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If you’re new to networking, the terminology being thrown around can really be confusing. We’ll run through some basic terms to help you understand the foundational infrastructure you’ll be working with in the networking world.


A modem is the device in a network that provides access to the Internet. A modem will be your first level of communication with an ISP. It communicates with the ISP to father the internet signal and feed it to the rest of the network – routers, switches, computers, nodes, and more.

 The modem is the most common form of Internet tech which most private consumers see and access on a daily basis when using their in-home network.

Internet Routers

An Internet router is the piece of hardware in a network which determines what information – or packets of data – gets sent where. The router is what communicates with the outside Internet.

As the first point of contact, the router determines what type of data is being sent, where that data needs to go, and when/how that data will be sent.

Router Types

Internet routers determine where and how a signal will be sent. They come as both wired and wireless routers. Both routers perform the same basic functions. Routers can also function as cable routers, in much the same fashion.

They also include Wi-Fi routers. As the name suggests, the Wi-Fi router enables wireless devices to connect to the Internet and communicate with additional devices within a defined network.

While modems and routers are often confused, they are different. The modem connects to the ISP to gather the Internet signal. The router determines where that signal – packets of data – will be sent.


In our section on routers above, we mentioned that routers determine how data will be sent. Switches are involved in that process. They can be managed or unmanaged. Much like a router, the serve as an access point to your network. Unlike a router – which serves as the first point of contact with the outside Internet – a switch is a controller allowing networked devices to speak to one another. Where the router determines what information is sent where, the switch creates the network, allowing the packets of data to be sent between different internal and external computing devices.

On a related note, a network port switch – sometimes just called a port switch – is the physical port on a switch where devices connect. In terms of speed, switches come in multiple forms – the faster being a gigabit switch which supports high-speed broadband Internet connection.

Nodes and Hypervisors

A node, simply put, is a connection point. In network speak, it serves as a redistribution point for packets of data. A physical node is a network device meant to create, receive and communicate data over a larger network.

A hypervisor is a physical device which acts as a virtual machine monitor. The hypervisor is a top-level piece of hardware which creates and operates other virtual machines in a given network. A hypervisor controls all other virtual machines, known as guest machines, within the network. It interfaces with multiple compute layers and technologies including virtualization technology like Xen, KVM, Hyper-V, VMware and OpenVZ.

These are only a few of the components and pieces of technology that define a network. When it comes to network management, you want to know that you’re working with a company that not only understands the current terminology, but which is actively learning about new and upcoming technologies before they get behind the times. Bay Area Computer Solutions is the right choice for you. Give us a call at (650) 887-4601 or contact us online to learn more about the network services we provide and to learn what we can do to help your business succeed.
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Published on 29th July 2015 by James Berger.