To appreciate fully the power and purpose of the Layer 3 address, it is important to understand the meaning of the term network (as defined by Layer 3).
A network address has two parts: the network and the host portions. The host portion of the address identifies the individual device within a group. The network portion identifies a group of individual devices.
Unfortunately, the term network is used loosely; although it is often defined, the term is seldom understood. In addition, the term network appears in several different contexts, compounding the confusion created for the user.
It is increasingly important to have an accurate definition of a network because new technology— such as VLANs and Layer 3 switching—have blurred the distinctions between the different layers of the OSI model.
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