Introduction to LLDP
LLDP denotes the protocol widely used in data transfer across network components within nodes of the same local area network (LAN) as well as data exchange across neighbor network nodes in a Wide area network (WAN). Earlier, each vendor had their own discovery protocols in their product, for example, CISCO had CDP, Nortel networks had NDP, Foundry Networks had FDP and Extreme network had EDP. These disparate protocols made network management a difficult task, especially in a heterogeneous environment. To overcome this situation IETF (Internet Engineering task force) developed the vendor-agnostic protocol, namely LLDP which will work seamlessly in any network of all vendors.
In this article let’s analyze the nitty-gritty of LLDP
Where does it fit in Network Layer?
LLDP fits in the data link layer, which is in level 2 of the standard network architecture subscribed by the OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) model. This model prescribed by the International Organization for standardization deals with protocols for network communication between heterogeneous systems. In the OSI model, Information communication between 2 devices across the network is split into 7 layers and they are bundled over one another in a sequence and the layers are
|1||Application layer||7||Process request of End users and return results to them||Host|
|2||Presentation layer||6||Manage Encryption and decryption of data||Host|
|3||Session layer||5||Manage sessions||Host|
|4||Transport layer||4||Manage Delivery, Splitting the data as segments and reassembling||Host|
|5||Network layer||3||Create pockets from segments and vice versa. Manage pocket transfer across neighbor networks.||Network|
|6||Datalink layer||2||Create Data frames from Pockets and move the frames to other nodes within the same network (LAN & WAN)||Network|
|7||Physical layer||1||Provide a physical medium for data exchange||Network|
LLDP provides standard protocol in moving the data frames (as part of the data link layer) created from the data pockets (sent by the network layer) and controls the transfer as well.
LLDP protocol stipulates a standard set of rules and regulations for interaction between network devices in a multiple vendor network environment. It covers mainly the way a device identifies itself and publicize its’ capabilities in a network, by transmitting a pack of information about itself at a periodic interval, so that other devices could recognize it.
The pack of information is part of the message contained in network frames (Ethernet frames) transmitted across nodes of the network. IEEE 802.1AB protocol is used in LLDP and it is vendor-neutral standard protocol.
Structure of LLDP Frames
The pack of information called an LLDP data unit follows a type length and value structure (TLV) and the following table lists the details of the information and its type of TLV.
|Type||Description||Mandatory or Optional TLVs|
|1||Identification of the device (Chassis ID)||Mandatory|
|2||Port Identification (Port ID)||Mandatory|
|3||Validity time of the received information||Mandatory|
|4||Port details like Description etc.,||Optional and additional TLVs|
|5||Device name||Optional and additional TLVs|
|6||Software version||Optional and additional TLVs|
|7||Device function and its capabilities||Optional and additional TLVs|
|8||IP & MAC address of the device||Optional and additional TLVs|
|0||The signal indicating End of the details also the end of Frame||Mandatory|
Types and Operations of LLDPDU
The above LLDP data unit which publishes information on one device to another neighbor device is called normal LLDPDU. When a port is disabled or shutdown or rebooted a shutdown advisory LLDPU is published to receiving devices indicating the LLDP signals are invalid thereafter.
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There are 3 ways LLDP can operate and they are
- Transmit Only – It can transmit the package of information about the local device
- Receive only – It can only get the details of the remote device
- Transmit & Receive – It does both the above functions
Whenever the data units are received from a remote device, both mandatory and optional Time, length and values are validated for the correctness and dropped if there are errors.
Database of LLDP Information
The information about the LLDP data unit is stored in a management information database (MIB) both at the sending and receiving side and this information is used for network management purposes and the data can be retrieved at a later stage using standard queries.
Extension to VOIP devices
LLD protocol can be extended to manage smartphones, IP phones, and other mobile devices to receive and send information over the network. Initially, it will start with sending raw LLDP data pockets and once it senses the device on the other side is VOIP it will send data pockets in LLDP-MED protocol till the communicate is completed. There are separate time, length and values for LLDP-MED protocols
The following time parameters are managed in LLDP and there are default values to it.
- Time duration upto which a device will retain the information about the pairing device before purging it
- Time gap to send the LLDP updates to the pairing device
- Delay time to initialize
Other aspects of LLDP Management are
- Configuration settings of network components
- Activation and deactivation of network components
- Maintenance of LLDP Characteristics
- Monitoring LLDP functionalities
Benefits of LLDP
- Management of a complex multiple vendor network made simple, structured and easier.
- The accurate information captured on the exchange of data helps in controlling the network performance, monitoring the data exchange flow and troubleshoot issues whenever it occurs.
- Provides Better traceability of network components within the network
- Improves the system available to the users by effectively monitoring the network performance and preventing downtime in data center operations.
- Ensures good front end response to users in the application by ensuring faster and quicker availability of data from other nodes in the same network and from other networks.
LLD protocol is a boon to the network administrators. It aids them with useful information on intra network devices at the data layer (level 2) and on the internetwork devices at the network layer (level 3) for effectively managing data center operations.
This is a guide to What is LLDP? Here we discuss the Types, Operations, Protocol, Management and Benefits of LLDP. You may also have a look at the following articles to learn more –