How does Ethernet ring protection switching work?

How does Ethernet ring protection switching work?

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Network downtime is like a blocked road. More vehicles. More problems. A vicious cycle starts unless the traffic police clear the road. Network downtime can cost billions of dollars, especially in industrial areas, bigger businesses, and enterprises, as they are looking for reliable and REAL TIME tracking facilities. Network down. No traffic processes. Blocking is inevitable.

Ethernet has made things easier, thanks to its Gigabit Technology and upcoming terabytes speeds. But we are stuck. Everything goes down like the human in the end age. The only solution is to split and implement better solutions to keep network uptime higher.

So, have we done that? ERPS is effective. Let’s find out how.

Suggested Reading: What is Industrial Ring ERPS Technology?

What is Ethernet Ring Protection Switching?

Have you heard about it? It’s like the first time I heard the word, yet it was a meaningful journey to explore.

In networking technology, ERPS refers to Ethernet ring protection switching, a fundamental approach to network designs. The ultimate goal of implementing the Ethernet ring is to facilitate the Ethernet traffic to multiple connections with a high level of redundancy. We come across various problems when traffic is higher.

Let’s take a simple example of a road. If the traffic is higher, there is more congestion. More congestion means the blockage is imminent. The implementation of Ethernet rings across the network is to fight this block and facilitate the Ethernet traffic to pass efficiently through the network. High-level redundancy(a Core feature of ERPS) puts us ahead of the future.

I believe concepts are not still clear until we assimilate how everything goes. Let’s scroll to the working mechanism and learn by heart.

How does Ethernet ring protection switching(ERPS) work?

Rings, nodes, bottlenecks, and redundancy all seem to be frustrating. Is that the case with you, same as me? If yes, go through the end of the blog to figure out all the puzzles at once.

Let’s move forward with the Ethernet ring protection Switching again to determine how exactly it does the actual tasks.

Ethernet ring protection switching works as a backup supply. If one ring fails, we have another to flow the traffic and let the work be on time. No interruptions, no more bottlenecks.

Here are some points to streamline the intricacies of Ethernet ring protection switching(ERPS).

  • The network nodes have connections to each other in the loops and rings. Since a ring is a closed loop, a data packet would move through it endlessly, fatally affecting the bandwidth.
  • In that case, Ethernet ring protocol switching(ERPS) blocks one of the links to prevent the endless circle. No more loops. The straight flow of traffic becomes inevitable.

What if a node fails to let the data packets process through it? That’s the ultimate question that hit my mind the first time, though ERPS handles it effectively.

  • If a link fails, ERPS unblocks the blocked link to keep the network alive without causing the failure.

The whole concept seems to be easier now; at least for me, it is easier. Once you understand the standards of Ethernet ring protocol switching, everything will be a piece of cake.

2 Standards of Ethernet Ring Protection Switching

For the first time, this topic is like a ghost that disappears every time you try to catch it. But no problem, we have two standard principles to capture the gist of Ethernet Ring Protection switching ERPS.

G.8032 is a diamond standard for the ERPS working. But that doesn’t end here, as we have two versions. One is better than the other. Do you believe it? Why not determine it below?

ITU-T G.8032v1

Same standard, two faces. G.8032 has two versions, V1 and V2. Let’s find out which one is a DIAMOND.

All devices support the first version of G.8032, making it a better option when it comes to usage. In an Ethernet ring, we have different nodes connected, regardless if they are part of other rings.


There is a Ring Protection Link(RPL). This Ring Protection Link(RPL) does all the tasks of blocking and unblocking, a kingmaker for the network. Whenever the network is functioning normally, Ring Protection Link(RPL) owner stops the RPL and doesn’t let the data packets move along the loops, so flow is normal. When the network fails, the RPL owner does its job. It can unblock the RP link and let the traffic pass through it. Getting it can be challenging. It is a straightforward example of vessel anastomoses in the human body.

ITU-T G.8032v2

The version is nothing tricky but has to support fewer devices. No rocket science to understand, so the features of this standard are here.

  • Devices like MX Series and ACX Series routers support it effectively.
  • It has a revertive and non-revertive mood depending on the link’s block and the network’s stoppage.
  • It procures administrative commands like the Forced switch and manual switch approaches, yet another critical feature to concentrate on.

Remember. G.8032 can lower the network downtime to less than 50 milliseconds, helping you maintain all tasks without kicking the can down the road.

3 Ring Protocols to crack the NutShell

Ring protocols can be diverse; three is just an example, never mind. Ethernet comes across multiple protocols such as ERPS, MSTP (802.1s), and RSTP (802.1w). The list is long, but we have to be short. Do you know why? Because a long list would distract us from the original topic, I don’t want that.

Therefore, I have listed three major ring protocols in the Ethernet network to handle traffic and overcome potential networking challenges. Get them here.


RSTP, another name for Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol, is one of Ethernet systems’ oldest and most challenging methods. It helps build the link in the redundant methodology that potentially reduces the network downtime; still, we have some deficiencies.

Two major limitations. These are:

  • The network recovery time is higher for the Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol. It varies from 2 to 10 seconds, multiple times more than the ERPS. So, you can find lesser applications.
  • It can handle seven hops, only costing the bigger businesses and industries to deploy more hardware for traffic management, another headache for the money-saving plans.


Multiple Spanning Tree Protocol is an alternative to the RSTP that prevents extra expenditures on the hardware. The most significant limitation is the recovery time; it is 10 seconds. Who waits for such a high recovery time?

However, the COST-EFFECTIVE option can make it a good opportunity.


We have already pointed out the significant features of the ERPS. However, it has potential advantages over the R and M spanning tree protocols.

These are:

  • No limitations for the rings make it a better choice for everyone, whether at home, industrial zone, or commercial points.
  • Faster convergence. Lesser recovery time. One of the most prominent advantages is a recovery time of less than 1 second; enterprises can save hours of work and millions of dollars under this system.

These Ethernet protocols have provided a practical approach to our networking panel.

6 Major Applications for the Ethernet Ring Protection Switching Protocol

Ethernet ring technology is the ultimate option for Ethernet and power over Ethernet systems. A network’s performance relies on numerous factors; traffic is one of those factors.

However, I have listed some applications of Ethernet ring protection switching technology to get the picture to the far end.

Surveillance Control Systems

A surveillance system provides us with complete security from the penetrators. A surveillance network might comprise different switching layers.

Usually, there is no such traffic problem for such systems. But when considering installing security cameras on a large scale and industrial surveillance systems, you must consider many factors. One of them is traffic. For Real-time tracking, you have to be more efficient at producing the videos and sending them to the servers and control panels for saving.

Since video recording, transfer, and saving co-occur, everything can cause several hurdles. Therefore, we must have an integrated solution to handle this situation.

Ring topology can effectively end this problem by employing the RPL owner node. This owner node will prevent looping and provide a better alternative in case of higher traffic failure. Everything occurs in milliseconds, making it a good idea to deploy.

Intelligent Transportation Systems

Intelligent transport systems are another example of ring applications.

In Us or China, we have developed facilities, more transport options, and higher traffic. Even if we are using a LAN, multiple options come to mind owing to the higher population in China. Since more mobile devices are in a single network, we consider the possibility of a network failure. Sometimes data speed reduces and causes more severe shortcomings in the network.

Centralized traffic control is only possibly left behind. We do it by intelligent transportation systems that allow us to integrate with the Ethernet ring topology and get a better option to employ the rings and RPL node owners.

Gigabit Ethernet spreads to longer distances with several nodes in the City Metropolitan regions. All of this owes to using nodes and ring systems in the Ethernet system. It can save bandwidth and helps spread the signals to a higher distance with lower network latency.

Industrial Networks

Industrial Ethernet. Have you ever heard of it? Before guessing anything, let me know what an industrial zone has. Suppose an industry of plastic manufacturing. What would it have?

In industrial regions, there is continual processing of machines. Heavy machinery, more work, and greater risk as all equipment are connected. Since everything is automatic, a single link failure would block the whole production chain.

So, what would be the result? You will lose progress and millions of dollars due to failure. So, real-time tracking and surveillance mechanisms can put the applications ahead of it.

Gigabit Ethernet(10GbE, more specifically) has reduced network problems significantly, but network downtime is a deficit; you must fulfill with a proper system. Ethernet ring topology has helped us with:

  • You can create several nodes, and adding and removing them becomes far easier.
  • Better control of all the devices and monitoring irons out several challenges arising at production.
  • Network downtime is less. Thus, better efficiency is inference.

Power over Ethernet Systems

PoE? A revolution in the data world of data and power. Wherever you are and when you need it, PoE is there to assist you. A simple Ethernet cable and two jobs, DATA and POWER transmission.

Don’t you wonder if all this is astonishing?

Power over Ethernet systems is available in buildings and industrial areas. They serve two fundamental tasks thanks to their flawless transmission and integration of Ethernet technology.

These two tasks are:

  • Power Transmission
  • Data supply

Power transmission? How many watts does the PoE supply?

Around 100, I guess, or 96 watts more accurately, is the maximum power by the PoE.

And how many gigabytes of data transmission? It is around 100 Gigabytes or even more if considering HIGHER NETWORK APPLICATIONS.

In short, PoE technology is all you want to deploy at your servers, industrial zones, and offices.

Sometimes, network bottlenecks arise due to higher network traffic. Ring Topology can reduce these bottlenecks and prevent traffic problems.

Hence, most PoE networks have ERPS installations.

Enterprises Networks

Enterprise networks can be the power over Ethernet networks and Gigabit Ethernet networks. Whatever the network is, we must understand the network’s infrastructure.

Do you know why I have mentioned the enterprise’s applications instead of the home? It is because we have a limited number of devices at home, maybe one or two or sometimes more than two.

At enterprises, a network might comprise multiple devices at a single moment. Ten or more devices connected to the network can enhance the complexity of the network.

So, to simplify the network, we improve the number of physical layers. To control traffic, we implement better solutions such as ERPS topology.

Data Centers

The data center is a library of data. Gigabytes or terabytes of files are there in a specific pattern. Again, the best way to store the data.

Data centers are present everywhere. Do you know why? Because data storage and record are essential for a company to prove whenever they have to. Fast data processing is quite a familiar and critical requirement in such a place.

A huge directory of data increases traffic for processing and storing. Some companies discard the previous information whenever data grows or employ many hardware storage devices.

To decrease the traffic and handle it effectively, ERPS comes into action. Cuts in loops yet provide another powerful solution for data processing. No more worries. No more data problems. We have everything you need for your data storage — Devices, traffic handling, and higher network performance.

5 Major Advantages of Ethernet Ring Protection Switching ERPS

Ethernet Ring Protection Switching is a better technology; all credit goes to its channelization technology that blocks and unblocks the routes for data. Therefore, we can guess the multiple benefits of this technology. I have listed five primary advantages of the ERPS system that could suffice your needs.

It clears the traffic efficiently.

Traffic is not a big problem. Building a more extensive network, as in data centers, becomes a crucial scenario to handle. Do you know why? All because of multiple physical layers, drivers, and computers connected to Ethernet technology simultaneously.

Let me highlight some essential physical layers of the more significant data networks.

  • Core. It contains the core switches. Depending on network requirements, these can be multiple, 2, 3, or even more than 3. It usually comprises layer three switches.
  • Distribution. A relay layer. It routes the functionality from the core to the access and access to the core layer, hence a significant channel. It contains layer three and layer two switches.
  • Access. It is the primary layer that connects the device. In the network, we all have computers and routers. The access layer is there to link directly with these devices. Hence, you can find the Layer 2 switches.

The core layer is fundamental and routing the data packets. Still, we sometimes face serious challenges. Essential steps can reduce urgent problems.

You will expect more traffic from multiple devices, multiple layers, and obviously. More traffic and more blockages are imminent.

Is there any solution to this case?

Yes. You have a possible solution in the form of Ethernet ring protection switching. It controls the traffic, minimizes the tie-ups, and provides a better alternative to data packets. The RPL owner node blocks the RPL when not required, providing a solution to the traffic problem.

It prevents loop formation.

LOOP. I have discussed it multiple times. You might be tired of guessing what it is. A loop is a closed circle. Let’s get an example of looping in our real lives.

Suppose you have opened your media player(the MX player I love the most). Put it in the loop mode if you are listening to a Justin Bieber song or Blackpink Choreography. Until the loop mode is on, the music will be repeating. Do you know why? Because the looping scenario circularly puts the choreography and goes on working until you put another song in that circle.

What I want you to understand is to get at the looping scenario that acts like an object moving in a circle. Now, put the data packets in the loop.

Data packets will keep moving around the circle, not outside the ring. That fatally affects the data packets, eats the bandwidth, and kills the route. ERPS can potentially take the edge off of looping.

When the loops are not present, data packets will move in your desired direction. But the question is, how does the ERPS do this magic?

All credit goes to the RPL node owner, who detects the failure of the node and blocks the RING PROTECTION LINK.

Convergence is faster

You might have come across multiple-ring protocols. Can you guess their fundamental role? It is nothing except to control the traffic, route them, and potentially reduce the bottlenecks. In-ring technology, we come across convergence.

Before understanding the convergence, we need to get a picture of the network Uptime and downtime.

  • Uptime. Uptime refers to the feasibility of the network. How many hours or minutes is the web working in a specific time, for instance, out of 24 hours? Most hosting companies claim to have 99% uptime.
  • Downtime. Downtime is the state in which the specific web server or website will be offline. The lower the downtime is, the more benefits are.

The web hosting scenarios can well grasp uptime and downtime theories. As far as we calculate the convergence, it is a network uptime. How fast the network recovers after a node fails? It all describes the convergence time.

If the convergence is faster, you will be expecting what?— better uptime.

Different ring protocols have other convergence times, for example:

  • RSTP has 2-10 seconds of convergence time.
  • MSTP has 10 seconds of convergence time.
  • ERPS has 50-100 milliseconds of convergence time.

Have a look, and guess what? ERPS is a clear-cut rocking star in ring technology. That’s the fundamental reason behind using the ERPS.

Reliable and Faster

Is ERPS reliable? Is that even true? Some questions like that also flash through my mind. The curiosity increases to catch on to them.

Compared to other ring technologies, ERPS has a better structure. It comprehends the network infrastructure and provides reliable data packets and traffic access. Moreover, the convergence time is so low, making it a good option for all the networks grasping at straws.

Cost Effective

Cost, cost, and cost. The ultimate target of every company is to save costs. But the question is, how will they keep the bucks? In actuality, every company wants to implement a reliable yet inexpensive method. Since traffic is more than the average catch, enterprises must think outside the box.

Ethernet Ring protection switching is a cost-effective option; here is why:

  • You don’t have to deploy extra hardware devices for controlling the devices.
  • The cost of the ERPS system is low compared to relevant other technologies but has better options.
  • The downtime is typical, potentially saving time and improving the network.

Common Concepts about the Ethernet Ring Protection Keywords

Still, the concepts will not be clean until we discuss the significant terminologies and scenarios in the Ring Topology and Ring protection switching.

I have listed the significant functionalities.

Ring Nodes

Each ERPS has different rings in the system. Nodes switch on and off them depending on the given scenario.

And do you know what each ring comprises? It has nodes that have links not only with the nodes in the ring but also with the nodes in other circles. This whole network puts our task ahead and helps us in Ethernet Ring Protection Switching.

Two virtual nodes, blocking and unblocking nodes, are given as:

  • Normal Node— There is no unique role in the network except for the transfer of data packets.
  • Ring Protection Link RPL owner node— Key node in maintaining the switching and building up a route for the traffic to process; hence, crucial node.

With this topology, we move forward.

Ring Node states

Ring nodes can be in different states; therefore, they are better positioned to change and optimize the traffic. Here are some conditions you should understand.

  • Init. The node is not a participant of a particular ring.
  • Idle. Node is usually working, meaning there is no system error. All nodes will allow the data packets to pass except the RPL node, blocked in normal states and unblocked in a failure state.
  • Protection. If the node’s status indicates protection, ring nodes that have failed are blocked. The RPL node owner unblocks the RPL nodes and provides an alternative route for the data packets to pass through. Smooth flow, no tie-ups, no worries.
  • Pending. Pending status indicates that the node is in recovery mode. After it recovers, you can take further action. All nodes will be in pending status till the WTB timer expiry.
  • Force Switch. Force switch puts all the nodes in the force mode; recall the concepts of G.8032 Version 2.
  • Manual Switch. When the manual switch is present on the nodes, all the nodes are in manual switch mode.

Remember. Each ring has one RPL owner. It enables faster data packets without loop formation, a better future for data systems.

Logical Ring

A logical ring is different from a virtual ring. By that means, it must have a physical connection with the other rings through the node. In the ERPS systems, logical rings occur as the physical layers and support the node switching.

FDB Flush

Whenever the Ethernet ring protection switching occurs, the system executes the FDB flush more like the Spanning Tree Protocol. So, you can observe this scenario.

RPL neighbor Node

All the nodes adjacent to the RPL nodes are the RPL neighbor nodes. The RPL owner node controls the switching in the ERPS while data packets flow through the RPL and neighbor nodes.

Revertive and Non-revertive Modes

In revertive mode, switching has cleared the traffic, and the RPL node turns off to let the traffic pass through the normal nodes.

In non-revertive mode, traffic passes through the RPL node even if the switch has cleared.

What’s Next?

Systems can be confusing considering the whole scenario for the Ethernet ring protocols. We must consider the fundamental principles of network topology, understand various aspects, and pass the hat to product strategy. And what is that? What else can it be except ERPS, an affordable yet efficient one?

Nevertheless, do you want to purchase the Ethernet tools like switches and many more? Perfect! HoweVision Professional has all that you need for your network with higher outputs. Industry experience stands out from the market and lets us fulfill the requirements of our customers. You can get Ethernet switches, PoE extenders, and many more products.

A single phone call would bring you a free quote for your project. Pick up the phone and call us right away!



Hi, I'm Mr. Hua, The funder of HoweVision technology, I'v been woking industrial communication equipment for 8 years now, and the purpose of this article is to share with you the knowledge related to industrial communication from a China supplier's perspective.

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