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OSI Architecture

Data Link Layer is second layer of OSI Layered Model. This layer is one of the most complicated layers and has complex functionalities and liabilities. Data link layer hides the details of underlying hardware and represents itself to upper layer as the medium to communicate.

Data link layer works between two hosts which are directly connected in some sense. This direct connection could be point to point or broadcast. Systems on broadcast network are said to be on same link. The work of data link layer tends to get more complex when it is dealing with multiple hosts on single collision domain.

Data link layer is responsible for converting data stream to signals bit by bit and to send that over the underlying hardware. At the receiving end, Data link layer picks up data from hardware which are in the form of electrical signals, assembles them in a recognizable frame format, and hands over to upper layer.

Data link layer has two sub-layers:

  • Logical Link Control: It deals with protocols, flow-control, and error control

  • Media Access Control: It deals with actual control of media

Functionality of Data-link Layer

Data link layer does many tasks on behalf of upper layer. These are:

  • Framing

    Data-link layer takes packets from Network Layer and encapsulates them into Frames.Then, it sends each frame bit-by-bit on the hardware. At receiver’ end, data link layer picks up signals from hardware and assembles them into frames.

  • Addressing

    Data-link layer provides layer-2 hardware addressing mechanism. Hardware address is assumed to be unique on the link. It is encoded into hardware at the time of manufacturing.

  • Synchronization

    When data frames are sent on the link, both machines must be synchronized in order to transfer to take place.

  • Error Control

    Sometimes signals may have encountered problem in transition and the bits are flipped.These errors are detected and attempted to recover actual data bits. It also provides error reporting mechanism to the sender.

  • Flow Control

    Stations on same link may have different speed or capacity. Data-link layer ensures flow control that enables both machine to exchange data on same speed.

  • Multi-Access

    When host on the shared link tries to transfer the data, it has a high probability of collision. Data-link layer provides mechanism such as CSMA/CD to equip capability of accessing a shared media among multiple Systems.


Layer-3 in the OSI model is called Network layer. Network layer manages options pertaining to host and network addressing, managing sub-networks, and internetworking.

Network layer takes the responsibility for routing packets from source to destination within or outside a subnet. Two different subnet may have different addressing schemes or non-compatible addressing types. Same with protocols, two different subnet may be operating on different protocols which are not compatible with each other. Network layer has the responsibility to route the packets from source to destination, mapping different addressing schemes and protocols.

Layer-3 Functionalities

Devices which work on Network Layer mainly focus on routing. Routing may include various tasks aimed to achieve a single goal. These can be:

  • Addressing devices and networks.

  • Populating routing tables or static routes.

  • Queuing incoming and outgoing data and then forwarding them according to quality of service constraints set for those packets.

  • Internetworking between two different subnets.

  • Delivering packets to destination with best efforts.

  • Provides connection oriented and connection less mechanism.

Network Layer Features

With its standard functionalities, Layer 3 can provide various features as:

  • Quality of service management

  • Load balancing and link management

  • Security

  • Interrelation of different protocols and subnets with different schema.

  • Different logical network design over the physical network design.

  • L3 VPN and tunnels can be used to provide end to end dedicated connectivity.


Next Layer in OSI Model is recognized as Transport Layer (Layer-4). All modules and procedures pertaining to transportation of data or data stream are categorized into this layer. As all other layers, this layer communicates with its peer Transport layer of the remote host.

Transport layer offers peer-to-peer and end-to-end connection between two processes on remote hosts. Transport layer takes data from upper layer (i.e. Application layer) and then breaks it into smaller size segments, numbers each byte, and hands over to lower layer (Network Layer) for delivery.

Functions

  • This Layer is the first one which breaks the information data, supplied by Application layer in to smaller units called segments. It numbers every byte in the segment and maintains their accounting.

  • This layer ensures that data must be received in the same sequence in which it was sent.

  • This layer provides end-to-end delivery of data between hosts which may or may not belong to the same subnet.

  • All server processes intend to communicate over the network are equipped with well-known Transport Service Access Points (TSAPs) also known as port numbers.

End-to-End Communication

A process on one host identifies its peer host on remote network by means of TSAPs, also known as Port numbers. TSAPs are very well defined and a process which is trying to communicate with its peer knows this in advance.

TSAP

For example, when a DHCP client wants to communicate with remote DHCP server, it always requests on port number 67. When a DNS client wants to communicate with remote DNS server, it always requests on port number 53 (UDP).

The two main Transport layer protocols are:

  • Transmission Control Protocol

    It provides reliable communication between two hosts.

  • User Datagram Protocol

    It provides unreliable communication between two hosts.


Application layer is the top most layer in OSI and TCP/IP layered model. This layer exists in both layered Models because of its significance, of interacting with user and user applications. This layer is for applications which are involved in communication system.

A user may or may not directly interacts with the applications. Application layer is where the actual communication is initiated and reflects. Because this layer is on the top of the layer stack, it does not serve any other layers. Application layer takes the help of Transport and all layers below it to communicate or transfer its data to the remote host.

When an application layer protocol wants to communicate with its peer application layer protocol on remote host, it hands over the data or information to the Transport layer. The transport layer does the rest with the help of all the layers below it.

Application Layer

There’is an ambiguity in understanding Application Layer and its protocol. Not every user application can be put into Application Layer. except those applications which interact with the communication system. For example, designing software or text-editor cannot be considered as application layer programs.

On the other hand, when we use a Web Browser, which is actually using Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP) to interact with the network. HTTP is Application Layer protocol.

Another example is File Transfer Protocol, which helps a user to transfer text based or binary files across the network. A user can use this protocol in either GUI based software like FileZilla or CuteFTP and the same user can use FTP in Command Line mode.

Hence, irrespective of which software you use, it is the protocol which is considered at Application Layer used by that software. DNS is a protocol which helps user application protocols such as HTTP to accomplish its work.




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