What is IGMP Querying and IGMP Snooping and why would I need it on my network?

IGMP is a network layer (Layer 3) protocol used to establish membership in a Multicast group and can register a router to receive specific Multicast traffic. (Refer to RFC 1112 and RFC 2236 for information on IGMP versions 1 and 2.)

Multicast aware switches are slowly making their way into the network cores for businesses and universities that have heavy traffic to move through their networks. Multicast filtering is achieved by dynamic group control management. By default, all Multicast traffic should be blocked until requested by a Multicast group member. (Default behavior depends on switch manufacturer.) The master of the IGMP filter lists is the router or switch that is configured to act as the IGMP Querier. The responsibility of the Querier is to send out IGMP group membership queries on a timed interval, to retrieve IGMP membership reports from active members, and to allow updating of the group membership tables.

A Layer 2 switch supporting IGMP Snooping can passively snoop on IGMP Query, Report, and Leave (IGMP version 2) packets transferred between IP Multicast routers/switches and IP Multicast hosts to determine the IP Multicast group membership. IGMP snooping checks IGMP packets passing through the network, picks out the group registration, and configures Multicasting accordingly.

Without IGMP Querying/Snooping, Multicast traffic is treated in the same manner as a Broadcast transmission, which forwards packets to all ports on the network. With IGMP Querying/Snooping, Multicast traffic is only forwarded to ports that are members of that Multicast group. IGMP Snooping generates no additional network traffic, which significantly reduces the Multicast traffic passing through your switch.

If your network distribution core does not support IGMP Querying/Snooping, the AVN streams will still function as designed but your network may be subjected to high traffic loads and condensed collision domain due to the broadcasting action used by the older switch or hub. If this is the case, you may wish to isolate the streaming nodes within the network so that the streams may be viewed without crossing the normal network traffic along its path.

Otherwise, for a general performance improvement, you may consider upgrading your network core to a switch that is Multicast aware.