Network structures

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The word “network” refers to the technical connection between different participants. Technically there is a multiplicity of possible networks, which occur also mixed:

Network topologies

(Grafik: Wikipedia)

Basically, the following differentiation of messenger systems is made into three different network structures:

  1. Central systems = star-shaped networked

  2. Federal systems = federally networked

  3. Distributed systems = meshed networking (direct connections)

Central messenger systems

There is a central data center where all data of all users is stored, maintained and made available:

Centralized network


Prominent examples of messengers each running their own network and cutting themselves off from others:

Federal messenger systems

There is not just one data center, but several/many/numerous. Data storage is distributed among the participating subnetworks and is therefore decentralized.

Federal network


Examples of federated messenger networks with messengers that are open:

Distributed messenger systems

Decentralized, meshed networks result from direct connections between different users without intermediate servers.
Connections are made only between equally authorized participants in the network.

Meshed network


Examples of meshed (computer-to-computer) networks with messengers that are all independent of any central authority:

Special knowledge: Network protocols

In every network, the rules for data exchange must be defined. There are protocols that specify exactly this. An overview of various protocols can be found here: (external) (external)