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The OSI 7 Layer Model

For the next several weeks we are going to work on one of the critical areas of the MCSE program. It is the OSI
7 Layer Moel! a str"ct"re generate to separate ifferent parts of networking into ifferent categories an
efining the relationships #etween categories. $his is %& F'( the most complex part of the )etworking
Essentials test! as it p"lls together protocol stacks! network types! harware! software! an every other
component of networking into a single view. &o" can pass the test witho"t f"lly "nerstaning the OSI moel!
#"t yo" will never f"lly "nerstan networking witho"t it.
What Is The OSI Model?
$he International Organi*ation for Stanari*ation +ISO, #egan eveloping the Open Systems Interconnection
+OSI, reference moel in -.77. It was create to stanari*e the r"les of networking in orer for all systems to
#e a#le to comm"nicate. In orer for comm"nication to occ"r on a networking "sing ifferent evice rivers an
protocol stacks! the r"les for comm"nication m"st #e explicitly efine. $he OSI moel eals with the following
0ow a evice on a network sens it1s ata! an how it knows when are where to sen it
0ow a evice on a network receives it1s ata! an how to know where to look for it.
0ow evices "sing ifferent lang"ages comm"nicate with each other.
0ow evices on a network are physically connecte to each other.
0ow protocols work with evices on a network to arrange ata.
$he OSI moel is #roken own into 7 layers. 'ltho"gh the first layer is 2-! it is always shown at the #ottom of
the moel. 3e1ll explain why later. For now! remem#er this little trick/ 4lease 5o )ot $ell Secret 4asswors
'nytime. +From A+ Certification For Dummies, IDG 1999, 0ere are the seven layers.
-. 4hysical Layer
6. 5ata Link Layer
7. )etwork Layer
8. $ransport Layer
9. Session Layer
:. 4resentation Layer
7. 'pplication Layer
Protocol Stacks
In orer for each layer of the moel to comm"nicate with the levels a#ove an #elow it! certain r"les were
evelope. $hese r"les are calle 4rotocols! an each protocol provies a specific layer of the moel with a
specific set of tasks or services. Each layer of the moel has it1s own set of protocols associate with it. 3hen
yo" have a set of protocols that create a complete OSI moel! it is calle a 4rotocol Stack. 'n example of a
protocol stack is $C4;I4! the stanar for comm"nication over the internet! or 'ppletalk for Macintosh
's state #efore! protocols efine how layers comm"nicate with each other. 4rotocols specifically work with
O)L& the layer a#ove an #elow them. $hey receive services from the protocol #elow! an provie services for
the protocol a#ove them. $his orer maintains a stanar that is common to 'LL forms of networking.
In orer for two evices on a network to comm"nicate! they m"st #oth #e "sing the same protocol stack. Each
protocol in a stack on one evice m"st comm"nicate with it1s e<"ivalent stack! or peer! on the other evice.
$his allows comp"ters r"nning ifferent operating systems to comm"nicate with each other easily! s"ch as
having Macintosh comp"ters on a 3inows )$ network.
Communications Between Stacks
3hen a message is sent from one machine to another! it travels own the protocol stack or layers of the moel!
an then "p the layers of the stack on the other machine. 's the ata travels own the stack! it picks "p
heaers from each layer +Except the physical layer,. 0eaers contain information that is rea #y the peer layer
on the stack of the other comp"ter. 's the ata travels "p the levels of the peer comp"ter! each heaer is
remove #y it1s e<"ivalent protocol. $hese heaers contain ifferent information epening on the layer they
receive the heaer from! #"t tell the peer layer important information! incl"ing packet si*e! frames! an
atagrams. Each layer1s heaer an ata are calle ata packages! or service ata "nits. 'ltho"gh it may
seem conf"sing! each layer has a ifferent name for it1s service ata "nit. 0ere are the common names for
service ata "nits at each level of the OSI moel
'pplication Messages an 4ackets
4resentation 4ackets
Session 4ackets
$ransport 5atagrams! Segments! an 4ackets
)etwork 5atagrams an 4ackets
5ata Link Frames an 4ackets
4hysical %its an 4ackets
The Physical Layer
$he lowest layer on the OSI moel! an pro#a#ly the easiest to "nerstan is the physical layer. $his layer
eals with the physical! electrical! an ca#le iss"es involve with making a network connection. It associates
with any part of the network str"ct"re that oesn1t process information in any way.
$he physical layer is responsi#le for sening the #its across the network meia. It oes not efine what a #it is
or how it is "se merely how it1s sent. $he physical layer is responsi#le for transmitting an receiving the ata.
It efines pin assignments for serial connections! etermines ata synchroni*ation! an efines the entire
network1s timing #ase.
Items efine #y the physical layer incl"e h"#s! simple active h"#s! terminators! co"plers! ca#les an ca#ling!
connectors! repeaters! m"ltiplexers! transmitters! receivers! an transceivers. 'ny item that oes not process
information #"t is re<"ire for the sening an receiving of ata is efine #y this layer.
$here are several items aresses #y this layer. $hey are/
)etwork connections types! incl"ing m"lti=point an point=to=point networks.
)etwork $opologies! incl"ing ring! star! #"s! an mesh networks.
'nalog or 5igital signaling.
%it Synchroni*ation +3hen to sen ata an when to listen for it,.
%ase#an >s. %roa#an transmissions.
M"ltiplexing +Com#ining m"ltiple streams of ata into one channel,.
$ermination! to give #etter signal clarity an for noe segmentation.
The Data Link Layer
$he 5ata Link Layer is responsi#le for the flow of ata over the network from one evice to another. It accepts
ata from the )etwork Layer! packages that ata into frames! an sens them to the 4hysical Layer for
istri#"tion. In the same way! it receives frames from the physical layer of a receiving comp"ter! an changes
them into packets #efore sening them to the )etwork Layer.
$he 5ata link Layer is also involve in error etection an avoiance "sing a Cyclic (e"nancy Check +C(C,
ae to the frame that the receiving comp"ter analyses. $his secon also checks for lost frames an sens
re<"ests for re=transmissions of frames that are missing or corr"pte at this level.
$he most important aspect of the 5ata Link Layer is in %roacast networks! where this layer esta#lishes which
comp"ter on a network receives the information an which comp"ters relay or ignore the information. It oes so
#y "sing a Meia 'ccess Control +M'C, aress! which "ni<"ely ientifies each )etwork Interface Car +)IC,.
%riges! Intelligent 0"#s! 'n )ICs are all associate with the 5ata Link Layer.
$he 5ata Link Layer is s"#=ivie into two layers. $his is one #eca"se of the two istinct f"nctions that each
s"#=ivision provies.
Loical Link Control = ?enerates an maintains links #etween network evices
Media !ccess Control = 5efines how m"ltiple evices share a meia channel
$he Logical Link Control provies Service 'ccess 4oints +Saps, for other comp"ters to make reference to when
transporting ata the to "pper layers of the OSI Moel.
Meia 'ccess Control gives every )IC a "ni<"e -6 igit hexaecimal aress. $hese aresses are "se #y
the Logical Link Control to set "p connections #etween )ICs. Every M'C aress m"st #e "ni<"e or they will
ca"se ientity crashes on the network. $he M'C aress is normally set at the factory! an conflicts are rare.
%"t in the case of a conflict! the M'C aress is "ser set=a#le.
The "etwork Layer
$he thir layer of the OSI moel is the )etwork layer. $his layer is responsi#le for making ro"ting ecisions an
forwars packets that are farther then one link away. %y making the network layer responsi#le for this f"nction!
every other layer of the OSI moel can sen packets witho"t ealing with where exactly the system happens to
#e on the network! whether it #e - hop or -@ hops away.
In orer to provie it1s services to the ata link layer! it m"st convert the logical network aress into physical
machine aresses! an vice versa on the receiving comp"ter. $his is one so that no relaying! ro"ting! or
networking information m"st #e processe #y a level higher in the moel then this level. Essentially! any
f"nction that oesn1t provie an environment for exec"ting "ser programs falls "ner this layer or lower.
%eca"se of this restriction! all systems that have packets ro"te thro"gh their systems m"st provie the #ottom
three layers1 services to all packets traveling thro"gh their systems. $h"s! any ro"te packet m"st travel "p the
first three layers an then own those same three layers #efore #eing sent farther own the network. (o"ters
an gateways are the principal "sers of this layer! an m"st f"lly comply with the network layer in orer to
complete ro"ting "ties.
$he network layer is also responsi#le for etermining ro"ting an message priority. %y having this single layer
responsi#le for prioriti*ation! the other layers of the OSI moel remain separate from ro"ting ecisions.
$his layer is also responsi#le for #reaking large packets into smaller ch"cks when the original packet is #igger
then the 5ata Link is set. Similarly! it re=assem#les the packet on the receiving comp"ter into the original=si*e
packet. $here are several items aresses #y this layer. $hey are/
'ressing for logical network an service aresses.
Circ"it message an packet switching
(o"te iscovery an selection
Connection services! incl"ing layer flow control an packet se<"ence control.
?ateway Services
Trans#ort Layer
$he transport layer1s main "ty is to "ns"re that packets are sen error=free to the receiving comp"ter in proper
se<"ence with no loss of ata or "plication. $his is accomplishe #y the protocol stack sening
acknowlegements of ata #eing sen an receive! an proper checks"m;parity;synchroni*ation of ata #eing
$he transport layer is also responsi#le for #reaking large messages into smaller packets for the network layer!
an for re=assem#ling the packets when they are receive from the network layer for processing #y the session
Session Layer
$he session layer is the section of the OSI moel that performs the set"p f"nctions to create the comm"nication
sessions #etween comp"ters. It is responsi#le for m"ch of the sec"rity an name look="p feat"res of the
protocol stack! an maintains the comm"nications #etween the sening an receiving comp"ters thro"gh the
entire transfer process. Asing the services provie #y the transport layer! the session layer ens"res only lost
or amage ata packets are re=sent! "sing methos referre to as ata synchroni*ation an checkpointing.
$his ens"res that excess traffic is not create on the network in the event of a fail"re in the comm"nications.
$he session layer also etermines who can sen ata an who can receive ata at every point in the
comm"nication. 3itho"t the ialog"e #etween the two session layers! neither comp"ter wo"l know when to
start sening ata an when to look for it in the network traffic.
The Presentation and Application Layers
The presentation layer is responsible for protocol conversation, data translation, compression, encryption, character set
conversion, and graphical command interpretation between the computer and the network.
The main working units in the presentation are the network redirectors, which make server files visible on client
computers. The Network redirector is also responsible for making remote printers appear as if they were local.
The application layer provides services that support user applications, such as database access, e-mail services, and file
transfers. The application layer also allows Remote Access Servers to work, so that applications appear local on remotely
hosted servers.
$ow "T and OSI Work Toether%
In orer for 3inows )$ to work with all stanar protocols! an to fit the OSI moel! a metric ha to #e forme
that fit #oth systems. Systems insie of 3inows )$ ha to comply with all the r"les of the OSI moel in orer
for stanari*ation to take place. $he following is how 3inows )$ fits into OSI.
In orer for any piece of e<"ipment to work on any system! rivers are re<"ire to stanar the comm"nication
path #etween the e<"ipment an the operating system. $he same is tr"e for networking components! which
re<"ire rivers to provie the comm"nication path so that )IC1s can work efficiently an properly with the rest of
the network an the comp"ter itself.
$he network reirector "ses the network aaptor car1s river to provie services s"ch as file storage an
printing to the "ser1s application. Originally rivers for a )IC co"l only #o"n to a single protocol stack. $his is
okay for client=sie comp"ting #eca"se normally only one protocol stack an one )IC were neee. Server1s
presente a new pro#lem! as they often re<"ire more then one protocol to eal with the large n"m#er of
machines they were linke to.
ODI and "DIS
$o solve this pro#lem! two ifferent sol"tions were esta#lishe to allow single cars to #e #o"n to m"ltiple
stacks. O5I +Open 5river Interface, was evelope #y )ovel! 'pple! an others was one sol"tion. $he other
was )5IS +)etwork 5river Interface Specifications,! create #y Microsoft for 3inows. Microsoft pro"cts
re<"ire yo" to "se )5IS! where as programs like )ovell )etware re<"ire O5I.
O5I an )5IS #oth allowe yo" to accomplish the same task. $hey mae it possi#le to have one )IC #in to
several protocol stacks sim"ltaneo"sly! s"ch as $C4;I4 an I4B! or have several aaptor cars "sing the same
$C4;I4 stack.
In the OSI moel! network rivers fall into the 5ata Link layer of the moel! as o the network cars
themselves. $he 5ata Link Layer is split #y the IEEE moel into two s"#=layers. $he Logical Link Control +LLC,
s"# layer correspons to the software rivers section! an the Meia 'ccess Control +M'C, s"# layer
correspons to the network car itself.
'ssentials o( "etworkin ) Physical Connections o( ! "etwork
$he MCSE Exams re<"ire yo" to "nerstan the physical connections that make "p a network. $here are two
main components of a network! consisting of the network meia an the network interface car.
"etwork Media C $here are many forms of network meia! #"t they fall into two istinct categories/ 4hysical
an 3ireless.
$here are three maDor types of physical ca#ling. $hey are Coaxial! $wiste 4air! an Fi#er Optics. $hey all
share certain attri#"tes! #"t iffer in their "ses.
Coaxial ca#ling is m"ch like the ca#le "se on ca#le television wiring! #"t has certain shieling an impeance
properties that make it ifferent from that kin of wiring. It is also s"#=ivie into two ifferent categories/ (?=E
an (?=9E. $hey iffer in their shieling! an therefore their methos of "se.
$wiste 4air consists of pairs of wires that looks m"ch like telephone ca#ling! #"t with a m"ch ifferent
connection en. 'gain! there are two forms of $wiste 4air/ A$4 +Anshiele $wiste 4air, an S$4 +Shiele
$wiste 4air,. $hey also can iffer on the n"m#er of pairs of wires "se to connect! "s"ally "sing either 6 or 8
pairs of wires.
Fi#er Optic Ca#le is ifferent from the other two forms of wiring. Instea of "sing electricity to sen signals
across the ca#le! it "ses light. 5epening on the Spectr"m "se! Fi#er Optics is generally the fastest form of
network ca#ling.
3ireless meia consist of Infra=re +I(,! (aio Fre<"ency +(F,! Microwave! an Satellite systems. 'll these
meia forms share one common element/ Instea of "sing a physical form of transfer! they "se wave forms
esigne to flow thro"gh the air to sen their signals.
3ireless meia is not as efficient as physical meia! an has a m"ch higher cost. $herefore! it is mostly "se to
#rige istances that can1t #e connecte #y wire meia! s"ch as to make the connections #etween inivi"al
L')1s to the larger 3').
)ext week we will look more extensively at 3ire an 3ireless Meia! an the theories that make them work.
"etwork Inter(ace Cards *"ICs+ C Each form of networking meia re<"ires it1s own special form of connection
to the comp"ter system. ' Coaxial connector will not work with a Fi#er Optic )IC! an a A$4 connection will
not transmit to an I( )IC. $herefore! which ever form of meia yo" choose to connect yo"r network! yo" m"st
choose the e<"ivalent form of )etwork Interface Car