Category: MPLS VPN
Creating MPLS/VPN Labs With netlab
Two week ago I described how to create a simple VRF Lite lab with netlab VRF configuration module. Adding MPLS/VPN to the mix and creating a full-blown MPLS/VPN lab is a piece of cake. In this blog post we’ll build a simple topology with two VRFs (red and blue) and two PE-routers:
Creating VRF Lite Labs With netlab
I always found VRF lab setups a chore. On top of the usual IPAM tasks you have to create VRFs, assign route targets and route distinguishers, do that on every PE-router in your lab… before you can start working on interesting things.
I tried to remove as much friction as I could with the netlab VRF configuration module – let me walk you through a few simple examples1 which will also serve to illustrate the VRF configuration differences between Cisco IOS and Arista EOS.
netlab MPLS Support
netlab release 1.2.0 adds full-blown MPLS and MPLS/VPN support:
- VRF definitions and layer-3 VRFs
- VRF-aware OSPF, IS-IS and BGP
- Traditional MPLS with LDP (SR-MPLS was already available)
- BGP Labeled Unicast
- MPLS/VPN: VPNv4 and VPNv6 address family support
It’s never been easier to build full-blown MPLS/VPN labs ;)… if you’re OK with using Cisco IOS or Arista EOS. Please feel free to submit a PR to add support for other platforms.
You might want to start with the VRF tutorial to see how simple it is to define VRFs, and follow the installation guide to set up your lab – if you’re semi-fluent in Linux (and don’t care about data plane quirks), the easiest option would be to run Arista cEOS.
Is MPLS/VPN Too Complex?
Henk Smit made the following claim in one of his comments:
I think BGP-MPLS-VPNs are over-complicated. And you don’t get enough return for that extra complexity.
TL&DR: He’s right (and I just violated Betteridge’s law of headlines)
The history of how we got to the current morass might be interesting for engineers who want to look behind the curtain, so here we go…
Reviving Old Content, Part 3
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 ;))
Not So Fast Ansible, Cisco IOS Can’t Keep Up…
Remember how earlier releases of Nexus-OS started dropping configuration commands if you were typing them too quickly (and how it was declared a feature ;)?
Mark Fergusson had a similar experience on Cisco IOS. All he wanted to do was to use Ansible to configure a VRF, an interface in the VRF, and OSPF routing process on Cisco CSR 1000v running software release 15.5(3).
Here’s what he was trying to deploy. Looks like a configuration straight out of an MPLS book, right?
Automation Example: Deploy MPLS/VPN Services
Steve Krause created a full-blown network services deployment solution, including post-deployment validation of OSPF and BGP routing, while attending Building Network Automation Solutions online course (I prefer course attendees working on real-life problems instead of artificial ones).
Hope you’ll enjoy exploring it ;)
EVPN Is More than VPLS on Steroids
Tiziano Tofoni wrote a lengthy comment on my EVPN in small data center fabrics blog post continuing the excellent discussion we started over a beer last October. Today I’ll address the first part:
I think that EVPN is an excellent standard for those who love Layer 2 (L2) services, we may say that it is an evolution of the implementation of the VPLS service, which addresses some limits in the original standard (RFCs 4761 and 4762).
I might be missing something, but in my opinion there’s no similarity between EVPN and VPLS (apart from the fact that they’re trying to solve the same problem).
Automation Win: MPLS/VPN Service Deployment
I always encourage the students attending the Building Network Automation Solutions online course to create solutions for problems they’re facing in their networks instead of wasting time with vanilla hands-on assignments.
Francois Herbet took the advice literally and decided to create a solution that would configure PE-routers and create full-blown device configurations for CE-routers.
Stop Googling and Start Testing
Here’s a question I got on one of my ancient blog posts:
How many OSPF process ID can be used in a single VRF instance?
Seriously? You have to ask that? OK, maybe the question isn’t as simple as it looks. It could be understood as:
Generating OSPF, BGP and MPLS/VPN Configurations from Network Data Model
Over a month ago I decided to create a lab network to figure out how to solve an interesting Inter-AS MPLS/VPN routing challenge. Instead of configuring half a dozen routers I decided to develop a fully-automated deployment because it will make my life easier.
I finally got to a point where OSPF, LDP, BGP (IPv4 and VPNv4) and MPLS/VPN configurations are created, deployed and verified automatically.
L3 Virtualization and VRFs
I got into an interesting discussion with Johannes Luther on the need for VRFs and he wrote:
If VRF = L3 virtualization technologies, then I saw that link. However, VRFs are again just a tiny piece of the whole story.
Of course he’s right, but it turns out that VRFs are the fundamental building block of most L3 virtualization technologies using a shared infrastructure.
Do Enterprises Need VRFs?
One of my readers sent me a long of questions titled “Do enterprise customers REALLY need VRFs?”
The only answer I could give is “it depends” (it’s like asking “Do animals need wings?”), and here’s my attempt at building a decision tree:
You can use the decision tree to figure out whether you need VRFs in your data center or in your enterprise WAN.
Use VRFs to Solve Routing-on-Hosts Challenges
One of my readers sent me interesting feedback after reading my explanation of why I’d try not to use OSPF as a routing protocol between hosts and ToR switches. He said:
Unfortunately we can’t use BGP because IBM mainframes support only OSPF or RIP, so we decided to use VRFs instead.
Here’s what they did:
Inter-VRF NAT in DMVPN Deployments
One of my users couldn’t get the inter-VRF NAT to work after watching the DMVPN webinars (no real surprise there, the VRF lite concept is covered in more details in the Enterprise MPLS/VPN webinar) so I decided to write a short document describing the details.