During the past two decades there has been a tremendous increase in the numbers and sizes of networks. Many of the networks, however, were built using different implementations of hardware and software. As a result, many of the networks were incompatible and it became difficult for networks using different specifications to communicate with each other. To address this problem, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) researched many network schemes. The ISO recognized that there was a need to create a network model that would help network builders implement networks that could communicate and work together (interoperability) and therefore, released the OSI reference model in 1984.
This chapter explains how standards ensure greater compatibility and interoperability between various types of network technologies. In this chapter, you will learn how the OSI reference model networking scheme supports networking standards. In addition, you will see how information or data makes its way from application programs (such as spreadsheets) through a network medium (such as wires) to other application programs located on other computers on a network. As you work through this chapter, you will learn about the basic functions that occur at each layer of the OSI model, which will serve as a foundation as you begin to design, build and troubleshoot networks. The concept of layers will help you understand the action that occurs during communication from one computer to another. Shown in the Figure are questions that involve the movement of physical objects such as highway traffic, or electronic data.
This motion of objects, whether it is physical or logical, is referred to as flow. There are many layers that help describe the details of the flow process. Other examples of systems that flow, are the public water system, the highway system, the postal system, and the telephone system. Now examine the Figure Comparing Networks chart. What network are you examining? What is flowing? What are the different forms of the object that is flowing? What are the rules for flow? Where does the flow occur? The networks listed in this chart give you more analogies to help you understand computer networks. Another example of how you might use the concept of layers to analyze an everyday subject is to examine human conversation. When you create an idea that you wish to communicate to another person, the first thing you do is choose how you want to express that idea, then you decide how to properly communicate it, and finally, you actually deliver the idea. Imagine a young boy seated at one end of a very long dinner table.
On the other end of the table, quite a distance away, sits the young boy’s grandmother. The youngster speaks English. The grandmother prefers to speak Spanish. The table has been set with a wonderful meal that the grandmother has prepared. Suddenly the young boy shouts at the top of his lungs, Hey, you! Give me the rice! and reaches across the table to grab it. In most places, this action is considered quite rude.
What should the young boy have done to communicate his wishes in an acceptable manner? To help you find the solution to this question, analyze the communication process by using layers. First there is the idea the young boy wants rice; then there is the representation of the idea spoken English (instead of Spanish); next is the method of delivery Hey, you; and finally, the medium shouting (sound) and grabbing (physical action) across the table for the rice. From this group of four layers, you can see that three of them prevent the young boy from communicating his idea in an appropriate/acceptable manner. The first layer (the idea) is acceptable. The second layer (representation), using spoken English instead of Spanish, and the third layer (delivery), demanding instead of a politely requesting, most definitely do not follow acceptable social protocol. The fourth layer (medium), shouting and grabbing from the table rather than politely requesting assistance from another person seated nearby, is unacceptable behavior in most any social situation.
By analyzing this interaction in terms of layers you can understand more clearly some of the problems of communication in both humans or computers, and how you might solve them. As you learned in chapter 1, the most basic level of computer information consists of binary digits, or bits (0s and 1s). Computers that send one or two bits of information, however, would not be very useful, so other groupings – bytes, kilobytes, megabytes, and gigabytes – are necessary. In order for computers to send information through a network, all communications on a network originate at a source, then travel to a destination. Bibliography Cisco Newtwork Chapter2.