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Category: MPLS

BGP Labeled Unicast Interoperability Challenges

Jeff Tantsura left me tantalizing hint after reading the BGP Labeled Unicast on Cisco IOS blog post:

Read carefully “Relationship between SAFI-4 and SAFI-1 Routes” section in RFC 8277

The start of that section doesn’t look promising (and it gets worse):

It is possible that a BGP speaker will receive both a SAFI-11 route for prefix P and a SAFI-42 route for prefix P. Different implementations treat this situation in different ways.

Now for the details:

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netsim-tools, MPLS Edition

netsim-tools release 1.2.0 adds full-blown MPLS and MPLS/VPN 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.

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BGP Labeled Unicast on Cisco IOS

While researching the BGP RFCs for the Three Dimensions of BGP Address Family Nerd Knobs, I figured out that the BGP Labeled Unicast (BGP-LU, advertising MPLS labels together with BGP prefixes) uses a different address family. So far so good.

Now for the intricate bit: a BGP router might negotiate IPv4 and IPv4-LU address families with a neighbor. Does that mean that it’s advertising every IPv4 prefix twice, once without a label, and once with a label? Should that be the case, how are those prefixes originated and how are they stored in the BGP table?

As always, the correct answer is “it depends”, this time on the network operating system implementation. This blog post describes Cisco IOS behavior, a follow-up one will focus on Arista EOS.

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MPLS/LDP Creation Myths

Hannes Gredler wrote an interesting comment to my Segment Routing vs LDP in Hub-and-Spoke Networks blog post:

In 2014 when I did the first prototype implementation of MPLS-SR node labels, I was stunned that just with an incremental add of 500 lines of code to the vanilla IPv4/IPv6 IS-IS codebase I got full any-to-any connectivity, no sync issues, no targeted sessions for R-LFA …. essentially labeled transport comes for free.

Based on that, one has to wonder “why did we take the LDP detour and all the complexity it brings?”. Here’s what Hannes found out:

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Hub-and-Spoke VPLS: Revenge of LDP

In the Segment Routing vs LDP in Hub-and-Spoke Networks blog post I explained why you could get into interesting scaling issues when running MPLS with LDP in a large hub-and-spoke network, and how you can use Segment Routing (MPLS edition) to simplify your design.

Sample hub-and-spoke network

Sample hub-and-spoke network

Now imagine you’d like to offer VPLS services between hubs and spokes, and happen to be using equipment that uses targeted LDP sessions to signal pseudowires. Guess what happens next…

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Segment Routing vs LDP in Hub-and-Spoke Networks

I got an interesting question that nicely illustrates why Segment Routing (the MPLS variant) is so much better than LDP. Imagine a redundant hub-and-spoke network with hundreds of spokes. Let’s settle on 500 spokes – IS-IS supposedly has no problem dealing with a link-state topology of that size.

Let’s further assume that all routers advertise only their loopbacks1 and that we’re using unnumbered hub-to-spoke links to minimize the routing table size. The global routing table thus contains ~500 entries. MPLS forwarding tables (LFIB) contain approximately as many entries as each router assigns a label to every prefix in the routing table2. What about the LDP table (LIB – Label Information Base)?

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Sample Lab: SR-MPLS on Junos and SR Linux

Last week I published a link to Pete Crocker’s RSVP-TE lab, but there’s more: he created another lab using the same topology that uses SR-MPLS with IS-IS to get the job done.

Jeroen Van Bemmel did something similar for SR Linux: his lab topology has fewer devices (plus SR Linux runs in containers), so it’s easily deployable on machines without humongous amount of memory.

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Anycast Works Just Fine with MPLS/LDP

I stumbled upon an article praising the beauties of SR-MPLS that claimed:

Yet MPLS, until recently, was deprived of anycast routing. This is because MPLS is not a pure packet switching technology, but has a control plane based on virtual circuit switching.

My first reaction was “that’s not how MPLS works,"1 followed by “that would be fun to test” a few seconds later.

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BGP-Free MPLS Core with Segment Routing

After I created the Segment Routing lab to test the relationship between Node Segment ID (SID) and MPLS labels (and added support for IS-IS, SR-MPLS, and BGP to netsim-tools), I was just a minor step away from testing BGP-free core with SR-MPLS.

I added two nodes to my lab setup, this time using IOSv as those nodes need nothing more than EBGP support (and IOSv is tiny compared to IOS XE on CSR):

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Segment Routing Segment IDs and MPLS Labels

In one of my introductory Segment Routing videos, I made claims along the lines of “Segment Routing totally simplifies the MPLS control plane, replacing LDP and local labels allocated to various prefixes with globally managed labels advertised in IGP

It took two years for someone to realize the stupidity over-simplification of what I described. Matjaž Strauss sent me this kind summary of my errors:

You’re effectively claiming that SRGB has to be the same across all devices in the network. That’s not true; routers advertise SIDs and must configure label swap operations in case SRGBs don’t match.

Wait, what? What is SRGB and why could it be different across devices in the same network? Also, trust IETF to take a simple idea and complicate it to support vendor whims.

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Reviving Old Content, Part 1

More than a decade ago I published tons of materials on a web site that eventually disappeared into digital nirvana, leaving heaps of broken links on my blog. I decided to clean up those links, and managed to save some of the vanished content from the Internet Archive:

I also updated dozens of blog posts while pretending to be Indiana Jones, including:

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Worth Reading: Seamless Suffering

When someone sent me a presentation on seamless MPLS a long while ago my head (almost) exploded just by looking at the diagrams… or in the immortal words of @amyengineer:

“If it requires a very solid CCIE on an obscure protocol mix at 4am, it is a bad design” - Peter Welcher, genius crafter of networks, granter of sage advice.

Turns out I was not that far off… Dmytro Shypovalov documented the underlying complexity and a few things that can go wrong in Seamless Suffering.

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