Systems Network Architecture (SNA) is IBM's proprietary networking architecture created in 1974. It is a complete protocol stack for interconnecting computers and their resources. SNA describes the protocol and is, in itself, not actually a program. The implementation of SNA takes the form of various communications packages, most notably VTAM which is the mainframe package for SNA communcations. SNA is still used extensively in banks and other financial transaction networks, as well as in many government agencies. While IBM is still providing support for SNA, one of the primary pieces of hardware, the 3745/3746 communications controller has been removed from market and will be dropped from support sometime after 2010. As a result most sites are working to remove the use of SNA from their networks and move to TCP/IP.


Token ring local area network (LAN) technology was developed and promoted by IBM in the early 1980s and standardised as IEEE 802.5 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Initially very successful, it went into steep decline after the introduction of 10BASE-T for Ethernet and the EIA/TIA 568 cabling standard in the early 1990s. A fierce marketing effort led by IBM sought to claim better performance and reliability over Ethernet for critical applications due to its deterministic access method, but was no more successful than similar battles in the same era over their Micro Channel architecture. IBM no longer uses or promotes token ring. Madge Networks, a one time competitor to IBM, is now considered to be the market leader in token ring.

Stations on a token ring LAN are logically organized in a ring topology with data being transmitted sequentially from one ring station to the next with a control token circulating around the ring controlling access. This token passing mechanism is shared by ARCNET, token bus, and FDDI, and has theoretical advantages over the stochastic CSMA/CD of Ethernet.

Physically, a token ring network is wired as a star, with 'hubs' and arms out to each station and the loop going out-and-back through each.