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TCP/IP Applications

The whole goal of building an enterprise network, or connecting a small home or office network
to the Internet, is to use applications such as web browsing, text messaging, email, file
downloads, voice, and video. This section examines one particular application—web browsing
using Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP).

The World Wide Web (WWW) consists of all the Internet-connected web servers in the
world, plus all Internet-connected hosts with web browsers. Web servers, which consist of
web server software running on a computer, store information (in the form of web pages)
that might be useful to different people. A web browser, which is software installed on an
end user’s computer, provides the means to connect to a web server and display the web
pages stored on the web server.

NOTE Although most people use the term web browser, or simply browser, web browsers
are also called web clients, because they obtain a service from a web server.

For this process to work, several specific application layer functions must occur. The user
must somehow identify the server, the specific web page, and the protocol used to get
the data from the server. The client must find the server’s IP address, based on the server’s
name, typically using DNS. The client must request the web page, which actually consists
of multiple separate files, and the server must send the files to the web browser. Finally, for
electronic commerce (e-commerce) applications, the transfer of data, particularly sensitive
financial data, needs to be secure. The following sections address each of these functions.

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