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Quick Start Glossary: WAN acceleration

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

Print out our handy glossary of essential WAN acceleration terminology for a fast reference. Online, each term links to our full definition, which also includes resources for further learning.

application delivery controller (ADC) -- a network device that manages client connections to complex Web and enterprise applications.

bandwidth --  the amount of data that can be carried from one point to another in a given time period (usually a second). Network bandwidth is usually expressed in bits per second (bps); modern networks typically have speeds measured in the millions of bits per second (megabits per second, or Mbps) or billions of bits per second (gigabits per second, or Gbps).

burstiness -- a characteristic of communications involving data that is transmitted intermittently -- in bursts -- rather than as a continuous stream. 

chatty protocol -- an application or routing protocol that requires a client or server to wait for an acknowledgement before it can transmit again.

compression -- a reduction in the number of bits needed to represent data. Compressing data can save storage capacity, speed file transfer, and decrease costs for storage hardware and network bandwidth.

data transfer rate (DTR) -- the amount of digital data that is moved from one place to another in a given time. The data transfer rate can be viewed as the speed of travel of a given amount of data from one place to another. In general, the greater the bandwidth of a given path, the higher the data transfer rate.

data deduplication – a technique used to ensure that only one copy of data is sent, which reduces the  total data that must be sent across a WAN for remote backups, replication, and disaster recovery.

enterprise WAN -- a corporate network that connects geographically dispersed users areas that could be anywhere in the world. As is the case with most WANs, an enterprise WAN links LANs in multiple locations.

fog computing, also known as fogging -- a distributed computing infrastructure in which some application services are handled at the network edge in a smart device and some application services are handled in a remote data center -- in the cloud. 

jitter -- a deviation in or a displacement of some aspect of the pulses in a high-frequency digital signal that can cause data loss in a transmission. 

latency -- the delay from input into a system to desired outcome; the term is understood slightly differently in various contexts and latency issues also vary from one system to another. 

load balancing -- dividing the amount of work that a computer has to do between two or more computers so that more work gets done in the same amount of time and, in general, all users get served faster.

noise -- unwanted electrical or electromagnetic energy that degrades the quality of signals and data.

packet -- the unit of data that is routed between an origin and a destination on the Internet or any other packet-switched network.

packet loss -- the failure of one or more transmitted packets to arrive at their destination. This event can cause noticeable effects in all types of digital communications.

packet loss concealment (PLC)  -- a technology designed to minimize the practical effect of lost packets in digital communications. In particular, PLC is used in Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).

QoS (Quality of Service) -- the idea that transmission rates, error rates, and other characteristics can be measured, improved, and, to some extent, guaranteed in advance. QoS is of particular concern for the continuous transmission of high-bandwidth video and multimedia information.

traffic shaping, also known as packet shaping -- the practice of regulating network data transfer to assure a certain level of performance, quality of service (QoS) or return on investment (ROI). 

WAN accelerator -- an appliance that speeds up the time it takes for information to flow back and forth across the WAN by using compression and data deduplication techniques to reduce the amount of data that needs to be transmitted.

WAN clustering, also called geoclustering, high-availability clustering or remote clustering -- the use of multiple redundant computing resources located in different geographical locations to form what appears to be a single highly-available system.

WAN optimization, also known as WAN acceleration -- the category of technologies and techniques used to maximize the efficiency of data flow across a wide area network (WAN).

WAN (wide area network) --  a geographically-dispersed telecommunications network. The term distinguishes a broader telecommunication structure from a local area network (LAN).

Wide Area Ethernet (WAE) or Ethernet WAN --  a network carrier service that delivers high-speed wide area network (WAN) connectivity, utilizing Ethernet as the connection method. 

wireless WAN -- a wide area network in which separate areas of coverage or cells are connected wirelessly to provide service to a large geographic area.

This was last updated in April 2015

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