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TCP/IP Analysis and Troubleshooting Toolkit by Kevin Burns

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CHAPTER 1

Introduction to Protocol Analysis

What is protocol analysis? A protocol is defined as a standard procedure for regulating data transmission between computers. Protocol analysis is the process of examining those procedures. The way we go about this analysis is with special tools called protocol analyzers. Protocol analyzers decode the stream of bits flowing across a network and show you those bits in the structured format of the protocol. Using protocol analysis techniques to understand the procedures occurring on your network is the focus of this book. In my 10 years of analyzing and implementing networks, I have learned that in order to understand how a vendor's hardware platform, such as a router or switch, functions you need to understand how the protocols that the hardware implements operate. Routers, switches, hubs, gateways, and so on are simply nothing without the protocols. Protocols make networks happen. Routers and other devices implement those protocols. Understand the protocol, and you can largely understand what happens inside the box.

A Brief History of Network Communications

For years, complex processing needs have been the driving factors behind the development of computer systems. Early on, these needs were met by the development of supercomputers. Supercomputers were designed to service a single application at a very high speed, thus saving valuable time in performing manual calculations.

Supercomputers, with their focus on servicing a single application, ...

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