Different types of computers can be connected on a network. The computers can be from different manufacturers or be different models from the same manufacturer. Communication programs bridge the differences in operating systems of two or more types of computers.
Sometimes these programs require that another program has previously been installed on the network. Other programs may require that such communications connectivity protocols as TCP/IP or Systems Network Architecture (SNA) exist on the network.
For example, with AIX 4.3.2 and later, AIX Fast Connect lets PC clients access operating system files and printers using native PC networking client software. PC users can use remote operating system file systems directly from their machines as if they were locally stored. They can print jobs on printers using the operating system spooler, view available printers, and map a printer as a network printer.