Company addresses BGP shortcomings

Packet Design unveils a product designed to alleviate the security and reliability issues associated with Border Gateway Protocol

PALO ALTO - Packet Design this week will unveil a product designed to alleviate the security and reliability issues associated with Border Gateway Protocol, the routing protocol used by virtually all network routers for communication between service providers and enterprise domains.

The company's BGP Scalable Transport (BST) protocol is intended to streamline communication of BGP routing information, thereby improving security and reliability, Packet Design says. BST works with - but requires no changes to - any vendor's routers' existing BGP implementation.

Packet Design has applied for several patents on BST, which are still pending.

BST augments BGP with a new transport mechanism next to the one it currently uses, TCP. TCP sends data from one sender to one receiver.

A connection must be kept open between every pair of routers, and many copies of the same information travel across the network simultaneously, eating up router resources, Packet Design says.

With TCP, security is compromised, both because the routers lack the capacity to do resource-heavy authentication and encryption while managing such large numbers of connections, and because peering exposes routing services and leaves the network routers vulnerable to attacks, the company says.

Reliability also suffers because the failure of even one TCP connection leads to the exchange of large routing tables, causing large-scale ripple effects across the network.

The company's BGP transport alternative is BST, which transmits information using a technique known as flooding. Instead of a message being sent from an originating router to every other router in the network, it is sent only to the first router's immediate "neighbor" routers, which in turn send it to their neighbors, and so on.

BST requires significantly fewer connections than TCP, so a network can scale to a much greater size with minimal concern for connection loss, security breaches, slow convergence times and configuration complexity, Packet Design says.

BST can be used between route processors in a single router, between routers in a point of presence, between POPs in an autonomous network, or between autonomous networks.

Packet Design's BST reference implementation will be available next month. Pricing includes an initial license fee starting at $100,000 plus a per-device royalty, which is based on volume.

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Packet Design

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