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Hardware or software that bridges the gap between two otherwise incompatible applications or networks so that data can be transferred among different computers.
Gateways allow communication to travel between devices and networks using different protocols, essentially acting as a translator between systems so that your data is interpreted correctly on both sides. In order to connect to the Internet, you likely use a modem to contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP). The ISP acts as a gateway between your home network and the Internet, allowing data to effectively travel back and forth, regardless of your home operating system or network configuration.
In most office settings, a central server maintains traffic between internal workstations and also acts as a gateway, allowing those workstations access to the Internet or other external resources.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does my business need a gateway?
If your office computers are networked together, chances are you already have or will need a gateway to ensure they can communicate not only with each other, but with the outside world. Most business networks include multiple gateways, including a default gateway, which directs packets across the network, and a series of gateway nodes which may act as proxy servers and firewalls. Since most networks include a mix of computer types and devices, your network gateway needs to translate between a variety of internal protocols as well as connecting your internal systems to Internet-based resources.
Can I use a gateway to connect remotely?
If you want to connect to your home or work computer from a remote location, you will likely need some form of secure gateway. On a Windows machine, you can use a Remote Desktop Gateway server to connect to a specific computer on your network. There are also a number of other third-party, remote desktop services available, depending on the type of devices you are using and need access to. To remotely connect to an internal network, such as your work’s intranet or your home network, you can use a VPN gateway, which utilizes an encrypted connection, so you can safely access a secure network from any location.
Is my router a gateway?
Your broadband router is a residential gateway, because it allows all of your home devices to communicate, share files, printers, and other resources, regardless of the protocols they are utilizing. Many home routers also act as firewalls and can be used to setup a VPN gateway. If your ISP provided you with a single device that acts as both your cable or DSL modem and your network router, that device is also a network gateway, allowing your internal devices to communicate with your ISP.