Friday, November 14, 2014

Internet Layering Explained! Computer Talks

About The Author
Michelle Patterson is excited with the new technologies that are threatening to change the way we stay in touch and communicate, particular in business. She works with companies that are introducing these technologies to make understanding them easy for regular people.

If you are wondering as to how data transfer takes place between two computers on a local network or over the internet then you might need a little knowledge about networking and network layers. System developers and network administrators are fairly aware of the intricacies involved in network based communications. However, for laymen like me and you, it might be nothing short of a technological wonder. Here we are going to learn a few things about computer communication in a network


The communication between two computers on a network is carried out with the help of protocol suits. TCP/IP is the most popular protocol suite and majority of the networks around the world implement this for network communication. The protocol suite comprises of a layered architecture and there is a functionality associated with each layer that needs to be completed by the protocol. There are multiple protocol options available to each layer to carry out its designated functions. The typical 4 layer system comprises of the following:

·         Application layer – This is the topmost layer of the TCP/IP protocol suite. It consists of the processes or applications which use the transport layer protocols for delivering data to the designated computers. Applications use the popular protocols like FTP (File Transfer Protocol), SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol), HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), SNMP (Simple network Management Protocol) etc.

·         Transport Layer – This is the layer that facilitates the data transfer between two hosts. UDP and TCP are the two most popular protocols that are used by this layer – TCP is used for reliable connection and UDP is used for unreliable connections.

·         Network Layer – The other name for this layer is Internet Layer and the primary responsibility of this layer is to handle or organize the data transmission on a network. Movement here implies the data routing on the network. The network layer uses the IP protocol along with IGMP and ICMP.

·         Data Link Layer – This layer is referred to as the network interface layer. It primarily consists of the device drivers (for the OS) and the network interface card. Both the layers are concerned with the communications details for data transmission over the network.  Popular protocols used by this layer comprises of PPP (point-to-point protocol), ARP (Address Resolution Protocol) etc.

Server, Ports and Standards

There are specific IP addresses that are assigned to every device attached to the network. When the port number is combined with the machine’s IP address, it is called a socket. When the combination of port number and IP for the client as well as the server is used then it is known as four tuple. This is used to identify a unique connection and some of the most popular services like the telnet, FTP etc. run on the port numbers. Port 21 is allocated to the FTP server and port number 23 is used by telnet. Thus, we get to see that there are some popular services which use the TCP/IP run on a few standard ports. The ports generally range between 1 and 1023. All these standard ports are maintained and managed by the IANA or Internet Assigned Numbers Authority.

Majority of the standard servers that use TCP/IP suite run on the standard port numbers but this is not the case with the clients. The port numbers for the clients are known as ephemeral ports.  These are temporary ports as they can connect to the server, get work done and then is disconnected from the server. 

Thus, we get to see that Internet layering is all about a synchronized system that has a pre-determined architecture and protocols for delivering data from one computer to another. 

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