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Versions: 00                                                            
Network Working Group                                       H. Berkowitz
Internet Draft                           Chesapeake Computer Consultants
Expiration Date:  September 1998                              March 1998

                    Techniques in OSPF-based Network Deployment

Status of this Memo

   This document is an Internet-Draft. Internet-Drafts are working
   documents of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), its areas,
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1. Abstract

OSPF is the preferred interior routing protocol of the Internet.  It is
a complex protocol intended to deal with complex networks.  While it is
a powerful mechanism, it does not handle all situations, and its
appropriate use may not be obvious to beginners.  Standards track documents
deal with protocol design, but deployment of OSPF in many enterprise
networks has been limited by lack of information on best current practice
information for interior routing.  Best Current Practices documents have
focused on general exterior connectivity. This memorandum is intended to
complement the protocol specification by describing the experience-based,
vendor-independent techniques of OSPF and complementary technologies in
representative networks.  Better understanding of the use of OSPF features
to help exterior connectivity will help reduce the demand for complex user
BGP configuration.

2. Introduction

RFC1812, Requirements for IPv4 Routers, says "a router that implements any
routing protocol (other than static   routes) MUST IMPLEMENT OSPF...  A
router MAY   implement additional IGPs."   This is a well-crafted
statement, as it recognizes that static may be a useful complement to OSPF.

All too often, network operators work from the limiting belief that if they
use OSPF, it must run everywhere in their networks.  They see the two-level
hierarchy suggested by an Area 0 and a subordinate set of nonzero areas,
and assume that networks using OSPF must be strictly hierarchical with only
two hierarchical levels.

3. Barriers to Understanding OSPF Deployment

3.1 OSPF and Autonomous Systems

OSPF specifications assume an enterprise's set of networks equate to an
autonomous system.  These specifications use the term autonomous system
in a manner inconsistent with the current usage, which speaks of an AS
in terms of exterior routing.  RFC1930 defines an AS as a set of
routers, under one or more administrations, that presents a common
routing policy to the global Internet.

It is useful to define an OSPF domain as an Area 0 and some number of
nonzero areas.  In the broader sense, a routing domain is a set of
routers, with a common set of routing mechanisms and routing policies,
under a single administration.

A general observation: OSPF has a terminology problem here.  "Inter-
zone" communication is the role of what OSPF calls a "Autonomous System
Border Router," but the "zones" don't need, in reality, to be distinct
AS.  A term from the routing literature that probably is more recognized
than "AS" or "zone" is "routing domain."

OSPF has a built-in mechanism for connecting different domains, the
ASBR.  ASBRs interconnect routing domains.  Any  OSPF router
that advertises external routes is an ASBR.  Examples include:

   1.  An OSPF process that accepts routes from another separate
       OSPF process:

   2.  An OSPF process that accepts routes from another dynamic interior
       routing process:

       Another option is to have static routes going to an
       enterprise core network
       from each OSPF Area 0, such that the Area 0's advertise the default
       route into their subordinate areas, but the ASBR containing the
       static  route advertises the default into Area 0.

   3.  An OSPF process that accepts static routes and advertises the

   4.  An OSPF process that accepts routes from a BGP exterior routing
       process and advertises them into OSPF.  Details of this are
       not shown, because configurations involving redistribution to
       and from OSPF usually involve fairly complex filtering and other
       mechanisms to avoid loops and injections of huge numbers of

3.2 Thinking about Externals

The path determination workload of an OSPF area is influenced most
strongly by the number of network, summary, and external LSAs involved
in the routing computation.  The various stub area schemes, stub, not-
so-stubby, and the vendor-specific totally stubby, all help when a large
number of externals would be injected into an area.

In medicine, there is a classic piece of advice from a physician to a
patient who complains that some odd movement of his arm hurts:  if that
hurts, don't do it.  If the nature of a routing environment is such that
large numbers of externals do not exist, then there is no benefit to
exploring stub area techniques to control the propagation of externals.

Most beginners tend to think of floods of externals into OSPF due
primarily to Internet connectivity. They imagine nearly 50,000 routes of
a current Internet default-free routing table overwhelming their
routers.  In practice, it would be extremely unlikely to find any
significant benefit would come from injecting such a table into the OSPF
routing system.  In most cases, no more than a default route needs to
injected to achieve connectivity.  Even if preferential exits for
certain exterior destinations are desired, that is more likely to be an
Interior BGP problem than an OSPF one.

In practice, a major source of external routes can come from one's own
enterprise, as part of a migration from RIP or IGRP, or from
static/default routes used to connect edge routers to the main routing
system.  Another way to think of this is that large numbers of external
routes can come from other routing domains in your own organization.

If the intra-organizational external routes are injected into OSPF
through ASBRs connected to Area 0, stub techniques may be effective in
controlling the number of externals that impose workload on nonzero
areas.  Even in this case, do summarize the externals as much as

More challenging situations arise when the intra-organizational routes
come in at the edge of a nonzero area.   Assume, for example, that an
organization has a large number of small offices, each with a single
frame relay PVC that carries its traffic to the next level of the
corporate routing hierarchy.  Each of the small edge routers needs a
default route toward the next level.

The next level, however, is composed of OSPF-speaking routers. Even though
they are in a nonzero area, they are still ASBRs. Since these routers will
not speak OSPF to the edge routers, these second-level routers will need to
have static routes that point to these edge subnets, and then the static
routing information needs to be advertised as external routes into OSPF.
Remember that these externals can be summarized on the ASBR.

3.3 Hierarchy and OSPF

It should never be forgotten there are two ways to achieve hierarchy and
aggregation:  address summarization, and physical topology.  Many newcomers
to OSPF think only of the first, since OSPF summarizes on ABRs and ASBRs.
This leads to an incorrect assumption that OSPF has at best three levels of

    1. Intra-area
    2. Inter-area
    3. External

It is true that reduction in routing information and consequent reduction
of the routing computation workload only can come at these levels. But
there are other benefits of hierarchy, such as minimizing hop count,
simplifying debugging as opposed to complex meshes, etc.

Inside a nonzero area, it is perfectly reasonable to have a hierarchy of
internal routers, leading up to area border routers at the apex of the area
hierarchy.  Several small OSPF speakers at  "branch offices" might single-
or dual home to "district level" interior routers. Groups of district
routers might in turn single or dual home to regional routers, and groups
of regional routers might single or dual home to area border routers.

Hierarchy can begin anew inside area 0.  ABRs can be concentrated
topologically by homing to backbone routers, and the backbone routers may
in turn home on ASBRs.

A higher-level, non-OSPF core network may usefully link the top
hierarchical ASBRs of multiple OSPF routing domains.  Such a core network
could be statically routed or use BGP.

3.4 Virtual Links

A virtual link is a tunnel that has at least one end in Area 0.  Virtual
Links (VL) are a mechanism that can be used within OSPF to handle
certain connectivity patterns.  The standard is a bit "soft" on their
applications, and support engineers have seen a variety of VL
applications. For some of the problems being raised, it appears better
OSPF solutions may exist.

A matter of particular interest is the potential advantages of NSSAs
over some of the VL solutions to bringing in a new "community of
interest."  See the discussion below of VL applicability in other than
backbone robustness.

The perception of virtual links' untility seems to be as a means of
accomodating specical connectivity requirements "inside" a single "OSPF
domain," the latter defined as a set of an Area 0 and some number of
nonzero areas.

In some of these requirements, virtual links may be completely
appropriate, one of several potential solutions, or definitiely not an
appropriate solution.

Some designers may use virtual links to avoid other mechanisms that they
do not like, such as defining the enterprise's network with multiple
interconnected OSPF domains.

Virtual links are not necessarily the appropriate solution, but cases
have been seen where they are used for:

    ---  Protecting against Area 0 partitioning
    ---  Making one area 0 following the merger of two enterprises,
          both of which ran independent OSPF
    ---  Providing connectivity to a newly acquired enterprise
          whose best connectivity is to a router in a nonzero area
          of the acquiring enterprise

4. Area Sizing and Numbering Strategies

4.1 Communities of Interest

Select a set of clients and servers that primarily speak to one another.
Is the number of routers required, after growth projections have been
applied, less than the vendor-recommended limit?

Let's review basic OSPF, emphasizing points that can help establish
hierarchies of more than two levels.   Let's also review some sizing
considerations for areas, bearing in mind
that this can be as much art and science.  Experienced routing designers
know they won't always hit the correct area structure, and expect to
have to monitor and tune the design of a large OSPF system.  Especially
experienced routing designers know this tuning will primarily involve
topology and bandwidth, rather than "knob twisting" for timers and

The guideline about limiting the number of nonzero areas in an ABR, in
practice, means that large numbers of areas  within a single OSPF system
tend to require large and expensive numbers of ABRs. This is especially
true attempting to avoid a single point of failure -- a single ABR --
per area.

Many factors go into choosing the number of OSPF speakers inside an
area.  A few conservative guidelines for these and other sizing

   1.  Begin setting up area definitions based on communities of interest.
It is highly desirable if the majority of traffic can stay intra-area.

   2.  Do not exceed your vendor guidelines on routers per nonzero area.
Counts from 50 to 200 routes are often cited, although much larger numbers
have worked in specific environments.  Use the lower numbers when media
tend to "bounce" up and down.  As we will see below, this doesn't preclude
a large number of routers in what can be considered an area, because the
"stub" routers need not speak OSPF.
       This is conservative, and many vendor implementations have wored
well with larger numbers of OSPF speakers per area. The specific limit will
vary with the OSPF software implementation, the processing power of the
router platform, and the size and stability of the topological database.
       If areas defined on community of interest contain too many routers
under rule #2, consider splitting the area. Look for geographic/provider
natural boundaries for splitting.

   3.  Think carefully about the relationships you want between the
backbone and each non-backbone area.  Some small OSPF environments put
everything into Area 0.  This can be reasonable if the only reasons for
using OSPF are fast convergence and flexible addressing among a small set
of routers.  The power of OSPF is only fully realized with multiple areas.

   4.  Area 0 is intended as a transit area.  Capacity planning and
troubleshooting tend to be easiest when there are no application servers in
area 0.  Given the connectivity of area 0, it may be reasonable to place
network management or DNS servers there.
       If the application topology is hierarchical, as might be found where
a mainframes or server farms provides most application services, still use
caution in putting this server in area 0.  Mainframes or server farms often
have local inter-server communications, such as backup, that should be kept
out of area 0.  It may be wise to put the central servers in a small area
of their own.

   5.  Several techniques exist for setting up areas and controlling
advertisements in and out of them.   You don't need to use the same
techniques in every nonzero area. Remember that you don't use these
simply to reduce the amount of routing traffic, but also for stability.
Stability increases as the number of routing table recomputations

Summarization and the various kinds of stub areas reduce routing table
recomputation by hiding specific routes.  In other words, an
interior router in Area 1, doesn't need to recompute the Area 1
routing table if a link goes up or down in Area 0.  Media, especially,
have a habit of bouncing up and down; hiding links outside my area
reduces "route flapping" leading to recomputation.

An Area Border Router between Area 1 and Area 0  probably needs
to know if a link in Area 0 changes state, but it doesn't need to
know if a link in Area 51 changes state.  The exception to this case is
where finding the absolutely optimal path from Area 1 to Area 0 to Area 51
is more important than stability.  This might be the case in some
international networks with low-bandwidth links.

The reason to use the less general types of areas is they allow reducing
the amount of routing information advertised from the backbone into
nonzero areas.

Inside a given area, be it backbone or non-backbone, there can be a
hierarchy among OSPF speakers.  For example, it is perfectly reasonable
to reduce the peering in the backbone by connecting the Area 0 side of
ABRs to "collapsed backbone" router(s).    In large
networks, it can avoid problems due to excessive numbers of neighbors to
any given Area 0 router.

4.2 Numbering

There is a widespread misperception that areas will only work with a single
contiguous address range.  Even a small amount of summarization, however,
will considerably increase the stability of OSPF systems because it hides
route flap.

A common recommendation, assuming that a single contiguous block, such as
an /18 prefix is given to the enterprise, is to "bit split" the prefix such
that the first high-order bits below the global prefix identifies the area.
For a routing domain with four nonzero areas, this would allocate a /20
prefix to each area:

     /20 starting 00xxxx...   area 1
         starting 01xxxx...   area 2
         starting 10xxxx...   area 3
         starting 11xxxx...   area 4

This approach seems straightforward, but suffers from several limitations.

First, what about area 0? No space has been left for it.  In any case, it
is likely that a /20 assigned to area 0 would waste a great deal of space,
since area 0 should have a small number of router interfaces in it.

One technique when using the bit-split method, and assuming registered
addresses are used in the nonzero areas, is to use RFC1918 private address
space for area 0. This can be quite reasonable, because there are few
legitimate reasons why an arbitrary external Internet host would need to
access a backbone interface internal to an enterprise network.  One
possible criticism of this approach is that traceroutes that traversed the
backbone might show the private address space, but it is usually apparent
when this is happening.  Another reason why area 0 interfaces might need
registered addresses is that the management of the network is outsourced.
In outsourcing situations, the service provider commonly can assign some of
its allocated address space for interfaces it will manage,

Another and more general approach is to bit-split to a level deeper than
the number of areas. In the example above, there were 4 nonzero areas, and
4 /20 blocks. The /20 comes from it being the first power of two that can
contain 4 areas.

Consider, however, going 2 or 3 powers of two deeper. Divide the available
address space into 8, 16, or 32 blocks. These, respectively, would be /21,
/22, or /23 address prefixes.

One of these blocks can be assigned to Area 0.  It is a reality that the
number of users in individual areas will vary, so area 1 might, for
example, need three /21 blocks, area 2 might need two such blocks, area 1
might need one. Several blocks can be reserved for growth as needed.

These blocks can still be summarized to avoid route flap.

5. Increasing Backbone Reliability

A failure in Area 0 is critical.

A single Area 0 has a single point of failure.  Hopefully,  the ASCII
graphic shows this.  Area 0 has two interconnected Border Routers, BR1
and BR2.  To avoid single router points of failure, there are two ABRs,
each with three interfaces:  Area 0, Area 1, and Area 2.

5.1 VL Solution

If the BR1-BR2 link fails, a VL can be defined between the Area 1
interface of ABR-1 and between the Area 1 interface of ABR-2.  This
reconstitutes backbone connectivity with a tunnel through Area 1.

               \                                           /
                \                  ...to BR2              /
                 ABR-1     ABR-2--/                      ABR-3
                   |  |      |      *                  |
                   |  |-------      *                  |
                   |     VL?        *                  |
                   |                *                  |
                   v                *                  v
                  Area 1            *               Area 2

5.2 Alternative using Adding Circuit(s)

The preferred way to solve this problem is adding a parallel link
between BR1 and BR2.   Especially if these links can be per-packet load
balanced, convergence would be extremely fast.

This solution, however, incurs additional cost for the additional
circuit. Balanced against this cost is the performance impact the VL
would have on the routers and links in the nonzero area through which
the VL is tunneled. Those routers and links may have been engineered for
the traffic estimates and performance goals under the workload of that
single area, not of that area with backbone traffic added to it.

5.3 Alternative using non-OSPF network

An alternative approach, especially useful if demand OSPF is not
available, is to split Area 0 and create two OSPF domains.  Each domain
has a static route that points to the address range in the other domain.
This route is advertised into the local domain as a Type 1 external.

6. Backbones of Backbones

The method described in 5.3 above can be generalized to give more
effective levels of hierarchy in an overall network that uses OSPF for
its dynamic routing.

True, OSPF's area structure has two levels, Area 0 and everything else.
A routing architecture for an enterprise that uses OSPF, however, can be
more than a simple hierarchy of backbone and non-backbone areas.  We can
extend its notion of hierarchy both above Area 0 and below the nonzero
areas.  Even inside an area, there are some forms of hierarchy.

Such an architecture also lends itself to evolution to an ATM service in
the core. It can also be reasonable to have interior routers that
"concentrate" traffic, or act as collapsed backbones within an area.

It is also perfectly reasonable to have a broader OSPF routing
environment, in which some routers do not speak OSPF but cooperate with
those that do.  At the "high" end, this involves redistribution of
external routes into OSPF.  At the "low" end, this involves static and
default routes from stub routers to the lowest level of OSPF router
inside a nonzero area.  Let's talk about the lowest level first.

The lowest level is a "stub" or "edge" router with a single outgoing
path, such as a branch office router with several LAN links, perhaps a
STUN serial interface for IBM support, and a single WAN link. There are
no routers on any of the LANs.

Such a router really doesn't need to run any dynamic routing protocol.
It should default to a higher-level router.

Assuming the higher-level router has multiple links going toward the
backbone, that router does need to run OSPF.  It doesn't need to connect
directly to the backbone.

7. Transition and Network Consolidation

A management imperative that often occurs after the merger of two
enterprises is eliminating the "expense of duplicate backbones."  At a
slighly more technical level, this means an OSPF design that has a
single Area 0.

7.1 A Solution using VLs

Among many OSPF users, it is a matter of faith and morals that there
entire enterprise appear as a single OSPF domain.  As a consequence,
I've seen designs with a single area 0 spanning serveral continents,
with each continent having significantly different line quality and
speed, needs for demand backup circuits between parts of the area, etc.

Two companies, A, and B, merge.  Each has an existing OSPF  system, with
its own area 0.  These Area 0s are widely separated geographically, but
they each have an Area 1 whose boundaries are in fairly close proximity.
Each ABR has a single interface to Area 0.

The two companies perceive they want "a single backbone".  They do not
wish to renumber every network and router, but are willing to merge two
nonzero areas if that were helpful.  They are also unwilling, at the
present time, to merge their two backbones, principally due to the
geographic distance between them.

They merge their Area 1's,  renumbering appropriately adding physical
connectivity between the company A area 1 and the company B area 1. They
now have a common Area 1, and then define a VL between the two ABRs.

There is now a "single backbone."  Potentially, a large amount of
inter-area traffic now flows through the combined Area 1.  Neither Area
1 presumably was designed to support  that flow, but that of the traffic
of the community of routers for which it originally was built.

7.2 An Alternate Solution using External Links between the Area 0's

Do not attempt to create a single Area 0.  Rather than trying to merge
the backbones or the area 1's, define an ASBR function in each Area 0
that has one or more static (or even BGP) routes to the ASBR of the
other Area 0, and vice versa.  Each ASBR advertises the default, and may
or may not advertise the external routes to the other Area 0.  Doing
this requires adding one or more links between A-Area 0 and B-Area 0.

This requires no changes to any of the nonzero areas, which still can
default to their existing Area 0.  If tuning or topology changes are
needed to handle traffic flows, most of this can be done at the core
tier.  Such tuning would involve a smaller set of routers not directly
connected, in most cases, to end systems.

The core tier now consists of two Area 0's and a set of links between

7.3 An Alternate Solution using Two Area 0's

Both companies have OSPF, but topological or other factors make it
difficult to make a direct connection between Area 0s.  In this case,
establish a Company B ASBR that will advertise Company B routes to
Company A.  This ASBR might be on the Company B Area 0, or in another
area.  In either case, it advertises routes to the other ASBR, using
multiple static routes or BGP.

The company A ASBR can generate a default and advertise Company A
addresses to Company B, using appropriate filtering.  If the Company A
ASBR is in a non-zero area, NSSA may be appropriate.

Company B has OSPF in place.  Add an ASBR to its Area 0, with a static
route  to the Area 0 of Company A.

8. Transition of Legacy Routing Protocol Domains to OSPF

8.1 Problems of Integrating a Newly Acquired Enterprise; OSPF not used
by new acquisition

Company A acquires a smaller Company B.  Company B now runs RIP, or
possibly has a limited OSPF implementation. Company B is not
geographically close to the Area 0 of Company A.

There are several ways to deal with this situation while imposing
minimal impact on Company B users.

8.2 An OSPF and VL Solution.

Replace RIP with OSPF on the Company B routers, assigning the Company B
address space to a new nonzero area.  Define a VL from one of the new
area's routers,  tunneled through an existing Company A area, that
attaches to the  backbone at the edge of the Company A area.

Eventually, provide direct connectivity to Area 0 from the Company B
area, and delete the VL.

Disadvantages here include an immediate conversion to OSPF, the cost of
connectivity between the new area and the existing area that carries the
VL, and the additional traffic load imposed on the nonzero area with the
Area 0 connection.

8.3 Run RIP in Company B area, with link to Area 0 ASBR that learns RIP

Leave Company B running RIP.  Run a link to a Company A, Area 0 router.
Either redistribute the RIP routes into Area 0, or simply run RIP on the
ASBR and have it originate the default into Area 0.  If additional
bandwidth or connectivity changes are needed to handle the Company B
trafic, this primarily can be restricted to Area 0 where it is not
visible to end users.

The disadvantage here is the cost of additional circuits from the
Company B area to Area 0.  Also, ASBR default injection into a nonzero
area can create loops if conflicting defaults are being advertised
elsewhere, as by an ABR.

8.4 Run RIP in Company B area, with an ASBR in the transit nonzero area
of Company A.

Again Company B runs RIP. It connects to the nearest potential ASBR in
an established Company A area, and is advertised as an external route
into that area.  This nonzero area then injects the external, possibly
summarizing it, into Area 0. This method is less flexible in terms of
advertising defaults than is 5.2, and also has the disadvantage of
injecting external traffic into an area not originally designed to
handle it.  Since the area with the ASBR can no longer be stubby, it may
be flooded with significant numbers of Type 5 LSAs from the backbone and
other areas.

8.5 ASBR Solution with NSSAs

Again Company B runs RIP. It connects to the nearest potential ASBR in
an established Company A area, and is advertised as an external route
into that area.  This ASBR supports NSSA, and translates the RIP routes
into Type 7 LSAs, which are sent to ABRs of this area and translated to
externals in Area 0.

The established nonzero area maitains its generally stubby quality, and
will not be flooded by unnecessary Type 5 LSAs.

9. Traffic Management

In the real world, situations may arise where a client in one area has a
significant traffic exchange with a server in another area. The volume of
this traffic is such that a special virtual circuit or dedicated line would
be warranted, but establishing such a link would violate the OSPF
hierarchy.  If routers on both ends were in different areas, the hello
protocol handshake would fail and there would be no routing between them.

Again, this is a matter of if it hurts to do something, don't do it.  Most
routers have a mechanism for preferring one source of routing information
over another.  In this case, establish a static route between the client
and server prefixes.

In the routers along this path between client and server, give the static
route a preference factor that makes it more preferable than OSPF. While
the details will be specific to individual router implementations, it is
usually quite practical to establish OSPF routing, through area 0, as a
backup to the preferred static path.

10. Multiple Exit Points/Multihoming

Use the power of OSPF's two types of externals when defining your policy
for Internet connectivity.   Many enterprise designers assume, incorrectly,
they must run BGP to deal properly with connection to multiple Points of
Presence (POP) of the same ISP, or to multiple ISPs when a
primary/secondary policy is desired. See [Multihome] for a discussion of

11. Security Considerations

Security considerations are not discussed in this memo.

12. Acknowledgments

13. References

[RFC1812] Baker, F., "Requirements for IP Version 4 Routers", RFC
1812, June 1995.

[RFC2178] Moy, J., "Open Shortest Path First version 2," RFC2178

[Multihome] Work in progress, H. Berkowitz, "To Be Multihomed:
Requirements & Definitions," draft-berkowitz-multirqmt-01.txt.

14. Author's Address

Howard C. Berkowitz
Chesapeake Computer Consultants
PO Box 6897
Arlington VA 22206
Phone: +1 703 998 5819
EMail: hcb@clark.net

Berkowitz               Draft-berkowitz-ospfdeploy-00.txt