TCP/IP PROTOCOL SUITE
Communications between computers on a network is done through protocol suits. The most widely used and most widely available protocol suite is TCP/IP protocol suite. A protocol suit consists of a layered architecture where each layer depicts some functionality which can be carried out by a protocol. Each layer usually has more than one protocol options to carry out the responsibility that the layer adheres to. TCP/IP is normally considered to be a 4 layer system. The 4 layers are as follows :
- Application layer
- Transport layer
- Network layer
- Data link layer
This is the top layer of TCP/IP protocol suite. This layer includes applications or processes that use transport layer protocols to deliver the data to destination computers.
At each layer there are certain protocol options to carry out the task designated to that particular layer. So, application layer also has various protocols that applications use to communicate with the second layer, the transport layer. Some of the popular application layer protocols are :
- HTTP (Hypertext transfer protocol)
- FTP (File transfer protocol)
- SMTP (Simple mail transfer protocol)
- SNMP (Simple network management protocol) etc
This layer provides backbone to data flow between two hosts. This layer receives data from the application layer above it. There are many protocols that work at this layer but the two most commonly used protocols at transport layer are TCP and UDP.TCP is used where a reliable connection is required while UDP is used in case of unreliable connections.
TCP divides the data(coming from the application layer) into proper sized chunks and then passes these chunks onto the network. It acknowledges received packets, waits for the acknowledgments of the packets it sent and sets timeout to resend the packets if acknowledgements are not received in time.
The term ‘reliable connection’ is used where it is not desired to loose any information that is being transferred over the network through this connection. So, the protocol used for this type of connection must provide the mechanism to achieve this desired characteristic.
UDP provides a comparatively simpler but unreliable service by sending packets from one host to another. UDP does not take any extra measures to ensure that the data sent is received by the target host or not. The term ‘unreliable connection’ are used where loss of some information does not hamper the task being fulfilled through this connection.
3. Network Layer
This layer is also known as Internet layer. The main purpose of this layer is to organize or handle the movement of data on network. By movement of data, we generally mean routing of data over the network. The main protocol used at this layer is IP. While ICMP(used by popular ‘ping’ command) and IGMP are also used at this layer.
4. Data Link Layer
This layer is also known as network interface layer. This layer normally consists of device drivers in the OS and the network interface card attached to the system. Both the device drivers and the network interface card take care of the communication details with the media being used to transfer the data over the network. In most of the cases, this media is in the form of cables. Some of the famous protocols that are used at this layer include ARP(Address resolution protocol), PPP(Point to point protocol) etc.