Success Breeds Success

Success Breeds Success
Photo by Clark Tibbs / Unsplash

Supernetting, or route summarization, is a relatively straightforward concept. It’s much easier to hold a single piece of information, such as a phone number, in your active memory than to try to remember several numbers, unless, of course, the numbers form a range of contiguous phone numbers. In that case, it is just a matter of remembering the starting point and how many numbers are in the range.

As it matches its way through the routing table to decide where to forward a packet, a router uses computational power and must allocate some RAM to the task. Obviously, computers are much better at “remembering” than we are, but supernetting can be used to ease the strain on the memory of your router.

Basically, route summarization works by giving a more general route to the router, letting the router pass off the packet without matching so many address bits. It is the same working principle of installing a default route into the routing table by giving the very least specific address possible ( with a subnet mask of and pointing it to whatever next hop address is reachable by the router). Once the router forwards the packet, the hot potato is out of its hands.

This concept allows us to interpret the routing decisions of a router by looking for the most specific match in the routing table—whichever interface with the longest match (most matching address bits and thus most specific) will be the winner as the exit interface chosen to forward the packet out of.

What does any of this have to do with success? Well, glad you asked. As a practice lab, I had decided to examine the concept of route summarization in a touch more detail than was covered in my preparation for the CCNA exam. Frankly, interpreting a routing table was easy for me, but I struggled a bit with writing the most summarized routes myself.

But after a failed attempt, a cup of coffee, some research and reading, and a lunch break, I came back to the problem only to realize I was making a basic mistake. I made a minor adjustment—and success(.!!!!) I tinkered around and got inspired for more experimentation and implementation that used dynamic routing protocols to deepen my understanding further.

Once my fun with route summarization had come to an end, the blood was still flowing, so I jumped into a problem that had been nagging me for a while. I had set the problem down in preparation for the CCNA exam and just hadn’t had time to reevaluate the solution. I wasn’t looking forward to reopening the support ticket, but, fueled by the motivation of earlier success, I charged into the issue head first, turned a few nerd knobs, gave it a reboot, reinitiated the login sequence—and success(.!!!!)

The idea that one success actually caused another in a string of successes seems absurd. It would be like saying that flipping a penny and its landing on heads should influence the next flip in some way to also be a head. That’s not what I am arguing. What I am suggesting is that if you ever find yourself unmotivated in a task that seems particularly unmanageable, perhaps try an easier one first and see where things go from there. You might be surprised at how much more you accomplish. Go do something great!