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Getting Started With HSRP

Defined in RFC 2281, HSRP is a Cisco-proprietary protocol in which routers are put into an HSRP router group. Along with dynamic routing protocols and STP, HSRP is considered a high-availability network service, since all three have an almost immediate cutover to a secondary path when the primary path is unavailable.

One of the routers will be selected as the primary ("Active", in HSRP terminology), and that primary will handle the routing while the other routers are in standby, ready to handle the load if the primary router becomes unavailable. In this fashion, HSRP ensures a high network uptime, since it routes IP traffic without relying on a single router.

The hosts using HSRP as a gateway don't know the actual IP or MAC addresses of the routers in the group. They're communicating with a pseudorouter, a "virtual router" created by the HSRP configuration. This virtual router will have a virtual MAC and IP adddress as well.

The standby routers aren't just going to be sitting there, though! By configuring multiple HSRP groups on a single interface, HSRP load balancing can be achieved.

Before we get to the more advanced HSRP configuration, we better get a basic one started! We'll be using a two-router topology here, and keep in mind that one or both of these routers could be multilayer switches as well. For ease of reading, I'm going to refer to them only as routers.

R2 and R3 will both be configured to be in standby group 5. The virtual router will have an IP address of /24. All hosts in VLAN 100 should use this address as their default gateway.

R2(config)#interface ethernet0
R2(config-if)#standby 5 ip

R3(config)#interface ethernet0
R3(config-if)#standby 5 ip

The show command for HSRP is show standby, and it's the first command you should run while configuring and troubleshooting HSRP. Let's run it on both routers and compare results.

R2#show standby
Ethernet0 - Group 5
Local state is Standby, priority 100
Hellotime 3 sec, holdtime 10 sec
Next hello sent in 0.776
Virtual IP address is configured
Active router is, priority 100 expires in 9.568
Standby router is local
1 state changes, last state change 00:00:22

R3#show standby
Ethernet0 - Group 5
Local state is Active, priority 100
Hellotime 3 sec, holdtime 10 sec
Next hello sent in 2.592
Virtual IP address is configured
Active router is local
Standby router is expires in 8.020
Virtual mac address is 0000.0c07.ac05
2 state changes, last state change 00:02:08

We can see that R3 has been selected as the Active router ("local state is Active"), the virtual router's IP is, and R2 is the standby router.

There are some HSRP values that you'll need to change from time to time. What if we want R2 to be the Active router instead? Can we change the MAC address of the virtual router? I'll answer those questions in the next part of this HSRP tutorial!

About the Author
Chris Bryant, CCIE #12933, is the owner of The Bryant Advantage (http://www.thebryantadvantage.com), home of free CCNP and CCNA tutorials! For my FREE "How To Pass The CCNA" or "CCNP" ebook, visit the website and download your copies. Pass your CCNP exam with The Bryant Advantage!