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What is the difference between OSI model and TCP/IP other than the number of layers?

Our expert explains the difference between the OSI model vs. TCP/IP and breaks down the TCP/IP and OSI layers.

What is the difference between OSI model and TCP/IP other than the number of layers?

OSI is a standard "reference model" that describes how protocols should interact with one another. Invented by the Department of Defense, TCP/IP became one of the "standards" that enabled the Internet to become what it is today. TCP/IP doesn't map cleanly into the OSI model, but it is convenient to think in terms of the OSI model when describing protocols.

The major differences between the OSI and TCP/IP are:

  • The application layer in TCP/IP handles the responsibilities of layers 5, 6 and 7 in the OSI model.
  • The transport layer in TCP/IP does not always guarantee reliable delivery of packets at the transport layer, while the OSI model does. TCP/IP also offers an option called UDP that does not guarantee reliable packet delivery.

Rather then reinventing the wheel here, there is a great description of the OSI model on SearchNetworking.com.

Next Steps

Read OSI tips based on the book, Hack the Stack

Are there monitoring tools for all OSI layers?

Network managers can prioritize automation for the 7 OSI layers

This was first published in April 2005

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