addition the device server is a "closed box," delivering extreme ease of installation, minimal maintenance, and can be managed by the client remotely via a Web browser.

Print servers, terminal servers, remote access servers and network time servers are examples of device servers which are specialized for particular functions. Each of these types of servers has unique configuration attributes in hardware or software that help them to perform best in their particular arena.

Print Servers

Print servers allow printers to be shared by other users on the network. Supporting either parallel and/or serial interfaces, a print server accepts print jobs from any person on the network using supported protocols and manages those jobs on each appropriate printer.

Print servers generally do not contain a large amount of memory; printers simply store information in a queue. When the desired printer becomes available, they allow the host to transmit the data to the appropriate printer port on the server. The print server can then simply queue and print each job in the order in which print requests are received, regardless of protocol used or the size of the job.

Multiport Device Servers

Devices that are attached to a network through a multiport device server can be shared between terminals and hosts at both the local site and throughout the network. A single terminal may be connected to several hosts at the same time (in multiple concurrent sessions), and can switch between them. Multiport device servers are also used to network devices that have only serial outputs. A connection between serial ports on different servers is opened, allowing data to move between the two devices.

Given its natural translation ability, a multi-protocol multiport device server can perform conversions between the protocols it knows, like LAT and TCP/IP. While server bandwidth is not adequate for large file transfers, it can easily handle host-to-host inquiry/response applications, electronic mailbox checking, etc. And it is far more economical than the alternatives of acquiring expensive host software and special-purpose converters. Multiport device and print servers give their users greater flexibility in configuring and managing their networks.

Whether it is moving printers and other peripherals from one network to another, expanding the dimensions of interoperability or preparing for growth, multiport device servers can fulfill your needs, all without major rewiring.

Access Servers

While Ethernet is limited to a geographic area, remote users such as traveling sales people need access to network-based resources. Remote LAN access, or remote access, is a popular way to provide this connectivity. Access servers use telephone services to link a user or office with an office network. Dial-up remote access solutions such as ISDN or asynchronous dial introduce more flexibility. Dial-up remote access offers both the remote office and the remote user the economy and flexibility of "pay as you go" telephone services. ISDN is a special telephone service that offers three channels, two 64 Kbps "B" channels for user data and a "D" channel for setting up the connection. With ISDN, the B channels can be combined for double bandwidth or separated for different applications or users. With asynchronous remote access, regular telephone lines are combined with modems and remote access servers to allow users and networks to dial anywhere in the world and have data access. Remote access servers provide connection points for both dial-in and dial-out applications on the network to which they are attached. These hybrid devices route and filter protocols and offer other services such as modem pooling and terminal/printer services. For the remote PC user, one can connect from any available telephone jack (RJ45), including those in a hotel rooms or on most airplanes.

Network Time Servers

A network time server is a server specialized in the handling of timing information from sources such as satellites or radio broadcasts and is capable of providing this timing data to its attached network. Specialized protocols such as NTP or udp/time allow a time server to communicate to other network nodes ensuring that activities that must be coordinated according to their time of execution are synchronized correctly. GPS satellites are one source of information that can allow global installations to achieve constant timing.

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