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Protocol conversion is the process of translating the protocol of the sending device to a different protocol of another device so that compatibility and communication can be established. Today, heterogeneous networks exist in the communication world, and with lack of a uniform global standard for communication protocol, protocol mismatches can happen. Thus it is important to have protocol conversions to mediate between incompatible protocol models.
Protocol conversion helps in communication for a variety of host types. Protocol conversion can be performed through hardware, using dedicated equipment, or through software applications. The hardware or software is usually placed on the end-user device. Unlike tunneling in protocol conversion, protocol headers of the first network are removed completely, the data is wrapped in the second network’s protocols and is then sent over. Protocol conversion for this reason allows more versatility than tunneling, which does not allow mixed endpoints. Protocol conversion also handles the network overhead more efficiently than tunneling and permits the originating protocol’s flow control mechanisms, which is absent in tunneling.
There are many distinct advantages of protocol conversion. It helps in streamlining network operations and thus increases performance of the system. It indirectly helps in achieving in-depth insight into the system health as well as network health. The biggest advantage is in increase of network performance and reduction of systems and unwanted components. If there is a large number of network devices, it can be better managed by protocol conversion. Backbone network resources can be efficiently used with the help of protocol conversion. Another benefit is extending the network investment with the help of maintaining legacy equipment, as legacy-protocol-to-IP conversion is possible through network protocol conversion. Protocol conversion can help in meeting end-host requirements for delivery of data between the different components.