Configure packet capture for VPN gateways

Connectivity and performance-related problems are often complex. It can take significant time and effort just to narrow down the cause of the problem. Packet capture can help you narrow down the scope of a problem to certain parts of the network. It can help you determine whether the problem is on the customer side of the network, the Azure side of the network, or somewhere in between. After you narrow down the problem, it's more efficient to debug and take remedial action.

There are some commonly available packet capture tools. Getting relevant packet captures with these tools can be cumbersome, especially in high-volume traffic scenarios. The filtering capabilities provided by Azure VPN Gateway packet capture are a major differentiator. You can use VPN Gateway packet capture together with commonly available packet capture tools.

VPN Gateway packet capture filtering capabilities

You can run VPN Gateway packet capture on the gateway or on a specific connection, depending on your needs. You can also run packet capture on multiple tunnels at the same time. You can capture one-way or bi-directional traffic, IKE and ESP traffic, and inner packets along with filtering on a VPN gateway.

It's helpful to use a five-tuple filter (source subnet, destination subnet, source port, destination port, protocol) and TCP flags (SYN, ACK, FIN, URG, PSH, RST) when you're isolating problems in high-volume traffic.

The following examples of JSON and a JSON schema provide explanations of each property. Here are some limitations to keep in mind when you run packet captures:

  • In the schema shown here, the filter is an array, but currently only one filter can be used at a time.
  • You can't run multiple gateway-wide packet captures at the same time.
  • You can't run multiple packet captures on a single connection at the same time. You can run multiple packet captures on different connections at the same time.
  • A maximum of five packet captures can be run in parallel per gateway. These packet captures can be a combination of gateway-wide packet captures and per-connection packet captures.
  • The unit for MaxPacketBufferSize is bytes and MaxFileSize is megabytes

Example JSON

{
  "TracingFlags": 11,
  "MaxPacketBufferSize": 120,
  "MaxFileSize": 200,
  "Filters": [
    {
      "SourceSubnets": [
        "20.1.1.0/24"
      ],
      "DestinationSubnets": [
        "10.1.1.0/24"
      ],
      "SourcePort": [
        500
      ],
      "DestinationPort": [
        4500
      ],
      "Protocol": [
        6
      ],
      "TcpFlags": 16,
      "CaptureSingleDirectionTrafficOnly": true
    }
  ]
}

JSON schema

{
    "type": "object",
    "title": "The Root Schema",
    "description": "The root schema input JSON filter for packet capture",
    "default": {},
    "additionalProperties": true,
    "required": [
        "TracingFlags",
        "MaxPacketBufferSize",
        "MaxFileSize",
        "Filters"
    ],
    "properties": {
        "TracingFlags": {
            "$id": "#/properties/TracingFlags",
            "type": "integer",
            "title": "The Tracingflags Schema",
            "description": "Tracing flags that customer can pass to define which packets are to be captured. Supported values are CaptureESP = 1, CaptureIKE = 2, CaptureOVPN = 8. The final value is OR of the bits.",
            "default": 11,
            "examples": [
                11
            ]
        },
        "MaxPacketBufferSize": {
            "$id": "#/properties/MaxPacketBufferSize",
            "type": "integer",
            "title": "The Maxpacketbuffersize Schema",
            "description": "Maximum buffer size of each packet. The capture will only contain contents of each packet truncated to this size.",
            "default": 120,
            "examples": [
                120
            ]
        },
        "MaxFileSize": {
            "$id": "#/properties/MaxFileSize",
            "type": "integer",
            "title": "The Maxfilesize Schema",
            "description": "Maximum file size of the packet capture file. It is a circular buffer.",
            "default": 100,
            "examples": [
                100
            ]
        },
        "Filters": {
            "$id": "#/properties/Filters",
            "type": "array",
            "title": "The Filters Schema",
            "description": "An array of filters that can be passed to filter inner ESP traffic.",
            "default": [],
            "examples": [
                [
                    {
                        "Protocol": [
                            6
                        ],
                        "CaptureSingleDirectionTrafficOnly": true,
                        "SourcePort": [
                            500
                        ],
                        "DestinationPort": [
                            4500
                        ],
                        "TcpFlags": 16,
                        "SourceSubnets": [
                            "20.1.1.0/24"
                        ],
                        "DestinationSubnets": [
                            "10.1.1.0/24"
                        ]
                    }
                ]
            ],
            "additionalItems": true,
            "items": {
                "$id": "#/properties/Filters/items",
                "type": "object",
                "title": "The Items Schema",
                "description": "An explanation about the purpose of this instance.",
                "default": {},
                "examples": [
                    {
                        "SourcePort": [
                            500
                        ],
                        "DestinationPort": [
                            4500
                        ],
                        "TcpFlags": 16,
                        "SourceSubnets": [
                            "20.1.1.0/24"
                        ],
                        "DestinationSubnets": [
                            "10.1.1.0/24"
                        ],
                        "Protocol": [
                            6
                        ],
                        "CaptureSingleDirectionTrafficOnly": true
                    }
                ],
                "additionalProperties": true,
                "required": [
                    "SourceSubnets",
                    "DestinationSubnets",
                    "SourcePort",
                    "DestinationPort",
                    "Protocol",
                    "TcpFlags",
                    "CaptureSingleDirectionTrafficOnly"
                ],
                "properties": {
                    "SourceSubnets": {
                        "$id": "#/properties/Filters/items/properties/SourceSubnets",
                        "type": "array",
                        "title": "The Sourcesubnets Schema",
                        "description": "An array of source subnets that need to match the Source IP address of a packet. Packet can match any one value in the array of inputs.",
                        "default": [],
                        "examples": [
                            [
                                "20.1.1.0/24"
                            ]
                        ],
                        "additionalItems": true,
                        "items": {
                            "$id": "#/properties/Filters/items/properties/SourceSubnets/items",
                            "type": "string",
                            "title": "The Items Schema",
                            "description": "An explanation about the purpose of this instance.",
                            "default": "",
                            "examples": [
                                "20.1.1.0/24"
                            ]
                        }
                    },
                    "DestinationSubnets": {
                        "$id": "#/properties/Filters/items/properties/DestinationSubnets",
                        "type": "array",
                        "title": "The Destinationsubnets Schema",
                        "description": "An array of destination subnets that need to match the Destination IP address of a packet. Packet can match any one value in the array of inputs.",
                        "default": [],
                        "examples": [
                            [
                                "10.1.1.0/24"
                            ]
                        ],
                        "additionalItems": true,
                        "items": {
                            "$id": "#/properties/Filters/items/properties/DestinationSubnets/items",
                            "type": "string",
                            "title": "The Items Schema",
                            "description": "An explanation about the purpose of this instance.",
                            "default": "",
                            "examples": [
                                "10.1.1.0/24"
                            ]
                        }
                    },
                    "SourcePort": {
                        "$id": "#/properties/Filters/items/properties/SourcePort",
                        "type": "array",
                        "title": "The Sourceport Schema",
                        "description": "An array of source ports that need to match the Source port of a packet. Packet can match any one value in the array of inputs.",
                        "default": [],
                        "examples": [
                            [
                                500
                            ]
                        ],
                        "additionalItems": true,
                        "items": {
                            "$id": "#/properties/Filters/items/properties/SourcePort/items",
                            "type": "integer",
                            "title": "The Items Schema",
                            "description": "An explanation about the purpose of this instance.",
                            "default": 0,
                            "examples": [
                                500
                            ]
                        }
                    },
                    "DestinationPort": {
                        "$id": "#/properties/Filters/items/properties/DestinationPort",
                        "type": "array",
                        "title": "The Destinationport Schema",
                        "description": "An array of destination ports that need to match the Destination port of a packet. Packet can match any one value in the array of inputs.",
                        "default": [],
                        "examples": [
                            [
                                4500
                            ]
                        ],
                        "additionalItems": true,
                        "items": {
                            "$id": "#/properties/Filters/items/properties/DestinationPort/items",
                            "type": "integer",
                            "title": "The Items Schema",
                            "description": "An explanation about the purpose of this instance.",
                            "default": 0,
                            "examples": [
                                4500
                            ]
                        }
                    },
                    "Protocol": {
                        "$id": "#/properties/Filters/items/properties/Protocol",
                        "type": "array",
                        "title": "The Protocol Schema",
                        "description": "An array of protocols that need to match the Protocol of a packet. Packet can match any one value in the array of inputs.",
                        "default": [],
                        "examples": [
                            [
                                6
                            ]
                        ],
                        "additionalItems": true,
                        "items": {
                            "$id": "#/properties/Filters/items/properties/Protocol/items",
                            "type": "integer",
                            "title": "The Items Schema",
                            "description": "An explanation about the purpose of this instance.",
                            "default": 0,
                            "examples": [
                                6
                            ]
                        }
                    },
                    "TcpFlags": {
                        "$id": "#/properties/Filters/items/properties/TcpFlags",
                        "type": "integer",
                        "title": "The Tcpflags Schema",
                        "description": "A list of TCP flags. The TCP flags set on the packet must match any flag in the list of flags provided. FIN = 0x01,SYN = 0x02,RST = 0x04,PSH = 0x08,ACK = 0x10,URG = 0x20,ECE = 0x40,CWR = 0x80. An OR of flags can be provided.",
                        "default": 0,
                        "examples": [
                            16
                        ]
                    },
                    "CaptureSingleDirectionTrafficOnly": {
                        "$id": "#/properties/Filters/items/properties/CaptureSingleDirectionTrafficOnly",
                        "type": "boolean",
                        "title": "The Capturesingledirectiontrafficonly Schema",
                        "description": "A flags which when set captures reverse traffic also.",
                        "default": false,
                        "examples": [
                            true
                        ]
                    }
                }
            }
        }
    }
}

Packet capture - portal

You can set up packet capture in the Azure portal.

Screenshot of packet capture in the portal.

Packet capture - PowerShell

The following examples show PowerShell commands that start and stop packet captures. For more information on parameter options, see Start-AzVirtualnetworkGatewayPacketCapture.

Prerequisite

Start packet capture for a VPN gateway

Start-AzVirtualnetworkGatewayPacketCapture -ResourceGroupName "YourResourceGroupName" -Name "YourVPNGatewayName"

You can use the optional parameter -FilterData to apply a filter.

Stop packet capture for a VPN gateway

Stop-AzVirtualNetworkGatewayPacketCapture -ResourceGroupName "YourResourceGroupName" -Name "YourVPNGatewayName" -SasUrl "YourSASURL"

For more information on parameter options, see Stop-AzVirtualNetworkGatewayPacketCapture.

Start packet capture for a VPN gateway connection

Start-AzVirtualNetworkGatewayConnectionPacketCapture -ResourceGroupName "YourResourceGroupName" -Name "YourVPNGatewayConnectionName"

You can use the optional parameter -FilterData to apply a filter.

Stop packet capture on a VPN gateway connection

Stop-AzVirtualNetworkGatewayConnectionPacketCapture -ResourceGroupName "YourResourceGroupName" -Name "YourVPNGatewayConnectionName" -SasUrl "YourSASURL"

For more information on parameter options, see Stop-AzVirtualNetworkGatewayConnectionPacketCapture.

Key considerations

  • Running packet capture can affect performance. Remember to stop the packet capture when you don't need it.
  • Suggested minimum packet capture duration is 600 seconds. Because of sync issues among multiple components on the path, shorter packet captures might not provide complete data.
  • Packet capture data files are generated in PCAP format. Use Wireshark or other commonly available applications to open PCAP files.
  • Packet captures aren't supported on policy-based gateways.
  • If the SASurl parameter isn't configured correctly, the trace might fail with Storage errors. For examples of how to correctly generate an SASurl parameter, see Stop-AzVirtualNetworkGatewayPacketCapture.

Next steps

For more information about VPN Gateway, see What is VPN Gateway?.