xBGP: When You Can't Wait for the IETF and Vendors

Thu, 11/19/2020 - 14:29 by Thomas Wirtgen


Thanks to the standardization of routing protocols such as BGP, OSPF or IS-IS, Internet Service Providers (ISP) and enterprise networks can deploy routers from various vendors. This prevents them from vendor-lockin problems. Unfortunately, this also slows innovation since any new feature must be standardized and implemented by all vendors before being deployed.

We propose a paradigm shift that enables network operators to program the routing protocols used in their networks. We demonstrate the feasibility of this approach with xBGP. xBGP is a vendor neutral API that exposes the key data structures and functions of any BGP implementation. Each xBGP compliant implementation includes an eBPF virtual machine that executes the operator supplied programs. We extend FRRouting and BIRD to support this new paradigm and demonstrate the flexibility of xBGP with four different use cases. Finally, we discuss how xBGP could affect future research on future routing protocols.

Thomas Wirtgen, Quentin De Coninck, Laurent Vanbever, Randy Bush and Olivier Bonaventure
Proceedings of the 19th ACM Workshop on Hot Topics in Networks (HotNets '20), pages 1-7, Virtual Event, USA, November 2020. Association for Computing Machinery.
BGP, eBGP, Network Architecture, Routing
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