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Lesson 2 TCP/IP protocol suite
ObjectiveDefine the components of TCP/IP protocol suite.

Define the Components of the TCP/IP Protocol Suite

The TCP/IP protocol suite is a set of networking protocols that operate on a wide variety of physical networks. The four main components of the TCP/IP protocol suite that operate on a wide variety of physical networks are:
  1. Internet Protocol (IP): The IP is the core protocol of the TCP/IP suite. It is responsible for addressing and routing packets across the network. The IP is independent of the underlying physical network, which means that it can be used on a variety of networks, including Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and cellular networks.
  2. Address Resolution Protocol (ARP): The ARP is used to resolve IP addresses to physical addresses. This is necessary because the IP layer only knows about IP addresses, while the physical layer only knows about physical addresses. The ARP is used to map IP addresses to physical addresses so that packets can be delivered to the correct destination.
  3. Transmission Control Protocol (TCP): The TCP is a reliable transport protocol that guarantees the delivery of data. It does this by breaking the data into segments and sending them one at a time. The TCP also acknowledges the receipt of each segment, so that the sender knows if the data has been received successfully.
  4. User Datagram Protocol (UDP): The UDP is an unreliable transport protocol that does not guarantee the delivery of data. It is faster than the TCP, but it is not as reliable. The UDP is used for applications where reliability is not as important, such as streaming media.

These four protocols are the foundation of the TCP/IP protocol suite. They allow for communication across a wide variety of physical networks, which is why the TCP/IP protocol suite is so widely used. In addition to these four protocols, there are a number of other protocols that are part of the TCP/IP protocol suite. These protocols provide additional functionality, such as name resolution, security, and routing. The TCP/IP protocol suite is a complex and sophisticated set of protocols. However, the four protocols listed above are the most important ones for understanding how the TCP/IP protocol suite works.

TCP/IP Layer

TCP/IP operates on a wide variety of physical networks and can be scaled to suit small to large networks. IP is the protocol used for communications on public networks such as the Internet. If your business plans to be connected to the Internet, it must use TCP/IP as its LAN protocol. TCP/IP has become the LAN protocol of choice for businesses large and small because virtually all businesses need to be connected to the Internet.
In order to effectively design a TCP/IP network infrastructure, you need to consider the following:
  1. The components of the TCP/IP protocol suite
  2. The design decisions influencing a TCP/IP solution
  3. The features and functionality provided by TCP/IP in Windows

This lesson will examine the TCP/IP protocol suite. Forthcoming lessons will look at the other essential aspects to designing with TCP/IP.

General Structure of TCP/IP stack and Release of the Windows Operating System

Has the general structure of the TCP/IP stack changed with each release of the Windows Operating System, or has it maintained its original structure?
The TCP/IP stack, a fundamental component of network communication, has generally maintained its core structure and functionality through the various releases of the Windows Operating System, from the initial releases up to Windows Server 2022 and Windows 11. The stability and adherence to the core principles of the TCP/IP stack have been crucial for ensuring backward compatibility and interoperability across diverse networks and systems.
The Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) stack is essentially a set of communication protocols used to interconnect network devices on the internet. It is structured in a hierarchical model comprising four layers: the Network Interface, Internet, Transport, and Application layers.
  1. Network Interface Layer: This is the lowest layer of the TCP/IP stack and corresponds to the Physical and Data Link layers of the OSI model. It is responsible for the transmission of data packets over the physical network, dealing with aspects like MAC addresses, framing, and error detection. In the context of Windows OS, this includes the device drivers and hardware that allow for the actual sending and receiving of data over a network.
  2. Internet Layer: This layer aligns with the Network layer of the OSI model. It is responsible for sending packets across potentially multiple networks, with IP addresses as its cornerstone. The Internet layer includes protocols like IP (Internet Protocol), ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol), and ARP (Address Resolution Protocol). These have remained largely unchanged in functionality through various Windows iterations, although additional features and improvements may have been added.
  3. Transport Layer: The Transport layer corresponds with its namesake in the OSI model, and it is where TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) and UDP (User Datagram Protocol) reside. These protocols provide for reliable (TCP) or 'best effort' (UDP) transport of data packets. Over the years, Windows has continued to support both these protocols while introducing enhancements like congestion control algorithms or security measures to improve performance and reliability.
  4. Application Layer: The highest layer of the TCP/IP stack, corresponding to the Session, Presentation, and Application layers of the OSI model. This is where the application-specific protocols like HTTP, FTP, DNS, etc., operate. While the underlying protocols themselves haven't significantly changed, their implementations can vary between Windows versions due to different software requirements or security updates.

While the core structure of the TCP/IP stack remains fundamentally the same, Microsoft has made several enhancements and introduced new features with each release of Windows to improve performance, reliability, and security. For instance, with the introduction of Windows Vista, Microsoft replaced the original TCP/IP stack (termed the "legacy stack") with a completely rewritten dual-IP layer architecture. This new architecture improved the stack's extensibility and capability to handle both IPv4 and IPv6. However, it still adhered to the original four-layer model of the TCP/IP protocol suite. In subsequent Windows versions, Microsoft introduced additional enhancements such as TCP window scaling (to improve performance over high latency links), compound TCP (for better congestion control), and direct access (for seamless connectivity over IPv6 networks), among others. In Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016, Microsoft introduced a set of TCP improvements collectively known as TCP Fast Open, TCP LEDBAT, and Tail Loss Probe, all aimed at improving the speed and reliability of Internet connections. In conclusion, while the core structure of the TCP/IP stack has largely remained consistent in the Windows operating system, Microsoft has continuously made enhancements and improvements to adapt to the changing landscape of network communications and the increasing demands of internet users and applications.

TCP/IP Protocol Suite

The TCP/IP suite of protocols allows the design of a logical peer network by using an underlying physical network infrastructure. These vendor-independent protocols can be used to implement IP networks ranging from small local area networks (LANs) to large enterprise networks. The following MouseOver shows the mapping of the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI)[1] seven-layer model to the TCP/IP four-layer model, and the major components of the TCP/IP suite. We assume the OSI layer one and two infrastructure is in place for any design considerations in this module.

1) OSI Model 2) TCP/IP Model 3) TCP/IP Protocol Suite
1) OSI Model 2) TCP/IP Model 3) TCP/IP Protocol Suite
  1. OSI Model: This International Standards Organization (ISO) OSI model incorporates the following qualities. It is designed to establish data-communications standards that promote multivendor interoperability.
    1. It consists of seven layers, with a specific set of network functions allocated to each layer and guidelines for implementation of the interfaces between layers.
    2. It specifies the set of protocols and interfaces to implement at each layer.
  2. TCP/IP Model: TCP/IP is based on a four-layer reference model. All protocols that belong to the TCP/IP protocol suite are located in the top three layers of this model. Each layer of the TCP/IP model corresponds to one or more layers of the seven-layer OSI reference model proposed by the ISO.
  3. TCP/IP Protocol Suite: TCP/IP represents only two of the protocols that are commonly used on IP-based networks. TCP/IP is often referred to as a protocol suite because there are a number of different protocols used on IP-based networks that provide different network services. When taken together, they represent a "suite," or group, of protocols.
  4. ARP (Address Resolution Protocol): Performs IP address-to-Media Access Control (MAC) address resolution for outgoing packets. As each outgoing IP datagram is encapsulated in a frame, source and destination MAC addresses must be added. Determining the destination MAC address for each frame is the responsibility of ARP.
  5. (IGMP) Internet Group Management Protocol: This protocol helps communicate multicast group membership information to a Multicast Group Manager. It uses Windows sockets to send and receive IGMP traffic. This protocol supports forwarding of IGMP messages over Windows 2000 routers.

(IETF) Internet Engineering Task Force

The (IETF) Internet Engineering Task Force continues to revise and improve the TCP/IP suite of protocols. Microsoft continuously updates the TCP/IP implementation to comply with the latest IETF standards. The next lesson provides a global view of the considerations for designing a TCP/IP solution.

TCP/IP Protocol Suite

The TCP/IP protocol suite is the basis for network communications on the Internet and includes several layers of protocols, each of which implements specific services and which, taken together, provide communication between application programs. Two major styles of communication exist:
  1. best-effort datagram delivery through UDP and
  2. reliable, data-stream delivery through TCP.
Both TCP and UDP depend on IP for end-to-end message delivery through an internet.
To accommodate the widest possible variety of network hardware and computer systems, the protocols in the TCP/IP suite have parameters that can be configured. Some of these parameters are required for correct operation of the protocols while others enhance the performance of applications that use TCP/IP. Configuration of the most fundamental of these parameters, the IP address, is crucial because incorrect assignment to one computer could affect the operation of other computers as well.

[1]Open Systems Interconnection (OSI): A framework designed by the International Standards Organization for which new network protocols to based themselves.

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