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OSI Layering Concepts and Benefits

While networking models use layers to help humans categorize and understand the many
functions in a network, networking models use layers for many reasons. For example, consider
another postal service analogy. A person writing a letter does not have to think about
how the postal service will deliver a letter across the country. The postal worker in the
middle of the country does not have to worry about the contents of the letter. Likewise,
networking models that divide functions into different layers enable one software package
or hardware device to implement functions from one layer, and assume that other software/
hardware will perform the functions defined by the other layers.

The following list summarizes the benefits of layered protocol specifications:
■ Less complex: Compared to not using a layered model, network models break the concepts
into smaller parts.
■ Standard interfaces: The standard interface definitions between each layer allow multiple
vendors to create products that fill a particular role, with all the benefits of open
■ Easier to learn: Humans can more easily discuss and learn about the many details of a
protocol specification.
■ Easier to develop: Reduced complexity allows easier program changes and faster product
■ Multivendor interoperability: Creating products to meet the same networking standards
means that computers and networking gear from multiple vendors can work in the same
■ Modular engineering: One vendor can write software that implements higher layers—for
example, a web browser—and another vendor can write software that implements the
lower layers—for example, Microsoft’s built-in TCP/IP software in its operating systems.

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