The Network Time Protocol (NTP) synchronizes the time of day among a set of distributed time servers and clients so that you can correlate events when you receive system logs and other time-specific events from multiple network devices. NTP uses the User Datagram Protocol (UDP) as its transport protocol.
All NTP communications use Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).
An NTP server usually receives its time from an authoritative time source, such as a radio clock or an atomic clock attached to a time server, and then distributes this time across the network. NTP is extremely efficient; no more than one packet per minute is necessary to synchronize two machines to within a millisecond of each other.
NTP uses a stratum to describe the distance between a network device and an authoritative time source:
A stratum 1 time server is directly attached to an authoritative time source (such as a radio or atomic clock or a GPS time source).
A stratum 2 NTP server receives its time through NTP from a stratum 1 time server.
Before synchronizing, NTP compares the time reported by several network devices and does not synchronize with one that is significantly different, even if it is a stratum 1. Because Cisco NX-OS cannot connect to a radio or atomic clock and act as a stratum 1 server, we recommend that you use the public NTP servers available on the Internet. If the network is isolated from the Internet, Cisco NX-OS allows you to configure the time as though it were synchronized through NTP, even though it was not.
You can create NTP peer relationships to designate the time-serving hosts that you want your network device to consider synchronizing with and to keep accurate time if a server failure occurs.
The time kept on a device is a critical resource, so we strongly recommend that you use the security features of NTP to avoid the accidental or malicious setting of incorrect time. Two mechanisms are available: an access list-based restriction scheme and an encrypted authentication mechanism.