How TCP/IP Fits into Your System
You've seen what services TCP/IP provides and also that TCP/IP is flexible and accepted industry-wide. The Internet uses TCP/IP, so there are no apparent limitations to bandwidth or to the size of a network based on TCP/IP. You've seen all the things that make TCP/IP what it is and why it's so good.
The only reason you would consider using it is if you are not already. If you are using a Windows- or Unix-based network, the chances are high that you are already using TCP/IP. If you are using earlier versions of NetWare such as NetWare 2 or 3, you are likely running IPX/SPX. NetWare 3 added TCP/IP support at the server and an IPX-to-TCP/IP gateway for Internet connectivity. Starting with NetWare 4, there was better support for TCP/IP. NetWare 5 and higher allows IPX to be replaced by TCP/IP and fully supports TCP/IP.
The same is true if you are considering an upgrade from AppleShare over AppleTalk (pre-6.x). This does not pertain to AppleShare IP because that server suite already implements TCP/IP. But cost here is a factor. TCP/IP offers a wide range of capabilities, servers, services, clients, and so on at little or no cost.
You can spend large amounts of money to have a TCP/IP intranet installed, but you can achieve the same for little money. First, you would consider a server operating system, for example, Linux. It's free, or nearly so if you purchase a distribution. RedHat, Debian, Mandrake, and Caldera are the most popular distributions. Linux remains free, but if you purchase from RedHat, Debian, Mandrake, or Caldera, they also sell you their service and support, special installation software, and other bells and whistles that would not normally come with Linux.
RedHat Linux is available free for download from its Web site if you don't want to spend $60, but it will take an extremely long time over an analog modem because RedHat consumes over 160MB of space. It takes less time to buy a distribution.
You could also use your existing operating systems, because a number of servers are available for MacOS, Windows 9x/NT/2000/XP, and others. Some are free. Others can range from $30 to $2,500, depending on what it is and what you are licensing. You could also rewire, but your existing media should be good enough, unless you plan on changing from a bookkeeper to a 3D specialty animation shop with 24-hour service!