Worth Watching: Rethinking BGP in the Data Center

Ever since draft-lapukhov was first published almost a decade ago, we all knew BGP was the only routing protocol suitable for data center networking… or at least Thought Leaders and vendor marketers seem to be of that persuasion.

Russ White1 argued2 that’s not the case, dived deep into what the true requirements are, and showed how link-state protocols do a better job if only we fix the flooding behavior3.

In the meantime, while many hyperscalers moved beyond BGP-as-the-only-tool mantra, all major data center switching vendors keep promoting EBGP-over-EBGP or IBGP-over-EBGP EVPN designs, proving yet again how the whole networking industry behaves like fashion designers on a lemming run chasing the latest fad.

Revision History

Reworded the snarky footnote because (A) it wasn’t exactly obvious who I had in mind and (B) because Trish vociferously insisted on making it gender-neutral.

This is the last change to the blog post, and I won’t reply to the comments any longer – I have better things to do in my life.

  1. Contrary to the ladies and gentlemen (most of them belonging to the above-mentioned groups) who vocally opine that “BGP is the answer” without even understanding what the question was, Russ has real-life design and operations experience. ↩︎

  2. In 2018 when he was still at LinkedIn and developing OpenFabric, so he might have been a bit biased. ↩︎

  3. Warning: Google will try its very best to track you if you decide to watch Russ’ presentation. ↩︎


  1. Why are you referring to only ‘gentlemen’ in your comments? We women can’t understand this?

  2. I've never met anyone who would ask to be called clueless, but I guess there's a first time for everything ;) Would you like me to rewrite the text to be more inclusive?

  3. Maybe Im misremembering, but didn't Lapuhkov have "real life" experience building out MS's data center network?

  4. Asked to be CALLED clueless???? Excuse me??? Not sure who you think you are talking to? I asked why you referred to ONLY TO GENTLEMEN?!?! Editing one word in your article doesn’t mean rewriting it! That’s clueless and inconsiderate and very disrespectful!

  5. @Josh: Petr never said "BGP is the answer to all questions". He always presented his solution as "I had this specific set of requirements and I found out that based on those requirements it was best to use BGP".

    Look around, and you might notice vendor marketers selling customers BGP-based DC fabric with four switches, or another vendor marketer telling everyone to use BGP and two-way redistribution instead of two routing protocols, or an "engineer" promoting IBGP over EBGP because he desperately wanted to use BGP as the underlay IGP, and his chosen platform couldn't handle two parallel EBGP address families (IPv4 and EVPN).

    Occasionally I get sick-and-tired of people claiming "X is the answer" without even understanding what the question was in the first place.

Add comment