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The OSI Model

In the OSI reference model, there are seven numbered layers, each of which illustrates a particular network function. Figure 1 shows these 7 layers. The separation of networking functions is called layering. Dividing the network into these seven layers provides the following advantages: It breaks network communication into smaller, simpler parts. It allows different types of network hardware and software to communicate with each other.(interoperability) It provides vendors with a set of standards that ensure greater compatibility and interoperability between the various types of network technologies that are produced by the many companies around the world. It prevents changes in one layer from affecting the other layers, so that they can develop more quickly. Application(7)
Provides network services to the users applications e.g. FTP,HTTP

Presentation(6) Data representation and encryption Session(5)

Establishes, manages, and terminates sessions between two communicating hosts

Transport(4) End to end connection and reliability e.g. TCP/UDP Network(3) Path determination and logical addressing e.g. IP Data Link(2) Physical addressing, network topology, network access, error notification, ordered delivery of frames, and flow control. e.g. Ethernet Physical(1) Media, signal and binary transmission e.g. fiber
Figure 1: OSI Model

The OSI reference model allows you to view the network functions that occur at each layer. The OSI reference model is a framework that you can use to understand how information travels throughout a network. In addition, you can use the OSI reference model to visualize how information, or data packets, travels from application programs (e.g. spreadsheets, documents, etc.), through a network medium (e.g. wires, etc.), to another application program that is located in another computer on a network, even if the sender and receiver have different types of network media. If one computer (host A) wants to send data to another computer (host B), the data must first be packaged by a process called encapsulation. Encapsulation wraps data with the necessary protocol information before network transit. Therefore, as the data packet moves down through the layers of the OSI model, it receives headers, trailers, and other information. (Note: The word "header" means that address information has been added.)