Remote communications could not be installed by just anyone. The equipment used for remote connection was sophisticated and complex. Installing and operating it required a level of technical expertise that was far beyond the knowledge of most business professionals. Typically, installations required a joint effort between corporate information services staff and the local telephone technicians. It simply was not an easy matter to design and install remote connection equipment and lines.
Only a few, very select homes had connections to corporate computing services. Those workers who did manage connections to corporate information services found that performance was low, and cost was high. Connectivity, where it did exist, was extremely limited. More often than not, remote connections were used to connect branch offices to corporate information services.
Today, things are different. New digital communications technologies have emerged to replace the limited-distance modems and copper connections of the past. Switched digital services, such as Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN), are now commonly used for remote access. They make possible connections to corporate enterprise networks and the Internet that are viable and inexpensive. As a result, remote network access has taken off and is now growing at breakneck speeds.
As the number of remote network connections have spiraled upward, the focus on networking has shifted. The spotlight is now on Wide Area Networks (WANs) that give users access to corporate information services and the Internet. Remote LAN access has literally transformed the way users perform their daily work. Workers have learned that it is becoming increasingly possible for them to work no matter where they might be at the time. Now, more than ever before, it is becoming increasingly common for the office to come to the worker.
The Method Behind the Madness
Remote LAN Access is written for professionals looking to connect their corporate networks to remote locations anywhere in the world. It will be of special value to managers, engineers, technicians and consultants who are responsible for providing remote connectivity to their networks from branch offices, telecommuters, corporate workers and educators. This book will also be valuable for anyone who wants to separate fact from fiction when it comes digital remote access.
Remote LAN Access is designed to cut through the haze typically encountered when designing and installing remote LAN connections. The purpose of this book is to eliminate the mystery and frustration often associated with ordering, installing and supporting remote network connections. There is much misinformation, misrepresentation and outright mumbo-jumbo when it comes to deploying and supporting remote network access. By exploring the many facets of remote LAN access, we will be able to debunk some of the common connectivity myths.
In working with remote LAN access and in teaching it to others, I have learned an important lesson: repetition is important to learning. Although some readers might dislike repetition, it is undeniably a valuable teaching aid. Therefore, you should not be surprised when you run into the same topic or ideas in several different places in this book. The repetition is deliberate. Reading the same ideas with changes in wording, or from different points of view, really does enhance learning.
Astute readers will notice a heavy emphasis on ISDN in this book. There are several reasons for this. ISDN is one of the most viable of all telecommunications technologies when it comes to remote LAN access. It is especially well suited to bringing enterprise networks and Internet access to remote users. Therefore, it demands a decent amount of attention.
As you begin reading, the reasons for the natural affinity between ISDN and LANs will soon become apparent. However, with all of its networking advantages, ISDN remains one of the most complicated technologies to order and deploy. Users are virtually forced to become systems integrators when they attempt to use the technology. They need to understand how ISDN works, how the telephone company has provisioned the service, and even how the telephone network is internally configured before they can effectively use the service.
The need for detailed and understandable information on ISDN has driven me to write several chapters on the technology, exploring it from a number of different angles. Do not let this cause you to assume that this is an ISDN book. It is not. It is a book about remote LAN access, written for networkers and the rest of us.
Jeffrey N. Fritz
Morgantown, West Virginia
A book attempting to cover a subject as vast and all-encompassing as remote LAN access cannot be a solo effort. A number of researchers, telecommunications experts, educators and authors helped with the content of this book. Many were kind enough not only to read drafts of the chapters in this book, but also to suggest what material should be included.
There are several people whose experience, advice and encouragement added directly to this work. Thanks must first go to Gerald Hopkins, of Bell Atlantic. Gerry is the author of The ISDN Literacy Book (Addison-Wesley, 1995) and co-editor and author of The ISDN Solutions Guide (Corporation for Open Systems, 1995). Gerry's many years of experience with ISDN standards made him a terrific sounding-board for ideas. Gerry checked the accuracy of many of the facts contained in the book. He even allowed me to rope him into reviewing most of the material in the book.
Don Radick, Senior Network Analyst for Holiday Inn Worldwide, contributed ideas for the section on voice and fax telecommuter services. Just as importantly, Don offered the benefit of his firsthand experience installing a corporate telecommunications program for Holiday Inn.
There are others to thank, as well. Salvadore Salamone is a good friend and, for several years, was my editor at Byte Magazine. Sal provided information on the integration of ISDN into the NetWare network operating system. Sal was also a great source of guidance. Having endured through a tome or two of his own, Sal was able to offer pointers that helped considerably in writing this book. Whether chatting in his Manhattan office or discussing the book over dinner in one of New York's finest Mexican restaurants, Sal was a great encouragement and inspiration.
This book could not have been written without a number of industry experts who helped provide accurate information on LAN and ISDN standards. Dr. Robert M. ("Bob") Metcalfe, Executive Correspondent of InfoWorld and Vice President of Technology for the International Data Group, supplied information on early networking. Most people in the networking business recognize Dr. Metcalfe as being the father of Ethernet, one of the world's most popular network topologies.
Jon Udell, Executive Editor at Byte Magazine, reviewed the manuscript and proposed that a section on building enterprise networks be included. Jon has been dealing with remote LAN issues of his own at Byte. Some of the problems and issues he has faced have shown up as examples in the book.
There were several people associated with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) who offered suggestions and contributions to this book. Special thanks go to Shukri Wakid, Director of the NIST Computer Systems Laboratory. When ISDN was born, Shukri Wakid was in the delivery room. He provided insight into a number of ISDN and remote LAN issues that appear in this book. The other individuals from NIST who took time to read the manuscript and offer suggestions include David Cypher; Leslie Collica, who chairs the North American ISDN Users' Forum; and Dawn McBrien. Thank you all!
Bell Atlantic's Patrick Donovan, Chairperson of the National ISDN Council (NIC), has been very active in the development of the National ISDN standards. Pat supplied much of the National ISDN information found in these pages. Microsoft's ISDN Product Manager, Bill Shaughnessy, provided information on ISDN integration into the operating system. William Miskovetz, Senior Engineer at Cisco Systems, provided background on Bandwidth Allocation Control Protocol. Finally, Dr. Frank Piepiorra, President of Data TeleMark L.C., furnished information on ISDN satellite and radio.
Credit is due to several individuals at Manning Publications who really made this book a pleasure to write. First and foremost, thanks go to Marjan Bace, Publisher and Partner of Manning Publications Company. Dr. Bace understood the need for a book on remote LAN access and took a personal interest in the book. His involvement in the details of the book, right down to the selection of the title, is deeply appreciated.
Len Dorfman, Editor, was the grandfather and cheerleader of this book. Whenever my doubts forced me to ask, "Why should I do this?" Len would always respond enthusiastically with, "Why not!"
Mary Piergies, Managing Editor, was superb at tracking all the important details that go into making a book like this. Mary masterfully handled the production of the book, always ensuring that all the pieces were in the right place at the right time.
Ted Kennedy, Review Editor, pulled all the reviews and reviewers together. His concern was always for the reader and the quality of the book.
Special thanks are due to Lee Fitzpatrick and Sheila Carlisle who did the production work on this book. Layout work can be tedious, but Sheila made working out the myriad details almost fun.
Finally, loving gratitude must go to my wife, Joanna. Joanna has read more books and technical journals than anyone I know. It was Joanna who insisted that this, my second book, could and should be written--even when I insisted it simply could not be done.