Connecting the world…


ISA 2006 Link Translation

Web pages returned from a Web server published by a Microsoft® Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server 2006 Web publishing rule may include links containing internal names of computers or Web sites and internal paths to Web content. Because external clients cannot resolve these internal names, these links will be broken unless the internal names are replaced by the public names of published Web sites. ISA Server includes a built-in Web filter named Link Translation Filter, which uses mappings to translate internal names in links on Web pages to publicly resolvable names. Each mapping translates an internal URL (or part of a URL) to a public equivalent. For example, a mapping can translate the internal URL http://team to the public URL Link translation mappings are stored in tables called link translation dictionaries.

Today I had a problem where the remote user wanted to request the following URL This URL isn’t allowed and needed to be redirected. ISA’s Link Translation was the solution for me. I configured the following Link Translation.


The following Link Translation rule translates the URL above in

It works for me!!!

Link State Tracking

Last week a friend called me and told me he was having serious problems with his network. A complete blade environment wasn’t able to communicate with the rest of the network. I asked what changed in the network and he told me that he had added a VLAN to a trunk allowed lists.

Because he is a friend, I dialed in and checked the configuration of the switch. I noticed that all ports on the switch were err-disabled. What happened here, that all switch ports were err-disabled!!! I noticed the configuration of link state tracking on all ports.

Link-state tracking, also known as trunk failover, is a feature that binds the link state of multiple interfaces. Link-state tracking provides redundancy in the network when used with server network interface card (NIC) adapter teaming. When the server network adapters are configured in a primary or secondary relationship known as teaming and the link is lost on the primary interface, connectivity transparently changes to the secondary interface.

At first I was skeptic about the link state configuration and asked my friend why it was used. He couldn’t give me any answer, because he didn’t configure the switch. For me it was hard to find a reason why link state tracking was used, because I wasn’t familiar with the network. I removed the link state configuration from the switch. All ports changed to a normal state. I noticed that the uplink (port-channel) configuration wasn’t correct. They added the VLAN to the trunk allowed lists on a member port and not on the port-channel interface.

After helping my friend and dreaming for a couple of days, I started thinking about the Link State Tracking feature. I tried to discover why someone configured the feature in my friends environment. Eventually, after some brain cracking, I found the solution. Let’s look at the following example environment.


The figure shows one ESX server, which has two NIC’s. One NIC is connected to bl-sw01 and the other NIC is connected to bl-sw02. The ESX uses the load-balancing algorithm “Route based on Virtual PortID”.

Now lets assume the link between bl-sw02 and dis-sw02 loses its connection. Because the ESX server still has a connection with bl-sw02, it keeps sending packet that way. Switch bl-sw02 doesn’t have any uplink to the rest of the network, so the packet will get dropped.

When using Link State Tracking the connection between the ESX server and switch bl-sw02 will also loose its connection when the uplink between bl-sw02 en switch dis-sw02 gets lost. The ESX server will only use the connection with switch bl-sw01 to reach the rest of the network. Link State Tracking uses upstream and downstream interfaces. In the example the connection between the switch port, which connects switch bl-sw02 to switch dis-sw02, would be configured as an upstream port. The switch port to the ESX server would be configured as a downstream port. The downstream port is put in err-disable state when the upstream port loses its connection. This is exactly what you would like to accomplish.

The first step to enable Link State Tracking globally on the switch:

bl-sw02(config)# link state track 1

The next step is configuring the upstream and downstream interfaces.

interface GigabitEthernet0/16
description switch-uplink

switchport trunk encapsulation dot1q
switchport mode trunk
switchport nonegotiate
link state group 1 upstream
spanning-tree link-type point-to-point


interface GigabitEthernet0/10
description ESX01

switchport trunk encapsulation dot1q
switchport mode trunk
switchport nonegotiate
link state group 1 downstream
spanning-tree portfast trunk

You can check the status of the Link State Group with the following command:

bl-sw02#show link state group detail

Link State Group: 1 Status: Enabled, Up

Upstream Interfaces : Gi0/16(Up)

Downstream Interfaces : Gi0/10(Up)

In the future I will use Link State Tracking, especially in blade environments. At least in blade environments with multiple switch, which don’t support some kind of stacking technology, and servers with multiple NIC’s.

Fiber optics and UDLD

UDLD (Unidirectional Link Detection) is a protocol to help prevent forwarding loops in switched networks. A fiber cable is build from two separate fibers (transmit and receive), where one of the two fiber could fail, which would result in a switch port not able to receive or send traffic. This scenario could result in some serious problems.

The Problem

Spanning-Tree Protocol (STP) resolves redundant physical topology into a loop-free, tree-like forwarding topology. This is done by blocking one or more ports. By blocking one or more ports, there are no loops in the forwarding topology. STP relies in its operation on reception and transmission of the Bridge Protocol Data Units (BPDUs). If the STP process that runs on the switch with a blocking port stops receiving BPDUs from its upstream (designated) switch on the port, STP eventually ages out the STP information for the port and moves it to the forwarding state. This creates a forwarding loop or STP loop.

Check the following two pictures:


The left pictures shows a regular layer 2 network, where switch B is the designated switch for the B-C segment. Switch C on the B-C link is in blocking state. In the right picture switch C’s Tx is broken, switch C doesn’t receive and BPDU packets from switch B anymore and ages the information received with the last BPDU. Once the STP information is aged out on the port, that port transitions from the blocking state to the listening, learning and eventually to the forwarding STP state. This creates a forwarding loop, as there is no blocking port in the triangle A-B-C. Packets cycle along the path (B still receives packets from C) taking additional bandwidth until the links are completely filled up. This brings the network down.

UDLD explained

UDLD is a Layer 2 (L2) protocol that works with the Layer 1 (L1) mechanisms to determine the physical status of a link. At Layer 1, auto-negotiation takes care of physical signaling and fault detection. UDLD performs tasks that auto-negotiation cannot perform, such as detecting the identities of neighbors and shutting down misconnected ports. When you enable both auto-negotiation and UDLD, Layer 1 and Layer 2 detections work together to prevent physical and logical unidirectional connections and the malfunctioning of other protocols.

UDLD works by exchanging protocol packets between the neighboring devices. In order for UDLD to work, both devices on the link must support UDLD and have it enabled on respective ports.

Each switch port configured for UDLD sends UDLD protocol packets that contain the port’s own device/port ID, and the neighbor’s device/port IDs seen by UDLD on that port. Neighboring ports should see their own device/port ID (echo) in the packets received from the other side.

If the port does not see its own device/port ID in the incoming UDLD packets for a specific duration of time, the link is considered unidirectional. Once the unidirectional link is detected by UDLD, the respective port is disabled and this message is printed on the console and the logging:

UDLD-3-DISABLE: Unidirectional link detected on port 1/2. Port disabled

UDLD can operate in two modes:

  1. Normal: if the link state of the port was determined to be bi-directional and the UDLD information times out, no action is taken by UDLD. The port state for UDLD is marked as undetermined. The port behaves according to its STP state.
  2. Aggressive: if the link state of the port is determined to be bi-directional and the UDLD information times out while the link on the port is still up, UDLD tries to re-establish the state of the port. If not successful, the port is put into the errdisable state.

Depending on the fiber uplink (type of cable, length of the cable, age of backbone and more) I use UDLD aggressive mode. Aggressive mode will put the port in errdisable, but in my opinion it is better to loose some switches then flooding the complete layer 2 network and disturbing even more users.