OSI Protocol Suite

Just to confuse things, The ISO also outlined a suite of protocols they called "OSI". This suite was based on the ISO's OSI Design Model. Don't confuse the OSI protocols with the OSI MODEL. Just learn the OSI Model as shown in this tutorial. Very few organizations use the OSI protocol suite today.

Why should you be aware of the ISO's OSI Protocol suite? Around 1984-5 certain people in the government started to see that network integration could be very powerful. When these government people turned to their technical people and asked them what they should do, the technical people told them to use something that follows the OSI Model to ensure that there are no problems with integration. The Government people took the words OSI and integration and turned it into a buzzword. The government next set about making sure a suite of protocols that exactly conformed to the OSI model was created. The government set the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to work writing a document outlining a government standard called the Government Open Standards Interconnect Profile or GOSIP.

Government Open Standards Interconnect Profile (GOSIP)

THE FEDERAL INFORMATION PROCESSING STANDARD (FIPS) #146: Government Open Systems Interconnection Profile (GOSIP)
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), 1990

In 1990, NIST released a document called The Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS #146) which outlined the GOSIP. All vendors were asked to comply with government offices implementing this profile starting around August of 1990.

Unfortunately, by the time the Government got around to 'standardizing' and 'implementing the GOSIP standard' the Internet had already fully implemented TCP/IP as its own standard and was using it exclusively. TCP/IP and GOSIP were NOT compatible. The government, caught with a technology that no longer matched the de-facto standard used on the Internet then mandated that the IETF and the IAB make the Internet compatible with GOSIP even though the OSI GOSIP software was not yet finished and not fully standardized even by 1990 when the FIPS #146 document was published.

If you take a look at the NIST website today, you will see that FIPS 146 / GOSIP is no longer listed, a legacy of a bygone era.

Why do we bring up GOSIP? Because when dealing with old, crusty government and military networking folks, you will hear references to the OSI protocols, FIPS 146 and GOSIP, because it takes a looong, loooooongg time for government programs and protocols to die.

Fortunately, most government offices have now fully embraced the TCP/IP suite.


< OSI Model and Internet Protocols | Index | End of Tutorial

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