A protocol is a way of defining a set of rules, or guidelines for the operation of an interconnected network. There are many different forms of communication protocols, which set standards for information management and automation. Every kind of protocol is a logical system which describes the format and structure of the information to be transmitted, along with the guidelines for exchanging this information between two or more computers, usually in a domain based environment. The different layers in the construction of a network and how they relate to one another is a key part of the analysis to be carried out. Studies show that there are benefits for an organization which adopts protocols which give “obvious benefits of protocol layering in terms of simplifying network design and management issues” (Whitt, 2004). This study will analyze a few particular types of protocol and provide rationale for the adoption of existing protocols as well as explain the advantages and disadvantages of these protocols, and present recommendations and benefits about all of the analyzed protocols. The protocols which will be investigated are IEEE 802, a family of standards developed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, TCP/IP which is part of the Internet Protocol Suite of protocols designed for use with the internet, and the Client for Microsoft Networks, a software component of the Microsoft Windows family.
These three kinds of protocol are essential when creating, managing and administering a computer network. All of these three form part of the network layer, which creates an address based system of division for a computer network, into distinct groups with common designated address prefixes. This is done via a naming convention, which translates names between what the computers need for communication, and what humans need to be able to interpret this data. This is essential in the creation of a network so that communication can happen between every device connected to it. Every computer that is connected to a network requires a unique address, which is used to identify and provide an information transfer point on a network of many computers. The way these addresses are delivered depends on the type of network and the type of protocol used.
To begin with, an analysis of each of the protocols is required, in order to understand what they are and how they work. The IEEE 802 protocol has been developed to deal with Local Area Networks and Metropolitan Area Networks, which include Ethernet, Token Ring and Wireless networks. Each of these types of IEEE 802 families has a separate map which relates to the data link and physical layer of the standard interconnection or OSI model. This protocol set has been implemented in order to standardize the transmission of information between two distant locations using the communications medium of shared copper wiring. The advantage of the IEEE 802 protocol is that primarily it enables seamless communication and connectivity between distant sites via cabling. This is very important for an organization such as Riordan which has many separate sites which need to be in communication with each other at all times. One of the disadvantages of this standard is that there is potential for packet collision on the network which may temporarily slow the network speed depending on the size and routing ability of the infrastructure, therefore the network architecture needs to be constantly monitored for performance.
The Transmission Control Protocol or Internet Protocol, commonly referred to as TCP/IP is one of the central core protocols of the Internet Protocol suite, which controls and handles communication between computers, domains and networks. TCP/IP provides an addressing system which enables communication to distinctly separate networks, and a domain addressing function which enables a meaningful naming system which can be employed and interpreted by humans and not just computers. This is done by using a system of addressing based on unique addresses and subnets. A network usually has a Dynamic Host Control Protocol (DHCP) server which provides a unique TCP/IP address for every network card, and subsequently enables traffic to be routed around a network using these unique addresses. Alternatively static addressing can be used by manually setting the IP details of the network card via the Windows Network Connection functions. Home networks do not usually require separate subnets, however a large corporation on the other hand such as Riordan, with interconnected offices over a wide area network, would not use a single subnet for all its addressing needs due to the inefficiency of routing traffic over such large distances. In a corporate environment such as this, dynamically assigned addresses and routers which facilitate the flow of information between areas, offices or departments are required. Therefore a system to allow division of networks into smaller more manageable pieces is needed, and this can be achieved through using TCP/IP as the primary network protocol. The advantages of using this protocol as the standard are that it is a global standard, used by nearly all the world’s computing systems. The disadvantages come from the same issue, because having a standard set of protocols means you are susceptible to attack from malicious hackers who use the most popular and widespread protocol. Therefore security needs to be a major area of manpower and investment in order to secure the network from unauthorized external access.
Finally the last protocol to be analyzed, the Client for Microsoft Networks, a protocol whereby computers can be incorporated into a Windows Client Server environment needs to be assessed. This is a key part of the Windows family, and is a client component which is installed onto every client PC which needs to access a Microsoft Network, to remotely access printers, shared network resources or files. This piece of software allows the client computer to be able to join a domain, a key element in the client server computing environment. A domain is a logical way of dividing a network into related components. It usually contains computers related to a specific task, for example all the machines used in a specific business function will be placed inside a domain, usually under such names as marketing, production or accounts. Specific information about the exact location of the domain, relative to the tree hierarchy of the Domain Name System (DNS) is contained on the server. The DNS system resolves Internet Protocol (IP) addresses to names of specific domains, and is the standard naming system for any computers connected to the internet. The domain structure system specifies where in the domain structure the particular referenced domain resides, and is essential in creating an architecture which can be understood by administrators. Some advantages of this protocol are that it allows centralized management of network resources, easy of remote access, security and deployment services across all physical business locations. Some disadvantages of this system revolve around the issues of security and confidentiality of network resources. These issues can be addressed by implementing a secure architecture and by constantly developing strategies for dealing with external attacks on the network.
These protocols can be used together to produce a secure and efficient network topology, consisting of a standard transport protocol, utilizing a standard set of protocol rules which work in conjunction with the global standards for information technology, as well as by using a specifically designed client/server environment which deals with the network administration and operation. As Reynolds and Tymann state in their book, “a protocol is a formal description of the message formats and the rules the machines in the network follow to exchange messages” (Reynolds & Tymann, 2008, p. 127), and these elements combined will produce an efficient business communication and workplace tool which is suited to the needs of the business in question.
Therefore in conclusion the issue of protocol selection and implementation is one which is very important for home use, small businesses and large corporations, which want to improve efficiency and manageability of the networking system. From the home to the office, the arrangement of a network protocol can be beneficial in many ways from speed to security, and using these protocol systems it is possible to create and manipulate existing networks into a more effective medium of communication and to aid business operations. The ultimate aim of network architecture is to allow different aspects of the protocol layer to be integrated together to give a secure and efficient system which is both easy to use and cost effective.
Reynolds, C., & Tymann, P. (2008). Schaum’s Outline of Principles of Computer Science. New
York: McGraw-Hill. Retrieved July 21, 2010, from Questia database: http://www.questiaschool.com/PM.qst?a=o;d=116439607
Whitt, R. S. (2004). A Horizontal Leap Forward: Formulating a New Communications Public
Policy Framework Based on the Network Layers Model. Federal Communications Law Journal, 56(3), 587+. Retrieved July 21, 2010, from Questia database: http://www.questiaschool.com/PM.qst?a=o;d=5006202384