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Internet Exchange BGP Route Server

The information below is for an old version of the document.
Document Type
This is an older version of an Internet-Draft that was ultimately published as RFC 7947.
Authors Elisa Jasinska , Nick Hilliard , Robert Raszuk , Niels Bakker
Last updated 2016-06-16 (Latest revision 2016-06-10)
Replaces draft-jasinska-ix-bgp-route-server
RFC stream Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
Additional resources Mailing list discussion
Stream WG state Submitted to IESG for Publication
Document shepherd Susan Hares
Shepherd write-up Show Last changed 2016-06-09
IESG IESG state Became RFC 7947 (Proposed Standard)
Consensus boilerplate Yes
Telechat date (None)
Responsible AD Alvaro Retana
Send notices to
IANA IANA review state IANA OK - No Actions Needed
IDR Working Group                                            E. Jasinska
Internet-Draft                                                BigWave IT
Intended status: Standards Track                             N. Hilliard
Expires: December 12, 2016                                          INEX
                                                               R. Raszuk
                                                            Bloomberg LP
                                                               N. Bakker
                                                Akamai Technologies B.V.
                                                           June 10, 2016

                   Internet Exchange BGP Route Server


   This document outlines a specification for multilateral
   interconnections at Internet exchange points (IXPs).  Multilateral
   interconnection is a method of exchanging routing information between
   three or more external BGP speakers using a single intermediate
   broker system, referred to as a route server.  Route servers are
   typically used on shared access media networks, such as Internet
   exchange points (IXPs), to facilitate simplified interconnection
   between multiple Internet routers.

Status of This Memo

   This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the
   provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
   Task Force (IETF).  Note that other groups may also distribute
   working documents as Internet-Drafts.  The list of current Internet-
   Drafts is at

   Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
   and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any
   time.  It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference
   material or to cite them other than as "work in progress."

   This Internet-Draft will expire on December 12, 2016.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2016 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

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   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
   Provisions Relating to IETF Documents
   ( in effect on the date of
   publication of this document.  Please review these documents
   carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect
   to this document.  Code Components extracted from this document must
   include Simplified BSD License text as described in Section 4.e of
   the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as
   described in the Simplified BSD License.

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction to Multilateral Interconnection  . . . . . . . .   2
     1.1.  Notational Conventions  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   2.  Technical Considerations for Route Server Implementations . .   3
     2.1.  Client UPDATE Messages  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
     2.2.  Attribute Transparency  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
       2.2.1.  NEXT_HOP Attribute  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
       2.2.2.  AS_PATH Attribute . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
       2.2.3.  MULTI_EXIT_DISC Attribute . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
       2.2.4.  Communities Attributes  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
     2.3.  Per-Client Policy Control in Multilateral Interconnection   5
       2.3.1.  Path Hiding on a Route Server . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
       2.3.2.  Mitigation of Path Hiding . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7  Multiple Route Server RIBs  . . . . . . . . . . .   7  Advertising Multiple Paths  . . . . . . . . . . .   7
       2.3.3.  Implementation Suggestions  . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
   3.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   4.  IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   5.  Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   6.  References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
     6.1.  Normative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
     6.2.  Informative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
   Authors' Addresses  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11

1.  Introduction to Multilateral Interconnection

   Internet exchange points (IXPs) provide IP data interconnection
   facilities for their participants, typically using shared Layer-2
   networking media such as Ethernet.  The Border Gateway Protocol (BGP)
   [RFC4271], an inter-Autonomous System routing protocol, is commonly
   used to facilitate exchange of network reachability information over
   such media.

   While bilateral external BGP sessions between exchange participants
   were previously the most common means of exchanging reachability
   information, the overhead associated with dense interconnection can

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   cause substantial operational scaling problems for partipants of
   larger Internet exchange points.

   Multilateral interconnection is a method of interconnecting BGP
   speaking routers using a third party brokering system, commonly
   referred to as a route server and typically managed by the IXP
   operator.  Each of the multilateral interconnection participants
   (usually referred to as route server clients) announces network
   reachability information to the route server using external BGP, and
   the route server in turn forwards this information to each other
   route server client connected to it, according to its configuration.
   Although a route server uses BGP to exchange reachability information
   with each of its clients, it does not forward traffic itself and is
   therefore not a router.

   A route server can be viewed as similar in function to an [RFC4456]
   route reflector, except that it operates using EBGP instead of iBGP.
   Certain adaptions to [RFC4271] are required to enable an EBGP router
   to operate as a route server; these are outlined in Section 2 of this
   document.  Route server functionality is not mandatory in BGP

   The term "route server" is often in a different context used to
   describe a BGP node whose purpose is to accept BGP feeds from
   multiple clients for the purpose of operational analysis and
   troubleshooting.  A system of this form may alternatively be known as
   a "route collector" or a "route-views server".  This document uses
   the term "route server" exclusively to describe multilateral peering
   brokerage systems.

1.1.  Notational Conventions

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in

2.  Technical Considerations for Route Server Implementations

   A route server uses the [RFC4271] Border Gateway Protocol to broker
   network reachability information between its clients.  There are some
   differences between the behaviour of a BGP route server and a BGP
   implementation which is strictly compliant with [RFC4271].  These
   differences are described as follows.

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2.1.  Client UPDATE Messages

   A route server MUST accept all UPDATE messages received from each of
   its clients for inclusion in its Adj-RIB-In.  These UPDATE messages
   MAY be omitted from the route server's Loc-RIB or Loc-RIBs, due to
   filters configured for the purposes of implementing routing policy.
   The route server SHOULD perform one or more BGP Decision Processes to
   select routes for subsequent advertisement to its clients, taking
   into account possible configuration to provide multiple NLRI paths to
   a particular client as described in Section or multiple Loc-
   RIBs as described in Section  The route server SHOULD
   forward UPDATE messages from its Loc-RIB or Loc-RIBs to its clients
   as determined by local policy.

2.2.  Attribute Transparency

   As a route server primarily performs a brokering service,
   modification of attributes could cause route server clients to alter
   their BGP Decision Process for received prefix reachability
   information, thereby changing the intended routing policies of
   exchange participants.  Therefore, contrary to what is specified in
   section 5. of [RFC4271], route servers SHOULD NOT by default (unless
   explicitly configured) update well-known BGP attributes received from
   route server clients before redistributing them to their other route
   server clients.  Optional recognized and unrecognized BGP attributes,
   whether transitive or non-transitive, SHOULD NOT be updated by the
   route server (unless enforced by local IXP operator configuration)
   and SHOULD be passed on to other route server clients.

2.2.1.  NEXT_HOP Attribute

   The NEXT_HOP is a well-known mandatory BGP attribute which defines
   the IP address of the router used as the next hop to the destinations
   listed in the Network Layer Reachability Information field of the
   UPDATE message.  As the route server does not participate in the
   actual routing of traffic, the NEXT_HOP attribute MUST be passed
   unmodified to the route server clients, similar to the "third party"
   next hop feature described in section 5.1.3. of [RFC4271].

2.2.2.  AS_PATH Attribute

   AS_PATH is a well-known mandatory attribute which identifies the
   autonomous systems through which routing information carried in the
   UPDATE message has passed.

   As a route server does not participate in the process of forwarding
   data between client routers, and because modification of the AS_PATH
   attribute could affect route server client BGP Decision Process, the

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   route server SHOULD NOT prepend its own AS number to the AS_PATH
   segment nor modify the AS_PATH segment in any other way.  This
   differs from the behaviour specified in section 5.1.2 of [RFC4271],
   which requires that the BGP speaker prepends its own AS number as the
   last element of the AS_PATH segment.

   In contrast to what is recommended in section 6.3 of [RFC4271], route
   server clients need to be able to accept UPDATE messages where the
   leftmost AS in the AS_PATH attribute is not equal to the AS number of
   the route server that sent the UPDATE message.  If the route server
   client BGP system has implemented a check for this, the BGP
   implementation MUST allow this check to be disabled and SHOULD allow
   the check to be disabled on a per-peer basis.

2.2.3.  MULTI_EXIT_DISC Attribute

   MULTI_EXIT_DISC is an optional non-transitive attribute intended to
   be used on external (inter-AS) links to discriminate among multiple
   exit or entry points to the same neighboring AS.  Contrary to section
   5.1.4 of [RFC4271], if applied to an NLRI UPDATE sent to a route
   server, this attribute SHOULD be propagated to other route server
   clients and the route server SHOULD NOT modify its value.

2.2.4.  Communities Attributes

   The BGP COMMUNITIES ([RFC1997]) and Extended Communities ([RFC4360])
   attributes are attributes intended for labeling information carried
   in BGP UPDATE messages.  Transitive as well as non-transitive
   Communities attributes applied to an NLRI UPDATE sent to a route
   server SHOULD NOT be modified, processed or removed, except as
   defined by local policy.  If a Communities Attribute is intended for
   processing by the route server itself, as determined by local policy,
   it MAY be modified or removed.

2.3.  Per-Client Policy Control in Multilateral Interconnection

   While IXP participants often use route servers with the intention of
   interconnecting with as many other route server participants as
   possible, there are circumstances where control of path distribution
   on a per-client basis is important to ensure that desired
   interconnection policies are met.

   The control of path distribution on a per-client basis can lead to a
   path being hidden from the route server client.  We refer to this as
   "path hiding".

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   Neither Section 2.3 nor its subsections form part of the normative
   specification of this document, but are included for information
   purposes only.

2.3.1.  Path Hiding on a Route Server

                               ___      ___
                              /   \    /   \
                           ..| AS1 |..| AS2 |..
                          :   \___/    \___/   :
                          :       \    / |     :
                          :        \  /  |     :
                          : IXP     \/   |     :
                          :         /\   |     :
                          :        /  \  |     :
                          :    ___/____\_|_    :
                          :   /   \    /   \   :
                           ..| AS3 |..| AS4 |..
                              \___/    \___/

     Figure 1: Per-Client Policy Controlled Interconnection at an IXP

   Using the example in Figure 1, AS1 does not directly exchange prefix
   information with either AS2 or AS3 at the IXP, but only interconnects
   with AS4.

   In the traditional bilateral interconnection model, per-client policy
   control to a third party exchange participant is accomplished either
   by not engaging in a bilateral interconnection with that participant
   or else by implementing outbound filtering on the BGP session towards
   that participant.  However, in a multilateral interconnection
   environment, only the route server can perform outbound filtering in
   the direction of the route server client; route server clients depend
   on the route server to perform their outbound filtering for them.

   Assuming the [RFC4271] BGP Decision Process is used, when the same
   prefix is advertised to a route server from multiple route server
   clients, the route server will select a single path for propagation
   to all connected clients.  If, however, the route server has been
   configured to filter the calculated best path from reaching a
   particular route server client, then that client will not receive a
   path for that prefix, although alternate paths received by the route
   server might have been policy compliant for that client.  This
   phenomenon is referred to as "path hiding".

   For example, in Figure 1, if the same prefix were sent to the route
   server via AS2 and AS4, and the route via AS2 was preferred according
   to the BGP Decision Process on the route server, but AS2's policy

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   prevented the route server from sending the path to AS1, then AS1
   would never receive a path to this prefix, even though the route
   server had previously received a valid alternative path via AS4.
   This happens because the BGP Decision Process is performed only once
   on the route server for all clients.

   Path hiding will only occur on route servers which employ per-client
   policy control; if an IXP operator deploys a route server without
   implementing a per-client routing policy control system, then path
   hiding does not occur as all paths are considered equally valid from
   the point of view of the route server.

2.3.2.  Mitigation of Path Hiding

   There are several approaches which can be taken to mitigate against
   path hiding.  Multiple Route Server RIBs

   The most portable method to allow for per-client policy control
   without the occurrence of path hiding, is by using a route server BGP
   implementation which performs the per-client best path calculation
   for each set of paths to a prefix, which results after the route
   server's client policies have been taken into consideration.  This
   can be implemented by using per-client Loc-RIBs, with path filtering
   implemented between the Adj-RIB-In and the per-client Loc-RIB.
   Implementations can optimize this by maintaining paths not subject to
   filtering policies in a global Loc-RIB, with per-client Loc-RIBs
   stored as deltas.

   This implementation is highly portable, as it makes no assumptions
   about the feature capabilities of the route server clients.  Advertising Multiple Paths

   The path distribution model described above assumes standard BGP
   session encoding where the route server sends a single path to its
   client for any given prefix.  This path is selected using the BGP
   path selection decision process described in [RFC4271].  If, however,
   it were possible for the route server to send more than a single path
   to a route server client, then route server clients would no longer
   depend on receiving a single path to a particular prefix;
   consequently, the path hiding problem described in Section 2.3.1
   would disappear.

   We present two methods which describe how such increased path
   diversity could be implemented.

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Internet-Draft            IXP BGP Route Server                 June 2016  Diverse BGP Path Approach

   The Diverse BGP Path proposal as defined in [RFC6774] is a simple way
   to distribute multiple prefix paths from a route server to a route
   server client by using a separate BGP session from the route server
   to a client for each different path.

   The number of paths which may be distributed to a client is
   constrained by the number of BGP sessions which the server and the
   client are willing to establish with each other.  The distributed
   paths may be established from the global BGP Loc-RIB on the route
   server in addition to any per-client Loc-RIB.  As there may be more
   potential paths to a given prefix than configured BGP sessions, this
   method is not guaranteed to eliminate the path hiding problem in all
   situations.  Furthermore, this method may significantly increase the
   number of BGP sessions handled by the route server, which may
   negatively impact its performance.  BGP ADD-PATH Approach

   The [I-D.ietf-idr-add-paths] Internet draft proposes a different
   approach to multiple path propagation, by allowing a BGP speaker to
   forward multiple paths for the same prefix on a single BGP session.
   As [RFC4271] specifies that a BGP listener must implement an implicit
   withdraw when it receives an UPDATE message for a prefix which
   already exists in its Adj-RIB-In, this approach requires explicit
   support for the feature both on the route server and on its clients.

   If the ADD-PATH capability is negotiated bidirectionally between the
   route server and a route server client, and the route server client
   propagates multiple paths for the same prefix to the route server,
   then this could potentially cause the propagation of inactive,
   invalid or suboptimal paths to the route server, thereby causing loss
   of reachability to other route server clients.  For this reason, ADD-
   PATH implementations on a route server should enforce send-only mode
   with the route server clients, which would result in negotiating
   receive-only mode from the client to the route server.

2.3.3.  Implementation Suggestions

   Route server implementation authors may wish to consider one of the
   methods described in Section 2.3.2 to allow per-client route server
   policy control without "path hiding".

   Recommendations for route server operations are described separately
   in [I-D.ietf-grow-ix-bgp-route-server-operations].

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3.  Security Considerations

   The path hiding problem outlined in section Section 2.3.1 can be used
   in certain circumstances to proactively block third party path
   announcements from other route server clients.  Route server
   operators should be aware that security issues may arise unless steps
   are taken to mitigate against path hiding.

   The AS_PATH check described in Section 2.2.2 is normally enabled in
   order to check for malformed AS paths.  If this check is disabled,
   the route server client loses the ability to check incoming UPDATE
   messages for certain categories of problems.  This could potentially
   cause corrupted BGP UPDATE messages to be propagated where they might
   not be propagated if the check were enabled.  Regardless of any
   problems relating to malformed UPDATE messages, this check is also
   used to detect BGP loops, so removing the check could potentially
   cause routing loops to be formed.  Consequently, this check SHOULD
   NOT be disabled by IXP participants unless it is needed to establish
   BGP sessions with a route server, and if possible should only be
   disabled for peers which are route servers.

   Route server operators should carefully consider the security
   practices discussed in [RFC7454], "BGP Operations and Security".

4.  IANA Considerations

   The new set of mechanisms for route servers does not require any new
   allocations from IANA.

5.  Acknowledgments

   The authors would like to thank Ryan Bickhart, Steven Bakker, Martin
   Pels, Chris Hall, Aleksi Suhonen, Bruno Decraene, Pierre Francois and
   Eduardo Ascenco Reis for their valuable input.

   In addition, the authors would like to acknowledge the developers of
   BIRD, OpenBGPD, Quagga and IOS whose BGP implementations include
   route server capabilities which are compliant with this document.

   Route server functionality was described in 1995 in [RFC1863] and
   modern route server implementations are based on concepts developed
   in the 1990s by the Routing Arbiter Project and the Route Server Next
   Generation Project, managed by ISI and Merit.  Although the original
   RSNG code is no longer in use at any IXPs, the IXP community owes a
   debt of gratitude to the many people who were involved in route
   server development in the 1990s.  Note that [RFC1863] was made
   historical by [RFC4223].

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6.  References

6.1.  Normative References

   [RFC1997]  Chandra, R., Traina, P., and T. Li, "BGP Communities
              Attribute", RFC 1997, DOI 10.17487/RFC1997, August 1996,

   [RFC2119]  Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
              Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, March 1997,

   [RFC4271]  Rekhter, Y., Ed., Li, T., Ed., and S. Hares, Ed., "A
              Border Gateway Protocol 4 (BGP-4)", RFC 4271,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC4271, January 2006,

   [RFC4360]  Sangli, S., Tappan, D., and Y. Rekhter, "BGP Extended
              Communities Attribute", RFC 4360, DOI 10.17487/RFC4360,
              February 2006, <>.

6.2.  Informative References

              Hilliard, N., Jasinska, E., Raszuk, R., and N. Bakker,
              "Internet Exchange BGP Route Server Operations", draft-
              ietf-grow-ix-bgp-route-server-operations-05 (work in
              progress), June 2015.

              Walton, D., Retana, A., Chen, E., and J. Scudder,
              "Advertisement of Multiple Paths in BGP", draft-ietf-idr-
              add-paths-15 (work in progress), May 2016.

   [RFC1863]  Haskin, D., "A BGP/IDRP Route Server alternative to a full
              mesh routing", RFC 1863, DOI 10.17487/RFC1863, October
              1995, <>.

   [RFC4223]  Savola, P., "Reclassification of RFC 1863 to Historic",
              RFC 4223, DOI 10.17487/RFC4223, October 2005,

   [RFC4456]  Bates, T., Chen, E., and R. Chandra, "BGP Route
              Reflection: An Alternative to Full Mesh Internal BGP
              (IBGP)", RFC 4456, DOI 10.17487/RFC4456, April 2006,

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   [RFC6774]  Raszuk, R., Ed., Fernando, R., Patel, K., McPherson, D.,
              and K. Kumaki, "Distribution of Diverse BGP Paths",
              RFC 6774, DOI 10.17487/RFC6774, November 2012,

   [RFC7454]  Durand, J., Pepelnjak, I., and G. Doering, "BGP Operations
              and Security", BCP 194, RFC 7454, DOI 10.17487/RFC7454,
              February 2015, <>.

Authors' Addresses

   Elisa Jasinska
   BigWave IT
   ul. Skawinska 27/7
   Krakow, MP  31-066


   Nick Hilliard
   4027 Kingswood Road
   Dublin  24


   Robert Raszuk
   Bloomberg LP
   731 Lexington Ave
   New York City, NY  10022


   Niels Bakker
   Akamai Technologies B.V.
   Kingsfordweg 151
   Amsterdam  1043 GR


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