In simplified way Network Address Translation (NAT) allow us to translate source or/and destination address of IP packet. There is few reasons to do it like managment purpose, security or IP address savings. NAT is one of technology that with success delays IPv6 world wide deployment. First of all let’s explain NAT wording that at first sight looks slightly confused. Below simple diagram will help us to understand the concept.

  • Inside local IP is how inside address is seen localy by inside hosts, so from the our LAN perspective it’s real IP of our PC. 
  • Inside global IP is how inside address is seen globaly by outside hosts, so from the outside hosts in Internet it’s translated (NATed) IP of our host. 
  • Outside local IP is how outside address is seen localy by inside hosts, so from the LAB perspective it’s translated (NATed) IP of host that resides out of our network like in Internet. Hosts in LAN will use it as destination IP address.
  • Outside global IP is how outside address is seen globaly by outside hosts, so from the our LAN perspective it’s real IP address of host that resides out of our network.

Inside translation type is frequently used in today’s networks. In case we have 10000 hosts in our LAN and would allow them to connect to the Internet resource then we need provide external public IP address for each internal hosts. So big range of public IP addresses expensive but sometimes even not be available for not service provider company. NAT is a solution in this example. We can simple translate all inside IP addresses to 1 public IP using Port Address Translation (PAT) NAT feature. The first question that comes to the mind is how the router will be able to distinguish the packets once they back from the Internet. PAT simply translate the IPs to one outside IP but additionaly translates the layer 4 source ports. Router initially simple rewrites the TCP or UDP source port changing just a source IP but in case another host intimates session with the same layer 4 source then router will take first free port. Based on this easy mechanism router is able to create around 64511 session for one public IP (we have 65535 ports where first 1024 are reserved). The second example of inside NAT is static one-2-one translation. Inside NAT allows us to hide the server real IP address (frequently used private IP range) and put it under public IP in the Internet as service for public use. Thanks to this we can hide our network infrastructure and additionaly again save our public IP range because all of our public services can be hosted under one IP.
The outside NAT translation changing destination IP address. It’s usful when our company has business connection to third party and they are using IP address that is already used in our network somewhere.

Let’s take a first example and try to configure inside and outside static NAT translation based on the below diagram.

First inside so source IP (from the LAN perspective) translation.
R2(config)#ip nat inside source static ?
A.B.C.D Inside local IP address
esp IPsec-ESP (Tunnel mode) support
network Subnet translation
tcp Transmission Control Protocol
udp User Datagram Protocol
R2(config)#ip nat inside source static ?
A.B.C.D Inside global IP address
interface Specify interface for global address
R2(config)#ip nat inside source static

Inside done. All traffic from the PC with IP will be NATed to the
Next let’s define the server IP address ( that will be used by local PC as destination IP.

R2(config)#ip nat outside source static ?
A.B.C.D Outside global IP address
network Subnet translation
tcp Transmission Control Protocol
udp User Datagram Protocol
R2(config)#ip nat outside source static ?
A.B.C.D Outside local IP address
R2(config)#ip nat inside source static

We have to define the inside and outside interface.
R2(config)#int fa0/1
R2(config-if)#ip nat outside
R2(config-if)#int fa0/0
R2(config-if)#ip nat inside
R2(config-if)#no ip route-cache
R2#show ip nat translations
Pro Inside global Inside local Outside local Outside global
--- --- ---
--- --- ---

OK all done. Two static one2one translation have been added to the NAT table. It’s worth to mention here that this type of entry is kinf of reversible translation type – it’s possible to initiate connection from inside or from outside. In case of dynamic NAT it’s impossible to initiate connection from outside unless dynamic NAT with route-map and reversible option at the end is used.

Let’s run the debug IP packet and initiate test traffic doing telnet to outside local IP address – from the PC.

R2#debug ip packet detail
IP packet debugging is on (detailed)
*Mar 1 02:32:44.819: IP: s= (FastEthernet0/0), d=, len 44, unroutable
*Mar 1 02:32:44.823: TCP src=35649, dst=23, seq=391750710, ack=0, win=4128 SYN
*Mar 1 02:32:44.827: IP: tableid=0, s= (local), d= (FastEthernet0/0), routed via FIB
*Mar 1 02:32:44.831: IP: s= (local), d= (FastEthernet0/0), len 56, sending
*Mar 1 02:32:44.835: ICMP type=3, code=1

Hmm is unroutable, does it mean that router first take routing decision before translation.
Here you are short list of Cisco IOS order of operation: 

  1. If IPsec, then check input access list
  2. Decryption—for Cisco Encryption Technology (CET) or IPsec
  3. Check input access list
  4. Check input rate limits
  5. Input accounting
  6. Policy routing
  7. Routing
  8. Redirect to Web cache
  9. NAT
  10. Crypto (check map and mark for encryption)
  11. Check output access list
  12. Inspect context-based access control (CBAC)
  13. TCP intercept
  14. Encryption
  15. Queueing

OK let’s add routing to the and see what happens.
R2#*Mar 1 03:23:34.311: IP: tableid=0, s= (FastEthernet0/0), d= (FastEthernet0/1), routed via FIB ---Routing over Fa0/1
*Mar 1 03:23:34.315: NAT: s=>, d= [318] --- source NAT
*Mar 1 03:23:34.319: NAT: s=, d=> [318] --- destination NAT
*Mar 1 03:23:34.323: IP: s= (FastEthernet0/0), d= (FastEthernet0/1), g=, len 44, forward
*Mar 1 03:23:34.327: TCP src=31740, dst=23, seq=1913933555, ack=0, win=4128 SYN

R2#show ip nat translations
Pro Inside global      Inside local       Outside local      Outside global
--- ---                ---      
---          ---                ---

Connection initiated successfully. First SYN packet is routed and will be push out over Fa0/1 (red), next inside (source) and outside (destination) NAT is taking place. TCP source and destination ports 31740 and 23 respectively have been written in NAT translation table. Enjoy the NAT.

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