The objective of the Internet protocol (IP) is to get from one host to another host, with the assumption that the connection may be difficult. IP provides three capabilities: 1) a delivery service; 2) a means to fragment and reassemble data packets; and 3) routing functions to move data packets on the network.
Data might start out in Seattle with a final destination in Australia. Along the way, many computers called routers with varying capabilities will be encountered. There might be bad weather conditions that cause a particular route to be suboptimal, so the data might have to take another route. In addition, the router may not be able to transfer all the data, so the data has to be fragmented before continuing.
The TCP/IP protocol suite includes a number of protocols or rules. The Internet Protocol (IP) is a low level protocol that transports raw data over networks. The Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) sends data between programs using IP. As with all other communications protocol, TCP/IP is composed of layers.
TCP/IP assigns a unique address to every workstation in the world connected using TCP/IP. This "IP number" is a four-byte value that is created by converting each byte into a decimal number from 0 to 255 and separating the bytes with a period. For example, 188.8.131.52 is an IP number. Machines using TCP/IP also have natural language host names. A host name under TCP/IP follows the format hostname.site.domain.country. IP always uses the IP address and not the host name when it is sending information.
The Internet Protocol was developed to create a Network of Networks called the Internet. Individual machines are first connected to a LAN. TCP/IP shares the LAN with other uses, for example a Novell file server or a Windows for Workgroups peer-to-peer system. One hardware device provides the TCP/IP connection between the LAN and the rest of the Internet world. To insure that all types of systems from all vendors can communicate, TCP/IP is standardized on the LAN. TCP/IP and the Internet are not as secure as some alternative systems, but the system is available worldwide and it is inexpensive. So managers and MIS professionals need to ask how do we maintain security on networks using TCP/IP.
Page had minor content change on 3/12/2001.