P Is for Protocol

A Few of the More Common Types That are Components of the Internet Protocol Suite

By Jim Montague

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In the realm of IT-based networks, there are a bunch of longstanding protocols to help monitor the performance of network devices, such as managed Ethernet switches, and help manage data traffic. They're usually components of the Internet Protocol Suite, which is defined by the Internet Engineering Task Force. Some of the more notable:

• Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) is an Internet-standard protocol for managing devices on IP networks. It's used mostly in network management systems to monitor network-attached devices for conditions that need administrative attention. It consists of a set of standards for network management, including an application layer protocol, a database schema and a set of data objects.

• Internet Group Management Protocol (IGMP) is employed by host devices and adjacent routers on IP networks to establish multicast group memberships, and so IGMP is an integral part of IP multicast. IGMP runs between client PCs and a local multicast router. Switches with "IGMP snooping" capability can secure useful data by observing IGMP transactions.

• Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) is used to configure network devices so that they can communicate on an IP network. A DHCP client uses the protocol to secure configuration data, such as an IP address, default route and one or more DNS server addresses from a DHCP server. The client then uses this information to configure its host, and once the configuration process is complete, the host can communicate on that IP network.

• Link Layer Discovery Protocol (LLDP) is a vendor-neutral link-layer protocol that network devices use to advertise their identity and capabilities to their neighbors on IEEE 802 local area networks (LANs), mostly wired Ethernet. In short, LLDP allows switches to tell neighboring devices about themselves, and management stations can use this information to build network topology programs.

This article is part of the Industrial Networking 2013 Quarter 1 cover story "Monitor and Mend Network Health."

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