on April 30, 2005
Adrian Farrel's 'The Internet and Its Protocols' (TIAIP) blew me away. I read this book because it explains the Internet I know, but also how new protocols work with that Internet and make it different from the network I first encountered over a decade ago. Farrel's amusing yet clear writing style delivers a great deal of knowledge in a hefty hardcover. If you want to learn about the protocols that make the Internet work, you need to read TIAIP.
One of the strongest aspects of TIAIP is the inclusion of protocol header figures for every protocol mentioned. I considered this an absolute must for any new protocol book I purchase, and Farrel delivers. Unlike some other books that rely on generic box line drawings, TIAIP's figures are bit-specific. In other words, the header at the top of the figure shows where each bit lies. The diagrams are also all in the same format, facilitating comparison between headers.
Comparison is another strength of TIAIP. Farrel doesn't just present protocols and leave the reader to work out their strengths and weaknesses. In most sections he spends time helping readers choose which protocol will best suit their needs. This is both practical and educational.
There is a ton of information in this book, so much that it may be better used as a reference than a read-through title. I admit to not reading every page, especially those that featured large diagrams of header options and their meanings. This level of details is perfect when I need to understand exactly how a protocol functions, however.
I'll mention a few topics that were fairly new to me and appeared in TIAIP. Topics like multicast (ch 3); DiffServ and IntServ (ch 6); SCTP and RTP (ch 7); MPLS (ch 9); GMPLS (ch 10); GSMP (ch 11); and header compression (ch 15) were all well documented. Farrel is heavily involved in MPLS issues, which is of benefit to the reader. MPLS seems to be appearing in many places outside the ISP realm.
I found a few issues with TIAIP, some of which author Farrel was kind enough to acknowledge via email. P. 50 switches the ARP and InARP meanings in table 2.10. In ch 5 on p. 118, the 172.19.168.16/28 and 172.19.168.32/28 networks can be summarized as 172.19.168.16/27, not 172.19.168.32/27. I would have liked to have read more on EIGRP, even though it's a Cisco proprietary routing protocol. Also, ISO does not mean 'International Standards Organization'; ISO is the 'International Organization for Standardization.' They use ISO, derived from the Greek word for equal, to avoid international language issues. For example, the English acronym would be IOS, and the French would be OIN. Clearly I put these minor issues aside when I rated TIAIP five stars; the amount of value this book delivers is incredible.
If you are looking for a book that shows you real details on Internet protocols in a thorough and engaging manner, I highly suggest considering TIAIP. I am adding it to my recommending reading lists today.
on September 7, 2004
This is a modern and attractive title for the classical topic of TCP/IP computer networks. Students and professionals that wish to gain, expand and update their knowledge in the Internet protocols will find this book a useful reference. It is well written, achieves clarity at the expense of avoiding detail, provides plenty of good figures, does a superb job explaining why protocols were designed the way they are and dedicates a significant part of the book to introduce some of the latest protocols developed by the IETF that will or are already shaping the new Internet.
The book follows the classical bottom up layering approach. Yet it distinguishes itself from the rest by creating whole chapters on the latest internet protocol developments that are briefly treated in others. For example, an early chapter is devoted to IP multicast, which describes how multicast groups are formed and how traffic is delivered to them. The being reasons of IPv6 and its main features are described in a standalone chapter. Routing fundamentals and protocols are described extensively and valuable explanations on how routing protocols can be used for traffic engineering are given. Differentiated and Integrated Services are briefly presented as a manner to deliver specific quality of service levels. The chapter on internet transport protocols is concise and clear and describes briefly the new developments on SCTP and UDP Lite but unexpectedly the exposition on TCP, the most important of all of them, lacks of depth and descriptions of its latest important developments. One of the best and most extensive parts of this book are the four chapters dedicated to IP traffic engineering, in which MPLS and GMPLS form the core of it. They are competently and fully described from their fundamentals to how they are applied for traffic engineering purposes. The last part of the book contains brief but novel introductions of fast growing applications such as VPNs, mobile IP and VoIP among others. It is worth of note the abundant application notes of how MPLS can be used in conjunction with applications such as header compression, VoMPLS and MPLS VPNs. In summary, this is well written book that not only treats the traditional topics of TCP/IP network but it also introduces some of the most recent advances developed by the Internet community.
on July 23, 2006
Adrian Farrel's book follows a new approach presenting Internet protocols. At first sight, you may think 'oh, more on the same...'. Don't be tricked, this is a different book.
You'll find a very comprehensive reference about Internet protocols including multicasting, QoS, routing protocols (covering almost all existing flavours) and real-time stuff. Chapter 9 is one of the most readable introductions to MPLS I've found so far. Chapter 10 about GMPLS does also a very good job.
The book has plenty of very up-to-date concepts and technologies, and anyone involved in computer networking should consider to have a copy on his/her bookshelf.
on December 3, 2006
Adrian Farrel is one of the world's foremost experts on IP networks and protocols. Drawing on his knowledge and experience as a protocol designer, developer, network engineer, and leader of 3 key IETF working groups, he provides an extremely comprehensive and thorough work on Internet protocol design and practice. It is especially strong on major topics of current interest including MPLS, GMPLS, and traffic engineering, and thoroughly covers the basics of routing, switching, transport, and applications protocols. It is an excellent book for protocol developers, network operators, and network managers. This well written and highly readable work is a must for anyone working in the area and useful as either overview or reference volume.