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Redundant Pseudowires for Layer 2 Circuits and VPLS

A redundant pseudowire can act as a backup connection between PE routers and CE devices, maintaining Layer 2 circuit and VPLS services after certain types of failures. This feature can help improve the reliability of certain types of networks (metro for example) where a single point of failure can interrupt service for multiple customers. Redundant pseudowires cannot reduce traffic loss to zero. However, they provide a way to gracefully recover from pseudowire failures in such a way that service can be restarted within a known time limit.

When you configure redundant pseudowires to remote PE routers, you configure one to act as the primary pseudowire over which customer traffic is being transmitted and you configure another pseudowire to act as a backup in the event the primary fails. You configure the two pseudowires statically. A separate label is allocated for the primary and backup neighbors.

The following sections provide an overview of redundant pseudowires for Layer 2 circuits and VPLS:

Types of Redundant Pseudowire Configurations

You can configure redundant pseudowires for Layer 2 circuits and VPLS in either of the following manners:

  • You can configure a single active pseudowire. The PE router configured as the primary neighbor is given preference and this connection is the one used for customer traffic. For the LDP signaling, labels are exchanged for both incoming and outgoing traffic with the primary neighbor. The LDP label advertisement is accepted from the backup neighbor, but no label advertisement is forwarded to it, leaving the pseudowire in an incomplete state. The pseudowire to the backup neighbor is completed only when the primary neighbor fails. The decision to switch between the two pseudowires is made by the device configured with the redundant pseudowires. The primary remote PE router is unaware of the redundant configuration, ensuring that traffic is always switched using just the active pseudowire.

  • Alternatively, you can configure two active pseudowires, one to each of the PE routers. Using this approach, control plane signaling is completed and active pseudowires are established with both the primary and backup neighbors. However, the data plane forwarding is done only over one of the pseudowires (designated as the active pseudowire by the local device). The other pseudowire is on standby. The active pseudowire is preferably established with the primary neighbor and can switch to the backup pseudowire if the primary fails.

The decision to switch between the active and standby pseudowires is controlled by the local device. The remote PE routers are unaware of the redundant connection, and so both remote PE routers send traffic to the local device. The local device only accepts traffic from the active pseudowire and drops the traffic from the standby. In addition, the local device only sends traffic to the active pseudowire. If the active pseudowire fails, traffic is immediately switched to the standby pseudowire.

Pseudowire Failure Detection

When a failure is detected, traffic is switched to the redundant pseudowire, which is then also designated as the active pseudowire. The switch is nonreversible, meaning that once traffic has been switched to the redundant pseudowire, it remains active unless it also fails unless the switch to the redundant pseudowire is never done unless there is a failure in the currently active pseudowire. For example, a primary pseudowire has failed and traffic has been successfully switched to the redundant pseudowire. After a period of time, the cause of the failure of the primary pseudowire has been resolved and it is now possible to reestablish the original connection. However, traffic is not switched back to the original pseudowire unless a failure is detected on the now active pseudowire.