The basic reason for using a layered networking approach is that a layered model takes a task, such as data communications, and breaks it into a series of tasks, activities, or components, each of which is defined and developed independently.

The Reasons for a Layered Model:

Change: When changes are made to one layer, the impact on the other layers is minimized. If the model consists of a single, all-encompassing layer, any change affects the entire model.

Design: A layered model defines each layer separately. As long as the interconnections between layers remain constant, protocol designers can specialize in one area (layer) without worrying about how any new implementations affect other layers.

Learning: The layered approach reduces a very complex set of topics, activities, and actions into several smaller, interrelated groupings. This makes learning and understanding the actions of each layer and the model generally much easier.

Troubleshooting: The protocols, actions, and data contained in each layer of the model relate only to the purpose of that layer. This enables troubleshooting efforts to be pinpointed on the layer that carries out the suspected cause of the problem.

Standards: Probably the most important reason for using a layered model is that it establishes a prescribed guideline for interoperability between the various vendors developing products that perform different data communications tasks. Remember, though, that layered models, including the OSI model, provide only a guideline and framework, not a rigid standard that manufacturers can use when creating their products.

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