4.2. Basic Information
Regardless of whether you decide to connect your network to the Internet, one thing is certain: you will build your enterprise network using the TCP/IP protocols. All TCP/IP networks, whether or not they connect to the Internet, require the same basic information to configure the physical network interface. As we will see in Chapter 6, "Configuring the Interface ", the network interface needs an IP address and may also need a subnet mask and broadcast address. The decision of whether to connect to the Internet affects how you obtain the values needed to configure the interface. In this section, we look at how the network administrator arrives at each of the required values.
4.2.1. Obtaining an IP Address
Every interface on a TCP/IP network must have a unique IP address. If a host is part of the Internet, its IP address must be unique within the entire Internet. If a host's TCP/IP communications are limited to a local network, its IP address only needs to be unique locally. Administrators whose networks will not be connected to the Internet can select an address from RFC 1918, Address Allocation for Private Intranets, which lists network numbers that are reserved for private use. The private network numbers are:
The disadvantage of using a network address from RFC 1918 is that you may have to change your address in the future if you connect your full network to the Internet. The advantages to choosing a private network address are:
If you do choose an address from RFC 1918, the hosts on your network can still have access to systems on the Internet. But it will take some effort. You'll need a network address translation (NAT) box or a proxy server. NAT is available as a separate piece of hardware or as an optional piece of software in some routers and firewalls. It works by converting the source address of datagrams leaving your network from your private address to your official address. Address translation has several advantages:
Network address translation also has disadvantages:
Proxy servers provide many of the same advantages as NAT boxes. In fact, these terms are often used interchangeably. But there are differences. Proxy servers are application gateways originally created as part of firewall systems to improve security. Internal systems connect to the outside world through the proxy server, and external systems respond to the proxy server. Proxy servers are application-specific. A network might have one proxy web server and another proxy FTP server -- each server dedicated to serving connections for one type of application. Therefore, the difference between NAT boxes and proxy servers is that NAT maps IP addresses regardless of the application; the true proxy server focuses on one application.
Proxy servers often have added security features. Address translation can be done at the IP layer. Proxy services require the server to handle data up to the application layer. Security filters can be put in proxy servers that filter data at all layers of the protocol stack.
Given the differences discussed here, network address translation servers should scale better than proxy servers, and proxy servers should provide better security. However, over time these technologies have merged and are now largely indistinguishable. Before you decide to use either NAT or proxy services, make sure they are suitable for your network needs.
Combining NAT with a private network address gives every host on your network access to the outside world, but it does not allow outside users access into your network. For that, you need to obtain an official IP address.
126.96.36.199. Obtaining an official network address
Networks that are fully connected to the Internet must obtain official network addresses. An official address is needed for every system on your network that is directly accessible to remote Internet hosts. Every network that communicates with the Internet, even those that use NAT, have at least one official address, although that address may not be permanently assigned. The first step toward obtaining a block of addresses is to determine how many addresses you need.
Determining your "organizational type" helps you assess your address needs and how you should satisfy those needs. RFC 2901, Administrative Internet Infrastructure Guide, describes four different organizational types:
RFC 2901 lists four organizational types in order to be thorough, but most organizations are either Internet end users or high-volume end users. In all likelihood, your organization is one of these, and you will obtain all of your addresses from your ISP.
Your ISP has been delegated authority over a group of network addresses and should be able to assign you a network number. If your local ISP cannot meet your needs, perhaps the ISP's upstream provider can. Ask your local ISP who it receives service from and ask that organization for an address. If all else fails, you may be forced to go directly to an Internet registry. If you are forced to take your request to a registry, you will need to take certain steps before you make the application.
You need to prepare a detailed network topology. The topology must include a diagram that shows the physical layout of your network and highlights its connections to the Internet. You should include network engineering plans that, in addition to diagramming the topology, describe:
The biggest challenge is accurately predicting your future requirements for addresses. If you have previously been assigned an address block, you may be required to provide a history of how that address block was used. Even if it is not requested by the Internet registry, a history can be a helpful tool for your own planning. Additionally, you will be asked to prepare a network deployment plan. This plan typically shows the number of hosts you currently have that need official addresses and the number you expect to have in six months, one year, and two years.
One factor used to determine how much address space is needed is the expected utilization rate. The expected utilization rate is the number of hosts assigned official addresses divided by the total number of hosts possible for the network. The deployment plans must show the number of hosts that will be assigned addresses over a two-year period. The total number of possible hosts can be estimated from the total number of employees in your organization and the number of systems that have been traditionally deployed per employee. Clearly you need to have a global knowledge of your organization and its needs before applying for an official address assignment.
In addition to providing documentation that justifies the address request, obtaining an official address requires a formal commitment of resources. Most address applications require at least two contacts: an administrative contact and a technical contact. The administrative contact should have the authority to deal with administrative issues ranging from policy violations to billing disputes. The technical contact must be a skilled technical person who can deal with technical problems and answer technical questions. The registries require that these contacts live in the same country as the organization that they represent. You must provide the names, addresses, telephone numbers, and email addresses of these people. Don't kid yourself -- these are not honorary positions. These people have targets on their backs when things go wrong.
The registry includes this contact information in the whois database, which provides publicly available contact information about the people responsible for networks. Once your name is in the whois database, you're given a NIC handle, which is a unique identifier linked to your whois database record. For example, my NIC handle is cwh3. Many official applications request your NIC handle.
When all of the background work is done, you're ready to present your case to an Internet registry. A three-level bureaucracy controls the allocation of IP addresses:
Regardless of how much address space you need, you should start at the bottom of the hierarchy and work your way up. Always start with your local ISP. If they cannot handle your needs, ask them if there is a local IR that can help you. As a last resort, take your request to the regional IR that serves your part of the world.
If you're in the APNIC region, first fill out the membership application. The APNIC membership application is available at http://www.apnic.net/member/application.html. Once you become a member of APNIC, you can request an address.
ARIN does not require that you become a member before applying for an address. If you're a high-volume end user, use the application form at http://www.arin.net/templates/networktemplate.txt to apply for an address. If you're an ISP, use http://www.arin.net/templates/isptemplate.txt. In either case, send the completed application to email@example.com.
End user organization in the RIPE region must use a local IR. RIPE only allocates addresses to local IRs that are members of RIPE. End user organizations cannot apply to RIPE for address allocations. See the document ftp://ftp.ripe.net/ripe/docs/ripe-159.txt for more information.
Regardless of where your network is located, the most important thing to remember is that most organizations never have to go through this process because they do not want to expose the bulk of their computers to the Internet. For security reasons, they use private address numbers for most systems and have only a limited number of official IP addresses. That limited number of addresses can usually be provided by a local ISP.
188.8.131.52. Obtaining an IN-ADDR.ARPA domain
When you obtain an official IP address, you should also apply for an in-addr.arpa domain. This special domain is sometimes called a reverse domain. Chapter 8, "Configuring DNS" contains more information about how the in-addr.arpa domain is set up and used, but basically the reverse domain maps numeric IP addresses into domain names. This is the reverse of the normal domain name lookup process, which converts domain names to addresses. If your ISP provides your name service or assigned you an address from a block of its own addresses, you may not need to apply for an in-addr.arpa domain on your own. Check with your ISP before applying. If, however, you obtain a block of addresses from a Regional Internet Registry, you probably need to get your own in-addr.arpa domain. If you do need to get a reverse domain, you will register it with the same organization from which you obtained your address assignment.
As an example, assume that your network is located in the RIPE region. You would need to provide the information needed to create a RIPE domain object for your network. The domain object for the RIPE database illustrates the type of information that is required to register a reverse domain. The RIPE database object has ten fields:
Again, the most important thing to note about reverse address registration is that most organizations don't have to do this. If you obtain your address from your ISP, you probably do not have to take care of this paperwork yourself. These services are one of the reasons you pay your ISP.
4.2.2. Assigning Host Addresses
So far we have been discussing network numbers. Our imaginary company's network was assigned network number 172.16.0.0/16. The network administrator assigns individual host addresses within the range of IP addresses available to the network address; i.e., our administrator assigns the last two bytes of the four-byte address. The portion of the address assigned by the administrator cannot have all bits 0 or all bits 1; i.e., 172.16.0.0 and 172.16.255.255 are not valid host addresses. Beyond these two restrictions, you're free to assign host addresses in any way that seems reasonable to you.
Network administrators usually assign host addresses in one of two ways:
The assignment of groups of addresses is most common when the network is subnetted and the address groups are divided along subnet boundaries. But assigning blocks of addresses does not require subnetting. It can be just an organizational device for delegating authority. Delegating authority for groups of addresses is often very convenient for large networks, while small networks tend to assign host addresses one at a time. No matter how addresses are assigned, someone must retain sufficient central control to prevent duplication and to ensure that the addresses are recorded correctly on the domain name servers.
Addresses can be assigned statically or dynamically. Static assignment is handled through manually configuring the boot file on the host computer. Dynamic address assignment is always handled by a server, such as a DHCP server. One advantage of dynamic address assignment is that the server will not accidentally assign duplicate addresses. Thus, dynamic address assignment is desirable not only because it reduces the administrator's workload but also because it reduces errors.
Before installing a server for dynamic addressing, make sure it is useful for your purposes. Dynamic PPP addressing is useful for servers that handle many remote dial-in clients that connect for a short duration. If the PPP server is used to connect various parts of the enterprise network and has long-lived connections, dynamic addressing is probably unnecessary. Likewise, the dynamic address assignment features of DHCP are of most use if you have mobile systems in your network that move between subnets and therefore need to change addresses frequently. See Chapter 6, "Configuring the Interface " for information on PPP, and Chapter 3, "Network Services" and Chapter 9, "Local Network Services" for details about DHCP.
Clearly, you must make several decisions about obtaining and assigning addresses. You also need to decide what bit mask will be used with the address. In the next section we look at the subnet mask, which changes how the address is interpreted.
4.2.3. Defining the Subnet Mask
As the prefix number indicates, a network address is assigned with a specific address mask. For example, the prefix of 16 in the network address 172.16.0.0/16 means that ARIN assigned our imaginary network the block of addresses defined by the address 172.16.0.0 and the 16-bit mask 255.255.0.0. Unless you have a reason to change the interpretation of your assigned network number, you do not have to define a subnet mask. Chapter 2, "Delivering the Data" described the structure of IP addresses and touched upon the reasons for subnetting. The decision to subnet is commonly driven by topological or organizational considerations.
The topological reasons for subnetting include:
Subnetting is not the only way to solve topology problems. Networks are implemented in hardware and can be altered by changing or adding hardware, but subnetting is an effective way to overcome these problems at the TCP/IP level.
The network administrator decides if subnetting is required and defines the subnet mask for the network. The subnet mask has the same form as an IP address mask. As described in Chapter 2, "Delivering the Data", it defines which bits form the "network part" of the address and which bits form the "host part." Bits in the "network part" are turned on (i.e., 1) while bits in the "host part" are turned off (i.e., 0).
The subnet mask used on our imaginary network is 255.255.255.0. This mask sets aside 8 bits to identify subnets, which creates 256 subnets. The network administrator has decided that this mask provides enough subnets and that the individual subnets have enough hosts to effectively use the address space of 254 hosts per subnet. The upcoming Figure 4-1 shows an example of this type of subnetting. Applying this subnet mask to the addresses 172.16.1.0 and 172.16.12.0 causes them to be interpreted as the addresses of two different networks, not as two different hosts on the same network.
Once a mask is defined, it must be disseminated to all hosts on the network. There are two ways this is done: manually, through the configuration of network interfaces, and automatically, through configuration protocols like DHCP. Routing protocols can distribute subnet masks, but in most environments host systems do not run routing protocols. In this case, every device on the network must use the same subnet mask because every computer believes that the entire network is subnetted in exactly the same way as its local subnet.
Because routing protocols distribute address masks for each destination, it is possible to use variable-length subnet masks (VLSMs). Using variable-length subnet masks increases the flexibility and power of subnetting. Assume you wanted to divide 192.168.5.0/24 into three networks: one network of 110 hosts, one network of 50 hosts, and one network of 60 hosts. Using traditional subnet masks, a single subnet mask would have to be chosen and applied to the entire address space. At best, this would be a compromise. With variable-length subnet masks you could use a mask of 255.255.255.128 to create subnets of 126 hosts for the large subnet, and a mask of 255.255.255.192 to create subnets of 62 hosts for the smaller subnets. VLSMs, however, require that every router on the network knows how to store and use the masks and runs routing protocols that can transmit them. (See Chapter 7, "Configuring Routing " for more information on routing.) Routing is an essential part of a TCP/IP network. Like other key components of your network, routing should be planned before you start configuration.
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