When most non-technical people hear the term “seven layers”, they either think of the popular Super Bowl bean dip or they mistakenly think about the seven layers of Hell, courtesy of Dante’s Inferno (there are nine). For IT professionals, the seven layers refer to the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model, a conceptual framework that describes the functions of a networking or telecommunication system.

The model uses layers to help give a visual description of what is going on with a particular networking system. This can help network managers narrow down problems (Is it a physical issue or something with the application?), as well as computer programmers (when developing an application, which other layers does it need to work with?). Tech vendors selling new products will often refer to the OSI model to help customers understand which layer their products work with or whether it works “across the stack”.

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