Network Operating System (NOS) is a platform that allows two or more computers to function within an interconnected network such as a local area network. An NOS makes it possible for multiple computers to share server resources, such as printers and files over a network. Operating systems for instance Windows XP or Windows 7 are built to manage only one machine at a time, while an NOS manages the functions of all the devices within the network. The NOS is normally installed on a server where it is able to direct users, data processes, application and other actives of the connected devices.
Common lists of Network Operating Systems
- Windows Network Operating System - Windows Server 2003, which was succeeded by Windows Server 2008
- Novell Net Ware
- UNIX – including the BSD (Berkley Software Distribution) variants
- Apple Mac OS X
There are two main forms of network operating system these are:
Peer-to-Peer NOS: A peer-to-peer network operating system makes it possible for individuals within a network to share and access applications and files stored on each other’s' computers. However, there is no centralised management server. All computers are on the same level within a peer-to-peer network; they all possess the same abilities to use all the available resources on the network. Peer-to-peer networks are mainly targeted towards small and medium local area networks. Some examples of programs that can function as P2P network operating systems include AppleShare and Windows for Workgroups.
Some Advantages of Peer-to-peer network:
- Not as much initial outlay – the cost of setting up Peer-to-peer networks are lower because there is no need for a central server.
- Limited Dependency - computers on a peer-to-peer network can function independently, even when the network is disrupted, this is because each computer has an in-build operating system.
Some Disadvantages of Peer-to-peer network :
- This type of NOS is decentralized; there is no central source for files, printers and applications.
- Security - The security is not centralized
Client-to-Server NOS: Network Operating Systems use a Client-to-Server network; a dedicated server is the source for all functions and applications. The heart of the system is linked to the servers, as they provide access to resources while creating a secure environment. Each workstation or client can access the resources provided by the servers. The network operating system makes it possible for all parts of the network to work together and enables several users to utilize the same resources regardless of where they are working. Novell Netware and Windows Server 2008 R2 are types of Client-to-Server network OS (operating systems).
Some Advantages of Client-to-Server network:
- Centralization - The server controls all resources and security of information.
- Scalability - As the needs increase, some or all elements may be replaced individually.
- Flexibility - It is simple to add new technology to the system.
- Interoperability - Every component (client/network/server) works as one.
Some disadvantages of Client-to-Server networks:
- Cost - There is an initial outlay to acquire the dedicated server.
- Maintenance - A staff is needed on big networks to maintain efficient operation.
- Dependence - The network will stop functioning if the server ever goes down.