Information About Next Hop Resolution Protocol
The following sections provide information about Next Hop Resolution Protocol (NHRP).
NHRP and NBMA Network Interaction
Most WAN networks are a collection of point-to-point links. Virtual tunnel networks (for example Generic Routing Encapsulation [GRE] tunnels) are also a collection of point-to-point links. To effectively scale the connectivity of these point-to-point links, they are usually grouped into a single or multilayer hub-and-spoke network. Multipoint interfaces (for example, GRE tunnel interfaces) can be used to reduce the configuration on a hub router in such a network. This resulting network is a NBMA network.
Because there are multiple tunnel endpoints that are reachable through a single multipoint interface, there needs to be a mapping from the logical tunnel endpoint IP address to the physical tunnel endpoint IP address, to forward packets out of the tunnel interfaces over this NBMA network. This mapping could be statically configured, but it is preferable if the mapping can be discovered or learned dynamically.
NHRP is an ARP-like protocol that alleviates these NBMA network problems. With NHRP, systems attached to an NBMA network dynamically learn the NBMA address of other systems that are part of the network, allowing these systems to directly communicate without requiring traffic to use an intermediate hop.
Routers, access servers, and hosts can use NHRP to discover the addresses of other routers and hosts connected to an NBMA network. Partially-meshed NBMA networks typically have multiple logical networks behind the NBMA network. In such configurations, packets traversing the NBMA network might have to make several hops over the NBMA network before arriving at the exit router (the router nearest the destination network).
NHRP Registration helps support these NBMA networks:
NHRP Registration—NHRP allows Next Hop Clients (NHCs) to dynamically register with Next Hop Servers (NHSs). This registration function allows the NHCs to join the NBMA network without configuration changes on the NHSs, especially in cases where the NHC has a dynamic physical IP address or is behind a Network Address Translation (NAT) router that dynamically changes the physical IP address. In these cases, it would be impossible to preconfigure the logical (VPN IP address) to physical (NBMA IP) mapping for the NHC on the NHS.
Dynamically Built Hub-and-Spoke Networks
With NHRP, the NBMA network is initially laid out as a hub-and-spoke network that can have multiple hierarchical layers of NHCs as spokes and NHSs as hubs. The NHCs are configured with static mapping information to reach their NHSs and will connect to their NHS and send an NHRP registration to the NHS. This configuration allows the NHS to dynamically learn the mapping information for the spoke, reducing the configuration needed on the hub and allowing the spoke to obtain a dynamic NBMA (physical) IP address.