Multiple Spanning Protocol is IEEE 802.1w standard protocol which provides multiple forwarding path for data traffic. It provides the load balancing and also reduces the number of spanning tree instance in STP topology.
It reduces the number of spanning tree instance because it maps more than two VLANS in a spanning tree instance. MST is not default STP mode rather RSTP is default STP mode in Nexus 7000 Series Switches.
MST instance with same region name, revision number and same VLAN to instance mapping form a MST region. From outside MST region looks like a single bridge. As multiple VLANs are mapped to single instance, MST produces one BPDU per instance and due to this feature, number of BPDU decreases considerably in layer 2 domain unlike RSTP where it produces one BPDU per VLAN.
MST also have backward interoperability with previous version of STP.
- 802.1D STP
- Rapid PVST+
When a set of devices configured with same MST configuration forms the MST region. This configuration includes same region name, revision number and same VLAN to instance mapping. Member of region must be capable of processing the 802.1w BPDU.
As per today, there is no limit of MST region in network however each device can only support 65 instance only including instance 0 in a single MST region.
Instance are identified by any numerical number between 1 to 4094 and a VLAN can be a member of one instance at time.
To another MST region, RSTP or 802.1D STP, MST region appears as single bridge to them.