Spoke-to-spoke tunnels are designed to be dynamic, in that they are created only when there is data traffic that uses the tunnel; and they are removed when there is no data traffic using the tunnel.
In addition to NHRP registration of next hop clients (NHCs) with next hop servers (NHSs), NHRP provides the capability for NHCs (spokes) to find a shortcut path over the infrastructure of the network (IP network, Switched Multimegabit Data Service [SMDS]) or to build a shortcut switched virtual circuit (SVC) over a switched infrastructure network (Frame Relay and ATM) directly to another NHC (spoke), bypassing hops through the NHSs (hubs). This capability allows the building of very large NHRP-NBMA networks. In this way, the bandwidth and CPU limitations of the hub do not limit the overall bandwidth of the NHRP-NBMA network. This capability effectively creates a full-mesh-capable network without having to discover all possible connections beforehand. This type of network is called a dynamic-mesh network, where there is a base hub-and-spoke network of NHCs and NHSs. The network of NHCs and NHSs is used for transporting NHRP, dynamic routing protocol information, data traffic, and dynamic direct spoke-to-spoke links. The spoke-to-spoke links are built when there is data traffic to use the link, and the spoke-to-spoke links are torn down when the data traffic stops.
The dynamic-mesh network allows individual spoke routers to directly connect to anywhere in the NBMA network, even though they are capable of connecting only to a limited number at the same time. This functionality allows each spoke in the network to participate in the whole network up to its capabilities without limiting another spoke from participating up to its capability. If a full-mesh network were to be built, all spokes would have to be sized to handle all possible tunnels at the same time.
For example, in a network of 1000 nodes, a full-mesh spoke would need to be large and powerful because it must always support 999 tunnels (one to every other node). In a dynamic-mesh network, a spoke needs to support only a limited number of tunnels to its NHSs (hubs) plus any currently active tunnels to other spokes. Also, if a spoke cannot build more spoke-to-spoke tunnels, it will send its data traffic by way of the spoke-hub-spoke path. This design ensures that connectivity is always preserved, even when the preferred single hop path is not available.