The OSI model is the model developed for computer-to-computer communications over a network. This model breaks down all the functions that occur into seven distinct layers. These layers are, application, presentation, session, transport, network, data link, and the physical layer. Each one encompasses a specific part of the process that occurs during the communication. In order to simplify this think of it like sending a package through the post office.
It can be broken down into seven stages or layers for this example. We start with bringing an item or letter to the post office that is to be sent to a determined destination. This is essentially what happens in the application layer. This is the interface between the communication and the entire process as it is in how a computer works. Next the item is packaged and put into a box or envelope. This is similar to how the presentation layer functions. In this layer the communication is formatted, encrypted, and compressed; basically prepared for sending.
Our package is then tagged with tracking information and tagging information that allows us to track it and verify if there are any other packages and if needed what order they go in. This is similar to the session layer. Next our package is put into a sorting device of some kind that sorts things based on size to see if it is able to be sent with other shipments or broken down to be sent different ways if it is to large. This is similar to the transport layer of the OSI model. The similarities go on over the next few layers as well.
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After packages are sorted they couriers inspect the packages and are given the specific routes they are to take in order to deliver the correct packages to the correct recipients. This represents the network layer in that the connections are established between the computers and the routing is also established. Next the packages are loaded onto the means of their transportation. This can include both truck and plane or whatever other method is needed to ensure delivery. This is how the data link layer works. The information is packaged generally in frames and sent via the proper transmission method via the designated route.
The first of this process ends with the drivers getting into to their vehicles and driving towards the destinations with the packages. This is the physical layer in which the transmission takes place. After all this takes place it goes back through the same layers in the reverse order to ensure that everything that has happened was in the correct order and method. For example a package arrives at its destination, it’s then unloaded, inspected to make sure its intact and not damaged, signed for to verify the correct address and recipient, unpacked, and finally read.
While the process as a whole can be overwhelmingly complex if it is broken down into layers as the OSI model does it can be viewed a little more simplistically and compared to modern day processes. Such as the post office as I have described. There are also many other similarities that if one looked they could make connections to.
- Dean, T. (2010). CIS 175: Network + Guide to Networks: 2010 Custom Edition (5th Edition). Boston: Cengage Learning.
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