BDPU Filter: global vs. port mode

Most mid-level Cisco network engineers are familiar with BPDU Guard and its sister BPDU Filter, both of which are designed to prevent loops on STP edge (portfast) ports and covered in CCNP certification. When configured in global mode, BPDU filter on a Catalyst 3650 switch will look like this:

spanning-tree mode rapid-pvst
spanning-tree portfast bpdufilter default
spanning-tree extend system-id
spanning-tree pathcost method long

If any port configured as a edge port receives a BPDU, it will automatically revert back to the standard 35-second Rapid Spanning-Tree cycle:

  1. Discarding/Blocking (20 seconds)
  2. Learning (15 seconds)
  3. Forwarding

This is a good tool to have in campus environments where 99.99% of the connections are loop-free, but there’s always a chance a user will plug a switch in to multiple ports, either by accident or thinking it will “bond” the connections.

What most people miss is that bpdu filter can also be configured on a per-port level, but results in very different behavior. When applied the port level, the port will just always be in forwarding state. For all intents and purposes, spanning-tree is disabled on these ports. Whoa! You probably don’t want that!

Many peers do not believe me when I tell them this, but it can be easily tested in a lab. Just configure bpdufilter on two switch ports, plug in a crossover cable:

Notice both ports are in designated/forwarding state:

Now send a broadcast and watch the frames fly Ooof!