Theory and New Primitives for Safely Connecting Routing Protocol Instances

Franck Le, Geoffrey G. Xie, and Hui Zhang
Appears in: 
CCR October 2010

Recent studies have shown that the current primitives for connecting multiple routing protocol instances (OSPF 1, OSPF 2, EIGRP 10, etc.) are pervasively deployed in enterprise networks and the Internet. Furthermore, these primitives are extremely vulnerable to routing anomalies (route oscillations, forwarding loops, etc.) and at the same time too rigid to support some of today’s operational objectives. In this paper, we propose a new theory to reason about routing properties across multiple routing instances. The theory directly applies to both link-state and vector routing protocols. Each routing protocol still makes independent routing decisions and may consider a combination of routing metrics, including bandwidth, delay, cost, and reliability. While the theory permits a range of solutions, we focus on a design that requires no changes to existing routing protocols. Guided by the theory, we derive a new set of connecting primitives, which are not only provably safe but also more expressive than the current version. We have implemented and validated the new primitives using XORP. The results confirm that our design can support a large range of desirable operational goals, including those not achievable today, safely and with little manual configuration.