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Category: MPLS

MPLS Requires Custom Silicon. Really?

I heard the following pretty bold statement while listening to an episode of my favorite podcast: “Bringing MPLS into the data center is impractical because MPLS requires custom silicon.” Really? How about checking the Intel FM 6000 product brief first?

Broadcom Trident chipset supposedly also supports MPLS. I couldn’t verify that because Broadcom considers the capabilities of their hardware highly confidential (but if you know more, do write a comment). Absolutely refreshing for a chipset that you get in almost every ToR switch you buy.

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Exception Routing with BGP: SDN Done Right

One of the holy grails of data center SDN evangelists is controller-driven traffic engineering (throwing more leaf-and-spine bandwidth at the problem might be cheaper, but definitely not sexier). Obviously they don’t call it traffic engineering as they don’t want to scare their audience with MPLS TE nightmares, but the idea is the same.

Interestingly, you don’t need new technologies to get as close to that holy grail as you wish; Petr Lapukhov got there with a 20 year old technology – BGP.

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Can BGP Route Reflectors Really Generate Forwarding Loops?

TL&DR Summary: Yes (if you’re clumsy enough).

A while ago I read Impact of Graceful IGP Operations on BGP – an article that described how changes in IGP topology result in temporary (or sometimes even permanent) forwarding loops in networks using BGP route reflectors.

Is the problem real? Yes, it is. Could you generate a BGP RR topology that results in a permanent forwarding loop? Yes. It’s not that hard.

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Could you run an MPLS-TE-only MPLS/VPN network without LDP?

One of my readers sent me a surprising question: “We run only LDP in our MPLS network and need to run RSVP for TE and then phase out LDP. How could we do it?

My first reaction was “Why would you ever want to do that” and I got no reasonable answer (suggestions, anyone?) but let’s focus on “Could you do it?

TL&DR summary: You could, but that doesn’t mean you should.

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Edge Protocol Independence: Another Benefit of Edge-and-Core Layering

I asked Martin Casado to check whether I correctly described his HotSDN’12 paper in my Edge and Core OpenFlow post, and he replied with another interesting observation:

The (somewhat nuanced) issue I would raise is that [...] decoupling [also] allows evolving the edge and core separately. Today, changing the edge addressing scheme requires a wholesale upgrade to the core.

The 6PE architecture (IPv6 on the edge, MPLS in the core) is a perfect example of this concept.

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Edge and Core OpenFlow (and why MPLS is not NAT)

More than a year ago, I explained why end-to-end flow-based forwarding doesn’t scale (and Doug Gourlay did the same using way more colorful language) and what the real-life limitations are. Not surprisingly, the gurus that started the whole OpenFlow movement came to the same conclusions and presented them at the HotSDN conference in August 2012 ... but even that hasn’t stopped some people from evangelizing the second coming.

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Secondary MPLS-TE Tunnels and Fast Reroute

Ronald sent me an interesting question: What's the point of having a secondary path set up for a certain LSP, when this LSP also has fast-reroute enabled (for example, with the Junos fast-reroute command)?

The idea of having a pre-established secondary LSP backing up a traffic engineering tunnel was commonly discussed before FRR was widely adopted, but should have quietly faded away by now.

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OpenFlow and Ipsilon: Nothing New Under the Sun

I’d promised to record another MPLS-related podcast and wanted to refresh my failing memory and revisit the beginnings of Tag Switching (Cisco’s proprietary technology that was used as the basis for MPLS). Several companies were trying to solve the IP+ATM integration problem in mid-nineties, most of them using IP-based architectures (Cisco, IBM, 3Com), while Ipsilon tried its luck with a flow-based solutions.

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Could MPLS-over-IP replace VXLAN or NVGRE?

A lot of engineers are concerned with what seems to be frivolous creation of new encapsulation formats supporting virtual networks. While STT makes technical sense (it allows soft switches to use existing NIC TCP offload functionality), it’s harder to figure out the benefits of VXLAN and NVGRE. Scott Lowe wrote a great blog post recently where he asked a very valid question: “Couldn’t we use MPLS over GRE or IP?” We could, but we wouldn’t gain anything by doing that.

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Virtual Circuits in OpenFlow 1.0 World

Two days ago I described how you can use tunneling or labeling to reduce the forwarding state in the network core (which you have to do if you want to have reasonably fast convergence with currently-available OpenFlow-enabled switches). Now let’s see what you can do in the very limited world of OpenFlow 1.0 (if any shipping physical switch supports OpenFlow 1.1 beyond OpenFlow 1.0 functionality, please write a comment)

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