Checks on HELLOs for OSPF and IS-IS during Adjacency Formation ..

The HELLOs (or IIHs in IS-IS parlance)  are responsible bringing up the adjacencies between the two (or multiple) routers. Forming adjacencies is an integral part of all link state routing protocols as all protocol packets other than HELLOs are flooded only over the adjacencies. The rules for formation of such adjacencies however differ between IS-IS, OSPF v2 and OSPF v3.


Besides the basic checks to verify the integrity of the packet, IS-IS does a few checks before forming any adjacency upon receiving the IIHs.

o It allows multiple area addresses to be configured on a router. During the IIH exchange the adjacency is formed only if at least one of the area address matches. The advantage of having multiple areas is explained in the further posts. NOTE that Level 2 only adjacencies would be formed even if the area addresses are not matching.

o To prevent the LSPs and CSNPs from being dropped due to different values for originatingLSPBufferSize and ReceiveLSPBufferSize, all IIHs are padded till the maximum MTU when the adjacency comes up. This check verifies consistent settings between the adjacent routers. This is however not a sufficient check.

o Adjacencies are formed without regard to interface addressing or asymmetric HOLD timer values. Values of IIH interval are not sent in IIH packets. While the IS-IS protocol provides sufficient routing information for relaying packets between adjacent routers, many implementations nonetheless require ARP support to do this. These implementations typically refuse to form an adjacency unless the neighbor interface IP address is on the local interface’s IP subnet.

o IS-IS can carry addressing information of different protocols in its TLV’s. However, the protocol supported field must be sent in Dual and IP-Only routers. RFC1195 specifies no checks for the protocol supported field for adjacency formation. It places topology restrictions on multi-protocol networks. In networks that conform to these restrictions, neighboring routers will always have a protocol in common. Therefore, it does not state whether adjacency formation should take protocols supported into account. However, many implementations, do not form an adjacency with a neighbor unless they share at least one protocol in common.

o Not matching Hold Timer values has advantages wherein the administrator can set different Hold times for different routers. This helps in cases where the going down of a DIS or some router needs to be detected faster. For such routers the hold timer can be set to a lower value.


The checks for formation of adjacencies are stricter in OSPFv2 as compare to that of IS-IS.

o The area-id of the received packet should always match the incoming interface (with the exception of virtual links). Area type is strictly checked by checking the E-bit (not set for non-default areas) and the N- bit (not-set for non-NSSA areas).

o The values of the Hello interval, the Router Dead Interval and network mask received in Hellos are matched with those on the configured interface. Any mismatch in the values causes the Hello packet to be dropped and hence prevents formation of adjacencies. The disadvantage of this approach is that Hello Interval and Router Dead Interval changes need to be done within the Router Dead Interval, to prevent breaking adjacencies. The advantage is we would not form adjacency in case there is a router that has been mis-configured with a large value and which could cause problems later. The network mask check however does not apply to point to point links. That allows the two ends of a Point-to-Point link to have different addresses.

o MTU check is not done in the hellos. It is done in the during the Database (DB) Exchange process.


Most of the checks for OSPFv3 are similar to that of OSPFv2.

o OSPFv3 runs on a per link basis instead of a per subnet basis. The check for a network mask is thus not done.

o Instance ID field (non-existent in OSPFv2) on the link is matched with the incoming ID in Hellos. The adjacency is formed only if the Instance ID matches. This allows multiple instances of OSPFv3 to run on a single link.


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