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Troubleshooting VPN issues on ASR - where to start.


Disclaimer: This is a work in progress and may contain mistakes/typos. Corrections will be added as feedback is received.

1. About this document.

This document will attempt to give a bird's eye view on troubleshooting ASR 1000 VPN issues.

It contains what you can collect before opening a TAC case to troubleshoot VPN problems on ASR1k, which will speed up time to resolution.


2. Agenda.

In this document we will discuss data and control plane aspects.


This document is not intended to explain architecture or performance considerations, but rather to provide tips on narrowing down the problem.

If you're interested in information about VPN performance or throughput of devices please go to:

3. Control plane.


Control plane is everything that is related to establishing, keeping up and tearing down the actual IPsec tunnel.


ASR, at a certain level, is using same IKE (v1 and v2) implementation as all other routers in our portfolio.

It's a bit different due to the way it interacts with architecture of the device.


For the most part the usual IKE debugs are the same and are helpful

debug crypto isakmp

debug crypto ipsec

debug crypto kmi

! And for getvpn

debug crypto gdoi


Same "show" commands apply.

show crypto isa sa

show crypto ipsec sa

show crypto map

! And for getvpn

show crypto gdoi

However what you need to be aware of is that show commands counters, especially the ones showing forwarding (show crypto ipsec sa for example) are not read in real time from data plane. Those counters are either not refreshed or refreshed periodically.


Part of control plane mechanism programing the data plane is POLO (as in POlicy LOader) and IKEA (IKE-A, not the furniture manufacturer).

Debugging and show commands for policy loader and IKEA are hidden and are to be enabled by TAC or development.



4 Data plane.


Data plane is everything related to forwarding. The tunnel is already up and we want to send packets trough the tunnel.


The data plane on ASR1k is created to provide fast throughput and neatly divided, however in many cases similar to other platforms.

Following components are used (high level, does not fully reflect actual architecture)

Nitrox hardware chips. Which receive packets for encryption from ->

-> QPF and ESP (ASR's data plane and switching processor), which in turn is being programmed by ->

-> IOSd/RP/CPU/control plane (multiple names exists used in different contexts)


4.1 QFP statistics.


4.1.1 General information about packet drop on QFP


If you're suspecting problem on data plane (i.e. with passing traffic through the box) the first step you need to do is collect drop statistics from the dataplane:


ASR#show plat hard qfp act stat drop [clear]
------------------------------------------------------------------------- Global Drop Stats                         Packets                  Octets  ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Icmp                                            1                      58  IpFormatErr                                     2                     699  IpTtlExceeded                                8238                  600162  IpsecTailDrop                               36135                 4051194  Ipv4NoAdj                                     813                   55131  Ipv4NoRoute                                 12637                 2031706  Ipv4Null0                                     309                   32063  TailDrop                                  1168859              1569972556  TcpBadfrag                                    122                    7808  UnconfiguredIpv4Fia                         15708                 1461622


In this particular case, by executing the command a few times in a row you will find that IpsecTailDrop and TailDrop are increasing. Which means there is a queue overflowing.


Let's have a look at another case:

ASR#sh plat hard qfp act stat drop | e _0_
Global Drop Stats                         Octets         Packets
  IpsecInput                          38848546           29749


What you are looking most of the time in case of IPsec packet drop is anything containing phrase "Ipsec".


4.1.2 IPsec drops


If you're trying to understand drops specific to ipsec feature you should investigate following output )

ASR#sh pl ha qf ac fe ipsec data drop [clear]------------------------------------------------------------------------
Drop Type  Name                                     Packets             
       30  IN_V4_POST_INPUT_POLICY_FAIL                                8


What we get from above output is how many packets were dropped (8) and with what reason.

Unfortunately there is no comprehensive guide with drop reasons, but TAC engineers very often leave notes about drop reasons inside bug notes.

It's a good method to start, but not always 100% accurate.

So I've done following test. I took the drop type and put it into Cisco Bug toolkit's search engine and found a bug.


Cisco bug toolkit is available at:


How I searched (image)

Screen shot 2011-04-21 at 2.19.24 PM.png

And here is the reult I got (image)

Screen shot 2011-04-21 at 2.16.53 PM.png

4.1.3 Aggregate interface drops.


Following command will show you aggregate per-interface drops count:


ASR#show platform hardware qfp active interface all statistics drop_summary [clear_drop] [detail]
---------------------------------------------------------------- Drop Stats Summary: note: 1) these drop stats are only updated when PAL          reads the interface stats.       2) the interface stats include the subinterface Interface                                       Rx Pkts             Tx Pkts --------------------------------------------------------------------------- GigabitEthernet0/0/0                                352                   0 Tunnel1                                              17                   0


4.2 Hardware accelerator.

As with every interface the connection between QFP and nitrox chip can be polled for information.


By now you probably have seen that accelerator in ASR behaves a bit differently than on other platforms:


ASR#show cry eli
Hardware Encryption : ACTIVE
Number of hardware crypto engines = 1

CryptoEngine ASR1000-ESP(14) details: state = Active
Capability      : DES, 3DES, AES, RSA, IPv6, GDOI, FAILCLOSE

IKE-Session   :     0 active,  9999 max, 0 failed
DH            :     0 active,  9999 max, 0 failed
IPSec-Session :     0 active, 19998 max, 0 failed


ASR#sh cry engine configuration

        crypto engine name:  Cisco VPN Software Implementation
        crypto engine type:  software
             serial number:  A7F94089
       crypto engine state:  installed
     crypto engine in slot:  N/A
                  platform:  Cisco Software Crypto Engine
        crypto lib version:  20.0.0


You can have a look at following output, which should give you information about interface between nitrox and QFP

ASR#show plat hard qfp act infrastructure bqs queue output default interface internal0/0/crypto:0

What you're interested here is to see whether "tail drops" (too many packets in buffer) and "total enqs" (emount of packets sent to crypto interface) are increasing.


You can also try to understand the statistics of accelerator itself by doing:

ASR#  show plat soft ipsec fp act encryption-processor stati

or (depending on version)

ASR#sho plat hardware  crypto-device statistics

However, those commands will be typically taken by TAC and interpreted by development.


Let's have a look at a example:


ASR#show plat soft ipsec fp act encryption-processor stati 
Forwarding Manager Encryption-processor Statistics

(P) - # of packets; (B) - # of bytes

STX1 enabled
ENABLED_CORES    : 0x000007
OK SPI1 RX(P)    :              2304818, OK SPI1 RX(B)    :           1539969323
ERR SPI1 RX(P)   :                    0
DROP SPI1 RX(P)  :                    0, DROP SPI1 RX(B)  :                    0
OK PCI RX(P)     :              3270661, OK PCI RX(B)     :            234547278
PROCESSED(P)     :              5575454, PROCESSED(B)     :           9057469179
ENCRYPTED(P)     :              1176591, ENCRYPTED(B)     :            818667979
DECRYPTED(P)     :              1128203, DECRYPTED(B)     :            702855736
GEN. PURPOSE(P)  :              3270661, GEN. PURPOSE(B)  :            208381990
PASS-THR(P)      :                    0, DECR PASS-THR(P) :                    0
SPI1 TX(P)       :              2304620, SPI1 TX(B)       :           1543946214
L2/3 DROPPED(P)  :                    0
FWD ERR DOS(P)   :                    0, FWD ERR N-DOS(P) :                    0
POM_COUNT        :                  198
POM_ROBQ_EMPTY   : 0xffffffff
POM_INQ_EMPTY    : 0xffffffff
POM_TX1_OUTQ_EMPTY : 0x01ffff
MEM_MBE          :        0
MEM_SBE          :        0


The key information to take from this output is:

1) Are there cores available to process traffic?

2) Is the engine actually encrypting and decrypting traffic.

(The relevant parts are in bold)



Further reading:

ASR product page:

ASR 3S configuration guide for VPNs:


Leave a comment.

Cisco Employee

Excellent document. I just forwared it to my cust.


thanks for the document. good one