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.

  • I

    internet metering

    Internet metering is a service model in which an internet service provider (ISP) keeps track of bandwidth use and charges users accordingly.

  • IPTV (Internet Protocol television)

    IPTV (Internet Protocol television) is a service that provides television programming and other video content using the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) suite, as opposed to broadcast TV, cable TV or satellite signals.

  • IPv6 (Internet Protocol Version 6)

    IPv6 is a set of specifications from the Internet Engineering Task Force that improves IPv4 by extending IP addresses from 32 bits to 128 bits.

  • IPX (Internetwork Packet Exchange)

    IPX (Internetwork Packet Exchange) is a networking protocol from Novell that interconnects networks that use Novell's NetWare clients and servers.

  • ISSU (in-service software upgrade)

    An ISSU (in-service software upgrade) is a technique for updating software on a network device without taking that device offline and thereby disrupting network services.

  • J

    Joint Academic Network (JANET)

    The Joint Academic Network (JANET) is an internal, high-speed computer network that links the U.K. education and research community.

  • jumbo frames

    A jumbo frame is an Ethernet frame with a payload greater than the standard maximum transmission unit (MTU) of 1,500 bytes. 

  • K

    Kbps (kilobits per second)

    In the U.S., Kbps stands for kilobits per second (thousands of bits per second) and is a measure of bandwidth (the amount of data that can flow in a given time) on a data transmission medium.

  • keystone jack

    A keystone jack is a female connector used in data communications, particularly local area networks (LANs).

  • kHz (kilohertz)

    The kilohertz, abbreviated kHz, is a unit of alternating current (AC) or electromagnetic (EM) wave frequency equal to one thousand hertz (1,000 Hz).

  • L

    LANDesk Client Manager (LDCM)

    LDCM (LANDesk Client Manager) is a software product from Intel that lets a system administrator for a local area network () see the configurations and monitor the status of personal computer on the LAN. LDCM is an implementation of the Desktop Management Interface (DMI) standard established by the Desktop Management Task Force, an industry group.

  • Layer Two Tunneling Protocol (L2TP)

    Layer Two Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) is an extension of the Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) used by an internet service provider (ISP) to enable the operation of a virtual private network (VPN) over the internet.

  • Link Control Protocol (LCP)

    In computer networking, Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP) provides a standard way to transport multiprotocol data over point-to-point links; within PPP, Link Control Protocol (LCP) establishes, configures and tests data link internet connections.

  • load balancing

    Load balancing is a technique used to distribute workloads uniformly across servers or other compute resources to optimize network efficiency, reliability and capacity.

  • local access and transport area (LATA)

    LATA (local access and transport area) is a term in the U.S. for a geographic area covered by one or more local telephone companies, which are legally referred to as local exchange carriers (LECs).

  • local area network (LAN)

    A local area network (LAN) is a group of computers and peripheral devices that share a common communications line or wireless link to a server within a distinct geographic area.

  • local loop

    In telephony, a local loop is the wired connection from a telephone company's central office in a locality to its customers' telephones at homes and businesses.

  • location-based service (LBS)

    A location-based service (LBS) is a software service for mobile device applications that requires knowledge about where the mobile device is geographically located.

  • logical network

    A logical network is one that appears to the user as a single, separate entity although it might in fact be either just a part of a larger network or an entity connecting multiple networks. A logical network is defined by its IP addressing scheme.

  • loopback test

    A loopback test is a test in which a signal in sent from a communications device and returned (looped back) to it as a way to determine whether the device is working right or as a way to pin down a failing node in a network.

  • loose coupling

    Loose coupling is a method of interconnecting the components in a system or network so that those components, also called elements, depend on each other to the least extent practicable... (Continued)

  • M

    MAC address (Media Access Control address)

    In a local area network (LAN) or other network, the MAC (Media Access Control) address is your computer's unique hardware number.

  • managed network services

    Managed network services are networking applications, functions and services that enterprises outsource to be remotely operated, monitored and maintained by a managed service provider (MSP).

  • Manchester encoding

    In data transmission, Manchester encoding is a form of digital encoding in which data bits are represented by transitions from one logical state to the other.

  • master/minion (formerly master/slave)

    In computer networking, master/slave is a model for a communication protocol in which one device or process (known as the master) controls one or more other devices or processes (known as slaves).

  • maximum segment size (MSS)

    The maximum segment size (MSS) is the largest amount of data, specified in bytes, that a computer or communications device can handle in a single, unfragmented piece.

  • maximum transmission unit (MTU)

    The maximum transmission unit (MTU) is the largest size frame or packet -- in bytes or octets (eight-bit bytes) -- that can be transmitted across a data link.

  • MDI/MDIX (medium-dependent interface/MDI crossover)

    MDI/MDIX is a type of Ethernet port connection that uses twisted-pair cabling to link two networked devices.

  • media access management

    In the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) communication reference model, media access management is performed by the Media Access Control (MAC) sublayer of the Data-Link Layer.

  • megabits per second (Mbps)

    Megabits per second (Mbps) are units of measurement for network bandwidth and throughput. It is used to show how fast a network or internet connection is.

  • megahertz (MHz)

    The megahertz, abbreviated MHz, is a unit of alternating current (AC) or electromagnetic (EM) wave frequency equal to one million hertz (1,000,000 Hz).

  • metropolitan area network (MAN)

    A metropolitan area network (MAN) is a computer network that is larger than a single building local area network (LAN) but is located in a single geographic area that is smaller than a wide area network (WAN).

  • MHz

    The megahertz, abbreviated MHz, is a unit of alternating current (AC) or electromagnetic (EM) wave frequency equal to one million hertz (1,000,000 Hz).

  • microsegmentation

    Microsegmentation is a technique used to divide a network into logical and secure units through the application of policies that dictate how data and applications are accessed and controlled.

  • Microsoft Network Access Protection (NAP)

    Network access protection (NAP), introduced with Windows Server 2008, is Microsoft’s approach to controlling access to a network based on a determination of each device’s health.

  • millimeter wave (MM wave)

    Millimeter wave (MM wave), also known as millimeter band, is the band of spectrum with wavelengths between 10 millimeters (30 GHz) and 1 millimeter (300 GHz).

  • Mininet

    Mininet is a software emulator for prototyping a large network on a single machine. 

  • modem error-correcting protocols

    The protocols that modems agree on and use for checking and correcting transmission errors have evolved toward accuracy, speed, and efficiency since 1978 when the Xmodem protocol became a de facto standard.

  • modem lights (AA)

    This page provides a description of the abbreviations and meanings of each of the lights that describe the "handshaking" between a computer modem and the UART chip in a computer.

  • modulation

    Modulation is the process of converting data into radio waves by adding information to an electronic or optical carrier signal.

  • Morse code

    Morse code is a method of sending text messages by keying in a series of electronic pulses, usually represented as a short pulse (called a "dot") and a long pulse (a "dash").

  • MPLS-TP (MPLS Transport Profile)

    The Multiprotocol Label Switching Transport Profile (MPLS-TP) is a protocol extension of MPLS designed to speed up and shape network traffic in operator transport networks.

  • multi-user MIMO

    Multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO) is a wireless communication technology that uses multiple antennas to improve communication by creating multiple connections to the same device at the same time

  • multicast

    Multicast is communication between a single sender and multiple receivers on a network.

  • multihomed

    Multihomed describes a computer host that has multiple IP addresses to connected networks.

  • multiplexing

    Multiplexing, or muxing, is a way of sending multiple signals or streams of information over a communications link at the same time in the form of a single, complex signal.

  • Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS)

    Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) is a protocol-agnostic routing technique designed to speed up and shape traffic flows across enterprise wide area and service provider networks.

  • mutex (mutual exclusion object)

    In computer programming, a mutex (mutual exclusion object) is a program object that is created so that multiple program thread can take turns sharing the same resource, such as access to a file.

  • mux

    In communication transmission systems, mux (pronounce muks, sometimes spelled "MUX") is an abbreviation for multiplexing, a device that sends multiple signals on a carrier channel at the same time in the form of a single, complex signal to another device that recovers the separate signals at the receiving end.

  • N

    NACK (NAK, negative acknowledgment, not acknowledged)

    NACK, or NAK, an abbreviation for negative acknowledgment or not acknowledged, is a signal used by computers or other devices to indicate that data transmitted over a network was received with errors or was otherwise unreadable.

  • NBAR (Network Based Application Recognition)

    Network Based Application Recognition (NBAR) is a mechanism that classifies and regulates bandwidth for network applications to ensure that available resources are utilized as efficiently as possible. Cisco Systems developed NBAR as part of its Content Networking platform for implementing intelligent network services... (Continued)

  • NBASE-T Ethernet

    NBASE-T Ethernet is an IEEE standard and Ethernet-signaling technology that allows existing twisted-pair copper cabling to exceed the cable's specified limit of 1 Gbps for distances of up to 100 meters.

  • NBMA (non-broadcast multiple access)

    Non-broadcast multiple access (NBMA) is one of four network types in the Open Shortest Path First (OSPF) communications protocol.

  • near-end crosstalk (NEXT)

    Near-end crosstalk (NEXT) is an error condition that can occur when connectors are attached to twisted pair cabling.

  • Nessus

    Nessus is an open-source network vulnerability scanner that uses the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures architecture for easy cross-linking between compliant security tools.

  • net neutrality

    Net neutrality is the concept of an open, equal internet for everyone, regardless of content consumed or the device, application or platform used.

  • NetBIOS (Network Basic Input/Output System)

    NetBIOS (Network Basic Input/Output System) is a network service that enables applications on different computers to communicate with each other across a local area network (LAN).

  • NETCONF

    NETCONF is an IETF network management protocol that provides an administrator or network engineer with a secure way to configure a firewall, router, switch or other network device.

  • NetScaler (SDX)

    Citrix NetScaler SDX is a service delivery networking platform for enterprise and cloud datacenters. NetScaler SDX supports multiple NetScaler instances on a single hardware appliance.

  • network access control (NAC)

    Network access control (NAC), also called network admission control, is a method to bolster the security, visibility and access management of a proprietary network.

  • Network Address Translation (NAT)

    A Network Address Translation (NAT) is the process of mapping an internet protocol (IP) address to another by changing the header of IP packets while in transit via a router.

  • network analytics

    Network analytics is the application of big data principles and tools to the data used to manage and secure data networks.

  • network analyzer (protocol analyzer or packet analyzer)

    A network analyzer -- also called a network protocol analyzer or packet analyzer -- is a software application, dedicated appliance or feature set within a network component used in network performance troubleshooting or to enhance protection against malicious activity within a corporate network.

  • Network as a Service (NaaS)

    Network as a service (NaaS) is a business model for delivering enterprise-wide area network services virtually on a subscription basis.

  • network automation

    Network automation is a methodology in which software automatically configures, provisions, manages and tests network devices.

  • network configuration management (NCM)

    Network configuration management is the process of organizing and maintaining information about all of the components in a computer network.

  • network downtime

    Network downtime refers to inaccessibility to part or all of a network due to the failure of hardware, software or some combination of the two.

  • network engineer

    A network engineer is a technology professional who has the necessary skills to plan, implement and oversee the computer networks that support in-house voice, data, video and wireless network services.

  • network fabric

    Network fabric is an industry term that describes a network topology in which devices pass data to each other through interconnecting switches.

  • network functions virtualization (NFV)

    Network functions virtualization (NFV) is a network architecture model designed to virtualize network services that have traditionally run on proprietary, dedicated network appliances.

  • network hub

    A network hub is a node that broadcasts data to every computer or Ethernet-based device connected to it.

  • network hypervisor

    A network hypervisor is a program that provides an abstraction layer for network hardware.  Network hypervisors allow network engineers to create virtual networks that are completely decoupled and independent from the underlying physical network.

  • network interface card (NIC)

    A network interface card (NIC) is a hardware component, typically a circuit board or chip, which is installed on a computer so it can connect to a network.

  • network interface unit (NIU or Network Interface Device)

    A network interface unit (NIU) (sometimes called a network interface device) is a device that serves as a common interfacefor various other devices within a local area network (LAN), or as an interface to allow networked computers to connect to an outside network.

  • Network layer

    Located at Layer 3 of the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) communications model, the primary function of the network layer is to move data into and through other networks.

  • network management

    A cornerstone of all computing is the ability to connect one machine, system or device to another -- enabling what is known as a computer network.

  • network management system

    A network management system (NMS) is an application or set of applications that lets network engineers manage a network's independent components inside a bigger network management framework and performs several key functions.

  • network monitoring

    Network monitoring, also frequently called network management, is the practice of consistently overseeing a computer network for any failures or deficiencies to ensure continued network performance.

  • network node

    A computer network is a system of computers and computing devices that are connected via communication links.

  • network operating system (NOS)

    A network operating system (NOS) is a computer operating system (OS) that is designed primarily to support workstations, personal computers and, in some instances, older terminals that are connected on a local area network (LAN).

  • network operations center (NOC)

    A network operations center (NOC) is a centralized place from which enterprise information technology (IT) administrators -- either internal or third party -- supervise, monitor and maintain a telecommunications network.

  • network orchestration

    Network orchestration is a policy-driven approach to network automation that coordinates the hardware and software components a software application or service requires to run.

  • network packet

    A network packet is a small amount of data sent over Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) networks.

  • network performance monitoring

    Network performance monitoring is a process of measuring and monitoring the quality of service of a network to understand if it is properly operating.

  • network protocol

    A network protocol is a set of established rules that dictate how to format, transmit and receive data so that computer network devices -- from servers and routers to endpoints -- can communicate, regardless of the differences in their underlying infrastructures, designs or standards.

  • network scanning

    Network scanning is a procedure for identifying active devices on a network by employing a feature or features in the network protocol to signal devices and await a response.

  • network security

    In information technology, network security is the act of maintaining the integrity of a computer network and the data within it.

  • network segmentation

    Network segmentation is a networking architectural design that divides a network into multiple segments (subnets) with each functioning as a smaller, individual network.

  • network service provider (NSP)

    A network service provider (NSP) is a company that owns, operates and sells access to internet backbone infrastructure and services.

  • network switch

    A network switch is a hardware device that channels incoming data from multiple input ports to a specific output port that will take it toward its intended destination.

  • network tap

    A network tap is an external monitoring device that mirrors the traffic that passes between two network nodes. A tap (test access point) is a hardware device inserted at a specific point in the network to monitor data.

  • Network Time Protocol (NTP)

    Network Time Protocol (NTP) is an internet protocol used to synchronize with computer clock time sources in a network.

  • network topology

    A network topology is the physical and logical arrangement of nodes and connections in a network.

  • network traffic

    Network traffic, sometimes referred to as data traffic, is the amount of data which moves across a network during any given time.

  • network visibility

    Network visibility is an awareness of the components and data within an enterprise computer network.

  • Networking (computer)

    Networking, also known as computer networking, is the practice of transporting and exchanging data between nodes over a shared medium in an information system.

  • Next Hop Resolution Protocol (NHRP)

    Next Hop Resolution Protocol (NHRP) is an automated configuration technology that routes data on a distributed network by discovering the best routing path between endpoints.

  • NFV MANO (network functions virtualization management and orchestration)

    NFV MANO (network functions virtualization management and orchestration), also called MANO, is an architectural framework for managing and orchestrating virtualized network functions (VNFs) and other software components.

  • NFVi (network functions virtualization infrastructure)

    NFVi (network functions virtualization infrastructure) encompasses all of the networking hardware and software needed to support and connect virtual network functions in carrier networks.

  • NIS (Network Information System)

    NIS (Network Information System) is a network naming and administration system for smaller networks that was developed by Sun Microsystems.

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