Are Cisco-led routing, switching specs necessary?

Some say LISP and TRILL may be reinventing the wheel

Two specifications in the IETF - one authored by Cisco, the other in a working group led by a Cisco engineer - are facing some resistance due to redundancy with capabilities already or soon to be on the market. One is TRILL, the much publicized replacement for Spanning Tree in Ethernet data center switching fabrics; the other is LISP, referred to by Cisco as "a new routing architecture" for enterprises, service providers and data centers.

The TRILL working group in the IETF is under the leadership of co-chair Donald Eastlake, a principal engineer at Cisco. LISP was originally authored by a group of Cisco engineers in 2009.

But Cisco, the dominant supplier of Ethernet switches to data centers, will soon ship a "pre-standard superset" of TRILL that will likely beat the IETF spec to market. And Cisco essentially says that customers who demand TRILL will lose some of the added capabilities of that "pre-standard superset" - called FabricPath - if they opt for TRILL.

Meanwhile, rival Juniper says it's been offering TRILL-like topologies on its switches for over two years. Juniper, which is making a big push for data center switching market share, doesn't see a need to implement TRILL beyond multivendor interoperability.

And the number two router vendor to Cisco doesn't see a need for LISP at all. Juniper says it's a single vendor-driven effort for a single vendor-driven need. And Juniper and the IETF note other activities and techniques, such as the ILNP work in the Internet Research Task Force, already underway or on the market which could be alternatives to LISP.

So are LISP and TRILL, arguably two anticipated IETF specifications for next-generation routing and switching, really necessary?

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