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SNHU - IT-431 Software Development in Distributed Systems
Written by: Chris Bell - March, 2014

Resource Sharing Benefits of Distributed Systems


Quite often, large organizations use client-to-server and peer-to-peer networks to have a centralized location of company data that needs to be accessed by employees. Each department of the company has different files that they need to access and networks can be set up accordingly. Small networks including two to eight computers use peer-to-peer systems while large networks use client-to-server systems. There are advantages and disadvantages to both types of networks which gives each their place within the industry.

Peer-to-Peer Network

Instead of imagining a big network within a corporation, imagine a small company with 10 employees. They don't yet have the cash, or need, to spend money on a distributed network with all the bells and whistles because the cost will be far too high to expect a return any time soon. Therefore, a peer-to-peer network, or a shared folder, that sits on the desktop of 8 computers will work well in small companies. It will be inexpensive for the business owner, simple to understand and very effective. Unfortunately, there will be less security features and less storage capacity, but those features come with a high cost and there's little need for either when only 8 people are accessing the network.

Peer-to-peer networks aren't only used in small businesses. They're also used in large companies to share resources between smaller departments. A company such as GE has an extravagant client-to-server network in place, but might also have a separate peer-to-peer networks in place for a group of 8 quality employees. They can share commonly accessed quality data sheets without cluttering the large network throughout all GE departments. Also, management teams, accounting departments, sales teams and others have smaller networks with more specific data that applies to their positions within the company.

Client-to-Server Network

However, if a company wants to upgrade from peer-to-peer to client-to-server there will be a much higher cost involved. Higher costs are due to security features, storage capacity, programmers, design teams, speed and continuous support once it's implemented. Client-to-server databases hold personal information, credit card numbers, social security numbers and passwords that the company needs to protect against thieves and hackers. The company isn't only worried about external hackers, because hundreds of employees also have access to the customer and employee information. For that reason, many networks segregate portions of the system to each department. For instance, the inventory control team doesn't need access to the accounting portion of the database, nor do the shipping employees need access to sales figures. Segregating the system into multiple parts increases the speed of each smaller section and un-clutters the amount of icons each department sifts through each day.

Client-to-server networks may sound like an easy decision for large companies but it's not as easy as it seems. All of the advantages mentioned in the previous paragraph come at a high expense to the company. Network congestion, speed, storage, high costs (during and after implementation) and dependability are all factors to consider and understand before signing up. Upgrades and alterations to the system will need to be addressed on a daily basis because, for every day that goes by, the system is another day older and another day behind their competition. Technology is upgrading so fast that programmers knowingly create databases that can be upgraded when new technology comes on the market.


In conclusion, a business should choose the network that best fits their needs today, and in the future. If they have growth strategies in place they can determine how much to spend on sharing their resources with each employee. However, a piece of advice to small business owners is to use what you paid for to the fullest extent! One can't simply expect the system to turn on and start spitting dollars at the owner. The owner should create a budget for the peer-to-peer system and compare it to the client-to-server budget, then develop a strategy that will create a return on investment for each before purchasing it.


Courlouris, G. & Dollimore, J. & Kindber, T. & Blair, G. (2012) Distributed Systems: Concepts and Design. Fifth Edition. Published by Pearson.

Advantages of Client-Server. Retrieved from:

Advantages and Disadvantages to Peer-to-Peer and Client/Server Networks. Retrieved from: