Planning Classless Routing

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

Organizations today typically implement classless routing solutions. With classful routing protocols, IP hosts and routers recognize only the network address designated by the standard address classes. An IP host device or a router using a classful protocol such as RIP v1 cannot recognize subnets.

Classless routing protocols extend the standard Class A, B, or C IP addressing scheme by using a subnet mask or mask length to indicate how routers must interpret an IP network ID. Classless routing protocols include the subnet mask along with the IP address when advertising routing information. Subnet masks representing the network ID are not restricted to those defined by the address classes, but can contain a variable number of high-order bits. Such subnet mask flexibility enables you to group several networks as a single entry in a routing table, significantly reducing routing overhead. In addition to RIP v2 and OSPF, described earlier, classless routing protocols include Border Gateway Protocol version 4 (BGP4) and Intermediate System to Intermediate System (IS-IS).

If your network contains routers that support only RIP v1 and you want to upgrade from classful to classless routing, upgrade the RIP v1 routers to support RIP v2 or use another protocol such as OSPF. For example, you might use VLSM to implement subnets of different sizes or CIDR to implement supernetting. (VLSM and CIDR are described later in this chapter.)

Planning Classless Noncontiguous Subnets

One reason that classful routing is out of date is that classful routing protocols cannot reliably handle noncontiguous subnets of a subnetted class-based network ID. As mentioned earlier, classful routing protocols recognize only those networks indicated by an address class. Because classful protocols do not transmit subnet mask or prefix length information, noncontiguous subnets, when summarized by a classful routing protocol, can have the same class-based network ID.

Noncontiguous subnets with classful routing

Noncontiguous subnets occur when another network with a different network ID separates subnets of a classful network. For example, the two routers in Figure 1.6 separate two subnets that each use the base prefix, which is a Class A private network. A segment of another class-based network connects the two routers. (For more information about private addresses, see "Choosing Public or Private Addresses" later in this chapter.)

Figure 1.6   Classful Routing Not Appropriate for Noncontiguous Subnets

Not Appropriate for Noncontiguous Subnets

Each router in Figure 1.6 must use a subnet mask to look up a match in the routing table. Because a classful address, by definition, has only its class-based default subnet mask, the router uses the network mask that corresponds to the class of the subnet ID when advertising the route for the subnet. With classful routing, each of the routers in Figure 1.6 summarizes and advertises the class-based network ID of, resulting in two routes to, each of which might have a different metric. Therefore, a packet meant for one subnet could be incorrectly routed to the other subnet. In the figure, the arrows represent the routes advertised by the routers.

Noncontiguous subnets with classless routing

Figure 1.7 also shows an unrelated network connecting two noncontiguous subnets. In this example, using classless routing, the locations on the noncontiguous subnets are unambiguous because the classless protocol includes a subnet mask when advertising the route. Routers in the intermediate network can distinguish between the two noncontiguous subnets.

Figure 1.7   Classless Routing Appropriate for Noncontiguous Subnets

Appropriate for Noncontiguous Subnets