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Hosting Terminology

 
Hosting often uses its own language, or languages, comprised of acronyms, proprietary names and terms that have been granted new meanings. For some it's a first language. For others it's an entirely new language. This abridged glossary is designed to assist in "translating" the more common hosting terms into more common language.

Apache
One of the world's most popular Web server programs, Apache was built by a group of open-source programmers and is often used because of its outstanding performance, strong security features and the fact that it is free.

Application Infrastructure
The software components that your custom application relies on for its functionality. Examples include web servers, application servers and database servers.

Bandwidth
The amount of data that can be transmitted at a given moment to a server. The higher your bandwidth, the larger amount of traffic your site can handle at one time.

CGI
Short for Common Gateway Interface, a small script that processes data taken from the user (such as from a form application).

Cgi-bin
The directory on a web server where CGI scripts are stored.

DDoS
Short for Distributed Denial of Service Attack, the most common form of attack on network devices. It overwhelms a network by monopolizing its bandwidth by flooding it with information from multiple hosts, thereby preventing legitimate network traffic.

Device
Refers to the individual hardware components that make up a unique hosted configuration. This includes servers, firewalls and load balancers.

Firewall
A piece of security software or hardware designed to protect web servers. They are typically used to protect sites from hacker attacks/unauthorized access.

FTP
Short for File Transfer Protocol, a method of allowing remote users and Web servers to exchange files.

HTML
Short for HyperText Markup Language, the language by which web servers and client browsers communicate. All server-side functions (such as database processing), although they may be performed in another language, must eventually be output back to the user in HTML.

HTTP
Stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol, the protocol by which HTML files move across the Internet. HTTP requires a client browser and an HTTP server (typically a web server).

IDS
Short for Intrusion Detection System, it recognizes all types of hostile network traffic and computer usage that can't be detected by a conventional firewall.

IIS
Short for Internet Information Server, Microsoft's server software for Windows NT/2000.

IP
Short for Internet Protocol, which designates the format of "data packets" that are used to exchange information over the Internet.

J2EE
Short for Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition, J2EE is a programming platform for developing and running distributed multi-tier architecture applications, based largely on modular components running on an application server.

LAMP
An acronym for a set of free software programs commonly used together to run dynamic Web sites:

Linux, the operating system;
Apache, the web server;
MySQL, the database management system (or database server);
Perl, PHP, and/or Python, scripting languages.

Load Balancing
Distributing data across a network of servers in order to ensure that a single Web server does not get overloaded with work, thereby affecting performance.

Managed Backup
Refers to the copying of data for the purpose of having an additional copy of an original source, specifically storing data on separate tape media not located on the server. If the original data is damaged or lost, the data may be copied back from that source.

Name Server
A server responsible for translating domain names and IP addresses.

NOC
Short for Network Operations Center, a hosting company's "home base," so to speak. The NOC is usually where most administration, technical support and physical server storage takes place.

Packet switching
The method by which most data is exchanged throughout the Internet. Most data is broken down in to smaller "packets" prior to transfer, and then reassembled at the destination.

RAID
Short for Redundant Array of Independent Disks, a method of data protection/backup. Data is stored over a number of servers so that information will still be accessible if a piece of hardware/software crashes.

SAN
Short for Storage Area Network, a network designed to attach computer storage devices such as disk array controllers and tape libraries to servers. In a storage network, a server issues a request for specific blocks, or data segments, from specific disk drives. This method is known as block storage. The device acts in a similar fashion to an internal drive, accessing the specified block, and sending the response across the network.

Scalability
The ability of a piece of software or hardware to expand/grow as necessary.

Service Level Agreement (SLA)
A formal written agreement made between two parties: the service provider and the service recipient. The SLA itself defines the basis of understanding between the two parties for delivery of the service itself. The document can be quite complex, and sometimes underpins a formal contract. Generally, an SLA should contain clauses that define a specified level of service, support options, incentive awards for service levels exceeded and/or penalty provisions for services not provided.

SQL
Short for Standard Query Language. A standard protocol used to request information from databases. Servers that can handle SQL are known as SQL servers.

SSL
Short for Secure Sockets Layer, a protocol developed by Netscape to handle and protect confidential/sensitive information required for e-commerce transactions (like credit card numbers). SSL addresses usually begin with 'https'.

VPN
Short for Virtual Private Network, a private communications network usually used within a company, or by several different companies, to communicate over a public network.

Web Hosting
Web hosting is a service that allows users to post web pages to the Internet. A Web host, or hosting service provider (HSP), is a business that provides the technologies and services needed for Web sites to be viewed on the Web.

XML
Short for Extensible Markup Language. XML is a language allowing developers to create their own markup tags. All XML tags are defined by the programmer, and can be interpreted differently in different applications. For example, the "" tag in HTML means Italics, but could mean anything in XML, depending on the function the developer assigns to it.