Saturday, January 30, 2016

Configuring RSPAN on Cisco Catalyst Switches

I recently wrote a post on configuring port mirroring (SPAN) on Cisco Catalyst switches.  SPAN (switched port analyzer) allows you to mirror traffic from a source or multiple sources on a switch to a destination interface or interfaces on the same switch.  RSPAN (remote SPAN) takes this a step further and allows you to mirror traffic to an interface on a remote switch or switches.


RSPAN configuration is relatively simple and builds upon existing SPAN functionality and configuration syntax.
  • Create an RSPAN VLAN on the source switch, destination switch, and all switches in the transit path.
  • Take traffic from a specified source on switch A, and mirror it to an RSPAN VLAN.  
  • Then, on switch B, use traffic from this VLAN as the source and mirror it to a physical interface

As shown below, traffic mirrored from the switch on the right to the switch on the left can traverse other switches as long as there is end to end L2 connectivity between them (ie. the RSPAN VLAN exists on all switches).

Basic RSPAN configuration is as follows:

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Configuring Port Mirroring (SPAN) on Cisco Catalyst Switches

So you have a network issue.  Or perhaps you don't, but you need to help find the root cause of a performance issue and conclusively show that it's not network related.  In either case, packet analysis is your friend.

At times, it can be convenient (and effective) to capture directly on an affected server or host.  However, you may not always be able to access the affected device.  Even you can, capturing from the affected device is not always the best option due to TCP segmentation offload, checksum offload, and a number of other factors.  (These are outside of the scope of this post, but Kary over at has a ton of great content on packet analysis including why you shouldn't capture on a host.  See here.)

A network tap is the best solution when absolute precision is required.  However, this can be impractical and is often overkill.  This is where port mirroring comes into play.  Cisco gear provides a number of ways to mirror traffic from a specified source (or sources) and get frames from point A to point B for analysis.