What Does Accounting Mean?

Accounting, in the context of IT, refers to the record-keeping and tracking of user activities on a computer network. For a given time period this may include, but is not limited to, real-time accounting of time spent accessing the network, the network services employed or accessed, capacity and trend analysis, network cost allocations, billing data, login data for user authentication and authorization, and the data or data amount accessed or transferred.


Accounting is also the third “A” in the term authentication, authorization and accounting (AAA) – a system for tracking user activities in an IP-based network and controlling their access to network resources. AAA often requires a server dedicated to providing these three services.

Techopedia Explains Accounting

Information technology accounting refers to the tracking and recording of the operation of a computer network including planning for expected capacity, performing use trend analysis, recording bills, accomplishing audits and allocating costs.

Examples of AAA protocols include:

  • Diameter, a successor to Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (RADIUS)
  • Terminal Access Controller Access-Control System (TACACS)
  • Terminal Access Controller Access-Control System Plus (TACACS+) a proprietary Cisco Systems protocol that provides access for network servers, routers and other network computing devices

Types of AAA servers include:

  • Access Network AAA (AN-AAA), which communicates with radio network controllers
  • Broker AAA (B-AAA), which manages traffic between roaming partner networks
  • Home AAA (H-AAA)

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret 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 IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.