Distributed networking is the “language” that allows computers and other devices to communicate with each other. It specifically involves the use of interconnected programs, software and data across multiple computers. The connected computers are part of a network. As long as they remain connected to the network, they can communicate with each other. Below are some of the most common distributed networking technologies and how they work.
Client-server is a distributed networking technology that involves the use of two parties: a client and a server. Clients are computers or devices that send requests, whereas servers are computers or devices that accept and respond to these requests. Cloud-based computing services often use a client-server architecture. Even the internet uses this same type of architecture with its Hypertext Markup Language Protocol (HTTP).
Agent-based distributed networking is characterized by a particular communication method known as the “pull method.” The client computer or device essentially “pulls” data from agents. Agents aren’t real people. Rather, they are trained programs. You can train agents to respond to clients. Agent-based distributing networking is similar to client-server, but it lives up to its namesake by leveraging customizable agents. Only agent-based distributing networking uses these agents.
Decentralization is classified as a distributed networking technology. With decentralization, all of the computers and devices on the network can perform the same task. This is in stark contrast to the client-server architecture. The client-server architecture restricts tasks based on whether the computer or device is a client or a server. If it’s a client, the computer or device can send requests. If it’s a server, the computer or device can process and respond to clients’ requests.
Decentralization differs in the sense that it eliminates these roles. Instead, all of the computers and devices can perform the same task. A common example of decentralization is peer-to-peer (P2P) networking. With P2P networking, all of the computers and devices can perform the same task.
Virtual private networks (VPNs) fall under the category of distributed networks. A VPN is a private and secure network over a public network — typically the internet. It uses cryptography to encrypt data. When downloading or uploading data, you don’t have to worry about it being intercepted. The VPN will encrypt it so that man-in-the-middle (MITM) breaches aren’t a concern. Many business owners and workers use VPNs to connect to their business network from remote locations.