IRF stack configuration (2 x HPE 5130 switches)


In this article we will setup an IRF stack with two HP 5130 switches that run Comware OS.

What is IRF?

IRF (Intelligent Resilient Framework) is a proprietary virtualization/stacking technology used in some HPE switches. It has been developed originally by H3C, but later HPE acquired H3C.

IRF allows us to interconnect several switches and manage them as a single device. Besides that those interconnected switches form a single fabric and appear as a single node to other network devices.

IRF does not require any dedicated stacking modules, because it uses regular 10Gb Ethernet ports for stacking.

IRF Topology

Comware OS running switches support different number of switches in a stack depending on the switch model and the software version. The 5130 switches with the latest firmware support up to 9 switches in an IRF stack.

Switches can be interconnected in a ring or a daisy-chain manner. In this article we will configure two 5130-24G-4SFP+ (JG932A) switches as a single IRF stack. The topology of our stack is shown below:

The green links shown above are 10GbE connections.

Basic Concepts.

Below is a (very) short introduction to some of the concepts behind IRF technology. Please, read it, so you can understand why we make certain configuration changes on the switches.

IRF Member ID.

IRF Member ID is a unique ID that identifies a stack member. All switches in a stack should have different Member ID if we want them to form an IRF fabric. Default Member ID is 1. We will change Member ID of one of the switches.

IRF Member Priority.

Member priority is used to determine which switch will be selected as a master in our IRF stack. The switch with the higher priority will be elected the master. The default priority is 1.

IRF Port.

IRF Port is a logical interface on a switch used for communication with other stack members, and it should have at least one physical interface assigned to it. We can assign/bind several interfaces to an IRF port which will automatically become an aggregate link.


Step 1. Configure IRF-SW1 (master)

Go to Switch 1 which we want to be a master and assign it a priority 32 (the default priority is 1) . The following commands will do this:

irf member 1 priority 32

You can then verify the settings on Switch 1 using display irf command:

You can see from the output that Member ID is 1 and Priority is 32

Step 2. Configure IRF Port on IRF-SW1

Now let’s create and configure our IRF port on Switch 1 which is required for IRF operation. We will create logical irf-port 1/1 and assign physical ports Ten-GigabitEthernet1/0/27 and Ten-GigabitEthernet1/0/28 to it. We should shutdown the physical interfaces before we can assign them to an IRF port. Below are the commands:

interface Ten-GigabitEthernet 1/0/27

interface Ten-GigabitEthernet 1/0/28

irf-port 1/1
port group interface Ten-GigabitEthernet1/0/27
port group interface Ten-GigabitEthernet1/0/28

Once you have added the physical ports to an IRF port you will see a message on the console, saying that you have to save your config and activate it using irf-port-configuration active command. Before doing this we will bring up our physical interfaces:

interface Ten-GigabitEthernet 1/0/27
undo shutdown

interface Ten-GigabitEthernet 1/0/28
undo shutdown

irf-port-configuration active

You can run display current-configuration and display irf configuration to verify the settings:


Step 3. Configure IRF-SW2 (slave)

Now let’s configure the Switch 2. The first thing we need to do is change its Member ID to 2, so it does not conflict with Switch 1. This will require a reboot. Run the following commands:

irf member 1 renumber 2
You can run display irf command after reboot to make sure the new Member ID is in place:

Step 4. Configure IRF Port on IRF-SW2

Now we need to configure IRF port on Switch 2 and assign physical ports to it. We will create irf-port 2/2 and assign ports Ten-GigabitEthernet2/0/27 and Ten-GigabitEthernet2/0/28 to it. Note that all interface numbers now start with 2, because we have changed the Member ID of the switch.

Again, shutdown the interfaces before adding them to IRF port:

interface Ten-GigabitEthernet 2/0/27

interface Ten-GigabitEthernet 2/0/28

irf-port 2/2
port group interface Ten-GigabitEthernet2/0/27
port group interface Ten-GigabitEthernet2/0/28
The display current-configuration for the Switch 2 is shown below:

Now we can enable the interfaces and activate the IRF configuration:

interface Ten-GigabitEthernet 2/0/27
undo shutdown

interface Ten-GigabitEthernet 2/0/28
undo shutdown

irf-port-configuration active

Once you activate the IRF configuration, the Switch 2 will detect the Switch 1 and reboot. Note that Switch 2 will lose its current configuration, because it will become a member of a stack. Switch 1 will continue to operate, because it is a master.

Step 5. Verification

After Switch 2 boots up they will operate as a single logical unit. The display irf command confirms this:

As you can see, now we have a fully working IRF stack consisting of two HPE 5130 switches.


For further reading on IRF configuration you can have a look at this official guide from HP:

Thank you for reading 🙂

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