Friday, October 8, 2010

Enable BGP load sharing with Multipath-relax

If your network is like most large enterprise’s, chances are you have Internet connection from dual ISPs to your data center.

It used to be a popular tactic to have a primary provider, and a backup provider which you pay lesser bandwidth for. In recent years, usage based circuits has given way to flat rate, often larger bandwidth circuits from both ISPs. After all, users demand more bandwidth, even in failure scenarios.

Why would you pay for expensive Internet access and only letting it sitting idle most of the time? Therefore, load sharing on redundant ISP connections has become highly desirable for data centers.

By default, BGP only installs one route into the routing table. To accomplish load sharing, BGP multipath needs to be enabled. To further complicate the matter, BGP requires all paths to have the following equal characteristics in order to become equal cost path:
• Weight
• Local preference
• AS-PATH length
• Origin

Since neighboring AS or AS-PATH must be equal, that means BGP can only load balance to a single AS or single ISP. Since different ISP will have different AS and AS-PATH, BGP will only pick one best route.

So how does Cisco support load balancing to two ISPs? There is a hidden command bgp bestpath as-path multipath-relax

I don’t know why it is hidden command, since it appears to be a very useful feature, and it is supported. But do use with caution, as the number of routing entries will increase, often overwhelming the limited memory you have on the Internet router.

In this year’s Networker, an alternative method was also shown, essentially separating out the Internet routing table by even and odd digits, for outbound traffic.

No comments:

Post a Comment