TCP/IP Concepts   «Prev  Next»

Lesson 3 The application layer of the TCP-IP Protocol
Objective What is the application layer of the TCP-IP Protocol?

Application Layer of the TCP-IP Protocol

The Application Layer, the highest layer in the TCP/IP protocol stack, encompasses protocols and services that most users interact with directly when using networked applications. Here, we'll break down the key elements of the Application Layer in the TCP/IP model:
  1. Protocols: The Application Layer is home to a variety of protocols that define the rules for specific types of network communication. These protocols are typically associated with a particular kind of application or function. A few examples include:
    1. HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol): This is the protocol used for transmitting web pages over the internet. It's the foundation of data communication for the World Wide Web.
    2. HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure): A version of HTTP that incorporates security protocols (like SSL/TLS) to encrypt communications.
    3. FTP (File Transfer Protocol): This protocol is used to transfer files between a client and server on a network.
    4. SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol): Used for sending email messages between servers. Most email systems use SMTP to send messages over the internet.
    5. DNS (Domain Name System): This protocol translates human-readable domain names into the numeric IP addresses that computers use to identify each other.
    6. POP3 (Post Office Protocol 3) and IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol): These protocols retrieve email from a server. POP3 downloads email to the client for local storage, while IMAP leaves messages on the server, allowing them to be accessed from various devices.
    7. SSH (Secure Shell): This protocol allows for secure remote login from one computer to another over an insecure network.
    8. TELNET: A protocol that allows a user to remotely control another machine over the internet. Unlike SSH, TELNET does not encrypt the data sent over the connection.
  2. Services: In addition to protocols, the Application Layer includes various network services that applications use. These include file services, print services, message services, database services, and application services (web, email). These services are provided by network software applications that operate on this layer.
  3. Interfaces and APIs: The Application Layer also includes the interfaces and APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) that allow applications to use network services. These APIs provide a set of functions and procedures that enable the creation of applications that can access the features or data of an operating system, application, or other service.
  4. Client and Server Software: This is the actual software that implements various Application Layer protocols and services. This could be web browsers (clients) implementing HTTP/HTTPS, email clients implementing SMTP/POP3/IMAP, or server software like web servers (e.g., Apache, Nginx), email servers (e.g., Microsoft Exchange), and file servers.

The Application Layer of the TCP/IP protocol stack is a complex and diverse layer that provides the necessary tools, protocols, and services for network communication. It facilitates user-friendly interaction with the network, enabling people to send emails, browse the web, transfer files, and more.

Application Layer Protocol
First layer is the Application Layer Protocol

What is an Application Layer Protocol?

An application-layer protocol is a language of network clients and servers use to communicate with each other. The familiar Internet services
  1. File Transfer Protocol (FTP),
  2. Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), and
  3. telnet
are examples of application-layer protocols.
On UNIX machines, the
  1. link,
  2. network, and
  3. transport layers
are handled by the kernel.

Application-layer Protocols and Client Server Processes

Application-layer protocols are handled by client and server processes. For example, the server side of the FTP protocol is handled by an FTP daemon process; the HTTP, or World Wide Web protocol, is handled by an HTTP client process (usually a Web browser), on the server side by an HTTP daemon server process. The application layer includes the protocols used by most applications for 1) providing user services or 2) exchanging application data over the network connections established by the lower level protocols, but this may include some basic network support services:
  1. routing protocols and
  2. host configuration protocols
Examples of application layer protocols include the
  1. Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP),
  2. the File Transfer Protocol (FTP),
  3. the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), and
  4. the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP).

Ad   Linux System Administration

TCP or UDP Messages

Data coded according to application layer protocols are encapsulated into transport layer protocol units (such as TCP or UDP messages), which in turn use lower layer protocols to effect actual data transfer. The IP model does not consider the specifics of formatting and presenting data, and does not define additional layers between the application and transport layers as in the OSI model (presentation and session layers). Such functions are the realm of libraries and application programming interfaces.
Application layer protocols generally treat the transport layer (and lower) protocols as black boxes which provide a stable network connection across which to communicate, although the applications are usually aware of key qualities of the transport layer connection such as the end point IP addresses and port numbers. Application layer protocols are often associated with particular client-server applications, and common services have well-known port numbers reserved by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). For example, the HyperText Transfer Protocol uses server port 80 and Telnet uses server port 23. Clients connecting to a service usually use ephemeral ports, i.e., port numbers assigned only for the duration of the transaction at random or from a specific range configured in the application. The transport layer and lower-level layers are unconcerned with the specifics of application layer protocols. Routers and switches do not typically examine the encapsulated traffic, rather they just provide a conduit for it. However, some firewall and bandwidth throttling applications must interpret application data.
An example is the Resource Reservation Protocol (RSVP). It is also sometimes necessary for network address translator (NAT) traversal to consider the application payload. The application layer in the TCP/IP model is often compared as equivalent to a combination of the fifth (Session), sixth (Presentation), and the seventh (Application) layers of the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model.

TCP-IP Layers Application - Quiz

Click the Quiz link below to take a short multiple-choice quiz on TCP/IP layers.
TCP-IP Layers Application - Quiz

SEMrush Software3