In studying network engineering, it is usually taught that network engineers are responsible from physical layer up to transport layer, that is, layer 1-4 only.

Obviously, HTTP or HTTPS are off-topic within network engineering. But things like BGP, RIP, DNS, DHCP, HSRP, GLBP, OpenFlow, OpenVPN, etc., which are application layer protocols, are definitely handled by network engineers (developers don't care about these stuffs, and they don't have to).

So in general, what do we call those application layer protocols that are within the scope of network engineering?

Alternatively, in general what application layer protocols are out of scope of network engineering?

  • 1
    There's no universal distinction between various network services, mileage varies greatly between organizations.
    – Zac67
    Dec 3, 2022 at 12:26
  • @Zac67 "mileage varies greatly between organizations" but I don't think there is an organization where developers deal with BGP.
    – Noob_Guy
    Dec 3, 2022 at 17:41
  • BGP is an application that uses TCP as its transport protocol.
    – Ron Maupin
    Dec 3, 2022 at 17:57
  • 2
    I would agree. In real world experience, no one gets to cut off their responsibility at the boundary of some academic distinction like Layer 4 and down, etc. If 'the internet' is not working, you might have to be involved in addressing the issue whether it is caused by a firewall configuration, a server outage, a policy on a desktop, or a cable plant problem. Until you know the cause and resolution, or can at least eliminate all possibilities under your direct control, you're not off the hook so drawing an imaginary line is a waste of time and hostile to your peers and users. Dec 3, 2022 at 18:18
  • I haven't seen any book or other reference that considers RIP and BGP application layer protocols. I would assume that OpenFlow falls into the same category.
    – Effie
    Dec 7, 2022 at 16:43

1 Answer 1


Sometimes I wish they would stop teaching the OSI model. It causes more confusion than any other part of networking.

There is no commonly accepted name for these protocols, and as @zac67 mentions, responsibilities vary across organizations.

The way it’s often partitioned is according to who is responsible for the devices that control the protocols. So since routers generate BGP and RIP, they are usually managed by network engineers. Same for HSRP etc. DHCP and DNS are often server-based. It may be the server team that manages them.

There are no rules for this. In small organizations the server admin is the network admin, firewall admin, email admin etc. In larger organizations these can be different departments.

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