Computer networking, like most industries, has its own jargon, which includes technical terms, abbreviations, and acronyms. Without a good grasp of the terminology, it will be difficult to understand the concepts and processes involved in networking. A network interface card (NIC), pronounced 'nick,' is also called the LAN adapter, or just the network interface. This card typically goes into an ISA, PCI, or PCMCIA (PC card) slot in a computer and connects to the network medium. It then connects to other computers through the network media. Media refers to the various physical environments through which transmission signals pass.

Common network media include twisted-pair, coaxial, and fiber-optic cable, and even the earth's atmosphere through which wireless transmission occurs. A protocol is a set of rules. In the case of a network protocol, it is a set of rules by which computers communicate. The term 'protocol suite' describes a set of several protocols that perform different functions related to different aspects of the communication process. Cisco IOS software which runs on Cisco equipment and devices, is the industry-leading and most widely deployed network system software. It delivers intelligent network services for enabling the rapid deployment of Internet applications.

Cisco IOS software provides a wide range of functionality, from basic connectivity, security, and network management to technically advanced services. The functionality of Cisco IOS software is the result of a technological evolution. First-generation networking devices could only store and forward data packets. Today, Cisco IOS software can recognize, classify, and prioritize network traffic, optimize routing, support voice and video applications, and much more. Cisco IOS software runs on most Cisco routers and Cisco switches.

These network devices carry most of the Internet traffic today. Network operating system (NOS) usually refers to server software such as Windows NT, Windows 2000 Server, Windows Server 2003, Novell Net Ware, UNIX, and Linux. The term sometimes refers to the networking components of a client operating system such as Windows 95 or the Macintosh OS. Connectivity devices refer to several different device types, all of which are used to connect cable segments, connect two or more smaller networks (or sub nets) into a larger network, or divide a large network into smaller ones. The term encompasses repeaters, hubs, switches, bridges, and routers. Network applications Network applications are software programs that run between different computers connected together on a network.

Some of the more common uses of network applications include using a web browser program to find content from the World Wide Web, or using an e-mail program to send e-mails over the Internet. Network applications are selected based on the type of work that needs to be done. A complete set of application-layer programs is available to interface with the Internet. Each application program type is associated with its own application protocol. When working with computer applications, it is important that you are familiar with networking terminology. There are three categories of networks - a LAN, a MAN, and a WAN.

The physical topology of a network is the physical structure of a network. The logical topology of a network is the path that signals follow through the network. Network applications are software programs that run between different computers connected on a network. Each application type has associated protocols depending on the function of the application.

HTTP is used by applications that access the Internet, POP 3 is used by applications that access email services, FTP is used by applications that transfer files, Telnet is used by applications that remotely access other machines, and SNMP is used by applications that monitor the operation of the network. Applications interface with protocols in the application layer of the OSI model or TCP/IP stack. By creating a computer network, you enable access between computers regardless of time, place, or type of computer system. Because networks are incorporated into the business strategy of a company, a company's network will usually replicate its business structure. Typically, a network will be subdivided to facilitate the branch, home, and main office of the company as well as its mobile users.