A role, such as sales, admin, or engineering, is first identified and defined in the abstract as the basis for configuring a policy role. Once a role is defined, a policy role is configured and applied to the appropriate context using a set of rules that can control and prioritize various types of network traffic. The rules that make up a policy role contain both classification definitions and actions to be enforced when a classification is matched. Classifications include Layer 2, Layer 3, and Layer 4 packet fields. Policy actions that can be enforced include VLAN assignment, filtering, inbound rate limiting, outbound rate shaping, priority class mapping.