Contributor(s): John Burke

A gateway is a network node connecting two networks that use different protocols.

Gateways can take several forms -- including routers or computers -- and can perform a variety of tasks. These range from simply passing traffic on to the next hop on its path to offering complex traffic filtering, proxies or protocol translations at various network layers.

The most common gateway is the internet gateway, which connects a home or enterprise network to the internet. An internet gateway also often acts as a security node, variously filling one or more security roles, such as proxy server, firewall or network address translation (NAT) server. Software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) and virtual WAN systems serve as gateways between an enterprise network and two or more wide area networks (WANs).

In most IP-based networks, the only traffic that doesn't go through at least one gateway is traffic flowing among nodes on the same local area network (LAN) segment -- for example, computers connected to the same switch.

The following other types of gateways focus on higher protocol layers:

A gateway's position in the IoT ecosystem
A gateway's position in the IoT ecosystem
This was last updated in September 2016

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Margaret Rouse asks:

Does your work involve network communications that don't pass through any gateways? If so, how do you know?

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