Friday, April 26, 2024

Communications, Networking Methods & Protocols: Introduction and the Information Asset

Terry Pardoe and I wrote an unpublished text titled Data Communications, Networking Methods and Protocols book 20 years ago. Terry passed away on May 2, 2016 at the age of 76. Over this summer I’ll be posting content from that unpublished book here in honor and respect of Terry. It is interesting – 20 years later - a combination of some obsolete but other still relevant technologies. Here’s the first post from the first chapter.


The creation and introduction of the binary digital computer into the world of information collection, processing and distribution has brought with it massive expansions in the speed of processing and the breadth of distribution. It has also brought new approaches to connection and an ever increasing need to construct and operate complex, multi vendor networks. Computer systems allow us to make complex information manipulations millions of times faster than by hand and reduce the risk that we make the same mistakes as we always did.


Before any attempt is made to analyze the creation and operation of networks ranging in size from ones covering a single household to global coverage we need to understand the evolving role of computers in the past, the present and the future and how our need to deliver computer power and information to a wide range of users has resulted in complex solutions utilizing a broad spectrum of computer types and transmission mechanisms. Such integration has made the use of standardized approaches of paramount importance


In this post we'll take a look at how computer systems, and information use,  have evolved into modern approaches and how the world of standards has ensured this transition from the simple to the complex.


The Information Asset

The collection, storage and maintenance of timely information over a wide range of types has been implemented over the centuries by a range of written book-keeping techniques that include wall paintings, scrolls, and both hand written ledgers and typed ledgers.


Within a corporation different types of information exist in many forms Corporate level information can include financial records, asset lists, customer profiles, product definitions and specifications, trend analyses, competition evaluations and much more. At the department level information can include function definitions, resource availability, staffing lists, technical specifications, schedules and other operational information. In addition, information such as personal schedules, travel support documents, operating procedures, usernames and passwords is typically collected and saved by individuals.


A corporation may also acquire and maintain personal and often private and sensitive information about it's employees including social security and tax information, educational background materials and work history. It may also save  information considered to be useful to the corporation from public sources. Trade laws and restrictions in overseas markets, climatic conditions in countries of operation, demographics, maps and travel instructions are all examples of this type of information. Such collection and storage of information has always presented a number of issues to management, the major ones being:

Ownership - Who, within the organization, owns the information and protects and certifies its accuracy.


Control - Who controls the information, its collection, it's use by whom, it's modification, also by whom and when, and its final elimination. (It should be noted that ownership and control may be vested in different individuals or organizational units.)


Distribution - How is information distributed, to whom, under what conditions, by what technical mechanisms and what controls are in place to prevent it from  being misused or falling in the wrong hands.


The key to successful information control lies in the selection or creation and consequent  implementation of a company wide suite of information standards. Many examples of such standards exist and have evolved over the ages addressing such issues as:

·      The infrastructure needed to create, maintain and use stored information resources.

·      The financial cost of creation, maintenance, protection and final elimination of all forms of information.

·      All machine (if used) and  human factors

·      Measures taken to eliminate the impact of all disasters, natural or manmade.


The goal with all collected and distributed information, whether it be stored as paintings on cave walls or detailed writings in ledgers, has always been to meet the objectives of what the authors have defined as the Information Bill of Rights.

  • The right information
  • To the right person or process
  • At the right time
  • In the right place
  • In the right form and format
  • At the right price

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