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Table of contents
1.
Introduction
2.
What is Subnetting? 
2.1.
What are the different classes A, B, and C?
2.1.1.
Class A
2.1.2.
Class B
2.1.3.
Class C
2.2.
How is Subnetting done?
2.3.
Advantages of subnetting
2.4.
Disadvantages of subnetting
3.
What is Supernetting? 
3.1.
How is Supernetting done?
3.2.
Advantages of Supernetting
3.3.
Disadvantages of Supernetting
4.
Key differences between Subnetting and Supernetting
5.
Difference Between Subnetting and Supernetting
6.
Frequently asked questions
6.1.
Why is subnetting used in IP?
6.2.
What is the difference between subnet and subnetting?
6.3.
What is the purpose of supernetting?
6.4.
What are the three rules of supernetting?
7.
Conclusion
Last Updated: Apr 29, 2024
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Difference between Subnetting and Supernetting

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Introduction

Subnetting and Supernetting are core concepts of Computer Networks. These two concepts allow for the efficient and proper utilization of a computer network by prioritizing optimal usage of given IP addresses. 

These two concepts are very important because they allow for the reduction of the congestion and traffic that a particular Computer Network faces. They are used to divide larger network segments into smaller subnetworks or to combine multiple smaller network segments into larger ones, respectively. Both techniques have several benefits that can help improve network performance, including reducing latency and improving overall network efficiency.

 Subnetting And Supernetting

In this article, we are going to discuss some key differentiating factors between Subnetting and Supernetting. Although both are important Networking concepts, they have vastly different use case scenarios. 

What is Subnetting? 

Subnetting is the process of dividing a large single network into smaller subnetworks or subnets.

Subnetting is very important because of the many advantages it offers, like reduced latency, enhanced network security, and better allocation of IP addresses. 

Subnetting
  • Subnetting offers lower latency because as the network gets divided into smaller sub-networks, subnetting helps to reduce the amount of network traffic by dividing an extensive network into smaller subnets which reduces the time to handle each request.
     
  • By dividing a network into subnets, network administrators can isolate different departments or groups of users from each other, which can help to improve network security.
     
  • By dividing the network into different sub-networks for different purposes, we can efficiently allocate the Ip addresses that are at our disposal.
     

To subnetnetwork is to create logical divisions of the network. Subnetting, therefore, involves dividing the network into smaller portions called subnets.

A subnet is a subnetwork of a network that falls within the class A, B, or C range.

The number of addresses in classes A, B, and C are as follows.
 

  • Class A: 16777216 addresses in total.
  • Class B: 65536 addresses in total.
  • Class C: 256 addresses in total.

What are the different classes A, B, and C?

There are different types of classes A, B, and C. Let us discuss them one by one: 

Class A

This class is used for very large networks, such as those used by large corporations or the government. The first octet of a Class A address is used to identify the network, while the remaining three octets are used to identify the individual devices on that network. The subnet mask for Class A is 255.0.0.0, which allows for up to 126 networks and 16,777,214 hosts per network.

Class B

This class is used for medium-sized networks, such as those used by universities or large businesses. The first two octets of a Class B address are used to identify the network, while the remaining two are used to identify the individual devices on that network. The subnet mask for Class B is 255.255.0.0, which allows for up to 16,384 networks and 65,534 hosts per network.

Class C

This class is used for small networks, such as those used by small businesses or home networks. The first three octets of a Class C address are used to identify the network, while the remaining octet is used to identify the individual devices on that network. The subnet mask for Class C is 255.255.255.0, which allows for up to 2,097,152 networks and 254 hosts per network.

How is Subnetting done?

Think of it like having a big apartment building with many apartments. Instead of having everyone share the same address, each apartment gets its own unique address. This way, it's easier to keep track of who is where and what they're doing.

In subnetting, we use a special number called a subnet mask to determine which part of an IP address belongs to the network and which part belongs to the device. We can adjust this subnet mask to create different sized subnets.

For example, if we have a network with 10.0.0.0 as the network address, we can use a subnet mask of 255.255.255.0 to create 256 subnets, each with up to 254 devices. This means we can have up to 256 different smaller networks, and each network can have up to 254 devices connected to it.

Advantages of subnetting

  • Efficient IP Address Utilization: Subnetting allows for more efficient allocation and utilization of IP addresses by dividing a larger network into smaller, manageable segments.
     
  • Improved Network Performance: Smaller subnets can reduce broadcast traffic, leading to better network performance and lower congestion.
     
  • Enhanced Security: Subnetting enables the isolation of different segments of a network, enhancing security by restricting access to sensitive data.
     
  • Simplified Network Management: Subnetting simplifies network management by organizing devices into logical groups, making it easier to troubleshoot and administer.
     
  • Scalability: Subnetting facilitates network growth and scalability by allowing the addition of new subnets as needed without major reconfigurations.
     

Disadvantages of subnetting

  • Complexity: Subnetting can be complex to design and implement, particularly for those with limited networking experience.
     
  • Increased Administrative Overhead: Managing multiple subnets may require more administrative effort in terms of IP address assignment and routing configuration.
     
  • Potential for Misconfiguration: Misconfigurations in subnetting can lead to connectivity issues and security vulnerabilities if not carefully planned and executed.
     
  • Overhead: Smaller subnets can introduce additional overhead in terms of routing tables and administrative tasks.
     
  • Learning Curve: Network administrators and engineers may need to invest time in learning and understanding subnetting concepts and best practices.
     

Also read about - Network layer

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What is Supernetting? 

This is the exact opposite of what subnetting does. Supernetting, also known as route aggregation or route summarization, is the process of combining multiple smaller IP address ranges into a larger, contiguous range. 

Supernetting
  • Supernetting is done to reduce the complexity of the routing tables and reduce the congestion of the network and improve the efficiency of the network. 
     
  • Instead of listing multiple individual entries in the routing table, Supernetting allows the merging of contiguous entries into one single entry. 
     
  • It is essential to know that the networks that are being combined should be contiguous and should have the same prefix.

How is Supernetting done?

This is done by identifying common bits in the network portion of the IP addresses and creating a new subnet mask that covers all the combined addresses.

For example, let's say you have three networks with IP addresses 192.168.1.0/24, 192.168.2.0/24, and 192.168.3.0/24. These networks have a common first two octets (192.168) and a different third octet (1, 2, and 3).

To supernet these networks, you would create a new subnet mask that includes all the addresses in the three networks. In this case, you would use a subnet mask of 255.255.252.0, which covers all the addresses from 192.168.0.0 to 192.168.3.255. This means that all the addresses in the three networks can be combined into a single larger network with a new address range of 192.168.0.0/22.

Supernetting can simplify routing by reducing the size of routing tables and improving network performance. By using a single entry in the routing table to represent multiple smaller networks, routers can use less memory and processing power to store and maintain routing information.

Now that you have understood the meaning of Subnetting and Supernetting, let us now have a look at the differences between them. 

Advantages of Supernetting

  • Reduced Routing Table Size: Supernetting can reduce the size of routing tables in a network by aggregating multiple smaller subnets into a single, larger supernetwork entry, which helps improve routing efficiency.
     
  • IP Address Conservation: Supernetting can help conserve IP addresses by grouping multiple smaller subnets into a single larger subnet, reducing address wastage.
     
  • Simplified Routing: It simplifies the routing process by aggregating multiple routes into a single route entry, making routing tables easier to manage and reducing memory and processing requirements in routers.
     
  • Improved Network Efficiency: Supernetting can lead to more efficient network operations by reducing the number of route lookups required, which speeds up packet forwarding.
     

Disadvantages of Supernetting

  • Complex Design and Management: Supernetting requires careful planning and management, and it can be complex to design and implement, especially for networks with diverse subnets.
     
  • Potential for Misconfiguration: Misconfigurations in supernetting can lead to routing problems and network outages, so proper expertise is essential.
     
  • Reduced Granularity: Supernetting can result in a loss of granularity in route advertisements, making it challenging to implement fine-grained access control or routing policies.
     
  • Addressing Conflicts: If not carefully managed, supernetting can lead to IP addressing conflicts, where different subnets within a supernet have overlapping address ranges.
     
  • Suboptimal Routing: In some cases, supernetting can result in suboptimal routing paths if not designed with traffic patterns in mind, which can impact network performance.
     

Also read about - network addressing

Key differences between Subnetting and Supernetting

Subnetting:

  • Divides a larger network into smaller, manageable sub-networks.
  • Increases the number of available IP networks.
  • Subnet mask defines the network and host portions.

Supernetting:

  • Aggregates multiple smaller networks into a larger one.
  • Reduces the number of routing table entries.
  • Requires contiguous blocks of IP addresses.

Difference Between Subnetting and Supernetting

The following are some points of difference between Subnetting and Supernetting.

Subnetting 

Supernetting

Subnetting is the procedure of dividing a network into sub-networks.Supernetting is the procedure of combining small networks.
In Subnetting Networks, addresses' bits are increased.In Supernetting, host addresses' bits are increased.
In subnetting, the mask bits are moved toward the right.In Supernetting, the mask bits are moved toward the left.
Used to reduce address depletion.To simplify and fasten the routing process.
Implemented using VLSM(Variable-length subnet masking.Implemented using CIDR(Classless interdomain routing).

Also see, Basic Networking Commands

Frequently asked questions

Why is subnetting used in IP?

Subnetting is used in IP networking to divide a larger IP network into smaller, more manageable segments. It enhances IP address allocation efficiency, improves network performance, and enhances security by isolating segments.

What is the difference between subnet and subnetting?

A subnet refers to a smaller segment of an IP network. Subnetting is the process of dividing an IP network into subnets to optimize addressing, routing, and management.

What is the purpose of supernetting?

Supernetting is used to aggregate multiple smaller IP subnets into a larger, summarized network address. This reduces routing table size, conserves IP addresses, and simplifies routing.

What are the three rules of supernetting?

The rules for supernetting include aggregating contiguous subnets, using a common network prefix, and ensuring subnets have the same subnet mask length.

Conclusion

After completing this article, you should be able to analyze that subnetting and Supernetting are two of the essential concepts of modern-day computer networks; because of the scale and complexity of today's networks, these techniques come in very handy when we want to make the client-server experience to be more efficient and also to optimally utilize the resources, in this case being the Ip addresses for the specified network.

Recommended reading: 

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