IT Explained

We at Paessler use IT-related terms constantly and we are very much aware of the “The Imposter Syndrome” in IT, when professionals continue using terminology, they might not even understand themselves.

“IT explained” therefore isn’t a book review on Stephen King’s great novel, but the summary and explanation of tricky, sometimes misinterpreted terms of information technology.

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Active Directory (AD) is a directory service created by Microsoft for use in a Windows Server environment.
A directory service is a distributed, hierarchical database structure that shares infrastructure information for locating, securing, managing, and organizing computer and network resources including files, users, groups, machines, peripherals and network devices.

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Bandwidth is measured as the amount of data that can be transferred from one point to another within a network in a specific amount of time. Typically, bandwidth is expressed as a bitrate and measured in bits per second (bps). It refers to the transmission capacity of a connection and is an important factor when determining the quality and speed of a network.  

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An IP address (internet protocol address) is a numerical representation that uniquely identifies a specific interface on the network. Addresses in IPv4 are 32-bits long. This allows for a maximum of 4,294,967,296 (232) unique addresses. Addresses in IPv6 are 128-bits, which allows for 3.4 x 1038 (2128) unique addresses.

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NetFlow is a protocol for collecting, aggregating and recording traffic flow data in a network. NetFlow data provide a more granular view of how bandwidth and network traffic are being used than other monitoring solutions, such as SNMP. NetFlow was developed by Cisco and is embedded in Cisco’s IOS software on the company’s routers and switches and has been supported on almost all Cisco devices since the 11.1 train of Cisco IOS Software. Many other hardware manufacturers either support NetFlow or use alternative flow technologies, such as jFlow or sFlow.

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Ping is a command-line utility, available on virtually any operating system with network connectivity, that acts as a test to see if a networked device is reachable. The ping command sends a request over the network to a specific device. A successful ping results in a response from the computer that was pinged back to the originating computer.

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SNMP stands for Simple Network Monitoring Protocol. SNMP is a protocol for management information transfer in networks, for use in LANs especially, depending on the chosen version.

Its usefulness in network administration comes from the fact that it allows information about network-connected devices to be collected in a standardized way across a large variety of hardware and software types.

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Syslog stands for System Logging Protocol and is a standard protocol used to send system log or event messages to a specific server, called a syslog server. It is primarily used to collect various device logs from several different machines in a central location for monitoring and review.

The protocol is enabled on most network equipment such as routers, switches, firewalls, and even some printers and scanners. In addition, syslog is available on Unix and Linux based systems and many web servers including Apache. Syslog is not installed by default on Windows systems, which use their own Windows Event Log. These events can be forwarded via third-party utilities or other configurations using the syslog protocol.

Syslog is defined in RFC 5424, The Syslog Protocol, which obsoleted the previous RFC 3164.

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Virtualization is the process of creating a virtual version of something like computer hardware. It involves using specialized software to create a virtual or software-created version of a computing resource rather than the actual version of the same resource.

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