Internetworking

What is the true purpose of a network? It is the cumulation of an assortment of components for the mutual assistance of those involved, and its strength lies in the sum of its parts. The Internet has a lot to offer as well.

On a daily basis, I find myself dealing with a variety of networks. Like most other people, I have separate networks of friends, business associates, family and others. In fact, each of those networks can be broken down even further. For example, I have friends at work and friends with whom I went to school. Rarely do those networks of friends cross paths, but they still have at least one connection (me) that could potentially bring them together. This convergence of groups could be referred to as “internetworking.”

This year’s IMTS proved to be an excellent tool for promoting internetworking. I saw a number of my connections come together for the benefit of all involved. Of course, a large number of my friends and colleagues from our company were at the show. This business-focused network interacted extensively with other visitors to the show—shop owners and industry professionals, some with whom I’ve met, discussed ideas and even collaborated on articles. I also got to meet face-to-face with many of the exhibitors—companies with which I am in regular contact—to see first-hand some of their newest products and technology. Watching these different branches of my professional life come together added special significance to the show for me.

In a different manner, the Internet is also a network of networks. It is a conglomeration of computer networks brought together through wires, cables and wireless connections. Just like the internetworking displayed at the show, the Internet makes its connections for the benefit of those who are linked to it. It allows people across the world to communicate via Web sites, e-mail and file sharing.

A significant distinction should be recognized in this internetworking. Often mistakenly used synonymously, the World Wide Web is actually only a part of the Internet. The Web is a network of documents (files), brought together through hyperlinks and URLs and made accessible to others via the Internet. While a company’s presence on the Web should represent a large part of the company’s Internet marketing plan, it should not stand alone.

What is the true purpose of a network? It is the cumulation of an assortment of components for the mutual assistance of those involved, and its strength lies in the sum of its parts. Those who benefited the most from IMTS took advantage of the numerous manufacturing-focused networks that the show had to offer. They capitalized on what the show brought together—the network of networks. The Internet has a lot to offer as well. To make the most of it, branch out and use all aspects of the network—internetworking at its finest.