Network Based Application Recognition


Network Based Application Recognition (NBAR) is a feature in network management that identifies and classifies applications running over a network. It enables routers and switches to inspect data packets and determine the application they belong to, such as web traffic or video streaming. By recognizing these applications, NBAR helps optimize network performance, manage bandwidth, and implement quality of service (QoS) policies.

Key Takeaways

  1. Network Based Application Recognition (NBAR) is a technology used to identify, classify, and manage network traffic based on application types, allowing for better network management and optimization.
  2. NBAR operates at the application layer of the OSI model, allowing it to recognize a wide range of protocols and applications, such as HTTP, FTP, email services, and multimedia streaming, and enables Quality of Service (QoS) policies to be applied accordingly.
  3. By using Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) techniques, NBAR can provide real-time visibility into network traffic patterns, detect and block undesired applications, and prioritize business-critical applications, which ultimately leads to improved network performance, enhanced security, and more efficient use of network resources.


Network Based Application Recognition (NBAR) is an important technology term because it enhances the efficiency and performance of a network by identifying, classifying, and managing various applications running on it.

As network administrators face the challenge of dynamic and diverse traffic, prioritizing and optimizing bandwidth allocation becomes crucial for ensuring smooth network operations.

NBAR offers deep packet inspection and utilizes regular expressions to distinguish between different applications and protocols.

Consequently, it enables administrators to enforce granular policies, prioritize critical applications, restrict or block undesirable traffic, and improve overall Quality of Service (QoS). By providing these essential network management capabilities, NBAR plays a vital role in optimizing network resource allocation and guaranteeing a seamless user experience.


Network Based Application Recognition (NBAR) serves a critical purpose in network management by enabling efficient traffic classification and monitoring. This innovative technology enhances the capabilities of administrators in determining the specific applications being transmitted over a network.

Consequently, this information helps organizations optimize their network resources, improve overall performance, and enforce security policies. By leveraging the power of NBAR, network administrators can quickly identify resource-intensive or bandwidth-hogging applications, as well as detect and mitigate harmful cyber threats, such as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) and exploits that target application vulnerabilities.

Beyond ensuring optimal network performance and security, NBAR also provides valuable insights into user behavior, allowing organizations to better align their technology strategies with business objectives. By gaining visibility into application usage patterns, decision-makers can identify popular applications among employees or customers, and subsequently invest in relevant infrastructure upgrades or additional software licenses.

Moreover, they can detect unauthorized or non-compliant applications, which can pose security risks or negatively impact productivity. Overall, through the implementation of Network Based Application Recognition, organizations can achieve enhanced control over their networks, promote secure and productive computing environments, and strategically make informed decisions to foster growth and efficiency.

Examples of Network Based Application Recognition

Network Based Application Recognition (NBAR) is a technology used in network management to identify, classify, and control traffic based on application level protocols. It helps network administrators to optimize network performance, security, and resource allocation.

Streaming Services: A major real world example of NBAR technology can be found in the streaming service industry, such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video. Network administrators can use NBAR to prioritize streaming traffic over other types of traffic to ensure seamless video streaming without interruptions. It also enables administrators to enforce policies on video streaming usage on their networks, such as limiting bandwidth or blocking streaming services altogether.

Voice over IP (VoIP) Services: VoIP services, like Skype and WhatsApp, require optimal network conditions for clear voice calls. NBAR can be employed to recognize and prioritize VoIP traffic, ensuring high-quality voice call experience. Additionally, NBAR can be used to limit or block certain VoIP services to prevent unauthorized use of network resources.

Enterprise Applications: Companies often have multiple applications running across their networks, such as email servers, customer relationship management (CRM) tools, and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. NBAR can be used to identify, prioritize, and limit traffic for these specific applications to ensure the optimal performance of mission-critical applications and to prevent network congestion. For example, a company might prioritize traffic for its CRM and ERP systems over less critical applications like social media and file-sharing services.

FAQ: Network Based Application Recognition

What is Network Based Application Recognition (NBAR)?

Network Based Application Recognition (NBAR) is a technology used to classify applications in a network traffic flow. This helps network administrators monitor, prioritize, and manage network traffic based on specific applications or protocols, thereby increasing network efficiency and security.

What are the benefits of using NBAR?

There are several benefits of using NBAR, which include better network management and control through traffic prioritization, bandwidth allocation, and traffic shaping. It also enhances network security by monitoring and blocking specific applications or protocols deemed unsafe or unauthorized.

How does NBAR work?

NBAR works by inspecting the data packets passing through the network devices (such as routers and switches) and identifying the applications or protocols used in the traffic. It then classifies the traffic flows by comparing the packet content against a predefined set of application signatures and protocol descriptions. After that, it applies various actions like prioritizing or shaping the traffic based on the defined policies – by the network administrators.

What devices support NBAR?

Network Based Application Recognition is primarily supported on Cisco routers and switches as part of their Quality of Service (QoS) framework. Other vendors may offer similar solutions, but they might be called something different compared to NBAR.

Can NBAR recognize custom applications?

Yes, NBAR can recognize custom applications provided the network administrator creates custom signatures to define the unique characteristics of the custom application. This can be done using tools provided by Cisco or respective vendors, enabling NBAR to recognize and manage those custom applications just like any other pre-defined application.

Related Technology Terms

  • Application-Aware Networking
  • Traffic Classification
  • Deep Packet Inspection
  • Quality of Service (QoS) Management
  • Network Application Performance Analysis

Sources for More Information

  • Cisco Systems – Cisco is a world-leading technology company that provides networking and cybersecurity solutions, including network-based application recognition.
  • Juniper Networks – Juniper Networks is an industry leader in automated, scalable, and secure networks. They have in-depth resources on network-based application recognition.
  • IBM (International Business Machines Corporation) – IBM is a global information technology company that offers a wide range of products and services, including insights on network-based application recognition.
  • ScienceDirect – ScienceDirect is a leading scientific database that offers technical articles, research papers, and related resources about network-based application recognition technology.

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