Open source routing project gets a vital technology infusion

Free Range Routing project gives white box, virtualized environments of all sizes fast and reliable networking.

Open source networking proponents have uncorked an updated routing protocol project designed to give white box, virtualized environments of all sizes fast and reliable communications.

The project, now called the Free Range Routing (FRR) offers a full-on IP routing protocol suite for Linux/Unix platforms and includes protocol daemons for BGP, IS-IS, LDP, OSPF, PIM, and RIP. The FRR groupsays that the technology’s integration with the native Linux/Unix IP networking stacksmakes it applicable to a wide variety of applications from connectinghosts/virtual machines/containers to the network, advertising network services, LAN switching and routing, Internet access routers, and Internet peering.

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The technology project, which is also now part of The Linux Foundation, has its roots in the Quagga routing software project which had done a lot of work but was largely dormant until about a year ago, according to Cumulus Networks' co-founder and CTO JR Rivers. Cumulus along with several other contributors such as Big Switch, Orange, LabN Consulting, NetDEF, Volta Networks, 6WIND, Architecture Technology are contributing to the development of FRR.

“We merged all the work done by Quagga and combined it with new work to come out with this release [dubbed 2.0] which we are now introducing,” Rivers said.

Rivers noted a couple features of FRR that he believes make it cutting edge for open source networking applications. First it supports MPLS that will help customers use engineer network data flows.

“What’s in 2.0 is bare bones MPLS but being able to do things like segment routing to steer traffic and decrease latency will be important for customers looking to link containers or data centers or edge servers,” Rivers said.

Another key technology is support for support for Ethernet VPN or EVPN which lets users customers with Layer 2 data centers to exchange subnet information using BGP EVPN.

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Rivers also pointed to FRR support for RFC 5549 which will let BGP users interconnect IPv4-based hosts on a IPv6 infrastructure.FRR also supports virtual routing and forwarding (VRF) which lets users deploying BGP run isolated routing domains such as those used by web application infrastructures, hosting providers, and Internet Service Providers.

The FRR project listed a number of other features supported in the 2.0 release including

  • 32-bit route tags were added to BGP and OSPFv2/v3, improving route policy maintenance and increasing interoperability in multivendor environments;
  • Update-groups and nexthop tracking enable BGP to scale to ever-increasing environments; BGP add-path provides users with the ability to advertise service reachability in richly connected networks;
  • An overhaul of the CLI infrastructure and new unit test infrastructure improves the ongoing development and quality of FRR;
  • Enabling IETF NVO3 network virtualization control allows users to build standards-based interoperable network virtualization overlays.

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