Section 2.7. Summary

This chapter has shown how data moves through the global Internet from one specific process on the source computer to a single cooperating process on the other side of the world. TCP/IP uses globally unique addresses to identify any computer on the Internet. It uses protocol numbers and port numbers to uniquely identify a single process running on that computer.

Routing directs the datagrams destined for a remote process through the maze of the global network. Routing uses part of the IP address to identify the destination network. Every system maintains a routing table that describes how to reach remote networks. The routing table usually contains a default route that is used if the table does not contain a specific route to the remote network. A route only identifies the next computer along the path to the destination. TCP/IP uses hop-by-hop routing to move datagrams one step closer to the destination until the datagram finally reaches the destination network.

At the destination network, final delivery is made by using the full IP address (including the host part) and converting that address to a physical layer address. Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) is an example of the type of protocol used to convert IP addresses to physical layer addresses. It converts IP addresses to Ethernet addresses for final delivery.

These first two chapters described the structure of the TCP/IP protocol stack and the way in which it moves data across a network. In the next chapter, we move up the protocol stack to look at the type of services the network provides to simplify configuration and use.