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6D. Technical Infrastructure:

Key Concepts

  image quality




Networks are probably the least visible portion of the technical infrastructure. Network cards lie hidden within computers; network hardware is tucked away in machine rooms or communications "closets"; and cable is buried underground, in walls, and/or runs overhead. But nothing can bring a digital imaging initiative to a halt faster than a network that is undersized, too slow, or unreliable. We have already mentioned the need for fast, reliable networks in shuttling files around during creation and file management. A heavily used digital image collection will place even greater demands on your network.

Networking infrastructure decisions are usually made at the institutional level. Large institutions anticipate growth in overall networking need and are prepared to handle significant volumes of network traffic. Small institutions could find that a digital imaging initiative makes demands on an existing network that have implications for the entire organization. Even limiting certain high-intensity network use to traditional low-traffic times may interfere with other activities. A discussion with network administrators about the anticipated network demands should come early in the planning stage.

An organization that has used its network primarily for email and some Web surfing may find that its connection to the Internet is completely inadequate for serving up large volumes of digital images. Most Internet connections are asymmetrical, allowing more data to pass downstream (from the Internet) than upstream (towards the Internet). An Internet connection that allows large volumes of data to pass upstream can be quite expensive. Again, network administrators and your network provider need to be consulted if you anticipate significant demand in network traffic.

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