There are several ways a LAN client can determine which router should be the first hop to a particular remote destination. The client can use a dynamic process or static configuration. Examples of dynamic router discovery are as follows:
Proxy ARP--The client uses Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) to get the destination it wants to reach, and a router will respond to the ARP request with its own MAC address.
Routing protocol--The client listens to dynamic routing protocol updates (for example, from Routing Information Protocol [RIP]) and forms its own routing table.
ICMP Router Discovery Protocol (IRDP) client--The client runs an Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) router discovery client.
The drawback to dynamic discovery protocols is that they incur some configuration and processing overhead on the LAN client. Also, in the event of a router failure, the process of switching to another router can be slow.
An alternative to dynamic discovery protocols is to statically configure a default router on the client. This approach simplifies client configuration and processing, but creates a single point of failure. If the default gateway fails, the LAN client is limited to communicating only on the local IP network segment and is cut off from the rest of the network.
VRRP can solve the static configuration problem. VRRP enables a group of routers to form a single virtual router. The LAN clients can then be configured with the virtual router as their default gateway. The virtual router, representing a group of routers, is also known as a VRRP group.
VRRP is supported on Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, BVI, and Gigabit Ethernet interfaces, and on MPLS VPNs, VRF-aware MPLS VPNs, and VLANs.
The figure below shows a LAN topology in which VRRP is configured. In this example, Routers A, B, and C are VRRP routers (routers running VRRP) that comprise a virtual router. The IP address of the virtual router is the same as that configured for the Ethernet interface of Router A (10.0.0.1).
||Basic VRRP Topology
Because the virtual router uses the IP address of the physical Ethernet interface of Router A, Router A assumes the role of the virtual router master and is also known as the IP address owner. As the virtual router master, Router A controls the IP address of the virtual router and is responsible for forwarding packets sent to this IP address. Clients 1 through 3 are configured with the default gateway IP address of 10.0.0.1.
Routers B and C function as virtual router backups. If the virtual router master fails, the router configured with the higher priority will become the virtual router master and provide uninterrupted service for the LAN hosts. When Router A recovers, it becomes the virtual router master again. For more detail on the roles that VRRP routers play and what happens if the virtual router master fails, see the VRRP Router Priority and Preemption section.
The figure below shows a LAN topology in which VRRP is configured so that Routers A and B share the traffic to and from clients 1 through 4 and that Routers A and B act as virtual router backups to each other if either router fails.
||Load Sharing and Redundancy VRRP Topology
In this topology, two virtual routers are configured. (For more information, see the Multiple Virtual Router Support section.) For virtual router 1, Router A is the owner of IP address 10.0.0.1 and virtual router master, and Router B is the virtual router backup to Router A. Clients 1 and 2 are configured with the default gateway IP address of 10.0.0.1.
For virtual router 2, Router B is the owner of IP address 10.0.0.2 and virtual router master, and Router A is the virtual router backup to Router B. Clients 3 and 4 are configured with the default gateway IP address of 10.0.0.2.