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Cisco uses LISP to articulate programmability

Protocol can be used for network address virtualization; will be added to Cisco ONE

By , Network World
December 20, 2012 03:33 PM ET

Network World - Network virtualization is one of the hotter trends in the industry today, and when Cisco speaks to it you hear a distinct LISP.

Not the speech impediment, mind you - but the Location/Identifier Separation Protocol (LISP), which the company authored in 2009. LISP describes a method for reducing the number of entries in the BGP routing tables of core routers when enterprises split traffic among multiple carriers.

LISP proposes a "map and encapsulate" tunneling mechanism to be used by the Internet's edge and core routers. The protocol logically separates a block of IP addresses that a company advertises into two functions: one for identifying the systems using the IP addresses; and the other for locating where these systems connect to the Internet.

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The idea behind the routing locator and identifier separation in an IP address is that it allows LISP-enabled edge routers to aggregate the location information, so less of it needs to be stored in the core routers.

This makes LISP beneficial for the following applications, proponents say: multihoming; mobility; improved scalability; customer-managed VPN provisioning; and network virtualization, among others. For network virtualization in particular, LISP allows mobile endpoints, for example, to keep their identification while changing locations. The separated IP address becomes a virtual Layer 3 overlay abstracted from the physical network topology.

Essentially, you do the same thing with an IP address that you do with a cell number when you roam to a different network or change providers - even though your location changes, your number stays the same. With this, a user can create a VPN over the top of two different service provider networks, Cisco officials say, and allow devices to more seamlessly roam between Wi-Fi and 3G networks.

NJEDge.Net, is a non-profit technology consortium of academic and research institutions in New Jersey, is using LISP as a virtual network overlay between different ISPs in a multi-homing arrangement.

Many of the NJEDge.Net's members were procuring multiple broadband services from ISPs for business continuity reasons. But due to the challenges of balancing network traffic between ISPs using BGP, members of the consortium were often buying more bandwidth than they needed.

"They couldn't use the second link that they brought up; they had an 80:20 balance of traffic," says Jim Stankiewicz, director of Internet engineering for NJEDge.Net. "They were struggling with it."

NJEDge.Net implemented LISP to move applications, network resources or devices between network providers without having them lose connectivity. LISP enabled users to remain connected even when workloads were balanced between their ISPs.

NJEDge.Net is also assessing LISP to address disaster recovery needs. LISP provides the ability for customers to move data center resources, such as virtual machines, between data centers while maintaining connectivity.

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