Get To Know Ethernet Ring Protection Switching(ERPS)

Posted on Feb 27, 2024 by

Ethernet Ring Protection Switching (ERPS) helps achieve high reliability and network stability. This article provides an overview of ERPS, including its definition, basic concepts, and advantages.

What Is ERPS?

Ethernet Ring Protection Switching (ERPS) is a standardized methodology for network design, ensuring high-level redundancy and efficient flow of Ethernet traffic. ITU-T G.8032 is the gold standard for implementing ring networking topographies. When implemented properly, G.8032 management safeguards Ethernet traffic and achieves recovery times of less than 50 milliseconds (ms). ERPS rings are formed by interconnected switches sharing the same control VLAN, serving as the fundamental unit of ERPS.

In this design, network nodes are connected in closed loops, forming rings. Additional rings are interconnected by joining two nodes from each. This redundancy enables rapid network recovery in case of a single-point failure. However, ring constructs alone are not sufficient for stable networking, as they can lead to looping and bandwidth consumption. To prevent looping, G.8032 actively manages traffic. Under normal conditions, the protocol blocks traffic on a single-ring link. In the event of a node failure, the protocol reroutes traffic by opening the necessary closed link, ensuring uninterrupted data flow. Once the failed node is restored, the protocol seamlessly closes the temporary link to maintain protection against data loops.

ERPS Single-Ring Principle

ERPS Single-Ring is a configuration where all network nodes are connected in a single loop, managed by the ERPS protocol for protection and management. To ensure loop prevention within an ERPS ring, a loop-breaking mechanism can be activated, which involves blocking the owner port of the Ring Protection Link (RPL) to eliminate loops. In the event of a link failure within the ring network, the ERPS-enabled device promptly unblocks the previously blocked port and initiates link switching to restore seamless communication among the nodes within the ring network. A device can have a maximum of two ports added to the same ERPS ring.

In Figure 1, the network consists of DeviceA through DeviceE, forming a ring topology where they are interconnected and capable of seamless communication.

  • To prevent loops, ERPS ensures that the RPL owner port and any configured RPL neighbor ports are blocked while allowing service traffic through all other ports.

  • The RPL owner port periodically sends R-APS (NR) messages every 5 seconds to inform all other nodes on the ring about the normal status of ERPS links.

ERPS single ring networking with normal links

Figure 1: ERPS single ring networking with normal links.

In Figure 2, when the link between DeviceD and DeviceE fails, the ERPS protection switching mechanism is activated. It blocks the ports on both ends of the faulty link and unblocks the RPL owner port and RPL neighbor port to allow traffic transmission. This mechanism ensures uninterrupted traffic flow.

ERPS single ring networking with unblocked RPL owner and neighbor ports in case of link failure

Figure 2: ERPS single ring networking with unblocked RPL owner and neighbor ports in case of link failure.

ERPS Multi-Ring Principles

ERPS Multi-Ring is a setup comprising interconnected loops that enhance redundancy and reliability. By establishing cross-connections between these loops, it enables seamless data flow in the event of a node or link failure within one loop, resulting in swift network recovery. Ethernet Ring Protection Switching Version 1 (ERPSv1) supports only single-ring topology, but ERPSv2 supports single-ring and multi-ring topologies.

The multi-ring topology consists of major rings and sub-rings. The presence or absence of a virtual channel (VC) in a sub-ring depends on whether Ring Auto Protection Switching Protocol Data Units (R-APS PDUs) are transmitted to a major ring. If R-APS PDUs are transmitted to a major ring, the sub-ring has a virtual channel; otherwise, it does not.

In Figure 3, device A through Device E form the major ring, while Device B, Device C, and Device F constitute sub-ring 1, and Device C, Device D, and Device G constitute sub-ring 2. Communication is established among the devices within each respective ring.

ERPS multi-ring networking includes sub-rings without virtual channels (links are in a normal state)

Figure 3: ERPS multi-ring networking includes sub-rings without virtual channels (links are in a normal state).

In Figure 4, the failure of the link between Device D and Device G triggers ERPS. Consequently, the ports on both ends of the faulty link are blocked, while the RPL owner port on sub-ring 2 is unblocked to facilitate the transmission and reception of user traffic. This configuration ensures uninterrupted traffic flow for PC1, which continues to follow its original path. Additionally, Device C and Device D notify the other nodes on the major ring about the change in topology, guaranteeing uninterrupted traffic for PC2 as well.

ERPS multi-ring networking (unblocking the RPL owner port when a link fails)

Figure 4: ERPS multi-ring networking (unblocking the RPL owner port when a link fails).

Benefits of ERPS

ERPS (Ethernet Ring Protection Switching), as a network protection and recovery mechanism, offers several advantages in Ethernet ring topologies:

  • Fast fault detection and recovery: ERPS swiftly detects faults and switches to a backup path, minimizing downtime and improving availability.

  • High reliability and redundancy: ERPS offers redundant paths and automatic switching to ensure continuous data transmission and minimize service interruptions.

  • Simplified network management: ERPS automates fault detection and recovery, reducing manual configuration and network management complexity.

  • Flexibility and scalability: ERPS supports ring topologies of varying scales and complexities, providing protection for diverse network requirements.

  • Support for multiple scenarios: ERPS is widely used in enterprises, operators, and industrial control systems, ensuring the reliability of critical data transmission.

FS, the professional provider of communication and high-speed network system solutions, offers the S3900-24F4S switch. With its support for ERPS (Ethernet Ring Protection Switching), the switch provides seamless network protection and recovery. Choose FS.com for reliable and efficient Gigabit Ethernet solutions.


Overall, ERPS (Ethernet Ring Protection Switching) ensures reliable network protection with fast fault detection, high reliability, simplified management, flexibility, and support for various applications. It enhances network availability and stability.

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