What Is the Network Layer?

The Internet is made possible by network-to-network connections. To achieve this, the “network layer” is utilized to facilitate communications at the points where these connections occur – often sending packets of data between different networks to send or receive information. As layer 3 of the 7-year OSI model, the network layer includes the Internet Protocol (IP) and other notable protocols, including encryption, routing and testing. But what are the primary functions of the network layer, and why is it so important for modern computing? 

The network layer is used to create logical associations, often between a send and a user, while also switching and routing message packets to ensure they are reaching their target destination. The network layer decides the best route for data to travel to facilitate a connection with another remote computer. The network layer can also divide large data packets into much smaller parcels. These packets are then reassembled at the receiving end once passed through a router or gateway. 

Functions of the Network Layer 

Anything related to inter-network connections will take place within the network layer. Some of the primary functions of the network layer include: 

  • Internetworking – This function is often considered the key responsibility of the network layer because it enables logical connections between multiple network types. 
  • Routing and Addressing – Routing algorithms are built to discover the most straightforward and most efficient paths between a source and a receiving computing device. Addressing is used to recognize each device as a unique, specific destination hub. 
  • Data Switching – The process of changing data blocks from the source to the destination hub to remain usable.
  • Packetizing – The network layer divides larger data packets into smaller packets to ensure smooth transfers throughout the network and data link layers. 
  • Congestion Control – Data packets are sent to the network, which increasing the available capacity. 

All network layer infrastructure is exposed to the Internet, making it highly vulnerable to cyberattacks without proper management.  With a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, routers and other network interfaces can become compromised or overwhelmed by malicious network traffic. Working with an experienced partner can help ensure that you have the frameworks and infrastructure needed to ensure your data remains safe while traveling through the network layer. 

How Can Excipio Consulting Help?  

Determining the right data centers to partner with based on a business’s unique goals may seem daunting; however, the benefits are immense. Working with a team of expert IT consultants can help determine what additional services may be needed to provide the best service possible to internal parties or external parties that the organization may serve. If you are interested in learning more about Excipio Consulting’s services, please call our corporate office at (918) 357-5507

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