What is a Protocol?

A protocol is a set of rules that governs the communications between computers on a network. In order for two computers to talk to each other, they must be speaking the same language. Many different types of network protocols and standards are required to ensure that your computer (no matter which operating system, network card, or application you are using) can communicate with another computer located on the next desk or half-way around the world.

The OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) Reference Model defines seven layers of networking protocols. The complexity of these layers is beyond the scope of this tutorial; however, they can be simplified into four layers to help identify some of the protocols with which you should be familiar

Fig : OSI model related to common network protocols

Figure illustrates how some of the major protocols would correlate to the OSI model in order to communicate via the Internet. In this model, there are four layers, including:

  • Ethernet (Physical/Data Link Layers)
  • IP/IPX (Network Layer)
  • TCP/SPX (Transport Layer)
  • HTTP, FTP, Telnet, SMTP, and DNS(combined Session/Presentation/Application Layers)
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