VLAN Overview

A virtual LAN (VLAN) enables multiplexing multiple IP and PPPoE interfaces and MPLS interfaces over a single physical Ethernet port. This multiplexing is accomplished through VLAN subinterfaces. Ethernet interfaces support the 802.1q-1998 IEEE Standards for Local and Metropolitan Area Networks: Virtual Bridged Local Area Networks, which the router uses as its standardized format for frame tagging.

The Ethernet V2 frame format enables multiplexing of different protocols over a single physical link. IEEE 802.1q compatibility extends the frame format by adding a tag that contains a VLAN ID. This feature enables multiplexing of different channels (VLANs) over the physical link; each channel is able to multiplex different protocols.

This capability works very much like ATM encapsulation as described in RFC 2684—Multiprotocol Encapsulation over ATM Adaptation Layer 5 (September 1999). This encapsulation type enables multiplexing of multiple protocols over a single ATM virtual circuit (VC).

As shown in Figure 13, VLANs are similar to ATM VCs, with the VLAN ID serving the same function as the virtual path identifier (VPI) and virtual channel identifier (VCI) to multiplex the different channels over the physical link. The Ethernet protocol type serves the same function within a VLAN as the logical link control (LLC) subnetwork attachment point (SNAP) within a VC, to multiplex the different protocols over the channel.

Figure 13: Use of VLANs to Multiplex Different Protocols over a Single Physical Link

Use of VLANs to Multiplex Different Protocols
over a Single Physical Link

In a VLAN configuration, the router can send VLAN 0 tagged or untagged frames.

All VLAN subinterfaces use the MAC address of the Ethernet interface over which they are configured. However, some configurations, such as multiple IP over VLAN subinterfaces, require that you connect many VLAN subinterfaces to a single device. In these cases, the device uses the MAC address to identify and select the correct VLAN to use. When the MAC address is the same for all VLANs, uneven load balancing of traffic occurs. To ensure proper load balancing, you must assign unique MAC addresses to the individual VLAN subinterfaces that are connected to the device. Any ARP requests and responses generated for the IP address assigned to a VLAN subinterface use this MAC address.

You must assign the MAC address when you configure the VLAN ID. If you change the MAC address of the VLAN subinterface after you configure it, system errors can occur. To change the MAC address, you must first remove the VLAN subinterface and then reconfigure it.

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