Protocols on a network?

Posted on 2005-03-17
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2010-04-10
How many protoclols can run on a network? Can anyone tell me both theoratical and practical limit?
Question by:anumit

Expert Comment

ID: 13568849
Hi anumit,

I assume you mean an ethernet network. I don't know whether there is an actual limit or not. You can run TCP/IP, IPX/SPX, NetBeui/Netbios and AppleShare IP all on the same network. I'm not sure how many more you are thinking of, or for that matter, what they might be. There are only so many protocols that can run on ethernet, but not too many others than the ones I mentioned above. Those are pretty much the standards today.

Most Network operating systems these days work with TCP/IP, so you might be able to run just one protocol on all your machines. Windows, Novell, OSX (AppleShare IP) and Unix/Linux all speak TCP/IP, so that could be your best option.

The problem with mulitiple protocols on a single network is that it increases the network traffic. The less traffic, the faster the network. The problem really comes up when individual machines have multiple protocols running on them. Every time they send something over the network, they send it once for each installed protocol. If it is a switched network (one using switches instead of hubs) that would help the traffic problem somewhat, but the network is really having to do double or even triple duty. This can/might even cause the sending machine to run a bit slower, due to it's having to sending multiple times. And if you multiply many machines running multiple protocols, you get a very busy, very slow network.

There are cases with older machines and OS's where multiple protocols can't be helped, but he fewer the better. At least that's my understanding.

I hope that helps.


Author Comment

ID: 13568986
thaxs douglasfur for ur quick response ,so u mean that only we can run one protocol on a network.Or is there any limit .

and also i have another question as when 2 computers are on the same network segment ,what do their IP address need to have in common?I am new to this networking so wanted to no more on this topic?

Accepted Solution

Douglasfur earned 1000 total points
ID: 13569148
Hi anumit,

I didn't say you can only run one. You can run the four I mentioned in my first paragraph above and probably any others you can dig up. They can all run on the same network and they can all run at one time.

What I said is that I think it's better to run as few protocols as possible. The reason for running additional protocols is based upon the requirements of your existing servers and work stations. If they need different protocols for some reason. An example of that would be an older Novell server (like 3.0) that can only use IPX/SPX.

As to your question on network segments and addressing, yipes~ I believe that the machines on a particular segment would need to have the same network ID. The explanation of what a network ID is, is not a simple one. There have been books and more books written about IP addressing. Here are a couple of links that will give you an understanding of IP addressing and subnetting.




But back to the original question, you can run multiple protocols on the same network without any problems other than latency (slowing down) problem, and no, I don't believe there is a limit.

Happy head scratching! Subnets will keep you tied up for awhile.

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LVL 88

Expert Comment

ID: 13569735
It depends somewhat on your OS. With windows 9x, if I'm not mistaken, you could only run 4 network protocols at one time. With more modern OS's you can probably run more network protocols at one time. It probably also has something to do with the hardware specs. of the PC.

There is also not much point of using much else than tcp ip, since most OS's these days understand this protocol, and protocols like ipx/spx haven't even bee used by netware since version 5. I should also think appletalk is obsolete, as apples also understand tcpip.
LVL 27

Expert Comment

ID: 13570888
It depends on how you define protocol ... TCP/IP is a whole suite of protocols - there's IP, TCP, UDP, ARP, DHCP, ICMP and DNS which doesn't really fit into the definition of a protocol (in that it doesn't have a P in the name).  Then there's higher layer protocols such as FTP and TFTP.  Let's not forget about HTTP and SSL and a few others commonly used on the web which aren't really protocols per se - such as JPEG, GIF, TIFF, etc.

Then there's common "network" protocols which are running around on the network which common users aren't aware of much such as VRRP, RIP/IGRP/EIGRP/BGP/OSPF ...

Then there's OS protocols running around - SMB, NFS, etc.

I don't think there is any kind of hard limit what can be on the network.  It really depends on a whole host of factors - such as bandwidth, backplane capacity, broadcast/multicast traffic, number of nodes, etc.

The main thing is try to optimize the protocols for your network and vice versa - it's fairly common for people to install printers capable of Appletalk and IPX/SPX and leave these on causing unnecessary network broadcast traffic on an all IP network.

Author Comment

ID: 13658108
Thaxs for ur help ,and suggestions.

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