Technical Terms and Definitions

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Subnet - Networking

A subnet (short for "subnetwork") is an identifiably separate part of an organization's network. Typically, a subnet may represent all the machines at one geographic location, in one building, or on the same local area network (LAN). Having an organization's network divided into subnets allows it to be connected to the Internet with a single shared network address. Without subnets, an organization could get multiple connections to the Internet, one for each of its physically separate subnetworks, but this would require an unnecessary use of the limited number of network numbers the Internet has to assign. It would also require that Internet routing tables on gateways outside the organization would need to know about and have to manage routing that could and should be handled within an organization.

The Internet is a collection of networks whose users communicate with each other. Each communication carries the address of the source and destination networks and the particular machine within the network associated with the user or host computer at each end. This address is called the IP address (Internet Protocol address). This 32-bit IP address has two parts: one part identifies the network (with the network number) and the other part identifies the specific machine or host within the network (with the host number). An organization can use some of the bits in the machine or host part of the address to identify a specific subnet. Effectively, the IP address then contains three parts: the network number, the subnet number, and the machine number.