In my opinion, an understanding of basic networking concepts and components is essential for working an enterprise help desk. You don't need to be a CCDP, but you should be able to tell the difference between BNC and RJ-45 connectors.
To test your networking knowledge, Support Republic recently offered a basic networking pop quiz. Over 1,800 of our members responded, and the results were some of the best yet. Here's how you did.
OSI Model: Error Checking
The correct answer is Transport layer, and 73 percent of those who took the quiz got it right, as shown in Figure A. Developed by experts from the computer and telecommunications industry and adopted by the International Standards Organization (ISO) in 1984, the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) reference model is a conceptual framework for communication between two computers on a network. The OSI reference model separates network communications into seven distinct layers:
- Physical Layer—This layer manages the hardware medium through which data is sent and received via the network.
- Data Link Layer—This layer arranges data bits received from the Physical layer into data frames before the data is sent to the Network layer. When data frames are received from the Network layer, the Data-link layer sends them to the Physical layer.
- Network Layer—This layer handles the routing of the data and translates logical addresses and names into physical addresses. The network layer also handles routing and forwarding.
- Transport Layer—This layer manages the flow of data across the network by packing and unpacking long streams of data into smaller packets. This layer also provides error checking to ensure error-free data transmission.
- Session Layer—This layer allows two machines on the network to communicate with each other in what's called a "session." The Session Layer establishes, permits the use of, and ends these communication sessions.
- Presentation Layer—This layer converts incoming and outgoing messages into generic formats that can then be sent over a network or used by the receiving application.
- Application Layer—This top layer of the OSI reference model allows applications access to network services.
IEEE wireless networking specs
The correct answer is 802.11. As shown in Figure B, a whopping 81 percent of those who took the quiz knew this answer. As for the other specifications: 802.8 provides details on fiber optics, 802.9 details integrated voice and data networks, and 802.10 provides information on network security.
This time there were two correct answers: Bayonet Neill-Concelman and British Naval Connector, but only a total of 54 percent of our quiz takers marked either of these, as shown in Figure C. BNC connectors are used to connect a computer to a coaxial cable. Bell Labs Engineer Paul Neill and Amphenol Engineer Carl Concelman developed this connector in the late 1940s. The term "bayonet" describes the connector's twist-and-lock coupling mechanism that works similar to that of a rifle's bayonet. This type of connector is also referred to as a British Naval Connector although the origins of this name are less clear. I just made the other two answers up. To see an image of a BNC connector check out this TechRepublic article.
Network topology security
I didn't think this one would be a difficult question, but only 50 percent of those who took the quiz knew the correct answer: Mesh, as shown in Figure D. This question was more theoretical than practical since not many networks actually employ a true mesh structure. The mesh topology connects every computer on a network to every other computer. While this topology offers the highest degree of fault tolerance, it uses more network cabling than other topologies and is significantly more difficult to install. The ring topology connects network devices in a physical and logical loop. A start topology connects network devices to each other via a central hub. A bus topology connects network devices to a single cable known as a "backbone."
Fast, nonroutable protocol
Luckily most of our quiz takers finished up with a bang. The correct answer is NetBEUI, and 74 percent of you knew that, as shown in Figure E. Developed by IBM and Microsoft in the 1980s, NetBEUI is a simple Network layer transport protocol. It requires very little memory overhead and is the fastest transport protocol available to Windows NT. NetBEUI cannot be routed, however, and really has no place on enterprise networks. By far the most widely used protocol suite, TCP/IP, provides cross-platform support, can be routed, and supports SNMP, DHCP, WINS, DNS, and several other protocols. SNMP, or Simple Network Management Protocol, is a TCP/IP protocol used to manage and monitor network devices. IPX and SPX are both Novell protocols used on networks that use Novel NetWare clients and servers.
Not too shabby
With the exception of questions three and four, our quiz takers did an excellent job. If you got them all correct, congratulations. If you missed a few, I hope the answer explanations given in this article helped you improve you basic networking knowledge. On a side note, as mentioned in a previous pop quiz results article, you get the TechPoints for just taking the quiz, not for getting all the answers correct.
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Bill Detwiler has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.