Kemp | Glossary of Terms and Phrases

Network Node

What is a Network Node?

Computer and communication networks comprise multiple devices connected via physical and wireless networking technologies and protocols. Any device that is connected directly to a network is a node within the wider network mesh. There are many different kinds of network nodes. Each node has a unique address that uniquely identifies it on the network. This is usually the MAC (Media Access Control) address. Other higher-level identifiers such as TCP/IP address and FQDN ultimately resolve to a MAC address at the lower levels of the network stack.

Network Node Types

Network Infrastructure Nodes The physical and virtual infrastructure components that maintain the connections within a network are nodes. Examples of this type of node are routers, switches, hubs, gateways, load balancers, and wireless base stations. Both physical and virtual instances of many of these types of nodes are possible. Server Nodes Host devices that provide services on the network for other devices and nodes to use. Examples include web servers, file servers, email servers, and many more. Nodes that provide services on the network are also known as hosts. Server nodes can be physical or virtual instances. Endpoint Nodes End-user devices that people use to access the network and perform tasks are endpoint nodes. This includes desktop computers, laptops, smartphones, tablets, and printers. Increasingly the vast majority of endpoint devices are network-connected IoT devices and sensors.

Some Devices are not Network Nodes

Some devices are not classed as nodes on a network. Examples include Bluetooth devices that connect to a computer, tablet or smartphone. These do not have an independent presence on the network but are rather adjuncts to another network device. This primary device is the node, and the adjunct devices are not nodes. Similarly, some IoT devices that are not directly on the network are also not nodes, but rather adjunct devices to a node that collects and consolidates their data.
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