Category: BGP

Applying BGP Policy Templates

I got this question after publishing the BGP Session Templates lab exercise:

Would you apply BGP route maps with a peer/policy template or directly to a BGP neighbor? Of course, it depends; however, I believe in using a template for neighbors with the same general parameters and being more specific per neighbor when it comes to route manipulation.

As my reader already pointed out, the correct answer is It Depends, now let’s dig into the details ;)

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BGP Labs: Session Templates

Configuring an IBGP session on a route reflector takes a half-dozen parameters, starting with the remote BGP AS number (equal to the local one), remote IP address, and the source IP address or interface. You might have to specify the propagation of BGP communities and an MD5 password, and you will definitely have to specify that the BGP neighbor is a route reflector client.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could group those parameters into a template and apply the template to a neighbor? Most BGP implementations have something along those lines. That feature could be called a session template or a peer group, and you can practice it in the next BGP lab exercise.

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Removing FRRouting Configuration Is Not Idempotent

One of the few beauties of most “industry standard CLI” implementations1 is that they’re idempotent: nothing changes (apart from ACLs) if you configure the same stuff a dozen times. Most of these implementations allow you to deconfigure the same stuff multiple times; FRRouting is one of the unfortunate exceptions.

I’m not saying what FRRouting does is wrong. It’s just different and a bit unexpected once you get into the mindset of “Wow, it looks almost like Cisco IOS.”

What Am I Talking About?

Imagine you have a bunch of IP prefixes you want to advertise with BGP. You could use network statements within the router bgp configuration to get that done:

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BGP Labs: Use Multiple AS Numbers on the Same Router

Can you use BGP to connect to the global Internet without having a public BGP AS number? Of course, assuming your Internet Service Provider is willing to run BGP with a network using a private AS number. But what happens if you want to connect to two ISPs? It’s ridiculous to expect you’ll be able to persuade them to use the same private AS number.

That’s one of the many use cases for the local-as functionality available in most BGP implementations. You can practice it in the Use Multiple AS Numbers on the Same Router lab exercise.

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BGP Labs: Override Neighbor AS Number in AS Path

When I described the need to turn off the BGP AS-path loop prevention logic in scenarios where a Service Provider expects a customer to reuse the same AS number across multiple sites, someone quipped, “but that should be fixed by the Service Provider, not offloaded to the customer.

Not surprisingly, there’s a nerd knob for that (AS override), and you can practice it in the next BGP lab exercise: Fix AS-Path in Environments Reusing BGP AS Numbers.

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BGP Labs: Work with FRR and Cumulus Linux

FRR or (pre-NVUE) Cumulus Linux are the best bets if you want to run BGP labs in a resource-constrained environment like your laptop or a small public cloud instance. However, they both behave a bit differently from what one might expect from a networking device, including:

  • Interfaces are created through standard Linux tools;
  • You have to start the FRR management CLI from the Linux shell;
  • If you need a routing daemon (for example, the BGP daemon), you must enable it in the FRR configuration file and restart FRR.

A new lab exercise covers these intricate details and will help you get fluent in configuring BGP on FRR or Cumulus Linux virtual machines or containers.

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BGP Graceful Restart Considered Harmful

A networking engineer with a picture-perfect implementation of a dual-homed enterprise site using BGP communities according to RFC 1998 to select primary- and backup uplinks contacted me because they experienced unacceptably long failover times.

They measured the failover times caused by the primary uplink loss and figured out it takes more than five minutes to reestablish Internet connectivity to their site.

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BGP Labs: Reuse BGP AS Number Across Sites

When I published the Bidirectional Route Redistribution lab exercise, some readers were quick to point out that you’ll probably have to reuse the same AS number across multiple sites in a real-life MPLS/VPN deployment. That’s what you can practice in today’s lab exercise – an MPLS/VPN service provider allocated the same BGP AS number to all your sites and expects you to deal with the aftermath.

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Upcoming BGP Labs, 2024 Edition

It’s that time of the year when we create unreachable goals and make empty promises to ourselves (or others) that we subconsciously know we’ll fail.

I tried to make that process a bit more structured and create external storage for my lab ideas – I started publishing more details on future BGP lab scenarios. The lab descriptions contain a high-level overview of the challenge and the lab topology; the details will be filled in later.

Want to know what’s coming in 2024? Check out the Upcoming Labs page of the BGP Labs project.

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BGP Challenge: Merge Autonomous Systems

Here’s a challenge in case you get bored during the Christmas break: merge two networks running BGP (two autonomous systems) without changing anything but the configurations of the routers connecting them (the red BGP session in the diagram). I won’t give you any hints; you can discuss it in the comments or a GitHub discussion.

Hopefully, you won’t have to deal with something similar in real life, but then we know that crazy requirements trump good designs any day of the week.

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The BGP Origin Attribute

Kristijan Taskovski asked an interesting question related to my BGP AS-prepending lab:

I’ve never personally done this on the net but….wouldn’t the BGP origin code also work with moving one’s ingress traffic similarly to AS PATH?

TL&DR: Sort of, but not exactly. Also, just because you can climb up ropes using shoelaces instead of jumars doesn’t mean you should.

Let’s deal with the moving traffic bit first.

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The BGP Multi-Exit Discriminator (MED) Saga

Martijn Van Overbeek left this comment on my LinkedIn post announcing the BGP MED lab:

It might be fixed, but I can recall in the past that there was a lot of quirkiness in multi-vendor environments, especially in how different vendors use it and deal with the setting when the attribute does exist or does not have to exist.

TL&DR: He’s right. It has been fixed (mostly), but the nerd knobs never went away.

In case you’re wondering about the root cause, it was the vagueness of RFC 1771. Now for the full story ;)

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BGP Labs: Set BGP Communities on Outgoing Updates

It’s hard to influence the behavior of someone with strong opinions (just ask any parent with a screaming toddler), and trying to persuade an upstream ISP not to send the traffic over a backup link is no exception – sometimes even AS path prepending is not a strong enough argument.

An easy solution to this problem was proposed in 1990s – what if we could attach some extra attributes (called communities just to confuse everyone) to BGP updates and use them to tell adjacent autonomous systems to lower their BGP local preference? You can practice doing that in the Attach BGP Communities to Outgoing BGP Updates lab exercise.

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