NIS makes updating network databases much simpler than with the /etc files system. You no longer have to change the administrative /etc files on every machine each time you modify the network environment.
For example, when you add a new machine to a network running NIS, you only have to update the input file in the master server and run make. This automatically updates the hosts.byname and hosts.byaddr maps. These maps are then transferred to any slave servers and are made available to all of the domain's client machines and their programs. When a client machine or application requests a machine name or address, the NIS server refers to the hosts.byname or hosts.byaddr map as appropriate and sends the requested information to the client.
% ypcat mapname
Where mapname is the name of the map you want to examine or its nickname. If a map is composed only of keys, as in the case of ypservers, use ypcat -k; otherwise, ypcat prints blank lines. The ypcat man page describes more options for ypcat.
% ypwhich -m mapname
Where mapname is the name or the nickname of the map whose master you want to find. ypwhich responds by displaying the name of the master server. For complete information, refer to the ypwhich man page.