Routing Protocol Visualization

Milan Zapletal
September 1, 2018
Est. Reading: 2 minutes

Routing, one of the most important features in network world. It’s been at least a two decades since most of ISPs rely on Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) in their core, supported by Interior Gateway Protocols (IGP). Local area networks are running and routing with use of IGPs on their own and it’s already being utilized as an underlying protocol for other features like Virtual Extensible LANs and more. There’s no question that routing as a feature is holding technological world together, but as networks grow, it’s more and more obvious that administrator are more likely to miss an issue.

In demand of visual

Command line interface is fast but when we try to see a bigger picture, we can easily miss the point while interacting with ten routers at once. That’s why routing protocol visualization itself become one of the most wanted features in IP Fabric since its start.

Routing table discovery has been implemented for a long time now and it’s not what will be discussed. Very recently we have been working on various parameters discovery for routing protocols, it started with OSPF support, while RIP support is in progress (and yes it’s still out there), Cisco native EIGRP and of course BGP. All have full Virtual Routing and Forwarding (VRF) instances support, which makes it a much more powerful as a feature for larger networks. The very next in line may be IS-IS, but I don’t want to speculate for now.

Discover OSPF neighbors

Open Shortest Path First (OSPF) may be one of the most used IGP protocol at this time. Again, I haven’t seen all networks in the world but my guess is, it would be so. It’s very wide-spread within vendors, easy to implement. IP Fabric currently supports OSPF on Cisco, Juniper and HP/Comware all with VRF support. Let’s have a quick tour in our lab.

In our virtual lab environment we ran discovery from IP Fabric and if in search of OSPF data, the best is to visit Technology > Routing > OSPF from the left-side menu.

IMG1: OSPF neighbors output

It’s very neat set of information, clear to all techs and the view is vendor neutral. For example the ‘Area’ information is formatted/translated to single integer, also for Juniper boxes where it’s standardly represented in IP/CIDR format. Again you can manipulate the view, remove or add columns or even change their order as you like, it’s all very flexible. Let’s switch to visual interpretation.

Exploring routing protocol diagrams
GIF1: Exploring routing diagrams

While in diagrams, all parameters pop-up as we need, those are the same as provided in OSPF neighbors table, but it’s filtered per diagram content. Same we can explore in BGP, we can even see Autonomous System numbers on connecting links. IP Fabric currently supports also site-to-site OSPF neighbourship when using tunnel interfaces of other technologies.

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