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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 could 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.

For information about how to configure redundant pseudowires, see Configuring Redundant Pseudowires for Layer 2 Circuits and VPLS.

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 signalling, 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 signalling is completed and active pseudowires are established with both the primary and backup neighbors. However, the data plane forwarding is done only over a 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.

The two configurations available for pseudowire redundancy have the following limitations:

  • For the single active pseudowire configuration, it takes more time (compared to the two active pseudowire configuration) to switchover to the backup pseudowire when a failure is detected. This approach requires additional control plane signalling to complete the pseudowire with the backup neighbor and traffic can be lost during the switchover from primary to backup.

  • If you configure two active pseudowires, bandwidth is lost on the link carrying the backup pseudowire between the remote PE router and the local device. Traffic is always duplicated over both the active and standby pseudowires. The single active pseudowire configuration does not waste bandwidth in this fashion.

Pseudowire Failure Detection

The following events are used to detect a failure (control and data plane) of the pseudowire configured between a local device and a remote PE router and initiates the switch to a redundant pseudowire:

  • Manual switchover (user initiated)

  • Remote PE router withdraws the label advertisement

  • LSP to the remote PE router goes down

  • LDP session with the remote PE router goes down

  • Local configuration changes

  • Periodic pseudowire OAM procedure fails (Layer 2 circuit-based MPLS ping to the PE router fails)

    When you configure a redundant pseudowire between a CE device and a PE router, a periodic (once a minute) ping packet is forwarded through the active pseudowire to verify data plane connectivity. If the ping fails, traffic is automatically switched to the redundant pseudowire.

When a failure is detected, traffic is switched from the failed active pseudowire to the redundant pseudowire. The redundant pseudowire is then designated as the active pseudowire. The switch is nonreversible, meaning that once the redundant pseudowire assumes the role of the active pseudowire at the time of a failover, it remains as the active pseudowire even though the previously active pseudowire comes up again.

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 currently active pseudowire.