Module Practice and Quiz

3.8.1

What did I learn in this module?

The Rules

All communication methods have three elements in common: message source (sender), message destination (receiver), and channel. Sending a message is governed by rules called protocols. Protocols must include: an identified sender and receiver, common language and grammar, speed and timing of delivery, and confirmation or acknowledgment requirements. Common computer protocols include these requirements: message encoding, formatting and encapsulation, size, timing, and delivery options. Encoding is the process of converting information into another acceptable form, for transmission. Decoding reverses this process to interpret the information. Message formats depend on the type of message and the channel that is used to deliver the message. Message timing includes flow control, response timeout, and access method. Message delivery options include unicast, multicast, and broadcast.

Protocols

Protocols are implemented by end-devices and intermediary devices in software, hardware, or both. A message sent over a computer network typically requires the use of several protocols, each one with its own functions and format. Each network protocol has its own function, format, and rules for communications. The Ethernet family of protocols includes IP, TCP, HTTP, and many more. Protocols secure data to provide authentication, data integrity, and data encryption: SSH, SSL, and TLS. Protocols enable routers to exchange route information, compare path information, and then to select the best path to the destination network: OSPF and BGP. Protocols are used for the automatic detection of devices or services: DHCP and DNS. Computers and network devices use agreed-upon protocols that provide the following functions: addressing, reliability, flow control, sequencing, error-detection, and application interface.

Protocol Suites

A protocol suite is a group of inter-related protocols necessary to perform a communication function. A protocol stack shows how the individual protocols within a suite are implemented. Since the 1970s there have been several different protocol suites, some developed by a standards organization and others developed by various vendors. TCP/IP protocols are available for the application, transport, and internet layers. TCP/IP is the protocol suite used by today’s networks and internet. TCP/IP offers two important aspects to vendors and manufacturers: open standard protocol suite, and standards-based protocol suite. The TCP/IP protocol suite communication process enables such processes as a web server encapsulating and sending a web page to a client, as well as the client de-encapsulating the web page for display in a web browser.

Standards Organizations

Open standards encourage interoperability, competition, and innovation. Standards organizations are usually vendor-neutral, non-profit organizations established to develop and promote the concept of open standards. Various organizations have different responsibilities for promoting and creating standards for the internet including: ISOC, IAB, IETF, and IRTF. Standards organizations that develop and support TCP/IP include: ICANN and IANA. Electronic and communications standards organizations include: IEEE, EIA, TIA, and ITU-T.

Reference Models

The two reference models that are used to describe network operations are OSI and TCP/IP. The OSI model has seven layers:

7 – Application

6 – Presentation

5 – Session

4 – Transport

3 – Network

2 – Data Link

1 – Physical

The TCP/IP model has four layers:

4 – Application

3 – Transport

2 – Internet

1 – Network Access

Data Encapsulation

Segmenting messages has two primary benefits:

  • By sending smaller individual pieces from source to destination, many different conversations can be interleaved on the network. This is called multiplexing.
  • Segmentation can increase the efficiency of network communications. If part of the message fails to make it to the destination only the missing parts need to be retransmitted.

TCP is responsible for sequencing the individual segments. The form that a piece of data takes at any layer is called a protocol data unit (PDU). During encapsulation, each succeeding layer encapsulates the PDU that it receives from the layer above in accordance with the protocol being used. When sending messages on a network, the encapsulation process works from top to bottom. This process is reversed at the receiving host and is known as de-encapsulation. De-encapsulation is the process used by a receiving device to remove one or more of the protocol headers. The data is de-encapsulated as it moves up the stack toward the end-user application.

Data Access

The network and data link layers are responsible for delivering the data from the source device to the destination device. Protocols at both layers contain a source and destination address, but their addresses have different purposes:

  • Network layer source and destination addresses – Responsible for delivering the IP packet from the original source to the final destination, which may be on the same network or a remote network.
  • Data link layer source and destination addresses – Responsible for delivering the data link frame from one network interface card (NIC) to another NIC on the same network.

The IP addresses indicate the original source IP address and final destination IP address. An IP address contains two parts: the network portion (IPv4) or Prefix (IPv6) and the host portion (IPv4) or Interface ID (IPv6). When the sender and receiver of the IP packet are on the same network, the data link frame is sent directly to the receiving device. On an Ethernet network, the data link addresses are known as Ethernet Media Access Control (MAC) addresses. When the sender of the packet is on a different network from the receiver, the source and destination IP addresses will represent hosts on different networks. The Ethernet frame must be sent to another device known as the router or default gateway.

3.8.2 Module Quiz – Protocols and Models