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What is a Network Access Server?

By Donn Saylor
Updated May 17, 2024
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A network access server is a connection point in a telecommunications infrastructure that provides access to a remote source. The server can be employed to connect users to a variety of resources, including Internet access, printers, and telecommunications systems. Both businesses and individuals utilize this type of network access in tasks as diverse as conducting conference calls, printing documents on shared printers, or by simply logging on to the Internet.

When a user logs onto a network access server, he or she typically is asked for log-in credentials and a password. These authentication methods ensure the user has the right to access the server. Once the client's information is validated, the services offered by the network are available to the user.

A network access server can provide a variety of functions. It can connect a customer to an Internet Service Provider and permit access to the Internet. It can also unite various computer networks, creating a single position at which each member of the network can gain entry to the available resources. Additionally, a network access server may offer users the opportunity to employ the benefits of telephony, a unification of telephones or other modes of voice communication that allow for remotely conducted meetings and conference calls.

The network access server, often referred to as simply NAS, is commonly utilized by companies that employ large numbers of people in various locations. When an employee working from a remote location logs on and is granted admittance to the company server, he or she is able to use the company resources in the same manner as those who are physically present in the office. An NAS offers ease and accessibility for remote workers and enables them the same access to shared company documents, printers, calendars, schedules, and other tools necessary to the job.

There is a standardized protocol for the design and usage of an NAS. The Internet Engineering Task Force's Network Access Server Requirements Working Group is the governing body charged with creating the requirements for an NAS. These requirements ensure a universal ease to all NAS systems and guarantees protection of clients' sensitive information.

An NAS is widely utilized with AAA servers. An AAA server is a system that manages a client's application for access to various computer resources. These servers also offer authentication, authorization, and accounting assistance, thus the acronym AAA. An AAA server works in conjunction with an NAS to verify a user's credentials, provide access to the requested tools, and offer a record of resources used by a client.

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