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What is the OSI Model?

The OSI Model is a universal set of

specifications that enable computer platforms
across the world to communicate openly with
each other.

What does OSI stand for?

OSI stands for Open System Interconnection

It is used to divide networking architecture into

seven different layers.

(the word architecture is used to describe a

networks infrastructure because like a building,
networks are comprised of many integrated
elements: cabling, servers, applications, NIC’s
and many other elements) .
Theses layers are from the top to the bottom:

 Application
 Presentation
 Session
 Transport
 Network
 Data Link
 Physical

Each layer has its own set of functions (chores

that it is responsible for) and interacts with the
layers directly above or below.

Who designed the OSI Model?

The OSI model was designed by are you ready!

ISO (International Organization for Standards)

The reason that ISO is used instead of IOS is

that ISO is not supposed to be an acronym for
International Organization for Standards.

In fact ISO is the Greek word for “equal”.

So who is the ISO and what do they do?

The ISO is a collection of Standards

organizations that represent 130 countries.

Its headquarters are in Geneva Switzerland

ISO’s goal is to establish international

technological standards to facilitate global
exchange of information and barrier-free trade.

So starting at the bottom lets look at the OSI



The Physical Layer also referred to as Layer 1 is

where everything connects together and
comprises of devices that do not translate the
information flowing on the network, but only
pass it on.
The Physical Layer consists of things like:

The wires in the network, which could be

Ethernet cables or fiber optic cables

Other technology for sending signals such as

infrared or micro wave

The connectors at the ends of the wires (used to

join devices together)

Repeaters (devices that amplify any signal

coming in without checking the signal)

Hubs (devices used to join multiple computers


Devices that control the speed at which

information is sent so that most of the
information makes it to its destination. These
devices know the speed of the networks they
are connected to as in 10 Mbps or 100 Mbps and
slow down or speed up the packets on the
Without these network devices it would be like
pouring water in a funnel. If you pour too fast it
will overflow and the water that overflows does
not make it to the desired location)

Basically the Physical Layer provides the

hardware means of sending and receiving data
on a carrier.


The Data Link Layer also referred to as Layer 2

is the layer responsible for breaking raw data
into smaller chunks called frames.
Frames from particular nodes are usually the
same size and used for timing purposes just like
frames in a film.

Layer 2/Data Link Layer is responsible for

making sure the data reaches the desired

Layer 2/Data Link Layer is also responsible for

making sure data flows at the right speed.
A frame is a structured package for moving data
similar to how a train is configured to move

Like the train that has the Engine at the front,

cargo in the middle, and the caboose at the end,
a data frame also has different components.

A simplified Data Frame is comprised of:

Destination Source Control Data sent by Error Checking

Address Address Information Source Information

As mentioned before The Data Link layer

interacts with both the Layer below it (The
Physical Layer) and the Layer above it (The
Network Layer)

The Data Link Layer uses the Destination and

Source MAC Addresses

A MAC Address (Media Access Control) is the

unique identifier (address) that every NIC
(Network Interface Card) in the world has

There are 248 or 281,474,976,710,656 different

The Data Link Layer provides the control
information (information that it can use to make
sure the whole frame is transmitted)

The Data Link Layer breaks the Source Data into

transmittable frames

The Data Link Layer provides the error checking

information (information that network can use to
make sure the whole frame was delivered)

One way that this is done is by size.

The Data Link Layer knows that a full Data

Frame has 500 (fictitious size) bits of
If the receiving device reads 500 bits then it
assumes all the Frame is present, otherwise it
will respond back to the sending device to
please resend. Yes there is a lot more to it than
that but that is the concept.
Another way of explaining this is

First think that computers communicate like

people do. You might be in a large noisy class
and one student wants to ask the teacher a
question. So this student calls out “Mr.
Forndran, could you explain why do some trains
have engines at the front and back” What
happens if Mr. Forndran only hears part of the
question? For example he might hear: “Why do
trains have engines at the front?” It would be
the Data Links Layer to realize that some data
has been dropped and ask the first computer to
retransmit-just as Mr. Forndran might say “I
didn’t hear you. Can you please repeat the

Another common problem that the Data Link

Layer is responsible for is sorting out
congestion. Again back to the noisy classroom
what if at the end of class 20 students ask
different questions all at the same time. Mr.
Forndran would not be able to pay attention to
all the questions so he would say “One person at
a time please.” then point to one of the students
who asked a question. This is what the Data Link
Layer does for the Physical Layer.

The Network Layer also referred to as Layer 3 is

primarily responsible for getting packets from
the source node (computer) to the destination
node using the quickest know route.

It does this by using the IP address (Layer 3

protocol) together with the physical MAC
address (Layer 2) of both nodes

Packets are formatted blocks of data carried

over a network. Packets vary in length and can
be smaller or larger than the frames they are
carried in
For this reason packets can span more than one

IP stands for Internet Protocol and is a core

protocol of the TCP/IP protocol

A Protocol is the set of rules used to transfer


Like every house in the world has a distinct

address so do all computers and network
How to compare the IP protocol that the
Network layer uses to the MAC address that the
Data Link layer uses is to think in the terms of a
Mr. Smith (IP address) with a Social Insurance
number in Canada of 123 456 789 (MAC address)
In the classroom just calling out Mr. Smith would
get the right person but at Wonderland there
might be many Mr. Smith’s so to make sure you
got the right Mr. Smith you would use Mr. Smith
Canadian Social Insurance Number 123 456 789.

Another task that the Network Layer is

responsible for is either reducing or increasing
the size of Data units (called Segmentation) As
different segments of a network can move data
at different speeds the Network Layer segments
the data to make maximum use of the network..

A way of looking at how different segments

correspond on the Network Layer is to look at
the building of a seven layer Wedding cake. The
cook builds the cake in the kitchen only to
notice it will not fit through the narrow hallway
to the reception hall. The waiters dismantle
(Segment) the cake (Network Layer). They then
carry the different layers out to the reception
hall (Transport Layer) where they rebuild
(reassemble) the cake (Network Layer). The
Data Link Layer would make sure all the pieces
arrived in the reception hall and none of the
waiters had eaten or dropped a piece.

The other important job of the Network Layer is

figure out the right way for data packets to
proceed through the network to get to their
destination known as Routing.

Routers work at the Network Layer and are

devices that store tables known as Routing
Tables. These tables have the directions to
every device connected to that Router.

How that works is the same as you asking for

directions to the closest Ice Cream store. If the
person you ask first knows you get the
directions right away. If the person doesn’t
know they might say, “I don’t know where the
closest Ice Cream store is, but hold on I’ll ask
my father.” This will continue until someone will
be able to point you in the right direction.

The Transport Layer also referred to as Layer 4

is the layer primarily responsible for ensuring
that the data is transferred from point A to point

As the Data being transferred might be of a very

large size another protocol is used at this layer
to make sure all of the information is put back
together in the right order when it is received by
the receiving node. One of the most popular
protocols used on the Transport Layer is TCP.

TCP or Transmission Control Protocol

TCP is a protocol whose rules govern how Data

is broken up and reassembled. As Data is
broken into smaller packets for transport over
the network TCP places a sequencer on the data
to denote where in the data stream it should be
placed when received.
This is very important since there are many
ways for data to travel over a network some
packets could be received out of sequence or be
lost on the network.. With this sequencer in
place the receiving node can reassemble the
data correctly.
Also if a particular packet does not make it to
the receiving computer the receiving computer
would be able to request that particular packet
be resent instead of asking for all of the data to
be resent.

TCP also sends a reply saying that the

information was received. This reply is called an
(ACK) or acknowledgement. This ACK is very
important, if the sending PC did not receive an
ACK then its Transport Layer would know that
the receiving PC either did not receive the Data
or could not understand the Data. After a
certain amount of time the sending PC would
resend the Data.

Waiting for an acknowledgement of receipt of

data takes extra time but is critical in making
sure that all the information makes it to its

There are other Protocols that don’t require

acknowledgement (UDP) but the transmission of
data can not be guaranteed. This guarantee of
transmission is thought to be worth the extra
time needed to transmit.

The Session Layer also referred to as Layer 5 is

primarily responsible for maintaining
communication between two nodes on the

The Session Layers also sets the terms of

communication by deciding which node will
communicate first and how long a node can
communicate similar to a judge at a debate


The Presentation Layer also referred to as Layer

6 serves as the translator between the
Application Layer and the Network Layer

The Presentation Layer compiles data from the

Network Layer into a format that the Application
Layer can understand.

The Presentation Layer compiles data from the

Application Layer into a format that the Network
Layer can understand for transport over the
It is at the Presentation Layer that data is either
encrypted or decrypted


The Application Layer also referred to as Layer 7

is where the interaction between certain
programs or the operating system.

This is not where there is interaction between

the computer and humans but where on request
a file is transferred over the network or mail is

An example of how the Application Layer works:

If you are running Microsoft Word on a network
and choose to open a file, your request for that
data is transferred to the network by the
Application Layer.
The OSI, or Open System Interconnection, model defines a networking framework for
implementing protocols in seven layers. Control is passed from one layer to the next,
starting at the application layer in one station, proceeding to the bottom layer, over the
channel to the next station and back up the hierarchy.
This layer supports application and end-user processes. Communication
partners are identified, quality of service is identified, user authentication
and privacy are considered, and any constraints on data syntax are
Application identified. Everything at this layer is application-specific. This layer
(Layer 7) provides application services for file transfers, e-mail, and other network
software services. Telnet and FTP are applications that exist entirely in
the application level. Tiered application architectures are part of this
This layer provides independence from differences in data representation
(e.g., encryption) by translating from application to network format, and
Presentation vice versa. The presentation layer works to transform data into the form
(Layer 6) that the application layer can accept. This layer formats and encrypts data
to be sent across a network, providing freedom from compatibility
problems. It is sometimes called the syntax layer.
This layer establishes, manages and terminates connections between
Session applications. The session layer sets up, coordinates, and terminates
(Layer 5) conversations, exchanges, and dialogues between the applications at each
end. It deals with session and connection coordination.
This layer provides transparent transfer of data between end systems, or
hosts, and is responsible for end-to-end error recovery and flow control.
(Layer 4) It ensures complete data transfer.
This layer provides switching and routing technologies, creating logical
paths, known as virtual circuits, for transmitting data from node to node.
Routing and forwarding are functions of this layer, as well as addressing,
(Layer 3) internetworking, error handling, congestion control and packet
At this layer, data packets are encoded and decoded into bits. It furnishes
transmission protocol knowledge and management and handles errors in
the physical layer, flow control and frame synchronization. The data link
Data Link layer is divided into two sublayers: The Media Access Control (MAC)
(Layer 2) layer and the Logical Link Control (LLC) layer. The MAC sublayer
controls how a computer on the network gains access to the data and
permission to transmit it. The LLC layer controls frame synchronization,
flow control and error checking.
This layer conveys the bit stream - electrical impulse, light or radio signal
-- through the network at the electrical and mechanical level. It provides
the hardware means of sending and receiving data on a carrier, including
(Layer 1) defining cables, cards and physical aspects. Fast Ethernet, RS232, and
ATM are protocols with physical layer components.