A network consists of multiple machines (computers) that are connected together and share each other all kinds of information. This connection between the network can be developed through waves and signals or wires, depending on which is most convenient for work and the type of information that needs to be shared.
In the network multiple machines (host) are connected to the comunication sub-net that allows the dialog between them. They can comunicate in two basic ways:
For communicating machines that aren't able to comunicate by themselves, routers (intermediate machines) are used.
Moreoever, the protocols are a set of rules (interfaces, algorithms, formats messages...) known by the entities exchanging data through the communications network.
The protocols used by the machines are organised in different layers or levels, in such a way that:
Each level in a machine "talks with" his twin in another. The rules governing this "conversation" form the protocol of that level.
Here you can find some example of protocols and his corresponding level:
|Application layer||HTTP, DNS, SMTP, POP, ...|
|Transport layer||TCP, UDP|
|Network layer||IP, IPv6|
|Network access layer||PPP, PPPoE, Ethernet|
When we talk about Network Architecture, we are talking about the set of levels and protocols of a computers network.