TL&DR: You get unequal-cost multipath for free with distance-vector routing protocols. Implementing it in link state routing protocols is an order of magnitude more CPU-consuming.
Continuing our exploration of the Unequal-Cost Multipath world, why was it implemented in EIGRP decades ago, but not in OSPF or IS-IS?
Ignoring for the moment the “does it make sense” dilemma: finding downstream paths (paths strictly shorter than the current best path) is a side effect of running distance vector algorithms.
One of my readers sent me this interesting question:
Assuming we are running a very large OSPF area with a few thousand nodes. If we follow the chain reaction of OSPF LSA flooding while the network is converging at the same time, how would all routers come to know that they all now have same view of area link states and there are no further updates or convergence?
I have bad news: the design requirements for link state protocols effectively prevent that idea from ever working well.
We had the usual gloomy December weather during the end-of-year holidays, and together with the partial lockdown (with confusing ever-changing rules only someone in Balkans could dream up) it managed to put me in OCD mood… and so I decided to remove broken links from the old blog posts.
While doing that I figured out how fragile our industry is – I encountered a graveyard of ideas and products that would make Google proud. Some of those blog posts were removed, I left others intact because they still have some technical merits, and I made sure to write sarcastic update notices on product-focused ones. Consider those comments Easter eggs… now go and find them ;))
Here’s an interesting factoid: when using default IS-IS configuration (running L1 + L2 on all routers in your network), every router inserts every IP prefix from anywhere in your network into L2 topology… at least on Junos.
Finally a group of engineers figured out it’s a good idea to make things less complex instead of heaping layers of complexity on top of already-complex kludges.
RFC 8196 specifies default values and extensions to IS-IS that make it a true plug-and-play routing protocol. I wonder when we’ll see it implemented now that everyone is obsessed with intent-based hype.
Did you rush to try OSPF Loop Free Alternate on a Cisco 7200 after reading my LFA blog post ... and disappointedly discovered that it only works on Cisco 7600? The reason is simple: while LFA does add feasible-successor-like behavior to OSPF, its primary mission is to improve RIB-to-FIB convergence time.
Assume we have a simple triangular network:
Now imagine the A-to-C link fails. How will OSPF react to the link failure as compared to EIGRP? Which one will converge faster? Try to answer the questions before pressing the Read more link ;)
For whatever reason I decided to start my Junos experience with a very simple IS-IS network – four core routers from my Building IPv6 Service Provider Core webinar. As Junosphere doesn’t support serial or POS interfaces, I migrated all links to Gigabit Ethernet and added a point-to-point GE link between PE-A and PE-B.
Many service providers choosing IS-IS as their IGP use it within a single area (or at least run all routers as L1L2 routers). Multi-level IS-IS design is a royal pain, more so in MPLS environments where every PE-router needs a distinct route for every BGP next hop (but of course there’s a nerd knob to disable L1 default route in IS-IS). Moreover, MPLS TE is reasonably simple only within a single level (L1 or L2).
I’m positive at least some service providers do something as stupid as I usually did – deploy IS-IS with default settings using a configuration similar to this one:
My Junos versus Cisco IOS: Explicit versus Implicit received a huge amount of helpful comments, some of them slightly philosophical, others highly practical – from using interfaces all combined with interface disable in routing protocol configuration, to using configuration groups (more about that fantastic concept in another post).
However, understanding what’s going on is not the same as being able to explain it in one sentence ... and Dan (@jonahsfo) Backman beautifully nailed that one.
My first Junos labbing project was an IPv6 backbone; I wanted to create a simple single-area IS-IS/BGP-free backbone running LDP and MPLS, and using 6PE for IPv6 connectivity. Needless to say, even though I read the excellent Day One books (highly recommended: Exploring IPv6, Advanced IPv6 configuration and Deploying MPLS), I stumbled on almost every step.
A reader of my blog planning to migrate his network from a traditional BGP-everywhere design to a BGP-over-MPLS one wondered about potential unexpected consequences. The MTU implications of introducing MPLS in a running network are usually well understood (even though you could get some very interesting behavior); if you can, increase the MTU size by at least 16 bytes (4 labels) and check whether MTU includes L2 header. Another somewhat more mysterious beast is the interaction between IGP and LDP that can cause traffic disruptions after the physical connectivity has been reestablished.
Yap Chin Hoong has been looking at the OSI protocol stack I’ve published and asked an interesting question: “where is CLNS in that protocol stack?”
The OSI protocol stack has a major advantage over the TCP/IP stack: it defines both the protocols and the APIs between the layers. CLNS (Connection-less network Service) is the API (the function calls that allow transport layers to exchange datagrams across the network) while CLNP (Connection-less network Protocol) is the layer-3 protocol that implements CLNS. In my diagram, CLNS would be a thin line above CLNP between L3 and L4 boxes.
Clue started an interesting discussion on the NANOG mailing list. He’s inherited a network that extended its internal OSPF to its multihomed customers and wondered whether he should leave the network as it is, change OSPF to IS-IS or deploy BGP. Here are a few thoughts from my reply.
Please remember that we were discussing running global OSPF with the customer routers. Running OSPF in a VRF is a different story, as the customer cannot impact another customer’s routing (they can only burn your CPU cycles).
You might have noticed that your IOS release supports a ctunnel interface (hint: your image has to support CLNS) and wondered what it could do. Well, it’s a GRE tunnel between a pair of NSAPs, so you can transport IP traffic across your well-engineered CLNS network without ever exposing the core routers to the dangers of IP.
But wait, it gets better: starting with IOS releases 12.3(7)T and 12.2(33)SRA, you can transport IPv6 across the ctunnel interface. Unfortunately, they haven’t implemented MPLS over GRE over CLNS yet (the mpls ip command is present, but does not work).
It looks like there's at least one potentially very large-scale application that could use this feature.