Guide to Internet Protocol

In networking and communications, a protocol is the formal specification that defines the procedures that must be followed when transmitting or receiving data. Protocols define the format, timing, sequence, and error checking used on the network. There are hundreds of protocols out there, and it is impossible to list them all here. Instead, this 10-part series includes information on the most common TCP/IP networking protocols and will follow up with more specialized protocols in future articles.

In networking and communications, a protocol is the formal specification that defines the procedures that must be followed when transmitting or receiving data. Protocols define the format, timing, sequence, and error checking used on the network.

In plain English, the above means that if you have two or more devices that want to communicate, they need a common protocol, or set of rules, that guides the computers about how and when to talk to each other.

Protocols are defined by RFCs (requests for comments), in which the IETF maps out the new standard or protocol. Vendors (IBM, Cisco, Microsoft, Novell) then follow these standards and implement them in their products.

There are hundreds of protocols out there, and it is impossible to list them all here. Instead we have included the most common and will follow up with more specialized protocols in future articles.

The table below shows the most popular TCP/IP protocols. The OSI model shows at which layer each of these protocols works.

One thing to keep in mind is that as you move from the lower layers (Physical) to the upper layers (Applications), the device that's dealing with the protocol will require more processing time.

TCP/IP protocol stack ..................The OSI model

The series focuses on all things IP...

  • Lesson 1: Introduction to IP
  • Lesson 2: Binary and the Internet Protocol
  • Lesson 3: The Internet Protocol (IP) header
  • Lesson 4: Internet Protocol classes - Network and host ID
  • Lesson 5: Introduction to subnetting
  • Lesson 6: IP subnetting - The basic concepts
  • Lesson 7: Subnet masks and their effect
  • Lesson 8: Subnetting analysis
  • Lesson 9: Subnet routing and communications
  • Lesson 10: Subnetting guidelines

    Our next series will focus on:

  • TCP
  • UDP
  • ICMP
  • DNS
  • FTP
  • TFTP
  • Ethernet
  • RIP
  • OSPF



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