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Background and Overview of IP Addressing

People are increasingly using the Internet and internet tools and utilities that were before only available on a few computer systems. This increased growth is evidenced by the number of Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol and Internet courses and television shows that are now available. An IP--Internet Protocol is an address that uniquely identifies a host connection or node on an IP network. An IP address consists of 32 bit binary digits that are normally represented in four decimal points, in and octet, or in the range of 0 to 255 (Sportack, 2002). This representation is usually referred to as "dotted decimal" notation. An Internet Protocol Address is a computer or network device identity in a network, regardless of the size of the network, whether LAN, MAN or WAN. Every device or computer that is connected to a network consists of a unique IP Address (Sportack, 2002).

IP Network Address Classification and Its Issues

Classifications

IP network addresses are in five classes, namely: Class A, Class B, Class C, Class D and Class E. However, classes A, B and C are the commonly used. Each address class provides a range of usable IP addresses. The class A IP Address is used mainly in extensive networks, such as government organizations and big corporations such as IBM and Hewlett-Packard Company. The Class B IP Address is used for medium sized networks that are smaller that class A addresses networks. Class B addresses' 1st and 2nd sets of addresses represent the network; while the other two address sets represent every host in the network (Graham, 2001). The class C address is the most used IP Address since it is mainly for both the medium and small sized network. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd sets of Class C represent the network; while the 4th set of address represent network host. The class D and E addresses range from 224.0.0.0.0 to 225.225.255.254 and are rarely used. However, when used, the address classes are mainly used by Multicasts and Laboratories.

Issues

The Internet Protocol addressing scheme was initially relatively simple, but has become composite over the years since various changes have been made IP addressing in order to allow it deal with upcoming addressing requirements. This has made IP addressing somewhat it confusing to comprehend. The "classful" system of allocating IP addresses can be very wasteful. In both classifications, a machine could still be unable to get an IP address in case the DHCP server has already given out all of its addresses (Sportack, 2002).

Classful Verses Classless Addressing

All IP addresses consist of a host and a network portion. In classful addressing, the network portion stops at one of the separating address dots or at the octet boundary. The classless address employs a variable number of bits in its network and host portions (Held, 2003). In classful address system, all the available Internet Protocol addresses are split into class A, B, C, D and E, and each of the IP address is its particular class. The classless addressing system, also referred to as the Classless Inter-Domain Routing, has a way of allocating and specifying the Internet addresses that are used in inter-domain routing. The classless addressing is comparatively more flexibly than the other system of Internet Protocol address classes (Held, 2003).

Subnet Mask verses Variable Length Subnet Masks

Subnet masks are used to show the address portion identifying the network for the purposes of routing. Subnet mask is written in dotted decimal. The number of 1s in subnet masks indicates the significant NET_ID bits. The Variable Length Subnet Mask (VLSM) supports various subnets of varying lengths and host numbers using different subnet masks in different subnets. The Variable Length Subnet Masks lets the user to use dissimilar masks for every subnet, thus, causing efficient use of address space. VLSM subnetting is done similarly to the regular subnetting although it is a bit more complex due to the extra levels in the hierarchy of subnetting. In doing VLSM subnetting, one begins with the initial network subnetting, and then breaks down the subnets as required.

Subnets

Logical Versus Physical Subnets

Physical subnets include those addresses that are permanent or unchangeable after they are programmed into the computer memory or hardware. For instance, in the 48-bit Media Access Control address. On the other hand, logical subnets are reusable, and are at times randomly since they are numbers which can be reassigned or changed every time a user accesses the network. For instance, in the 32-bit IP such as 123.91.02.101 (Comer, 2006).

Implications for Broadcast/Collision Domains

Unnecessary frame broadcasts or flooding to unidentified destinations restricts the scale of the domains. Any of these conditions can be induced one broadcast domain in an Ethernet LAN is made too big. IP subnets and broadcast / collision domains do not have a lot to do with each other in the general. However, in the case of Internet Protocol over Ethernet, it is common for an IP subnet to be mapped onto a single broadcast domain. This is because the ARP, which is the protocol used in resolving IP addresses to Ethernet hardware addresses is broadcast based (Rockell & Media, 1999).

Process for creating subnets

The first step in subnetting is to determine the number of subnets needed, which really depend on the particular network. The second step in subnet creation is determining the amount of bits that need to be borrowed, which depends upon the network address type that is needed to begin. Then, one is supposed to calculate the number of host ID bits that need to be borrowed to get the required number of subnets. When determining the number if bits, the formula is "2 n -2= # of subnets"; where n represents the number of borrowed bits. The fourth step using the available bits determined in step two, and the number of bits to be borrowed as determined in step three.

In this step, one has to begin with high-order bits-bits on the left side of a binary number (Rockell & Media, 1999).
In the fifth step one needs to calculate the new subnet mask after borrowing the host ID bits from step four. This is done by adding a decimal value from step four to the default subnet mask for the address class that one is subnetting. The sixth step in subnetting is determining the lowest which of the high-order bits is the lowest beginning from the left. The seventh and final subnetting step lets one to take the Host/Subnet variable gotten from step six and create the subnet ranges (Comer, 2006).

Supernetting versus Subnetting

IP address subnetting is the process through which big networks are divided into small networks; and its alternate-merging small network in to huge networks. On the other hand, supernetting is also referred to as Classes Inter-Domain Routing and it is the way in which more than one internet class addresses are merged together. Through the use of supernetting, one can combine two address classes into one address. Some of the protocols use supernetting including Open Shortest Path First (OSPF), and Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), (Held, 2003).

Summary and Conclusions

Internet Protocol is not just a pair of communicating protocols; it is also a set of protocols, application programs and utility programs. These Internet protocols are formally referred to as the Internet Protocol Suite (Rockell & Media, 1999).

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