Have you ever wondered how your host can draw certain conclusions about networking issues so quickly and resolve them super fast? It’s often because their networking and IT troubleshooters have a good knowledge of the OSI network layers, so can quickly rule things in or out. By understanding in which layer something is broken, you can get straight to that fix, rather than mess around checking everything. Starting at layer 1, each layer sits on top of the other, so you can work out where your issues lie by seeing how far up the stack you can get before your issue manifests.
Physical (Layer 1)
OSI Model, Layer 1 conveys the bit stream – electrical impulse, light or radio signal — through the network at the electrical and mechanical level. It provides the hardware means for sending and receiving data on a carrier, including defining cables, cards and physical aspects. Fast Ethernet, RS232, and ATM are protocols with physical layer components.
Layer 1 Physical examples include Ethernet, FDDI, B8ZS, V.35, V.24, RJ45.
Data Link (Layer 2)
At OSI Model, Layer 2, 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 synchronisation. The data link layer is divided into two sublayers: The Media Access Control (MAC) 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 synchronisation, flow control and error checking.
Layer 2 Data Link examples include PPP, FDDI, ATM, IEEE 802.5/ 802.2, IEEE 802.3/802.2, HDLC, Frame Relay.
Network (Layer 3)
Layer 3 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, internetworking, error handling, congestion control and packet sequencing.
Layer 3 Network examples include AppleTalk DDP, IP, IPX.
Transport (Layer 4)
OSI Model, Layer 4, provides transparent transfer of data between end systems, or hosts, and is responsible for end-to-end error recovery and flow control. It ensures complete data transfer.
Layer 4 Transport examples include SPX, TCP, UDP.
Session (Layer 5)
This layer establishes, manages and terminates connections between applications. The session layer sets up, coordinates, and terminates conversations, exchanges, and dialogues between the applications at each end. It deals with session and connection coordination.
Layer 5 Session examples include NFS, NetBios names, RPC, SQL.
Presentation (Layer 6)
This layer provides independence from differences in data representation (e.g., encryption) by translating from application to network format, and vice versa. The presentation layer works to transform data into the form 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.
Layer 6 Presentation examples include encryption, ASCII, EBCDIC, TIFF, GIF, PICT, JPEG, MPEG, MIDI.
Application (Layer 7)
OSI Model, Layer 7, 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 identified. Everything at this layer is application-specific. This layer provides application services for file transfers, e-mail, and other network software services. Telnet and FTP are applications that exist entirely at the application level. Tiered application architectures are part of this layer.
Layer 7 Application examples include WWW browsers, NFS, SNMP, Telnet, HTTP, FTP
VoIP and the 7 Layer Model
Since I now work for a VoIP company lets have a look at how the 7 Layer OSI model works for VoIP.
7. Application: OpenSIPS
6. Presentation: G.729/G711/GSM/Speex
5. Session: SIP/SIPS
4. Transport: UDP/TCP/SCTP/TLS/RTP/SRTP/RTCP
3. Network: IP
2. Datalink: Frame-Relay/ATM/PPP/Ethernet
1. Physical: Ethernet/v.35/RS-232/xDSL