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Source uses a client-server architecture. The practice of passing information between the two modules is known as Networking.

For a general overview of the Source engine's networking, see the aptly-named Source Multiplayer Networking. For a more theoretical examination of networking as a concept, see Yahn Bernier's paper.

In short...

Server to client
Entity update, for entity state changes (the most common route)
Game Event or User Message, for fire-and-forget game events
Temporary Entity, for fire-and-forget world effects
Client to server
User Command, for ongoing player input
ServerCmd(), for one-shot player input