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Data Center: Nexus vPC Technology

Data Center: Nexus vPC Technology

Hi Cisco friends! I had a great question from a customer today regarding failure scenarios and vPC. On the surface, I thought this is an easy one. However, when I really gave it deep thought it really depends on the type of failure. Was the failure on the peer-link, peer keepalive, vPC member port, or the worst case dual active/double failure?

Let’s go through some of the failure examples.

vPC Member Port Failure
If one vPC member port goes down – for instance, if a link from a NIC goes down – the member is removed from the PortChannel without bringing down the vPC entirely. Conversely, the switch on which the remaining port is located will allow frames to be sent from the peer link to the vPC orphan port. The Layer 2 forwarding table for the switch that detected the failure is also updated to point the MAC addresses that were associated with the vPC port to the peer link.

vPC Complete Dual-Active Failure (Double Failure)
If both the peer link and the peer-keepalive link are disconnected, the Cisco Nexus switch does not bring down the vPC, because each Cisco Nexus switch cannot discriminate between a vPC device reload and a combined peer-link and peer-keepalive-link failure.

The main problem with a dual-active scenario is the lack of synchronization between the vPC peers over the peer link. This behavior causes IGMP snooping to malfunction, which in turn causes multicast traffic to drop. As described previously, a vPC topology intrinsically protects against loops in dual-active scenarios. Each vPC peer, upon losing peer-link connectivity, starts forwarding BPDUs on vPC member ports. With the peer-switch feature, both vPC peers send BPDUs with the same bridge ID to help ensure that the downstream device does not detect a spanning-tree misconfiguration. When the peer link and the peer-keepalive link are simultaneously lost, both vPC peers become operational primary.

vPC Peer-Link Failure
To prevent problems caused by dual-active devices, vPC shuts down vPC member ports on the secondary switch when the peer link is lost but the peer keepalive is still present.

When the peer link fails, the vPC peers verify their reachability over the peer-keepalive link, and if they can
communicate they take the following actions:

● The operational secondary vPC peer (which may not match the configured secondary because vPC is
nonpreemptive) brings down the vPC member ports, including the vPC member ports located on the fabric
extenders in the case of a Cisco Nexus 5000 Series design with fabric extenders in straight-through mode.

● The secondary vPC peer brings down the vPC VLAN SVIs: that is, all SVIs for the VLANs that happen to be configured on the vPC peer link, whether or not they are used on a vPC member port.

Note: To keep the SVI interface up when a peer link fails, use the command dual-active exclude interface-vlan.

At the time of this writing, if the peer link is lost first, the vPC secondary shuts down the vPC member ports. If this failure is followed by a vPC peer-keepalive failure, the vPC secondary keeps the interfaces shut down. This behavior may change in the future with the introduction of the autorecovery feature, which will allow the secondary device to bring up the vPC ports as a result of this sequence of events.

vPC Peer-Keepalive Failure

If connectivity of the peer-keepalive link is lost but peer-link connectivity is not changed, nothing happens; both vPC peers continue to synchronize MAC address tables, IGMP entries, and so on. The peer-keepalive link is mostly used when the peer link is lost, and the vPC peers use the peer keepalive to resolve the failure and determine which device should shut down the vPC member ports.

 Best Practices: 

Define a vPC domain (should match between peers, MUST NOT MATCH BETWEEN 7K and 5K in Double-Sided vPC) This Step is Required! “(config>vpc>domain)#vpc domain <id>
Define Role Priority: Lower Priority wins Primary Role, try and match your STP root bridge with the primary role. If using “peer-switch” the STP root will be the same on both peers. “(config>vpc>domain)# role priority <xxx>”

If roles shift (they are not preemptive) you would need to change the operational primary after a failure to a value of 36767 and shut/no shut the peerlink to restore the originally configured primary. 

If the Peer Switch is also preforming L3 switching the “peer-gateway” command is recommended.

The “vpc peer-gateway” allows HSRP routers to accept frames destined for their vPC peers.  This feature extends the virtual MAC address functionality to the paired router’s MAC address.  The feature is needed when certain storage/load balancing vendors break RFC rules by ignoring the ARP reply by an HSRP active router and reply directly to the host. Without this enabled packets could traverse the peer link and end up being dropped.

Enable vPC AutoRecovery
“(config-vpc-domain)# auto-recovery”

Beginning with Cisco NX-OS Release 5.2(1), you can configure the Cisco Nexus 7000 Series device to restore vPC services when its peer fails to come online by using the auto-recovery command. You must save this setting in the startup configuration. On reload, if the peer link is down and three consecutive peer-keepalive messages are lost, the secondary device assumes the primary STP role and the primary LACP role. The software reinitializes the vPCs, bringing up its local ports. Because there are no peers, the consistency check is bypassed for the local vPC ports. The device elects itself to be STP primary regardless of its role priority and also acts as the master for LACP port roles.

The ARP table sync feature overcomes the delay involved in ARP table restoration that can be triggered when one of the switches in the vPC domain goes offline and comes back online and also when there are peer-link port channel flaps. Enabling ARP on a vPC domain improves convergence times for unicast traffic.

To enable Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) synchronization between the virtual port channel (vPC) peers, use the ip arp synchronizecomand. To disable ARP synchronization, use the no form of this command.

(config-vpc-domain)# ip arp synchronize

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