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Network infrastructure

Network infrastructure definition

Network infrastructure is the collection of hardware and software components of a computer network. Network infrastructure includes physical devices, protocols, and services that are used in network operations and management.

Efficient network infrastructure lets users safely access the internet, communicate with each other, and share common resources (like printers and storage devices).

See also: digital switch, packet switched network, virtual switch, firewall, load balancer, routing information protocol, network access control, network bottleneck

Examples of network infrastructure components

  • Routers pass data packets between different networks — for example, a local area network and the internet.
  • Switches direct traffic between connected devices in a network.
  • Network cables connect devices to one another in wired networks.
  • Wireless access points provide connectivity to devices in wireless networks.
  • Network interface cards allow their host devices to connect to and interface with a network.
  • Firewalls monitor and control traffic based on the network’s security policies, which can be tailored by the network administrator to block undesirable connections.
  • Software-based load balancers distribute incoming traffic among the network’s servers, preventing any one server from being overloaded and going offline.
  • Network protocols establish the rules that software and hardware must follow to communicate over a network. to in order to communicate with one another. Popular protocols include File Transfer Protocol (FTP), Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), and Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP).