How an IP Address Directs Traffic on a Network

How an IP Address Directs Traffic on a Network

            An Internet Protocol or IP address is a number that uniquely identifies the location of a computer in a network via the routing scheme of the internet. IP addresses may either be version 4 or version 6 also called the next generation IP. IPv4 is a 32-bit, dotted decimal notation and is composed of around 4 billion network addresses while the IPv6 is a 128-bit number in a hexadecimal notation made up of 16 billion-billion network addresses (Number Resource Organization, 2008).

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            An IP address is essential for the routing system and the internet to work where routing is the capacity to transfer data from one source network to its destination network (Number Resource Organization, 2008). Communication among computers in a network, i.e. composed of 10 units, can be accomplished through point-to-point networking. However, communication among the vast number of computers in the worldwide web necessitates their grouping into different networks so as to be manageable.

            Networks require routers to facilitate linkages with other networks. Each network is assigned their own unique IP addresses which establish their location among the many networks in the internet. If an IP address is 202.12.26.142, the first set of numbers (202) identifies the network where a computer is part of while the last set of numbers (142) identifies the specific computer on the said network (howstuffworks.com, 2008).

            IP addresses also reflect classes corresponding to the type of operations employing the address such as business or government. It also reflects the operations of other organizations on the basis of their network size and requirements. Class A IP Addresses are for large-scale networks such as a multi-national company, Class B are used by medium-scale business enterprises, Class C are for small to medium scale businesses, Class D are for multicasts and Class E are for experimental purposes (howstuffworks.com, 2008). Broadcasts and loop back are also assigned their own IP addresses.

            During the process of routing, the network declares the range of its IP addresses which is then added to the information in the routing table of the router enabling it to distribute the information that passes through it to the computers within the network (Number Resource Organization, 2008). Traffic only enters the network from the internet if it is identified as the recipient of such based on the routing table which contains its IP address range. For instance, if the destination of information is the device with IP address 202.12.26.142, traffic is directed to the router whose IP address range is 202.12.26.0/25.  The router then directs traffic to the particular computer whose IP address corresponds to the exact IP address identified.

            In a reverse process, IP addresses also function in directing traffic from a computer being used to locate a particular URL in the internet. The computer submits a query to a Domain Names System (DNS) which is a database containing IP addresses and their host names. The DNS then provides the appropriate IP address and the computer can then query the server on the network which the URL it is searching for is located enabling access to it (Number Resource Organization, 2008).

            The coordination that results from the numbering system provided by IP addresses enables the creation of a network composed of individual networks which make the flow of traffic in the internet more manageable and efficient (Number Resource Organization, 2008). This is because precise locations of specific devices exist and are identifiable through a routing system making communication and information exchanges possible, speedy and error-free. In this scheme, IP addresses play an essential role.

List of References

Howstuffworks.com (2008). What is an IP Address?. Retrieved 3 June 2008 from             http://computer.howstuffworks.com/question5491.htm.

Number Resource Organization (2008). About IP Addresses. Retrieved 3 June 2008 from

            www.nro.net/documents/presentations/ASO_Report_Wellington_2006.ppt.

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