Blog Posts in July 2024


Daniel Dib asked an interesting question on LinkedIn when considering an RT5-only EVPN design:

I’m curious what EVPN provides if all you need is L3. For example, you could run pure L3 BGP fabric if you don’t need VRFs or a limited amount of them. If many VRFs are needed, there is MPLS/VPN, SR-MPLS, and SRv6.

I received a similar question numerous times in my previous life as a consultant. It’s usually caused by vendor marketing polluting PowerPoint slide decks with acronyms without explaining the fundamentals1. Let’s fix that.

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Worth Reading: AI Is Still a Delusion

Here’s another AI rant to spice your summer: AI Is Still a Delusion, including an excellent example of how the latest LLMs flunk simple logical reasoning. I particularly liked this one-line summary:

The real danger today is not that computers are smarter than us but that we think computers are smarter than us and consequently trust them to make decisions they should not be trusted to make.

It might be worth remembering that quote when an AI-powered management appliance messes up your network because of a false positive ;)

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Worth Reading: GitHub Copilot Workspace Review

In Matt Duggan’s blog post, you’ll find a scathing review of another attempt to throw AI spaghetti at the wall to see if they stick: the GitHub Copilot Workspace.

He also succinctly summarized everything I ever wanted to say about the idea of using AI tools to generate networking configurations:

Having a tool that makes stuff that looks right but ends up broken is worse than not having the tool at all.

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Again: What Exactly Is MPLS?

Brad Casemore published an interesting analysis explaining why Cisco should accept being a mature company with mature products (yeah, you have to subscribe to view it). I always loved reading his articles, but unfortunately, this time, he briefly ventured into the “I don’t think this word means what you think it means” territory:

MPLS worked – and it still works – but it provided optimal value in an earlier time when the center of gravity was not the cloud. The cloud challenged the efficacy of MPLS, and it wasn’t long before SD-WAN, cloud connects, and interconnects […] represented an implacable threat to a status quo that had once seemed unassailable.

The second part of the paragraph is (almost) true, but it had nothing to do with MPLS.

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BGP Labs: a Year Later

Last summer, I started a long-term project to revive the BGP labs I created in the mid-1990s. I completed the original lab exercises (BGP sessions, IBGP, local preference, MED, communities) in late 2023 but then kept going. This is how far I got in a year:

That completes the BGP technologies I wanted to cover. I’ll keep adding the challenge labs and advanced scenarios. Here are some ideas; if you have others, please leave a comment.

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Long story short: Years after migrating my blog to Hugo, I found the willpower to deal with the “interesting” way Cloudflare Pages deal with static HTML files, changed the Hugo URL scheme, and spent two days fixing broken links.

Apart from having the satisfaction of ticking off a long-outstanding project, the blog pages should load faster, and I won’t have to deal with GitLab hiccups anymore.

If you notice anything being broken, please let me know. Thank you!

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Netlab Examples in GitHub Codespaces

A few days ago, someone asked me about the IPv4 next-hop details of running interface EBGP sessions. I pointed him to a blog post explaining them, adding, “And of course, you can test that in netlab.” A few minutes later, it hit me: instead of asking him to set up netlab locally, I could enable him to do that in a minute with GitHub codespaces.

Setting that up was easy: copy the .devcontainer directory from the BGP labs repository into the netlab examples repository and commit the change. After a short yak-shaving exercise (writing README files and rearranging a few folders), I successfully started the codespace and was ready for this blog post. There was just one gotcha…

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