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OSI Reference Model Layer Summary

Group

# Layer Name

Key Responsibilities

Data Type
Handled

Scope

Common Protocols and


Technologies

Bits

Electrical or light
signals sent
between local
devices

(Physical layers of most of the


technologies listed for the data
link layer)

Physical

Encoding and Signaling; Physical Data


Transmission; Hardware Specifications;
Topology and Design

Data Link

Logical Link Control; Media Access Control;


Data Framing; Addressing; Error Detection
and Handling; Defining Requirements of
Physical Layer

Frames

Low-level data
messages between
local devices

IEEE 802.2 LLC, Ethernet


Family; Token Ring; FDDI and
CDDI; IEEE 802.11 (WLAN, WiFi); HomePNA; HomeRF; ATM;
SLIP and PPP

Network

Logical Addressing; Routing; Datagram


Encapsulation; Fragmentation and
Reassembly; Error Handling and
Diagnostics

Datagrams /
Packets

Messages between
local or remote
devices

IP; IPv6; IP NAT; IPsec; Mobile


IP; ICMP; IPX; DLC; PLP;
Routing protocols such as RIP
and BGP

Transport

Process-Level Addressing;
Multiplexing/Demultiplexing; Connections;
Segmentation and Reassembly;
Acknowledgments and Retransmissions;
Flow Control

Datagrams /
Segments

Communication
between software
processes

TCP and UDP; SPX;


NetBEUI/NBF

Lower
Layers
3

Upper 6
Layers

Session

Session Establishment, Management and


Termination

Presentatio
n

Data Translation; Compression and


Encryption

Application

User Application Services

Sessions

Sessions between
local or remote
devices

NetBIOS, Sockets, Named


Pipes, RPC

Encoded
User Data

Application data
representations

SSL; Shells and Redirectors;


MIME

Application data

DNS; NFS; BOOTP; DHCP;


SNMP; RMON; FTP; TFTP;
SMTP; POP3; IMAP; NNTP;
HTTP; Telnet

User Data

Understanding it through real life example is kinda difficult but suppose you're carrying large amount of goods from one place to other.
Say you're travelling in sea using a number of ships.
1. Physical Layer: Physical layer deals with the actual connectivity between the source and destination. If you're transferring data to
another machine through LAN, physical layer is the Ethernet connection. The water in the sea connecting your place and destination is the
physical layer in our case.
2. Data Link layer: In this layer data is broken down into pieces. That is your goods will be separated in various categories, say expensive
goods, fragile and non fragile. This layer deals with breaking the data being sent and transmitting it through the physical layer. So goods
being categorized and sent through the sea.
3. Network layer: Here the data being sent is organized. It also decides which protocols to use, tcp or udp. So in our case the different
compartments of ship where you'll keep these goods is the network layer. It will also decide which generators and engines to be used
while travelling (protocols).
4. Transport Layer: Transport layer gives you the best route, security and safest path to the destination. The transportation of data takes
place here. So think of the coast guard as transport layer. He'll look after the connection, inform you if there's any danger and tell you the

best route to your destination.


5. Session layer: The best way to remember a session is thinking of it as a Hangout or Yahoo messenger chat. When two people start
communicating a session is created, as soon as one ends the chat or disconnects session is broken. Session layer creates a new session
for a pack of data. So the time when our ships leaves our docks and till the time it reaches the destination is one whole session, assuming
there are no problems during that interval. If your ships gets hijacked by pirates, session is terminated. If the destination blows up, session
is terminated.
Session plays an important role in online transactions. In the very last step, where you need to enter OTP or your secure password to
authorize the transaction, if you sit idle for more than 2-3 minutes without any activity, the session will terminate itself and the transaction
will be unsuccessful.
6. Presentation Layer: There are times you send various file formats through the network like images or videos. Presentation layer deals
with all this different files. It converts this data into a readable format for the destination. Think of a captain who's in charge of people from
various races, countries and languages. He has to make sure everyone will reach to destination and can perform their work over there.
7. Application layer: Many people think of browsers as soon as they hear application layer. But application layers isn't the browsers or
application you're using. In our case if browsers are taken then ships will be out application layer.
But application layer is not the browser but the common protocols used by the browsers. So application layer are not the ships but the
common fuels these ships are using.