Protocol architecture – Diplomats follow rules when they conduct business between nations, which is referred to in the media as protocol. Diplomatic protocol requires that one shouldn’t insult his hosts and do respect local customs. Most embassies and communication have specialists in protocol, whose function is to ensure that everything proceed smoothly when communication are taking place. The protocol is a set of rules that must be followed in order to make sure that there will be misunderstanding between the nations because of lack of proper communication.
Similarly, computer protocols define the manner in which communication take place. If one computer is sending information to another and they both follow the protocol properly, the message gets through, regardless of what types of systems they are and what operating systems they run ( the basis for open systems). As long the machines have software that can manage the protocol, communications are possible. Essentially, a computer protocol is a set of rules that coordinates the exchange of information.
Protocols have developed from very simple process ( “I’ll send you one character, you acknowledge its receipt, and then I send the next character”) to elaborate, complex mechanisms that cover all possible problems and transfer conditions.
A task such as sending a message from one side of the globe to another side can be very complex when you consider the manner in which it moves. A single protocol to cover all aspects of the transfer would be to large, unwieldy, and overly specialized. Therefore, several protocols have been developed, each handling a specific task.
Combining several protocols, each with their own dedicated purposes, would be a nightmare if the interactions between the protocols were not clearly defined. Concept of a layered structure was developed to help keep each protocol in its place and to define the manner of interaction between each protocol (essentially, a protocol for communication between protocol modules!).
Consider, for example, a particular user browsing a web site for information. There must be a data path between two computers involved, one computer which is used by the user where browser application (like internet explorer) is running and another computer where actually the information requested by the user is stored (which is known as a WWW server). This data path can either be a direct one or via a communication network. But more is needed. Typical tasks to be performed are.
- The source system must either activate the direct data communication path or inform the communication network of the identity of the desired destination system.
- The source system must ascertain that the destination system (WWW server) is prepared to receive query and pass on the information requested by in the query.
- The browser application on the source system must be ascertain that the required WWW server programmed on the destination system is prepared to accept query for information for the user.
Telephone network to interconnect the computers situated in distant locations. This should not be a difficult job as the digital information stored in the computer is transferred to another computer through the cable in the form of electromagnetic field. The same principle (i.e. electromagnetic signal) is applied even in telephone network to transfer the audio signal from one end to another. So why not use the telephone network, in which case one can interconnect the computers located in far-off place. These ideas didn’t remains as pipe-dream, instead they became reality.
One followed the other and simultaneous advancement in the data communication field and advancement in the field of microelectronic which is responsible for the faster, smaller, cheaper, powerful computer processors and other devices which are basic building blocks of computer led to a situation wherein today we have a worldwide network of computers widely known as internet which connects several cores of computer of all capacities across the globe ( probably the astronauts in MIR Space station can also access internet, if they wish and are permitted.)
A network can be as simple as two personal computers connected together using a modem of 1200 baud, or a complex as the TCP/IP internet which was designed to handle heterogeneous systems running on unreliable communication link. There are number of ways to connect the computer to network. And also the things which one can do once connected to the network are many.