Wide area information server
WAIS: Acronym for Wide Area Information Servers. A distributed text searching system that uses the protocol standard ANSI Z39.50 to search index databases on remote computers.
Note 1: WAIS libraries are most often found on the Internet.
Note 2: WAIS allows users to discover and access information resources on the network without regard to their physical location.
Note 3: WAIS software uses the client-server model.
Source: from Federal Standard 1037C