Introduction to Gateway Redundancy

In this lesson we’ll take a look at different protocols for gateway redundancy. So what is gateway redundancy and why do we need it? Let’s start with an example!

gateway redundancy scenario

The network in the picture above is fairly simple. I have one computer connected to a switch. In the middle you’ll find two multilayer switches (SW1 and SW2) that both have an IP address that could be used as the default gateway for the computer. Behind SW1 and SW2 there’s a router that is connected to the Internet.

Which gateway should we configure on the computer? SW1 or SW2? You can only configure a one gateway after all…

gateway redundancy crashed switch

If we pick SW1 and it crashes, the computer won’t be able to get out of its own subnet because it only knows about one default gateway. To solve this problem we will create a virtual gateway:

virtual gateway

Between SW1 and SW2 we’ll create a virtual gateway with its own IP address, in my example this is

The computer will use as its default gateway. One of the switches will be the active gateway and in case it fails the other one will take over.

There are three different protocols than can create a virtual gateway:

In the next lessons I will explain each of these protocols and show you how to configure them. For now, I hope this lesson has helped to understand why we need a virtual gateway in the network.

Forum Replies

  1. Can you run virtual gateway redundancy (HSRP, VRRP, GLBP) over access – to – distribution lines that are running etherchannel as well?

  2. Jason,
    This depends on how the access layer connects to the distribution layer. A single Etherchannel is not supported between one physical switch and two different physical switches (unless those two switches using Stackwise, VSS, or vPC). By this, I meaning the following is NOT allowed:

                            ---------Distribution SW1 
    Access ---- Etherchannel                         --------VRRP
                            ---------Distribution SW2

    You can, however, have Etherchanel across two links that connect two switches together. So, in the case below

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