in IOS (not on XR!!), you will create the neighbor under the BGP process. If you don't set the "no bgp default ipv4-unicast", all the neighbors are going to have the ipv4 AFI activated as default.
When you issue (under router bgp xxx) the command "address-family vpnv4", first, you're enabling the vpnv4 AFI in the local bgp process. If inside that AFI, you issue "neighbor 22.214.171.124 activate", you're enabling vpnv4 AFI for that neighbor too! so the neighbor is going to be reset, and it will negotiate the AFI.
There are multiple options available when you configure BGP on cisco routers.
(config-router)#address-family ? ipv4 Address family ipv6 Address family nsap Address family vpnv4 Address family
More options on new codes---
IPV4 is for V4 address,IPv6 for V6 address and VPN4 is to carry VPN routes when using MPLS. This is basically gives you more options to manage bgp configuration. By default all the neighbors under address family are disabled hence activate command is required.
You can define yours neighbors under normal BGP process with no bgp default ipv4-unicast which will disable default behavior of IOS to exchange IPV4 routes and later on you can activate that neighbor in address family you want to use for route exchange.
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