A key concept about spanning tree protocols on the BIG-IP®
system is the concept of protocol degradation.
occurs when the spanning tree mode on the BIG-IP system is set to MSTP or RSTP, but the system detects legacy bridges (that is, bridges running an older protocol type) on the network. In this case, the BIG-IP system automatically degrades the spanning tree protocol that is running on each applicable interface to match the protocol running on the legacy device.
For example, suppose you set the BIG-IP system to run in MSTP mode. Later, if a bridge running STP is added to the network, the BIG-IP system will detect the legacy device and automatically degrade the protocol running on the BIG-IP system interfaces from MSTP to STP. The mode is still set to MSTP, but the interfaces actually run STP.
If the legacy device is later removed from the network, you can choose, for each BIG-IP system interface, to manually reset the spanning tree protocol back to MSTP.
The basic principle of protocol degradation is that each BIG-IP system interface in a spanning tree runs the oldest protocol that the system detects on the Layer 2 devices of the network. Thus, if a legacy bridge running STP is added to the network, BIG-IP system interfaces running MSTP or RSTP degrade to STP. Similarly, if a legacy bridge is running RSTP (and no bridges are running STP), interfaces running MSTP degrade to RSTP.
Note that when a bridge running MSTP must degrade to RSTP, the spanning tree algorithm automatically puts the degraded bridge into a separate MSTP region.