What Is Systems Network Architecture (SNA)?

What is Systems Network Architecture (SNA)?

What is Systems Network Architecture (SNA)?

Welcome to another installment of our “Definitions” series, where we delve into the world of technology to provide clear and concise explanations. Today, we are going to demystify Systems Network Architecture (SNA).

SNA, short for Systems Network Architecture, is a proprietary networking protocol suite developed by IBM in the 1970s. It was primarily designed to facilitate communication between IBM mainframe computers and their peripherals. Think of it as the language that enables different components of an IBM mainframe ecosystem to talk to each other.

Key Takeaways:

  • SNA is a proprietary networking protocol suite developed by IBM.
  • It facilitates communication between IBM mainframe computers and peripherals.

So, what exactly does Systems Network Architecture entail? Let’s break it down:

1. Protocol Suite:

Systems Network Architecture includes a comprehensive set of protocols that dictate how data is transmitted, received, and formatted within an IBM mainframe environment. These protocols ensure that different devices and applications can communicate efficiently and reliably.

2. Mainframe Connectivity:

SNA plays a vital role in connecting IBM mainframes with peripheral devices such as printers, terminals, and storage systems. By standardizing the communication process, SNA ensures seamless integration and interoperability within the mainframe ecosystem.

Key elements of SNA include:

  • LU (Logical Unit): A logical unit represents a specific device or application within an SNA network. It has a unique address and enables communication between different units.
  • PU (Physical Unit): This refers to the physical hardware that connects to an SNA network, such as a printer or terminal.
  • NAU (Network Addressable Unit): NAU is used to identify and address individual devices or applications within an SNA network.
  • SDLC (Synchronous Data Link Control): SDLC is the primary data link protocol used in SNA for reliable and error-free data transmission.
  • LU 6.2 (Logical Unit Type 6.2): LU 6.2 is an extension of SNA that allows communication with non-IBM systems, enabling integration with external networks.

With the advancement of technology and the rise of open standard protocols like TCP/IP, the relevance and usage of SNA have diminished over the years. However, many organizations that heavily rely on legacy IBM mainframes still utilize SNA for their networking needs.

So, the next time you come across the term Systems Network Architecture, you’ll know that it refers to a networking protocol suite developed by IBM for communication within the mainframe ecosystem. Whether it’s facilitating data transmission or connecting peripheral devices, SNA plays a crucial role in keeping the mainframe world running smoothly.

Stay tuned for more informative articles in our “Definitions” series as we continue to unravel the complexities of the technological landscape.