US Region

Grandmetric LLC
Lewes DE 19958
16192 Coastal Hwy USA
EIN: 98-1615498
+1 302 691 94 10

EMEA Region

ul. Metalowa 5, 60-118 Poznań, Poland
NIP 7792433527
+48 61 271 04 43


Grandmetric LTD
Office 584b
182-184 High Street North
E6 2JA
+44 20 3321 5276

  • en
  • pl
  • Router on a stick approach – Cisco configuration

    Design & Configure

    Router on a stick approach – Cisco configuration

    A router on a stick is one of the ways to allow routing between VLANs. That kind of a setup consists of a router and a switch connected through one Ethernet link configured as an 802.1q trunk link. Such a configuration is typical in networks where no layer-3 switch exists. But first, let’s find out why it is so.


    When configuring new VLANs on switch ports, we split the broadcast domain in which it was placed into smaller VLAN-limited sections. The basic switch can not route packets between broadcast domains. It is well known that the router is a device that routes packets and separates broadcast domains.

    A layer 3 OSI model solution is, therefore, required to allow communication between devices from different VLANs. One example is a router on a stick (which we’ll cover in this material), but there are also solutions such as SVI (virtual switch interface) or one router interface per VLAN.

    The sub-interface is a key feature of the router on a stick. It is configured for each network on the router.

    Sub-interfaces are the logical elements of a physical interface. Thanks to this approach it is not necessary to use N physical interfaces of the router on N VLANs. Instead, there is a trunk link between a switch and a router, so marked packets go to the router. After that, the router removes the labels and previews the routing table.

    It is essential to set up 802.1Q encapsulation on each sub-interface and corresponding VLAN tag as well because after matching the entry, the packet is encapsulated according to the method configured on the output interface. 

    A router on a stick configuration

    Suppose we have a network of two computers in different VLANs. We have VLAN 10 and VLAN 20. To enable communication between PC1 from VLAN 10 and PC2 from VLAN 20, we can use a router on a  stick approach. The topology is as follows:

    Router-on-a-stick topology

    Let’s start by configuring the port connecting the switch to the router. Remember that the connection between the router and the switch must be set via the trunk link:

    Switch#configure terminal
    Switch(config)#int Fa0/1
    Switch(config-if)#switchport mode trunk
    Switch(config-if)#switchport trunk encapsulation dot1q
    Switch(config-if)#spanning-tree portfast trunk

    Then, let’s create the required VLANs and configure the access ports for DTE:

    Switch#configure terminal
    Switch(config)#vlan 10
    Switch(config)#vlan 20
    Switch(config)#int Fa0/2
    Switch(config-if)switchport mode access
    Switch(config-if)#switchport access vlan 10
    Switch(config)#int Fa0/3
    Switch(config-if)#switchport mode access
    Switch(config-if)#switchport access vlan 20

    In the end, we start our router configuration by setting sub-interfaces. On the port connecting the router with the switch, we configure sub-interfaces for each VLAN.

    We also set 802.1Q encapsulation with VLAN number to which the sub-interface will belong. Sub-interfaces are the logical instance of the physical port Gig0/0 (in this case). The IP address is then assigned from the pool for the specific VLAN.

    Router(config)#interface GigabitEthernet0/0.1
    Router(config-subif)#encapsulation dot1q 10
    Router(config-subif)#ip address
    Router(config-subif)#interface GigabitEthernet0/0.2
    Router(config-subif)#encapsulation dot1q 20
    Router(config-subif)#ip address
    Router(config-subif)#int Gig0/0
    Router(config-if)#no shutdown


    Author: Karol Piatek