Network infrastructures can vary greatly in terms of:
- Size of the area covered
- Number of users connected
- Number and types of services available
The figure illustrates the two most common types of network infrastructures:
- Local Area Network (LAN) - A network infrastructure that provides access to users and end devices in a small geographical area.
- Wide Area Network (WAN) - A network infrastructure that provides access to other networks over a wide geographical area.
Other types of networks include:
- Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) - A network infrastructure that spans a physical area larger than a LAN but smaller than a WAN (e.g., a city). MANs are typically operated by a single entity such as a large organization.
- Wireless LAN (WLAN) - Similar to a LAN but wirelessly interconnects users and end points in a small geographical area.
- Storage Area Network (SAN) - A network infrastructure designed to support file servers and provide data storage, retrieval, and replication. It involves high-end servers, multiple disk arrays (called blocks), and Fibre Channel interconnection technology.