A while ago I received the following question:

“Why I’m not seeing the prefixes received from the BGP peer when using the show ip bgp neighbors x.x.x.x received-routes while the soft-reconfiguration inbound is not enabled?”

I must admit that I had to stop and think for a second before giving my response.

Simple BGP

For the above diagram I have a simple BGP configuration:

Focus is on the secondary router. I’m trying to see what prefixes I receive from my BGP neighbor, so I rapidly hit the following command:

OK, that’s not good. Am I missing the command? Let’s see:

-> received-routes – Display the received routes from neighbor

OK, I know the soft-reconfiguration inbound is not enabled, but what has this to do with the fact that the command is not showing me what routes I receive from BGP neighbor?

Let’s recall what “soft-reconfiguration inbound” command actually does.

BGP soft-reconfiguration inbound
*Cisco BGP-4 Command and Configuration Handbook

According to the above explanation, if you have an inbound policy (like a route-map) applied to a BGP neighbor and you change that policy, you need to clear the BGP session before it take effect. This is the procedure without having “soft-reconfiguration inbound” configured. I remember it like this and most of the network engineers out there remember this behavior associated with the “soft-reconfiguration inbound” command.

Still, I just want to see what routes I received from BGP neighbor and according with “sh ip bgp neighbors received-routes” description is the right command . I have no inbound policy on R2 for R1 BGP neighbor.

A less remembered fact about the “soft-reconfiguration inbound” command is that when added, the router begins to store updates from the specified neighbor. These updates are unmodified by any existing inbound policies so that the router can correctly apply the new policies when soft reconfiguration is triggered.

Where are these updates stored?

In the BGP Adj-RIB-in (Adjacent Routing Information Base, Incoming) table. So, what the “received-routes” command does actually is looking in the BGP Adj-RIB-in table for the received routes from the BGP neighbor. I consider that the “received-routes” command has an ambiguous explanation leading to confusion.

When “soft-reconfiguration inbound” is not present, the BGP router does not store anything in Adj-RIB-in. Rather it process the update and discard the Adj-RIB-in table, but not before adding the information in the Loc-RIB (Local Routing Information Base) table. Knowing these facts of course the BGP router returns an error when trying to check the received prefixes using the “received-routes” command.

To check actually what’s received from BGP peer and stored in the Loc-RIB (after being processed by inbound policies) use only the “routes” parameter in the command:

-> routes – Display routes learned from neighbor

The output is what exists in the Loc-RIB table, after processed by the inbound policy.

Let me show you an example of the above explanation.

I’ll apply the “soft-reconfiguration inbound” first:

Now I’ll check again the received routes:

OK, so I have three prefixes, reflected in the Adj-RIB-in table.
Checking next the Loc-RIB tables (so the routes installed after being processed by inbound policies):

The Adj-RIB-in and Loc-RIB tables are identical.

Now, I’ll apply an inbound policy that will filter the prefix.

OK, we have the “soft-reconfiguration inbound” in place, so the inbound policies should be applied automatically denying the prefix.

The above output is what we receive from BGP peer. Notice that the prefix is still there, in the Adj-RIB-in table, as the inbound policies are not applied yet. The only visible change is the missing > sign (best).

Now we can see that the inbound policy is working fine as the prefix is not installed in the Loc-RIB table. This is also the explanation why the > (best) sign was missing from the prefix in Adj-RIB-in.

I hope you understood the logic behind the confusion which these commands “received-routes” and “routes” and their explanation in IOS is creates.

Please let me know in Comments if you have any questions.

Cisco BGP soft-reconfiguration and received-routes relation

5 thoughts on “Cisco BGP soft-reconfiguration and received-routes relation

  • April 13, 2016 at 04:04

    Good post. Thank you very much.

    • April 15, 2016 at 06:57

      Thanks! I appreciate a positive feedback :)

  • August 9, 2016 at 03:58

    Hi my friends.i have a question… what is deference between clear ip bgp neighbor A.B.C.D in command versus clear ip bgp neighbor A.B.C.D soft in???


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