This post is about route redistribution and the different filtering techniques
we have available in our toolbelt. This post requires that you have a basic
understanding of route redistribution. For some good posts look at Petr
Lapukhovs posts at INE.

First lets define what is route redistribution? Generally we will use route
redistribution when multiple routing protocols are running in the network or
multiple instances of the same routing protocol is running. This can be due
to mergers, acquisitions or a fork lift upgrade. Maybe network is running
OSPF but is migrating to EIGRP or vice versa. We can also have redistribution
of connected and static routes.

What are some of the issues we can run into with route redistribution? We can
have routing loops in the network. These may not always be visible right away.
We can see them when doing a traceroute or when using debug ip routing.

We can also have issues with route feedback. Route feedback is when a redistributed
route gets redistributed back into the same protocol from which it originated. This
can lead to suboptimal routing or routing loops.

How do we define how “believable” a prefix is? First we must know that only the
same prefixes will be compared. and are not the same
prefixes. Longer match always wins! If we are comparing the two same prefixes
from different routing protocols then the AD will determine which one is the
best. Lower AD wins. If the AD for some reason is the same then the default AD
is the tie breaker.

Routes that are external should be less trusted than internal routes. EIGRP does
this by default by setting AD to 170 for external routes but 90 for internal. If
the other protocols did the same then we would not have issues with routing loops
at all. OSPF uses the same AD for internal and external prefixes (110) but we
can modify the AD for external routes if we want to. RIP does not have this

Routing loops generally occur when we have redistribution between a protocol with
higher AD to a protocol with lower AD. This means that RIP is most often involved
in loops since it has the highest AD and we can’t define an external AD.

Lets look at a topology where loops can occur. This image is hand drawn and something
I do when doing labs to try to spot potential issues. I use a different color for
different protocols and draw arrows where redistribution occurs.

We are doing mutual redistribution on R1 and R2. The issue here is that we will
have suboptimal routing. You can download topology and configs here.

Look at the show ip route and traceroute from R1 to R2’s loopback.

R1 is going the whole way round even though it has a direct route via RIP to
R2. This is of course due to RIP having a higher AD than OSPF. Lets look at
a few different ways of fixing this. If this was the CCIE lab you would do nothing
unless it was asked of you to provide optimal routing. We don’t have a loop so it’s
not really a big issue at the moment. The issue here is that OSPF is not setting
a higher AD on it’s external prefixes. So we will have to do this manually.

So we set the AD to something higher than RIP, 121 in this case. Now we take
the direct path. Remember that AD is a local setting so this would have to be done
on all routers choosing suboptimal path.

We could also lower the AD of RIP. Either we do it for all routes or for a selection
of routes. Here we will select the routes with an ACL. We can set the distance for
all route sources or for a specific one based on the IP. Here we only have one so
we don’t really care, we will match on

So now the AD is 109 for the RIP route which beats OSPF of 110. This would of course
also be have to be done on all routers with suboptimal path.

This is another way of doing it. We are setting a distance of 255 for the RIP routes
when they are entering as OSPF routes. 255 is not a valid distance for installing to
RIB so RIP routes will be preferred.

We can also use a distribute-list to control what routes get installed via OSPF.
Since OSPF is a link state protocl the LSA will of course propagate to other

As you can see the route is still present in the OSPF database but it does not
get installed into the RIB.

There is also a more fancy way of using distribute-lists. We can tie them to
a routing-protocol and define what is allowed to go out from that protocol
into the routing protocol that we are currently configuring. We will configure
R2 so that RIP routes are not allowed to be redistributed into OSPF. This will
kill any redundancy in the network.

So we go to the config mode of the routing protocol we are redistributing into.
Then we define with the distribute-list what is allowed to go out from other
protocols into the one we are now configuring. This is an effective way of
filtering when we have a lot of redistribution going on. In a small scenario
like this it does not make much sense but it’s very handy in large scenarios.

There is still one tool left and that is the route-map. The route-map is the
most flexible and scalable solution of all. We can choose what prefixes get
redistributed with an access-list or prefix-list. Lets try that first.

Here we matched prefixes with a prefix-list. The prefix-list has a deny for the
loopback of R2 and permits anything else. The route-map only has a permit statement,
deny in prefix-list and permit in route-map means that the prefix does not match
and moves to the next statement which is an implicit deny. The permit matches the
permit of the route-map and allows anything else.

This is an example of route feedback.

R5 is the only redistribution point. The issue here is that the routes that R3
learns from R1 and R2 via RIP will arrive at R5. R5 then redistributes into
OSPF. R3 will receive these LSA’s and find that this path is better due to a
lower AD. R3 will then install this route. R3 stops announcing that route via
RIP. R5 looses its route via RIP and can’t redistribute it into OSPF, so it
stops announcing it via OSPF. R3 installs the RIP route again and the fun
has just begun. Debug ip routing will show this procedure repeat over and over.

For our final tool we need a more complicated scenario to make full use of it.
First lets take a look at the topology. Download configs and topology here.

We have mutual redistribution on R3 and R5. The issue here is that we are
redistributing into RIP with a seed metric of 1. R3 sees R1’s loopback via
RIP with a metric of 2. R3 redistributes this information into OSPF. R5 learns
this information via OSPF and then redistributes into RIP with a metric of 1.
R3 now has two possible paths to R1 loopback. One with a metric of 1 and one
with a metric of two. Of course the lower metric wins. This means that R5
points towards R3 via R4 and R3 points to R5. Ladies and gentlemen, we have
a routing loop. There is definately a risk of loops when doing mutual redistribution.
When I redistribute something into RIP I usually set a quite high seed metric like 7.
This lowers the risk of loops because the RIP metric internally should be lower unless
it’s a very large network.

The probably best way to filter redistribution is to use route tagging. We set
a tag in a route-map and then base our filters on this. Sometimes it can be difficult
knowing where a route originated and from which protocol it came. If we set good tags
we can see both just by looking at the tag. I usually set a tag like 390, that means
that router 3 originated the route and it came from EIGRP. A tag of 4120 would mean
that it was a RIP route from R4 to begin with. Now lets try this technique as well.

We will set a tag of 3120 on R3 and also deny routes with a tag of 5110 on R3. This
is used to prevent R3 from taking OSPF routes from R5 received over RIP and then
redistributing them back into OSPF.

This is what the filtering looks like on R5.

Here we deny routes with a tag of 3120 and set our own tag of 5110.

Note that there is a risk that the loop still remains. R3 is announcing
routes via RIP natively to R5. We have a chicken and egg problem here.
This is the scenario before tagging. R3 redistributes RIP into OSPF. R5 receives
the routes and install them via OSPF since AD is lower than RIP. R5 then redistributes
these back into RIP. R3 sees the lower metric via R5 and installs this route in the
RIB. We now have a loop.

We start implementing tagging. R3 tags RIP routes going into OSPF
and denies any prefixes that R5 has already redistributed from OSPF to RIP.
R5 denies routes from R3 with a tag of 3120 from going back into RIP and sets
its own tag of 5110. There is a risk that R5 sees the best path via RIP to R3
and then announces an OSPF route which R3 installs. We need to make sure that
R5 sees the best path via OSPF to have a stable network. This can be done by
clearing routing table and shutting down links. To make sure this does not
happen we should also tag RIP routes going into OSPF on R5.

So you see that redistribution can be very complicated and there are a lot of
tools available. Try to check what routes are native to which routing protocol
and make sure that these are preferred in that domain. You can use distance
or other tools to make sure this happens.

In the real lab there could be hidden bombs that you need to detect to have a stable
topology. Probably you won’t be that restricted what you could do but there could
be some restrictions. So it’s good to have as many tools as possible. If all else
fails, do what it takes to get connectivity. Use distribute-lists or whatever
to have a stable topology. Yes, you will loose points but you can definately
not finish the lab if you don’t have a stable topology.

I hope this post has been informative and if you want to give med feedback
post in the comments section.

Route redistribution – filtering and mitigating loops
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8 thoughts on “Route redistribution – filtering and mitigating loops

  • February 7, 2012 at 12:00 am

    This is great stuff. Really helpful and just what i needed to plagiarize in my own personal ccie notes 😉

    Great job and many thanks for writing this up,

    • February 7, 2012 at 7:13 am

      Glad to be of assistance. Route redistribution is one of those things that could definately break an attempt at the lab. So it’s good to know your options. We should not spend too much time on it though unless we are asked to provide optimal routing.

  • February 29, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    Awesome write up.. redistribution is definitely one of my weak areas. Greetings from Thailand !

  • October 10, 2012 at 7:12 am

    Very nice explanation, Thanks

  • July 17, 2013 at 9:28 am

    Excellent Daniel. Was really helpful to me.

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  • January 31, 2019 at 12:20 am

    You are the only person who has been able to thoroughly explain Route Redistribution in such a way I can understand! You sir, should be paid for this valuable information. Can’t thank you enough.

  • January 31, 2019 at 2:20 am

    Would you recommend as a last resort to add in static routes to ensure connectivity? I struggle with redistribution all of the time. Tagging seems to be the solution!


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