OSPF III: DR Seeking BDR fot LTR (Neighbor Relationships, cont’d)

Is He/She a Keeper?

Few things rattle us more than the pursuit of that “special someone” in our lives, regardless of our respective cultural backgrounds.  In some cultures, marriages are arranged (often numerous years ahead of time), while others leave the process up to the individual, often found in Western cultures through the ritual of dating.  Regardless of how the process develops, how the relationship develops follows a relatively common pattern.  In cultures where dating is the accepted path, the journey begins with the often-awkward first date, when the person across the table is basically a stranger.  If things go well, conversations pass back and forth, common interests and viewpoints are discovered, and a relationship begins to form.  As things progress over time, greater trust is established, deeper conversations ensure, and at some point the two individuals become a couple in a more formal sense.  What does this have to do with OSPF?  Actually, everything!

OSPF relationships follow the same pattern just described in the whole dating/mating ritual in the previous paragraph.  They start out as strangers, with no trust, and not sharing vital, if any, information about what they know.  Using Hello Messages, the routers start the process of conversing, and over time the relationship goes from “perfect strangers” to “fully adjacent” in which Link-State information is exchanged.  Nothing about the process is instant, it takes a period of time, although the procedure is fairly rapid by human standards.  There are seven stages of states of the relationship building process, as follows:
  1. Down: Not aware of one another
  2. Init: Initializing, hello packets sent
  3. Two-Way: Neighbor sees its own Router-Id in the hello packet
  4. Exstart: Adjacency/Relationship formed, Database Description Packets created
  5. Exchange: Database Description Packets sent to neighbor
  6. Loading: Slave device sends Link State Requests and received Link State Advertisements
  7. Full: LSDB identical, and neighbors ready to forward traffic

The next point is important because it can help you figure out when something is wrong.  Occasionally, neighbor relationships stop before reaching the Full state, indicating that some sort of problem is preventing full adjacencies from forming.  You can check the current state of any OSPF neighbor by executing the show ip ospf neighbor command from the Command Line Interface, which will list the Router-ID, state, etc., of the neighboring device.  Most commonly, this will happen at the Init, Two-Way, or Exstart stages, and requires some troubleshooting (remember that OSPF is very picky, so there are several causes that you can investigate further).

Next time we will look into the Designated Router concept.

– Joe

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