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An Application of the BGP Community Attribute in Multi-home Routing
RFC 1998

Document type: RFC - Informational (August 1996; No errata)
Document stream: IETF
Last updated: 2013-03-02
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IESG State: RFC 1998 (Informational)
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Network Working Group                                            E. Chen
Request for Comments: 1998                                           MCI
Category: Informational                                         T. Bates
                                                           cisco Systems
                                                             August 1996

             An Application of the BGP Community Attribute
                         in Multi-home Routing

Status of This Memo

   This memo provides information for the Internet community.  This memo
   does not specify an Internet standard of any kind.  Distribution of
   this memo is unlimited.

Abstract

   This document presents an application of the BGP community attribute
   [2] in simplifying the implementation and configuration of routing
   policies in the multi-provider Internet. It shows how the community
   based configuration can be used to replace the AS-based customization
   of the BGP "LOCAL_PREF" attribute, a common method used today.  Not
   only does the technique presented simplifies configuration and
   management at the provider level, it also represents a paradigm shift
   in that it gives the potential for the customer to control its own
   routing policy with respect to its service provider, as well as
   providing the ability for policy configuration to be done at a prefix
   based granularity rather than the more common AS based granularity.

1. Introduction

   In the multi-provider Internet, it is common for a service subscriber
   (i.e., customer) to have more than one service provider, or to have
   arrangements for redundant connectivity to the global connected
   Internet. As discussed in [3], routing strategies in these cases
   usually require coordination between the service subscriber and its
   providers, which typically leads to customization of router
   configurations (e.g., BGP "LOCAL_PREF") not only by the subscriber,
   but also by its providers.  Due to the large number of customers a
   provider serves, customization of router configurations at the
   provider level may present management and scalability problems.

   This document presents an application of the BGP community attribute
   in simplifying the implementation of routing strategies in the
   multi-provider Internet.  More specifically, the technique presented
   uses a community-based, rather than the common AS-based,

Chen & Bates                 Informational                      [Page 1]
RFC 1998                    Use of Community                 August 1996

   configuration of the BGP "LOCAL_PREF". It essentially removes the
   need for customized configuration of the BGP "LOCAL_PREF" attribute
   at the provider level while maintaining the same level of routing
   functionality and flexibility.

   It also represents a paradigm shift in that it gives the potential
   for the customer to control its own routing policy with respect to
   its service provider, as well as providing the ability for policy
   configuration to be done at a prefix based granularity rather than
   the more common AS based granularity in use today.

2. AS-based Configuration and its Drawbacks

   As discussed in [3], in today's multi-provider Internet, customized
   configuration of the BGP "LOCAL_PREF" attribute is often required to
   implement common routing strategies such as load-sharing or backup.
   There are two main reasons:

     o Lack of available implementations and deployment of routing
       software that supports the "Destination Preference Attribute"
       (DPA) as specified in [4].

       DPA allows one to specify a globally transitive preference so
       that return traffic favors certain path. As discussed in [3],
       the attribute will be very useful in influencing route selection
       for routes with identical "LOCAL_PREF" and equal AS-path length.

     o In the multi-provider Internet, it is common for a provider
       to assign higher BGP "LOCAL_PREF" values for routes from its
       customers than from other service providers. This practice
       provides some degree of protection for its customer routes,
       and it facilitates implementation of certain routing
       strategies.  It, however, also complicates other routing
       implementations such as backup arrangement, thus, requiring
       customized "LOCAL_PREF" configuration.

   Figure 1 shows a typical case of a backup arrangement in the multi-
   provider Internet. In Figure 1, AS1 and AS2 are both providers, and
   AS3 and AS4 are customers of AS1 and AS2, respectively. AS3 has
   entered a bilateral agreement with AS4 to provide backup to each
   other.  That is, AS3 would use its direct link to AS4 to reach only

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