What Does Federation Mean?

Federation refers to different computing entities adhering to a certain standard of operations in a collective manner to facilitate communication. It also describes operations between two distinct formally disconnected telecommunication networks with distinct internal structures. It may also describe an attempt made by groups to delegate authority of development and prevent fragmentation.


Techopedia Explains Federation

Federation in a network domain is a model for establishing a large scale and diverse infrastructure for applications. It appears as an interconnection of multiple independent network domains for creating a rich environment with increased benefits to users of individual domains.

Domains in federations are geographically dispersed and owned by different organizations. However, they are considered as a part of a single entity because they operate in a common management framework under a common management authority. Federations are dynamic. They evolve over time based on user requirements. Management and operation of federated environments over administrative domains and multiple networks require specific mechanisms. Federation is useful for prototyping, outsourcing, realization and testing. A central federation control unit communicates a virtual private network (VPN) setup request to gateways to provide requested links, which assures connectivity to all domain resources. Thus, the technology enables setting up secure overlay networks over unsecured network links. Building a federation requires certain entities and control mechanisms. The architecture relies on a centralized approach where functionalities are delivered by centrally administered tools and entities.

Federation in networking systems means users can send messages from one system to another. Federated instant messaging (IM) networks permit communication across different IM clients and platforms. They maintain an open directory allowing the networks to message their users. A few federated networks also work on an interoperability basis, where software from two or more vendors shares data between different platforms.

A central business entity provides the federation control unit and service composition tools where services and components are orchestrated on demand. Interconnected domains are configured and managed in a top-down approach, while domains publish services and capabilities in a bottom-up approach.


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Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…