Networking Definitions

This glossary explains the meaning of key words and phrases that information technology (IT) and business professionals use when discussing networking and related software products. You can find additional definitions by visiting WhatIs.com or using the search box below.

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    10 Gigabit Ethernet (10 GbE)

    10 Gigabit Ethernet (10 GbE) is a telecommunication technology that offers data speeds up to 10 billion bits per second.

  • 100 Gigabit Ethernet (100GbE)

    100 Gigabit Ethernet (100GbE) is a standard in development that will enable the transfer of Ethernet frames at 100 gigabits per second (gp/s). The 100GbE standard is for core switching. A 40GbE standard, in development simultaneously, is designed for server connectivity. Both standards are expected to be ratified in 2010.

  • 1000BASE-T (Gigabit Ethernet)

    1000BASE-T is Gigabit Ethernet -- 1 gigabit is 1,000 megabits per second (Mbps) on copper cables, using four pairs of Category 5 (Cat5) unshielded twisted pair (UTP) to achieve the gigabit data rate.

  • 10BASE-36

    10BASE-36 is a type of physical cabling defined in the IEEE 802.3 (Ethernet) standard for broadband application.

  • 10BASE-T

    10BASE-T, one of several physical media specified in the IEEE 802.3 standard for Ethernet local area networks (LANs), is ordinary telephone twisted pair wire.

  • 3G (third generation of mobile telephony)

    3G refers to the third generation of cellular technology that enables mobile telephony.

  • 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project)

    The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) is a collaborative project between a group of telecommunications associations with the initial goal of developing globally applicable specifications for third-generation (3G) mobile systems.

  • streaming network telemetry

    Streaming network telemetry is a real-time data collection service in which network devices such as routers, switches and firewalls continuously push network health data and interface measurements to a centralized collector.

  • What is 5G?

    Fifth-generation wireless (5G) is the latest iteration of cellular technology. Unlike 4G, which requires large, high-power cell towers to radiate signals over longer distances, 5G wireless signals are transmitted through large numbers of small cell stations located on places like light poles or building roofs.

  • What is 6G? Overview of 6G networks & technology

    6G (sixth-generation wireless) is the successor to 5G cellular technology.

  • A

    AAUI (Apple attachment unit interface)

    An AAUI (Apple attachment unit interface) is the 14- or 15-pin port or connection interface on earlier models of Macintosh computers that allowed it to be connected by a short interface cable (or "transceiver") to an Ethernet cable.

  • ACK

    In some digital communication protocols, ACK is the name of a signal that data has been received successfully (for example, with an acceptable number of errors).

  • adaptive routing (dynamic routing)

    Adaptive routing, also called dynamic routing, is a process for determining the optimal path a data packet should follow through a network to arrive at a specific destination. Adaptive routing can be compared to a commuter taking a different route to work after learning that traffic on his usual route is backed up.

  • Address Resolution Protocol (ARP)

    Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) is a procedure for mapping a dynamic Internet Protocol address (IP address) to a permanent physical machine address in a local area network (LAN).

  • ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line)

    ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) is a technology that facilitates fast data transmission at a high bandwidth on existing copper wire telephone lines to homes and businesses.

  • akamaize

    For a Web site, to akamaize (pronounced AHK-uh-myez) is to accelerate the delivery of Web files by placing copies on servers closer to the user than the server that delivers the main file for a Web page.

  • Aloha (Aloha method)

    Aloha, also called the Aloha method, refers toa simple communications scheme in which each source (transmitter) in a network sends data wheneverthere is a frame to send.

  • American Wire Gauge (AWG)

    American Wire Gauge (AWG) is the standard way to denote wire size in North America.

  • anti-replay protocol

    The anti-replay protocol provides Internet Protocol (IP) packet-level security by making it impossible for a hacker to intercept message packets and insert changed packets into the data stream between a source computer and a destination computer.

  • application delivery controller (ADC)

    An application delivery controller (ADC) is a network component that manages and optimizes how client machines connect to web and enterprise application servers.

  • Application layer

    Sitting at Layer 7 -- the very top of the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) communications model -- the application layer provides services for an application program to ensure that effective communication with another application program on a network is possible.

  • application-aware networking (app-ware networking)

    Application-aware networking is the capacity of an intelligent network to maintain current information about applications that connect to it and, as a result, optimize their functioning as well as that of other applications or systems that they control.

  • ARCNET

    ARCNET is a widely-installed local area network (LAN) technology that uses a token-bus scheme for managing line sharing among the workstations and other devices connected on the LAN.

  • Arista Extensible Operating System (Arista EOS)

    Extensible Operating System (EOS) is a scalable network operating system (OS) that offers high availability, streamlines maintenance processes, and enhances network security.

  • ARPANET

    ARPANET was the network that became the basis for the Internet. Based on a concept first published in 1967, ARPANET was developed under the direction of the U.S. Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). In 1969, the idea became a modest reality with the interconnection of four university computers.

  • asymmetric communications

    Asymmetric communications is a term pertaining to any system in which the data speed or quantity, when averaged over time, is different in one direction from the other.

  • Asynchronous

    In general, asynchronous -- pronounced ay-SIHN-kro-nuhs, from Greek asyn-, meaning "not with," and chronos, meaning "time" -- is an adjective describing objects or events that are not coordinated in time.

  • attenuation

    Attenuation is a general term that refers to any reduction in the strength of a signal.

  • autonomous system (AS)

    An autonomous system (AS) in networking is a collection of one or more associated Internet Protocol (IP) prefixes with a clearly defined routing policy that governs how the AS exchanges routing information with other autonomous systems.

  • autotrunking

    Autotrunking is a function that can be activated for one or more switch ports in a Cisco system of virtual local area networks (VLANs), making those ports capable of carrying traffic for any or all of the VLANs accessible by a particular switch....

  • network availability

    Network availability is the amount of uptime in a network system over a specific time interval.

  • B

    B-channel (bearer channel)

    In the Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN), the B-channel is the channel that carries the main data.

  • backbone

    A backbone is a larger transmission line that carries data gathered from smaller lines that interconnect with it.

  • balun

    A balun is a device that joins a balanced line (one that has two conductors, with equal currents in opposite directions, such as a twisted pair cable) to an unbalanced line (one that has just one conductor and a ground, such as a coaxial cable).

  • band

    In telecommunication, a band - sometimes called a frequency band - is a specific range of frequencies in the radio frequency (RF) spectrum, which is divided among ranges from very low frequencies (vlf) to extremely high frequencies (ehf).

  • bandwidth (network bandwidth)

    Network bandwidth is a measurement indicating the maximum capacity of a wired or wireless communications link to transmit data over a network connection in a given amount of time.

  • baseboard management controller (BMC)

    A baseboard management controller (BMC) is a specialized service processor that monitors the physical state of a computer, network server or other hardware device using sensors and communicating with the system administrator through an independent connection... (continued)

  • beamforming

    Beamforming is a type of radio frequency (RF) management in which a wireless signal is directed toward a specific receiving device.

  • BGAN (Broadband Global Area Network)

    BGAN (Broadband Global Area Network) is a mobile communications system created to transmit broadband wireless voice and data communications almost anywhere on the earth's surface.

  • BGP (Border Gateway Protocol)

    BGP (Border Gateway Protocol) is the protocol underlying the global routing system of the internet.

  • big-endian and little-endian

    Endianness is a term that describes the order in which a sequence of bytes are stored in computer memory. Endianness can be either big or small, with the adjectives referring to which value is stored first.

  • bit stuffing

    Bit stuffing refers to the insertion of one or more bits into a data transmission as a way to provide signaling information to a receiver.

  • bits per second (bps or bit/sec)

    In data communications, bits per second (bps or bit/sec) is a common measure of data speed for computer modems and transmission carriers.

  • BNC (Bayonet Neil-Concelman or British Naval Connector)

    A BNC (Bayonet Neil-Concelman, or sometimes British Naval Connector) connector is used to connect a computer to a coaxial cable in a 10BASE-2 Ethernet network. 10BASE-2 is a 10 MHz baseband network on a cable extending up to 185 meters - the 2 is a rounding up to 200 meters - without a repeater cable.

  • bogon

    A bogon is an illegitimate IP address that falls into a set of IP addresses that have not been officially assigned to an entity by an internet registration institute, such as the Internet Assigned Number Authority (IANA).

  • BOOTP (Bootstrap Protocol)

    BOOTP (Bootstrap Protocol) is an internet protocol that lets a network user automatically be configured to receive an IP address and have an operating system booted without user involvement.

  • bottleneck

    A bottleneck is a stage in a process that causes the entire process to slow down or stop. In a communications context, a bottleneck is a point in the enterprise where the flow of data is impaired or stopped entirely... (Continued)

  • branch office box (BOB)

    A Branch Office Box (BOB) is a server appliance that has been optimized to provide distributed support for simple utility functions that are required locally but are difficult to provide over a WAN... (Continued)

  • broadband voice gateway

    A broadband voice gateway is a device that allows you to make telephone calls over a high-speed Internet connection rather than through a regular telephone outlet without having to go through your computer.

  • brouter

    A brouter (pronounced BRAU-tuhr or sometimes BEE-rau-tuhr) is a network bridge and a router combined in a single product.

  • bus network

    A bus network is a local area network (LAN) topology in which each node -- a workstation or other device -- is connected to a main cable or link called a bus.

  • C

    cable head-end

    A cable head-end (or headend) is the facility at a local cable TV office that originates and communicates cable TV services and cable modem services to subscribers.

  • cable modem termination system (CMTS)

    A cable modem termination system (CMTS) is a component that exchanges digital signals with cable modems on a cable network.

  • campus network

    A campus network is a proprietary local area network (LAN) or set of interconnected LANs serving a corporation, government agency, university, or similar organization.

  • CAPWAP (Control and Provisioning of Wireless Access Points)

    CAPWAP (Control and Provisioning of Wireless Access Points) is a standardized protocol that enables wireless LAN (WLAN) controllers to centrally manage a group of wireless access points (APs).

  • care-of address

    In Internet routing, a care-of address is a temporary IP address for a mobile node (mobile device) that enables message delivery when the device is connecting from somewhere other than its home network.

  • carrier cloud

    A carrier cloud is a cloud computing system, or network of servers that store data in a way that it is easily accessible from multiple locations, that is owned and operated by a traditional telecommunications service provider.

  • carrier-to-noise ratio

    In communications, the carrier-to-noise ratio, often written as CNR or C/N, is a measure of the received carrier strength relative to the strength of the received noise.

  • CCITT or ITU-T (Telecommunication Standardization Sector of the International Telecommunications)

    The CCITT, now known as the ITU-T (for Telecommunication Standardization Sector of the International Telecommunications Union), is the primary international body for fostering cooperative standards for telecommunications equipment and systems.

  • CCNA certification

    Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) is a technical certification that Cisco offers for early-career networking professionals.

  • CDMA (Code-Division Multiple Access)

    CDMA (Code-Division Multiple Access) refers to any of several protocols used in second-generation (2G) and third-generation (3G) wireless communications.

  • CDN (content delivery network)

    A CDN (content delivery network), also called a content distribution network, is a group of geographically distributed and interconnected servers that provide cached internet content from a network location closest to a user to accelerate its delivery.

  • CenturyLink

    CenturyLink is an integrated telecommunications company that provides a wide variety of products and services to clients across the globe, including networking, cloud service and security solutions.

  • Certified Wireless Networking Professional (CWNP)

    Certified Wireless Networking Professional (CWNP)is the name for the family of wireless certifications from Planet3Wireless.

  • chatty protocol

    A chatty protocol is an application or routing protocol that requires a client or server to wait for an acknowledgement before it can transmit again.

  • CIDR (Classless Inter-Domain Routing or supernetting)

    CIDR (Classless Inter-Domain Routing) -- also known as supernetting -- is a method of assigning Internet Protocol (IP) addresses that improves the efficiency of address distribution and replaces the previous system based on class A, class B and class C networks.

  • circuit-switched

    Circuit-switched is a type of network in which a physical path is obtained for and dedicated to a single connection between two end-points in the network for the duration of the connection.

  • Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT)

    Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) is a now-retired certification offered by Cisco, as part of their certification program.

  • Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE certification)

    Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE certification) is a series of technical certifications for senior networking professionals who design, build, implement, maintain and troubleshoot complex enterprise networking infrastructures.

  • Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP)

    Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) is an intermediate-level certification in the Cisco certified professional program.

  • Cisco Enterprise Agreement (EA)

    Cisco Enterprise Agreement (EA) is a software buying program that digitizes and simplifies license management for Cisco suite customers.

  • Cisco IOS (Cisco Internetwork Operating System)

    Cisco IOS (Internetwork Operating System) is a proprietary operating system that runs on Cisco Systems routers and switches.

  • Cisco LISP (Location Identifier Separation Protocol)

    LISP (Location Identifier Separation Protocol) is a routing and addressing architecture developed by Cisco Systems. LISP creates two addresses for each network node: one for its identity and another for its location in the network.

  • Cisco Performance Routing (PfR)

    Cisco Performance Routing (PfR) is a way of sending network packets based on intelligent path control.

  • Class of Service (CoS)

    Class of Service (CoS) is a way of managing traffic in a network by grouping similar types of traffic (for example, e-mail, streaming video, voice, large document file transfer) together and treating each type as a class with its own level of service priority.

  • client-server model (client-server architecture)

    Client-server is a relationship in which one program (the client) requests a service or resource from another program (the server).

  • clone

    A clone is an identical copy of something and is a term that first became familiar to the public from the biosciences.

  • Clos network

    A Clos network is a type of non-blocking, multistage switching architecture that reduces the number of ports required in an interconnected fabric.

  • cloud federation

    Cloud federation is the practice of interconnecting service providers' cloud environments to load balance traffic and accommodate spikes in demand.

  • cloud networking

    Cloud networking is when some or all of an organization's networking resources are hosted in the cloud.

  • cloud radio access network (C-RAN)

    C-RAN, or cloud radio access network, is a centralized, cloud computing-based architecture for radio access networks (RAN) that enables large-scale deployment, collaborative radio technology support and real time virtualization capabilities.

  • coarse wavelength division multiplexing (CWDM)

    Coarse wavelength division multiplexing (CWDM) is a method of combining multiple signals on laser beams at various wavelengths for transmission along fiber optic cables, such that the number of channels is fewer than in dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) but more than in standard wavelength division multiplexing (WDM).

  • coaxial cable

    Coaxial cable is a type of copper cable specially built with a metal shield and other components engineered to block signal interference.

  • coded orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (COFDM)

    Coded orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (COFDM) is a telecommunications modulation scheme that divides a single digital signal across 1,000 or more signal carriers simultaneously.

  • cognitive radio (CR)

    Cognitive radio (CR) is a form of wireless communication in which a transceiver can intelligently detect which communication channels are in use and which ones are not.

  • collision

    In a half duplex Ethernet network, a collision is the result of two devices on the same network attempting to transmit data at exactly the same time.

  • committed information rate (CIR)

    Committed information rate (CIR) is the guaranteed rate at which a Frame Relay network will transfer information under normal line conditions.

  • computer hardware

    Computer hardware is a collective term used to describe any of the physical components of an analog or digital computer.

  • computer network

    A computer network, also referred to as a data network, is a series of interconnected nodes that can transmit, receive and exchange data, voice and video traffic.

  • conductance

    Conductance is an expression of the ease with which electric current flows through materials like metals and nonmetals.

  • connection

    In telecommunication and computing in general, a connection is the successful completion of necessary arrangements so that two or more parties (for example, people or programs) can communicate at a long distance.

  • connection-oriented

    In telecommunications, connection-oriented describes a means of transmitting data in which the devices at the end points use a preliminary protocol to establish an end-to-end connection before any data is sent.

  • connectionless

    In telecommunications, connectionless describes communication between two network endpoints in which a message can be sent from one endpoint to another without prior arrangement.

  • control plane (CP)

    The control plane is the part of a network that carries signaling traffic and is responsible for routing.

  • core router

    A core router is a router that forwards packets to computer hosts within a network (but not between networks).

  • CPRI (Common Public Radio Interface)

    CPRI (Common Public Radio Interface) is a specification for wireless communication networks in the interface between radio equipment and radio equipment control.

  • CRC-4 (Cyclic Redundancy Check 4)

    CRC-4 (Cyclic Redundancy Check 4) is a form of cyclic redundancy checking -- a method of checking for errors in transmitted data -- that is used on E1 trunk lines.

  • cross-bar switch

    In a network, a cross-bar switch is a device that is capable of channeling data between any two devices that are attached to it up to its maximum number of ports.

  • crosstalk

    Crosstalk is a disturbance caused by the electric or magnetic fields of one telecommunication signal affecting a signal in an adjacent circuit.

  • CSMA/CA (Carrier Sense Multiple Access/Collision Avoidance)

    CSMA/CA (Carrier Sense Multiple Access/Collision Avoidance) is a protocol for carrier transmission in 802.11 networks.

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