In the post What Is a Home Network?, I gave my interpretation of a home network and provided the Wikipedia definition. The components of the home network will greatly differ. However, there are some basic components you will need for implementing a multiple computer network.
- ISP – The Internet Service Provider is where the internet connection is obtained. This can be a telephone company, cable company, or satellite service provider.
- Router – The router is an important part of the network. It allows multiple computers to share the ISP connection and can automatically provide each connected computer with the Internet Protocol (IP) address it needs for communicating. Another great feature of these devices, is the ability to provide a wireless signal so wireless devices in the home (e.g. cell phones, tablets, TVs) can also connect to the network.
- Switch – Most home routers only provide a few ports for connecting computers via a network cable. If there are going to be more devices requiring a “hard” connection, a network switch will be required. This is simply a way to increase the number of available ports to connect devices.
- Host Computer – The host computer is the physical host used for setting up and controlling the virtualization software which allows multiple virtual machines (VMs) to run.
- External Storage – This can come in many forms. There are network accessible storage devices which can hold two or more hard drives and perform functions such as hard drive mirroring. There are simple USB connected hard drives and flash drives that can be used as well. The main goal here is to have some sort of media to which data, configurations, and even VMs can be backed up.
The switch and external storage are optional and depend on the complexity of the network infrastructure you create. Figure 1 shows an example of what a home network may look like. You establish the connection to the internet with the modem. The router is next, and then any other devices are connected to the router.
From here things can only get more complex. This is one of the simplest configurations you can have. However, when it is all set up and running you can host web sites, blogs, version control systems, file sharing, media sharing, and many more network based services.