A segment of information that maintains its integrity as it travels through the Internet or across a network. Each packet contains header information that includes the type of traffic it is (FTP or UDP, for example) and where it originated from. SNMP can be used to track packets to gather a variety of statistics on network usage and load. The header information is also used by the responding server/load-balancing device to ensure that the answering packet goes to the correct location.
An IP packet is a chunk of data transferred over the Internet using standard Internet protocol (IP). Each packet begins with a header containing addressing and system control information. Unlike uniform ATM "cells," IP packets vary in length depending on the data being transmitted.
A discreet 'chunk' of Internet traffic, between 40 and 1599 bytes long, having source, destination (i.e. routing information) and other management information as well as the actual user's data (the 'payload'). Because an IP packet carries routing information it can be treated by the IP network independently to any other IP packets, regardless of whether they are carrying related traffic.