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Equal-Cost Multipath Considerations for BGP

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This is an older version of an Internet-Draft whose latest revision state is "Active".
Authors Petr Lapukhov , Jeff Tantsura
Last updated 2019-07-01
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Network Working Group                                        P. Lapukhov
Internet-Draft                                                  Facebook
Intended status: Informational                               J. Tantsura
Expires: January 2, 2020                                    Apstra, Inc.
                                                            July 1, 2019

              Equal-Cost Multipath Considerations for BGP


   BGP (Border Gateway Protocol) [RFC4271] employs tie-breaking logic to
   select a single best path among multiple paths available, known as
   BGP best path selection.  At the same time, it is a common practice
   to allow for "equal-cost multipath" (ECMP) selection and programming
   of multiple next-hops in routing tables.  This document summarizes
   some common considerations for the ECMP logic when BGP is used as the
   routing protocol, with the intent of providing common reference for
   otherwise unstandardized set of features.

Status of This Memo

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   This Internet-Draft will expire on January 2, 2020.

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   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
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   to this document.  Code Components extracted from this document must
   include Simplified BSD License text as described in Section 4.e of
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   described in the Simplified BSD License.

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   2.  AS-PATH attribute comparison  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   3.  Multipath among eBGP-learned paths  . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   4.  Multipath among iBGP learned paths  . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   5.  Multipath among eBGP and iBGP paths . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
   6.  Multipath with AIGP . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   7.  Best path advertisement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   8.  Multipath and non-deterministic tie-breaking  . . . . . . . .   5
   9.  Weighted equal-cost multipath . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   10. Informative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   Authors' Addresses  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6

1.  Introduction

   Section of [RFC4271] defines step-by-step tie-breaking
   procedure for selecting a single "best-path" among multiple
   alternatives available for the same route.  In order to improve
   efficiency in densely meshed symmetric network topologies it is
   common to allow the selection of multiple "equal cost" paths for the
   same route.  Typical approach is to abort the tie-breaking process
   after comparing IGP cost for the NEXT_HOP attribute and select either
   all eBGP or all iBGP paths that remained "equal" under the tie-
   breaking rules.  See [BGPMP] for a vendor document explaining the
   logic.  In a nutshell, the steps that compare the BGP identifiers and
   BGP peer IP addresses (steps (f) and (g) in [RFC4271]) are ignored
   for the purpose of multipath routing.  BGP implementations commonly
   have a configuration knob that specifies the maximum number of equal
   paths that are allowed be programmed in the routing table.  Commonly,
   there's also a knob to enable multipath separately for iBGP-learned
   or eBGP-learned paths.

2.  AS-PATH attribute comparison

   The mandatory requirement for all paths that are considered as the
   candidates for ECMP selection is to have the same AS_PATH length,
   computed using the logic defined in [RFC4271] and [RFC5065], i.e.
   ignoring the AS_SET, AS_CONFED_SEQUENCE, and AS_CONFED_SET segment
   lengths.  The content of the latter attributes is used purely for
   routing loop prevention.  Assuming that AS_PATHs length computed in
   this fashion are the same, many implementations require that the
   content of AS_SEQUENCE segment MUST be the same among all the paths

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   considered.  Two common configuration knobs to alter this behaviour
   are usually provided: First one, to relax the otherwise mandatory
   AS_SEQUENCE comparison rule, enforcing only the AS_PATH length rule,
   while ignoring the content of AS_SEQUENCE.  Another one requiring
   that the first AS numbers in the first AS_SEQUENCE segment found in
   AS_PATH (often referred to as "peer AS" number) be the same as the
   one found in best path (as determined by running the full tie-
   breaking procedure).  This document refers to those two as "multipath
   as-path relaxed" and "multipath same peer-as" correspondingly.

3.  Multipath among eBGP-learned paths

   Step (d) in Section of [RFC4271] mandates, in presence of an
   eBGP path, to remove all iBGP paths from the the ECMP candidates set.
   This leaves the BGP tie-breaking procedure with just eBGP paths.  At
   this point, the mandatory BGP NEXT_HOP attribute value most commonly
   belongs to the IP subnet that the BGP speaker shares with the
   advertising neighbor.  In this case, it is common for implementations
   to treat all NEXT_HOP values as having the same "internal cost" to
   reach them per the guidance of step (e) of Section  In some
   cases, either static routing or an IGP routing protocol could be used
   between the BGP speakers peering using an eBGP session.  An
   implementation may use the next-hop metric discovered from the above
   sources to perform tie-breaking even for eBGP paths.

   If the MED attribute is present in some paths, the set of multipath
   routes allowed will most likely be reduced to the ones coming from
   the same peer AS, per step (c) of Section  This is unless an
   implementation provides a configuration knob to always compare MED
   attributes across all paths, as recommended by [RFC4451].  In the
   latter case, the presence of the MED attribute does not automatically
   reduce the candidate path set to the same peer AS only.

4.  Multipath among iBGP learned paths

   In most cases iBGP is used along with an underlying IGP.  Thus, when
   all paths for a prefix are learned via iBGP, the tie-breaking
   commonly occurs based on IGP metric of the NEXT_HOP attribute.  In
   some implementations, it is possible to ignore the IGP cost as well,
   if all of the paths are reachable via some kind of tunneling
   mechanism, such as MPLS [RFC3031].  This is enabled via a knob
   referred in this document as "skip igp check" . Notice that there is
   no standard way for a BGP speaker to detect presence of such
   tunneling techniques other than relying on the configuration

   When iBGP is deployed with BGP route-reflectors per [RFC4456], the
   path attribute list may include the CLUSTER_LIST attribute.  Many

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   implementations ignore it for the purpose of ECMP route selection,
   assuming that IGP cost along should be sufficient for loop
   prevention.  This assumption may not hold when IGP is not deployed,
   and instead iBGP session are configured to reset the NEXT_HOP
   attribute to "self" on every node.  This also assumes the use of
   directly connected link addresses for session formation.  In this
   case, ignoring CLUSTER_LIST length might lead to routing loops.  It
   is therefore recommended for implementations to have a knob that
   enables accounting for CLUSTER_LIST length when performing multipath
   route selection.  Effectively, the CLUSTER_LIST attribute length
   should be as an IGP metric.

   Similarly to the route-reflector scenario, the use of BGP
   confederations in multipath scenarios assumes presence of an IGP for
   proper loop prevention and use the IGP metric as the final tie-
   breaker for multipath routing.  In addition to that, and similar to
   eBGP case, implementations often require that in order to be
   considered equal, the paths must belong to the same peer member AS as
   the best-path.  It is useful to have the following two configuration
   knobs.  First one enabling "multipath same confederation member peer-
   as", and another enabling less restrictive "confed as-path multipath
   relaxed" rule, that allow selecting multipath routes reachable via
   any confederation member peer AS.  As mentioned above, the
   AS_CONFED_SEQUENCE value length is usually ignored for the purpose of
   AS_PATH length comparison, relying instead on the IGP cost for loop

   In cases when IGP is not present with BGP confederation deployment,
   and similar to route-reflection case, it may be nessesary to consider
   AS_CONFED_SEQUENCE length when selecting the equivalent routes,
   effectively using it as a substitution for an IGP metric.  A separate
   configuration knob is needed to allow this behavior.

   Per [RFC5065] paths learned over BGP intra-confederation peering
   sessions are treated as iBGP.  There is no specification or
   operational document that defines how a mixed iBGP route-reflector
   and confederation based deplyments would work together.  Therefore,
   this document does not make recommendations for the above case.

5.  Multipath among eBGP and iBGP paths

   The best-path selection algorithm explicitly prefers eBGP paths over
   iBGP or learned from a BGP confederation member AS, which is, as per
   [RFC5065] treated the same as iBGP from perspective of best-path
   selection.  In some cases however, it might be beneficial to allow
   multipath routing between eBGP and iBGP learned paths.  This is only
   possible if some sort of tunneling technique is used to reach both
   the eBGP and iBGP paths.  If this feature is enabled, the equal

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   routes are selected prior to the MED comparison step (c) in
   Section [RFC4271].

6.  Multipath with AIGP

   AIGP attribute defined in [RFC7311] must be used for best-path
   selection prior to running any logic of Section [RFC4271].
   Only the paths with minimal value of AIGP metric are eligible for
   further consideration of tie-breaking rules.  The rest of multipath
   selection logic remains the same.

7.  Best path advertisement

   Unless BGP "Add-Path" feature described in [RFC7911] is enabled and
   even though multiple equal paths may be selected for programming into
   the routing table, a BGP speaker announces single best-path only to
   its peers.  The unique best-path is elected among the multi-path set
   using the standard tie-breaking rules.

8.  Multipath and non-deterministic tie-breaking

   Some implementations may implement non-standard tie-breaking logic,
   for example using the oldest path rule(reference).  This is generally
   not recommended, and may interact with multi-path route selection on
   downstream BGP speakers.  That is, after a route flap that affects
   the best-path upstream, the original best path would not be
   recovered, and the older path would still be advertised, possibly
   affecting the tie-breaking rules on down-stream device if for
   example, the AS_PATH contents are different from previous.

9.  Weighted equal-cost multipath

   The proposal in [I-D.ietf-idr-link-bandwidth] defines conditions
   where iBGP multipath feature might inform the routing table of
   "weights" associated with the multiple external paths.
   [I-D.ietf-idr-link-bandwidth] defines the weight extended community
   attribute as non-transitive, considers the applicability in iBGP case
   only, though there are implementations that apply it to eBGP as well.
   The proposal does not change the equal-cost multipath selection
   logic, but associates additional load-sharing attributes with
   equivalent paths.

10.  Informative References

   [BGPMP]    "BGP Best Path Selection Algorithm",

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              Mohapatra, P. and R. Fernando, "BGP Link Bandwidth
              Extended Community", draft-ietf-idr-link-bandwidth-07
              (work in progress), March 2018.

   [RFC3031]  Rosen, E., Viswanathan, A., and R. Callon, "Multiprotocol
              Label Switching Architecture", RFC 3031,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC3031, January 2001,

   [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,

   [RFC4451]  McPherson, D. and V. Gill, "BGP MULTI_EXIT_DISC (MED)
              Considerations", RFC 4451, DOI 10.17487/RFC4451, March
              2006, <>.

   [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,

   [RFC5065]  Traina, P., McPherson, D., and J. Scudder, "Autonomous
              System Confederations for BGP", RFC 5065,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC5065, August 2007,

   [RFC7311]  Mohapatra, P., Fernando, R., Rosen, E., and J. Uttaro,
              "The Accumulated IGP Metric Attribute for BGP", RFC 7311,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC7311, August 2014,

   [RFC7911]  Walton, D., Retana, A., Chen, E., and J. Scudder,
              "Advertisement of Multiple Paths in BGP", RFC 7911,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC7911, July 2016,

Authors' Addresses

   Petr Lapukhov
   1 Hacker Way
   Menlo Park, CA  94025


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   Jeff Tantsura
   Apstra, Inc.
   Menlo Park, CA  94025


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