Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Network Address Translation Works

        Tech | Networking


As businesses rely more and more on the Internet, having multiple points of connection to the Internet is fast becoming an integral part of their network strategy. Multiple connections, known as multi-homing, reduces the chance of a potentially catastrophic shutdown if one of the connections should fail.

In addition to maintaining a reliable connection, multi-homing allows a company to perform load-balancing by lowering the number of computers connecting to the Internet through any single connection. Distributing the load through multiple connections optimizes the performance and can significantly decrease wait times.

Multi-homed networks are often connected to several different ISPs (Internet Service Providers). Each ISP assigns an IP address (or range of IP addresses) to the company. Routers use BGP (Border Gateway Protocol), a part of the TCP/IP protocol suite, to route between networks using different protocols. In a multi-homed network, the router utilizes IBGP (Internal Border Gateway Protocol) on the stub domain side, and EBGP (External Border Gateway Protocol) to communicate with other routers.

Multi-homing really makes a difference if one of the connections to an ISP fails. As soon as the router assigned to connect to that ISP determines that the connection is down, it will reroute all data through one of the other routers.

NAT can be used to facilitate scalable routing for multi-homed, multi-provider connectivity. For more on multi-homing, see Cisco: Enabling Enterprise Multihoming.

For lots more information on NAT and related topics, check out the links on the next page.