Structured Approach to Troubleshooting of L3VPN Networks

With the amount of configuration involved in a typical L3VPN configuration, troubleshooting process can get pretty chaotic, especially in a time-constrained environments like CCIE lab. That’s why it is extremely important to have a well-structured approach to quickly narrow down the potential problem area. I used the below algorithm while preparing for my lab exam. Like most of the networking problems, troubleshooting of L3VPNs can and must be split into two different phases - control plane and data plane. All steps must be done sequentially with each next step relying on the successful verification of all previous steps.

Test topology

Problem definition
CE-1 ( can not reach CE-2 (

Troubleshooting of L3VPN control plane

  1. Check if PE-2 can reach CE-2 from it’s VRF ping vrf A If not - make sure the PE-CE routing protocol is configured to propagate CE subnet.
  2. Make sure that is in vpnv4 BGP RIB on PE-2 with show bgp vpnv4 unicast If not - make sure this route gets redistributed into vpnv4 bgp address family ipv4 vrf A.
  3. Check vpnv4 BGP peerings on PE-2 with show ip bgp vpnv4 unicast all summary. In our case it peers with VPNV4 Route-Reflector ( If not - check that the neighbor is configured and activated under address family vpnv4 and that the neighbor address ( is reachable.
  4. On intermediate Route-Reflector P check that the CE-2 subnet is present in BGP RIB with show ip bgp vpnv4 unicast If not - check that PE-02 advertises this subnet to P with show ip bgp vpnv4 unicast all neighbor advertised
  5. On PE-1 check that CE-2 subnet is present in vpnv4 BGP RIB with show ip bgp vpnv4 unicast If not - make sure P is one of it’s vpnv4 peers and that P advertises this subnet to PE-1
  6. Check that vrf A on PE-1 contains the advertised subnet with show ip route vrf A If not - make sure that import route target on PE-1 equals to export route target on PE-2 and that this subnet is redistributed from BGP into PE-CE routing protocol

Troubleshooting of L3VPN data plane

If control plane is working fine, next step is to troubleshoot the data plane. This can be most difficult since LDP can be so easily broken by summarisation or filtering. However, in general, data plane troubleshooting will consist of the following steps:

  1. Make sure PE-2 knows how to reach PE-1 over the LSP with show mpls forwarding
  2. Make sure PE-1 knows how to reach PE-2 over the LSP with show mpls forwarding
  3. MPLS-trace the path from PE-2 to PE-1 with traceroute mpls ipv4 source
  4. Do the same in the other direction. In case traceroute stops, jump on the last responded node and check that LDP peering is running with all its neighbors with show mpls ldp neighbor