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What IEEE standard is traditional STP?

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What IEEE standard is Rapid Spanning Tree
Protocol (RSTP)?

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What IEEE standard is traditional STP?

What IEEE standard is Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol (RSTP)?
What Cisco standards can use traditional STP (802.1D)?
What IEEE standard can use RSTP (802.1w)?
- MST (802.1s)
How does RSTP achieve convergence and how is it different from how traditional STP
achieves it?
RSTP is more decentralized than traditional STP is. In 802.1D, BPDUs basically
originate from the root bridge and are relayed by all switches down through the tree.
Because of this propagation of BPDUs, 802.1D convergence must wait for steady-state
conditions before proceeding. Instead, RSTP lets each switch interact with its neighbors
through each port in a process called synchronization. This interaction is performed
based on a port's role, not strictly on the BPDUs that are relayed from the root bridge
(as traditional STP).
How are the port roles used by RSTP different from the port roles in traditional STP?
Instead of the Blocking port role that traditional STP has, RSTP has the Alternate port
and Backup port roles.
What are the different port roles used in RSTP? How do you describe each of them?
- Root port: The one switch port on each switch that has the best root path cost to the
- Designated port: The switch port on a network segment that has the best root path
cost to the root.
- Alternate port: The switch port on a network segment that has the best root path cost
to the root.
- Backup port: A port that provides a redundant (but less desirable) connection to a
segment where another switch port already connects.
What is an example of the use of the Alternate port?
An access-layer switch with two uplink ports... one becomes the root port and the other
is the alternate port
How are the port states used in RSTP different from those used in traditional STP?
RSTP does not use the Disabled, Blocking, and Listening states and instead only uses
the Discarding state
What are the different port states used in RSTP? How would you describe them?
- Discarding: Incoming frames simply are dropped; no MAC addresses are learned
- Learning: Incoming frames are dropped but MAC addresses are learned
- Forwarding: Incoming frames are forwarded according to MAC addresses that have
been (and are being) learned
How does a switch differentiate between a BPDU from traditional STP and one from
BPDUs have a version field that is set to 0 for traditional STP and 2 for RSTP
In an RSTP BPDU, how does a switch port identify its RSTP role and state?
BPDUs have a Message Type field (that was left unused for traditional STP) and RSTP
uses this field to identify its role and state
How often are RSTP BPDUs sent out each switch port?
They are sent at Hello Time intervals regardless of whether BPDUs are received from
the root
How does RSTP determine whether a neighbor port is down? What happens when it
does determine it is down?
RSTP determines that a neighbor port is down when three BPDUs are missed in a
row... when this happens, all information related to the port leading to the neighbor is
immediately aged out
How quickly can a switch detect a neighbor failure using RSTP? How quickly can a
switch detect a neighbor failure using traditional STP?
A switch can detect a neighbor failure in three Hello intervals (default 6 seconds),
versus the Max Age timer interval (default 20 seconds) for 802.1D.
Can switches in a network using RSTP coexist with switches using traditional STP? If
so, how?
Yes switches with RSTP and traditional STP can coexist because you can tell from the
Message Type field what version a BPDU is. Each port attempts to operate according to
the STP BPDU that is received. The port then locks the protocol in use for the duration
of a migration delay timer.
What does STP convergence in a network mean again?
The convergence of STP in a network is the process that takes all switches from a state
of independence (each thinks it must be the STP root) to one of uniformity, in which
each switch has a place in a loop-free tree topology.
What is the two-stage process involved in STP convergence?
1. One common root bridge is elected and all switches are informed about it.
2. The state of every switch port in the STP domain is brought from a Blocking
state to the appropriate state to prevent loops.
What are the different types of RSTP ports?
- Edge port: A port at the "edge" of the network, where only a single host connects
- Root port: the port that has the best cost to the root of the STP instance
- Point-to-point port: Any port that connects to another switch and becomes a
designated port
What RSTP state (Discarding, Learning, or Forwarding) are Edge ports placed in, and
Edge ports are immediately placed in the Forwarding state because, by definition, the
port cannot form a loop if it connects to one host
What happens if a BPDU is received on an RSTP Edge port?
The port immediately loses its edge port status
What happens in an RSTP topology if an existing root port fails?
If there is an alternative path detected, those ports are identified as alternative root ports
and immediately placed into the Forwarding state
What decides the RSTP state of a port on a Point-to-Point link?
The state of a port on a Point-to-Point link is determined by a quick handshake. BPDUs
are exchanged back and forth in the form of a proposal and an agreement. One switch
proposes that its port becomes a designated port; if the other switch agrees, it replies
with an agreement message.
How does RSTP determine whether a link is Point-to-Point?
Full-duplex ports are considered point to point because only two switches can be
present on the link.
How does RSTP accomplish convergence on a half-duplex port?
STP convergence on a half-duplex port must occur between several directly connected
switches. Therefore, the traditional 802.1D style convergence must be used. This
results in a slower response because the shared-medium ports must go through the
fixed Listening and Learning state time periods.
What is RSTP Synchronization?
Synchronization is the process of exchanging BPDUs between nonedge ports, that
begin in the blocking state, to identify which is the root port
What does an RSTP proposal-agreement handshake look like on a two-link part of a
network (see picture)?

What is the sequence of events involved in an RSTP proposal-agreement handshake

(part 1)?
1. One of the ports on a link (e.g., port A) sends a proposal message (configuration
BPDU) to port B saying it should be the designated port
2. If port A has a superior BPDU, port B realizes the port A should be the designated
port and it should be the root port
3. Port B changes its RSTP port config to synchronize it with port A
4. Non-edge ports go to the Discarding state
5. Port B sends an agreement config BPDU back to port A
What is the sequence of events involved in an RSTP proposal-agreement handshake
(part 2)?
6. Port B (root port) and Port A (designated port) go to Forwarding state immediately
7. For each nonedge port that is currently in the Discarding state, a proposal message
is sent to the respective neighbor.
8. An agreement message is expected and received from a neighbor on a nonedge
What does an RSTP proposal-agreement handshake look like on a network with three
levels (see picture)?

What happens if a switch sends out an RSTP proposal message and the recipient does
not understand it or can't respond?
The sender switch becomes overly-cautious and begins playing by the 802.1D rules
(moving into the listening, learning, and forwarding states at the Forward Delay timer
What is the difference between how 802.1D and 802.1w respond to topology changes?
- 802.1D switches detect a topology change when it detects that a port state has gone
either up or down and then sends a TCN BPDU to the root switch. The root switch then
sends that TCN message to all switches in its domain.
- 802.1w switches detect a topology change only when a nonage port transitions into
the Forwarding state. RSTP uses all its rapid convergence mechanisms to prevent
bridging loops from forming. Therefore, topology changes are detected only so that
bridging tables can be updated and corrected as hosts appear first on a failed port and
then on a different functioning port. The RSTP switch that noticed the change then
sends TC (topology change) BPDU out its nonedge designated ports throughout the
network in a wave.
What do RSTP TC (Topology Change) BPDUs do to switches when they are received
on their nonedge ports?
- They notify the switch that a new link has been established and the topology has
- All MAC addresses associated with the nonedge designated ports are flushed from the
content-addressable memory (CAM) table. This forces the addresses to be relearned
after the change, in case hosts now appear on a different link.
For how long are RSTP TC BPDUs sent out after a topology change is detected?
Until the TC timer expires, after two intervals of the Hello time
What is the default STP configuration on a Catalyst switch?
It operates in Per-VLAN Spanning Tree Plus (PVST+) mode using traditional 802.1D
Do you have to enable anything with regards to STP before changing the switch's mode
from the traditional 802.1D STP to RSTP?
Yes, you have to enable MST or RPVST+ first... think of RSTP and 802.1D STP as just
the underlying mechanisms of MST, RPVST+, and PVST+ STP modes
Will your switch know what its RSTP nonedge ports are automatically? And why or why
Nope, you have to explicitly configure your nonedge ports as nonedge. Remember that
RSTP considers all ports with full-duplex as nonedge, so if a port should not expect
BPDUs (because it's attached to a host, for instance), you have to tell the switch
What command(s) do you use to configure a port as an RSTP nonedge port?

If for some reason, you have to force a port to act as a point-to-point port (if it had to be
put in half-duplex, for instance), what command would you use?

What command do you use to configure your switch to use RPVST+?

By default, the underlying STP used by each of the switch's ports is changed to support
both 802.1D traditional STP and 802.1w RSTP

What command can you use to show what underlying STP is being used on your switch
and on your neighbor switches (e.g., for VLAN 171)?
Grey highlight #1: Your switch's STP mode
Grey highlight #2: First neighbors's STP mode (RSTP)
Grey highlight #3: Second neighbor's STP mode (802.1D)

What IEEE standard specifies that only a single instance of STP encompasses all
IEEE 802.1Q. While it specifies how VLANs are to be trunked between switches, it also
specifies that only a single instance of STP encompasses all VLANs.
What is the instance of STP that IEEE 802.1Q uses referred to as?
Common Spanning Tree (CST)
What VLAN does CST operate on?
The native VLAN on a trunk
What is the problem that you can have with only one instance of STP on your network
(as is the case with CST)?
At least one of the links will have a blocking port on it that is left completely unused... it's
just inefficient
Why might you want more than one instance of STP on your network if you have
multiple VLANs?
Instead of leaving a blocking port completely unused for all VLANs, you can switch off
which port is left blocking and which is left designated for each VLAN... that way you
can make more efficient use of ports (your resources)
If you want more than one instance of STP for all the VLANs on your network, what are
the alternatives to Common Spanning Tree (CST)?
- PVST+: One instance of STP for each VLAN
- MST: One instance of STP for each MST instance (each instance has multiple VLANs)
Why might you want to use MST over PVST+?
As the number of VLANs increases with PVST+, so does the number of STP
instances... Each instance uses some amount of the switch CPU and memory
resources. The more instances that are in use, the fewer CPU resources will be
available for switching.
Study the network topology on the other side of this card and determine the different
possible STP topologies for the two VLANs...
Based on the network topology from the previous card, what are the different possible
STP topologies for the two VLANs? Is the number of useful (unique) topologies
dependent on the number of VLANs?
The number of useful topologies is independent of the number of VLANs (even if you
had 14 VLANs here, you would still only have those 2 possible STP topologies)

Thinking about the network from the previous two cards, consider what would happen if
you had 4, 10, or 20 VLANs... is there a way you could continue using both topologies
(so ports are not left completely unused) and so that your system uses the least amount
of processing on STP (allowing for higher processing of switching)? What technology
could you use to do this?
Yes, you can use MST to create two STP instances and bundle half the VLANs into one
instance and the rest into the other.
Why is it important that switches using MST be mapped together? What is this group of
switches called?
Without having multiple switches participate in MST, only the switch with it enabled
benefits from the extra CPU and port usage... the others will still have to use PVST+ or
CST with the MST switch. The group of switches using MST together is called an MST
What information does a switch need to have about an MST region in order to run an
instance of MST (or MSTI)?
- MST configuration name (32 chars)
- MST configuration revision number (0 to 65535)
- MST instance-to-VLAN mapping table (4096 entries)
Can this MST region information be shared automatically between switches or must it
be statically configured?
MST region information has to be statically configured
How do switches know that they are part of the same MST region? They don't sent their
whole instance-to-VLAN mapping table, do they?
No they don't send the whole mapping table, and it's not solely based on the MST
configuration name either... a hash is made of the instance-to-VLAN mapping table
contents, and the hash is sent to the next switch. If the neighboring switches' hashes
match, they are part of the same MST region
If a switch connected to MST-enabled switches uses CST, how do the STP instances
coordinate? What does MST do to make this coordination easier?
CST doesn't really care about the number of VLANs in an MST instance. MST creates
an Internal Spanning Tree (IST) instance that it presents to CST switches outside its
region, so the IST makes the MST region look like a single bridge
How many MST instances (MSTIs) can be present in an MST region?
Up to 16 MSTIs can be present in an MST region
What does a switch running CST see when it coordinates with switches running MST
(see picture)?

Which MST instance (MSTI) is allowed to send and receive MST BPDUs?
Only the IST (MSTI 0) is allowed to send and receive MST BPDUs. Information about
each of the other MSTIs is appended to the MST BPDU as an M-record. Therefore,
even if a region has all 16 instances active, only 1 BPDU is needed to convey STP
information about them all.
If a switch connected to MST-enabled switches uses PVST+, how do the STP instances
coordinate? What does MST do to make this coordination easier?
MST can detect this situation by listening to the received BPDUs. If BPDUs are heard
from more than one VLAN (the CST), PVST+ must be in use. When the MST region
sends a BPDU toward the PVST+ switch, the IST BPDUs are replicated into all the
VLANs on the PVST+ switch trunk.
What commands do you use to enable and configure MST on a switch?
- Step 1: Enable MST:
Switch(config)# spanning-tree mode mst
- Step 2: Enter MST Config Mode: Switch(config)# spanning-tree mst configuration
- Step 3: Assign a Region Config Name: Switch(config-mst)# name MyRegion
- Step 4: Assign a Region Config Revision #: Switch(config-mst)# revision 42
- Step 5: Map VLANs to an MSTI:
Switch(config-mst)# instance 1 vlan 4,5,7,10
Switch(config-mst)# instance 2 vlan 3,6,8,9
- Step 6: Commit the changes: Switch(config-mst)# exit
What are all the MST configuration commands?

Which one of the following commands enables the use of RSTP?

a. spanning-tree mode rapid-pvst
b. no spanning-tree mode pvst
c. spanning-tree rstp
d. spanning-tree mode rstp
e. None. RSTP is enabled by default.
A. spanning-tree mode rapid-pvst
On which standard is RSTP based?
a. 802.1Q
b. 802.1D
c. 802.1w
d. 802.1s
C. 802.1w
Which of the following is not a port state in RSTP?
a. Listening
b. Learning
c. Discarding
d. Forwarding
A. Listening
When a switch running RSTP receives an 802.1D BPDU, what happens?
a. The BPDU is discarded or dropped.
b. An ICMP message is returned.
c. The switch begins to use 802.1D rules on that port.
d. The switch disables RSTP.
C. The switch begins to use 802.1D rules on that port.
When does an RSTP switch consider a neighbor to be down?
a. After three BPDUs are missed
b. After six BPDUs are missed
c. After the Max Age timer expires
d. After the Forward timer expires
A. After three BPDUs are missed
Which process is used during RSTP convergence?
a. BPDU propagation
b. Synchronization
c. Forward timer expiration
B. Synchronization
a. Port speed
b. Port media
c. Port duplex
d. Port priority
C. Port duplex
Which of the following events triggers a topology change with RSTP on a nonedge port?
a. A port comes up or goes down.
b. A port comes up.
c. A port goes down.
d. A port moves to the Forwarding state.
D. A port moves to the Forwarding state.
Which of the following is not a characteristic of MST?
a. A reduced number of STP instances
b. Fast STP convergence
c. Eliminated need for CST
d. Interoperability with PVST+
C. Eliminated need for CST
Which of the following standards defines the MST protocol?
a. 802.1Q
b. 802.1D
c. 802.1w
d. 802.1s
D. 802.1s
How many instances of STP are supported in the Cisco implementation of MST?
a. 1
b. 16
c. 256
d. 4096
B. 16
What switch command can be used to change from PVST+ to MST?
a. spanning-tree mst enable
b. no spanning-tree pvst+
c. spanning-tree mode mst
d. spanning-tree mst
C. spanning-tree mode mst