iRules IP Comparison Considerations with IP::addr Command

Anyone utilizing IP network comparisons in iRules is probably familiar with this syntax:

if { [IP::addr [IP::client_addr]/24 equals] } {
    # Do this

In fact, there are several methods for doing a comparison.  Here are three functional equivalents that include the most common form shown above:

[IP::addr [IP::remote_addr]/24 equals]
[IP::addr [IP::remote_addr]/ equals]
[IP::addr "[IP::remote_addr] mask" equals]

All three work, returning true if there is match and false if not.  These formats, however, are not as ideal as it was never intended to work this way.  What occurs when performing the comparison this way is the system has to convert the internal IP address to string form, apply the network mask, then re-convert the result back into an IP network object for comparison to the last argument.  While possible, it isn’t as efficient and technically is an oversight in the syntax validation checking.  It’s not slated to be “fixed” at this point, but it could be in the future, so you should consider updating any iRules to one of these formats:

[IP::addr [IP::remote_addr] equals]
[IP::addr [IP::remote_addr] equals]
[IP::addr [IP::remote_addr] equals " mask"]

In these formats, the input address does not need to be masked and can be directly compared with the pre-parsed network specification.  Finally, there is one more format that works:

[IP::addr [IP::addr [IP::remote_addr] mask] equals]

This also doesn’t require any additional conversion, but the sheer volume of commands in that statement is an immediate indicator (to me, anyway) that it’s probably not very efficient.


Before running each format through a simple test (ab –n 10000 –c 25 http://<vip>), I set up a control so I could isolate the cycles for each format:

when HTTP_REQUEST timing on {
### CONTROL ###
  if { 1 } { }

Since all the formats will return true if the match is found, then subtracting out the average cycles from this iRule should give me a pretty accurate accounting of cycles required for each specific format.  So I can replace the “1” from the conditional with each format, as shown in this iRule:

when HTTP_REQUEST timing on {
#    Format #1 Cycles: 6839 - 1136 = 5703
#    if { [IP::addr [IP::remote_addr] equals] } { }
#    Format #2 Cycles: 6903 - 1136 = 5767
#    if { [IP::addr [IP::remote_addr] equals] } { }
#    Format #3 Cycles: 7290 - 1136 = 6154
#    if { [IP::addr [IP::remote_addr] equals " mask"] } { }    
#    Format #4 Cycles: 8500 - 1136 = 7364
#    if { [IP::addr [IP::remote_addr]/24 equals] } { }
#    Format #5 Cycles: 8543 - 1136 = 7407
#    if { [IP::addr [IP::remote_addr]/ equals] } { }
#    Format #6 Cycles: 8827 - 1136 = 7691
#    if { [IP::addr "[IP::remote_addr] mask" equals] } { }
#    Format #7 Cycles: 9124 - 1136 = 7988
#    if { [IP::addr [IP::addr [IP::remote_addr] mask] equals]    } { }
### CONTROL ###
# Cycles: 1136
#  if { 1 } { }

You can see from the average cycles data I added to each of the formats comments above that the recommended formats are all faster than the formats that are not recommended.  What’s interesting is the subtle differences in the “/” formats within each group of functional equivalents and then the significant outliers that the “<net> mask <mask>” formats are within their group.  Also of note is that the last format, while acceptable, is really inefficient and should probably be avoided.  The table below breaks down the increase in cycles for each of the formats compared to the best performer: [IP::addr [IP::remote_addr] equals].

Whereas the number of cycles required to execute this operation are all quite small, the difference beyond the first two similar formats is quite significant.


Many ways to skin a cat, some good, some not so good.  Just to be clear, using the mask on the initial argument of the comparison should be avoided, and if you currently have iRules utilizing this format, it would be best to update them sooner rather than later.  I’ll be doing the same on all the DevCentral wikis, forums, articles, and blogs.  If you find some references where we haven’t made this distinction, please comment below.

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Published Apr 01, 2011
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  • Perfect! I was looking for something like this with APM for Citrix to get around one of the data class requirements in the initial APM Citrix deployment guides.
  • ¿sure this format. "[IP::addr [IP::remote_addr] equals]" works in v.10.2.1 HF3?


    During migration I had an iRule with this format, and that didn't work until we change all IP address comparations to format "[IP::addr [IP::remote_addr]/24 equals]".
  • Just in case you need to do this in a non default route domain(anything other than 0), you will need to evaluate the IP with something like this: [IP::addr [getfield [IP::client_addr] "%" 1] equals]