Spanning tree melt down ?

Simon Lyall simon.lyall at
Thu Nov 28 18:13:50 UTC 2002

On Thu, 28 Nov 2002, Garrett Allen wrote:
> speculating on cause and effect, my first bet would that someone turned off
> spanning tree on a trunk or trunks immediately prior to the flood.  my next
> bet would be a babbling device - i've seen an unauthorized hub on a flat
> layer 2 net basically shut the network down.  it was after a power hit.
> when we found the buggar and power cycled it, all was well.  i don't think
> that the researcher was the culprit.  more likely the victim.

This article had some more information:

This slashdot article also seems to have some details:

Text as follows:

 I contacted Dr. John D. Halamka to see if he could provide more detail on
the network outage. Dr. Halamka is the chief information officer for
CareGroup Health System, the parent company of the Beth Israel Deaconess
medical center. His reply is as follows: "Here's the technical explanation
for you. When TAC was first able to access and assess the network, we
found the Layer 2 structure of the network to be unstable and out of
specification with 802.1d standards. The management vlan (vlan 1) had in
some locations 10 Layer2 hops from root. The conservative default values
for the Spanning Tree Protocol (STP) impose a maximum network diameter of
seven. This means that two distinct bridges in the network should not be
more than seven hops away from one to the other. Part of this restriction
is coming from the age field Bridge Protocol Data Unit (BPDU) carry: when
a BPDU is propagated from the root bridge towards the leaves of the tree,
the age field is incremented each time it goes though a bridge.
Eventually, when the age field of a BPDU goes beyond max age, it is
discarded. Typically, this will occur if the root is too far away from
some bridges of the network. This issue will impact convergence of the
spanning tree. A major contributor to this STP issue was the PACS network
and its connection to the CareGroup network. To eliminate its influence on
the Care Group network we isolated it with a Layer 3 boundary. All
redundancy in the network was removed to ensure no STP loops were
possible. Full connectivity was restored to remote devices and networks
that were disconnected in troubleshooting efforts prior to TACs
involvement. Redundancy was returned between the core campus devices.
Spanning Tree was stabilized and localized issues were pursued. Thanks for
your support. CIO Magazine will devote the February issue to this event
and Harvard Business School is doing a case study."

Simon Lyall.                |  Newsmaster  | Work: simon.lyall at
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