RFC 7947

Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)                       E. Jasinska
Request for Comments: 7947                                    BigWave IT
Category: Standards Track                                    N. Hilliard
ISSN: 2070-1721                                                     INEX
                                                               R. Raszuk
                                                            Bloomberg LP
                                                               N. Bakker
                                                Akamai Technologies B.V.
                                                          September 2016

                   Internet Exchange BGP Route Server


   This document outlines a specification for multilateral
   interconnections at Internet Exchange Points (IXPs).  Multilateral
   interconnection is a method of exchanging routing information among
   three or more External BGP (EBGP) speakers using a single
   intermediate broker system, referred to as a route server.  Route
   servers are typically used on shared access media networks, such as
   IXPs, to facilitate simplified interconnection among multiple
   Internet routers.

Status of This Memo

   This is an Internet Standards Track document.

   This document is a product of the Internet Engineering Task Force
   (IETF).  It represents the consensus of the IETF community.  It has
   received public review and has been approved for publication by the
   Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG).  Further information on
   Internet Standards is available in Section 2 of RFC 7841.

   Information about the current status of this document, any errata,
   and how to provide feedback on it may be obtained at

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RFC 7947                  IXP BGP Route Server            September 2016

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2016 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
   Provisions Relating to IETF Documents
   (http://trustee.ietf.org/license-info) in effect on the date of
   publication of this document.  Please review these documents
   carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect
   to this document.  Code Components extracted from this document must
   include Simplified BSD License text as described in Section 4.e of
   the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as
   described in the Simplified BSD License.

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction to Multilateral Interconnection  . . . . . . . .   3
     1.1.  Notational Conventions  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   2.  Technical Considerations for Route Server Implementations . .   4
     2.1.  Client UPDATE Messages  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
     2.2.  Attribute Transparency  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
       2.2.1.  NEXT_HOP Attribute  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
       2.2.2.  AS_PATH Attribute . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5  Route Server AS_PATH Management . . . . . . . . .   5  Route Server client AS_PATH Management  . . . . .   5
       2.2.3.  MULTI_EXIT_DISC Attribute . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
       2.2.4.  Communities Attributes  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
     2.3.  Per-Client Policy Control in Multilateral Interconnection   6
       2.3.1.  Path Hiding on a Route Server . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
       2.3.2.  Mitigation of Path Hiding . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7  Multiple Route Server RIBs  . . . . . . . . . . .   7  Advertising Multiple Paths  . . . . . . . . . . .   8
       2.3.3.  Implementation Suggestions  . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   3.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   4.  References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
     4.1.  Normative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
     4.2.  Informative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
   Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
   Authors' Addresses  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12

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RFC 7947                  IXP BGP Route Server            September 2016

1.  Introduction to Multilateral Interconnection

   Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) provide IP data interconnection
   facilities for their participants, typically using shared Layer 2
   networking media such as Ethernet.  The Border Gateway Protocol (BGP)
   [RFC4271], an inter-Autonomous System (inter-AS) routing protocol, is
   commonly used to facilitate exchange of network reachability
   information over such media.

   While bilateral EBGP sessions between exchange participants were
   previously the most common means of exchanging reachability
   information, the overhead associated with dense interconnection can
   cause substantial operational scaling problems for participants of
   larger IXPs.

   Multilateral interconnection is a method of interconnecting BGP
   speaking routers using a third-party brokering system, commonly
   referred to as a route server and typically managed by the IXP
   operator.  Each multilateral interconnection participant (usually
   referred to as a "route server client") announces network
   reachability information to the route server using EBGP.  The route
   server, in turn, forwards this information to each route server
   client connected to it, according to its configuration.  Although a
   route server uses BGP to exchange reachability information with each
   of its clients, it does not forward traffic itself and is therefore
   not a router.

   A route server can be viewed as similar in function to a route
   reflector [RFC4456], except that it operates using EBGP instead of
   Internal BGP (IBGP).  Certain adaptions to [RFC4271] are required to
   enable an EBGP router to operate as a route server; these are
   outlined in Section 2 of this document.  Route server functionality
   is not mandatory in BGP implementations.

   The term "route server" is often used in a different context to
   describe a BGP node whose purpose is to accept BGP feeds from
   multiple clients for the purpose of operational analysis and
   troubleshooting.  A system of this form may alternatively be known as
   a "route collector" or a "route-views server".  This document uses
   the term "route server" exclusively to describe multilateral peering
   brokerage systems.

1.1.  Notational Conventions

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in

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RFC 7947                  IXP BGP Route Server            September 2016

2.  Technical Considerations for Route Server Implementations

   A route server uses BGP [RFC4271] to broker network reachability
   information amongst its clients.  There are some differences between
   the behavior of a BGP route server and a BGP implementation that is
   strictly compliant with [RFC4271].  These differences are described
   as follows.

2.1.  Client UPDATE Messages

   A route server MUST accept all UPDATE messages received from each of
   its clients for inclusion in its Adj-RIB-In.  These UPDATE messages
   MAY be omitted from the route server's Loc-RIB or Loc-RIBs, due to
   filters configured for the purpose of implementing routing policy.
   The route server SHOULD perform one or more BGP Decision Processes to
   select routes for subsequent advertisement to its clients, taking
   into account possible configuration to provide multiple Network Layer
   Reachability Information (NLRI) paths to a particular client as
   described in Section or multiple Loc-RIBs as described in
   Section  The route server SHOULD forward UPDATE messages
   from its Loc-RIB or Loc-RIBs to its clients as determined by local

2.2.  Attribute Transparency

   As a route server primarily performs a brokering service,
   modification of attributes could cause route server clients to alter
   their BGP Decision Process for received prefix reachability
   information, thereby changing the intended routing policies of
   exchange participants.  Therefore, contrary to what is specified in
   Section 5 of [RFC4271], route servers SHOULD NOT by default (unless
   explicitly configured) update well-known BGP attributes received from
   route server clients before redistributing them to their other route
   server clients.  Optional recognized and unrecognized BGP attributes,
   whether transitive or non-transitive, SHOULD NOT be updated by the
   route server (unless enforced by local IXP operator configuration)
   and SHOULD be passed on to other route server clients.

2.2.1.  NEXT_HOP Attribute

   The NEXT_HOP is a well-known mandatory BGP attribute that defines the
   IP address of the router used as the next hop to the destinations
   listed in the NLRI field of the UPDATE message.  As the route server
   does not participate in the actual routing of traffic, the NEXT_HOP
   attribute MUST be passed unmodified to the route server clients,
   similar to the "third-party" next-hop feature described in
   Section 5.1.3. of [RFC4271].

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RFC 7947                  IXP BGP Route Server            September 2016

2.2.2.  AS_PATH Attribute

   AS_PATH is a well-known mandatory attribute that identifies the ASes
   through which routing information carried in the UPDATE message has
   passed.  Route Server AS_PATH Management

   As a route server does not participate in the process of forwarding
   data between client routers, and because modification of the AS_PATH
   attribute could affect the route server client BGP Decision Process,
   the route server SHOULD NOT prepend its own AS number to the AS_PATH
   segment nor modify the AS_PATH segment in any other way.  This
   differs from the behavior specified in Section 5.1.2 of [RFC4271],
   which requires that the BGP speaker prepends its own AS number as the
   last element of the AS_PATH segment.  This is a recommendation rather
   than a requirement solely to provide backwards compatibility with
   legacy route server client implementations that do not yet support
   the requirements specified in Section  Route Server client AS_PATH Management

   In contrast to what is recommended in Section 6.3 of [RFC4271], route
   server clients need to be able to accept UPDATE messages where the
   leftmost AS in the AS_PATH attribute is not equal to the AS number of
   the route server that sent the UPDATE message.  If the route server
   client BGP system has implemented a check for this, the BGP
   implementation MUST allow this check to be disabled and SHOULD allow
   the check to be disabled on a per-peer basis.

2.2.3.  MULTI_EXIT_DISC Attribute

   MULTI_EXIT_DISC is an optional non-transitive attribute intended to
   be used on external (inter-AS) links to discriminate among multiple
   exit or entry points to the same neighboring AS.  Contrary to
   Section 5.1.4 of [RFC4271], if applied to an NLRI UPDATE sent to a
   route server, this attribute SHOULD be propagated to other route
   server clients, and the route server SHOULD NOT modify its value.

2.2.4.  Communities Attributes

   The BGP Communities [RFC1997] and Extended Communities [RFC4360]
   attributes are intended for labeling information carried in BGP
   UPDATE messages.  Transitive as well as non-transitive Communities
   attributes applied to an NLRI UPDATE sent to a route server SHOULD
be modified, processed, or removed, except as defined by local

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   policy.  If a Communities attribute is intended for processing by the
   route server itself, as determined by local policy, it MAY be
   modified or removed.

2.3.  Per-Client Policy Control in Multilateral Interconnection

   While IXP participants often use route servers with the intention of
   interconnecting with as many other route server participants as
   possible, there are circumstances where control of path distribution
   on a per-client basis is important to ensure that desired
   interconnection policies are met.

   The control of path distribution on a per-client basis can lead to a
   path being hidden from the route server client.  We refer to this as
   "path hiding".

   Neither Section 2.3 nor its subsections form part of the normative
   specification of this document; they are included for information
   purposes only.

2.3.1.  Path Hiding on a Route Server

                               ___      ___
                              /   \    /   \
                           ..| AS1 |..| AS2 |..
                          :   \___/    \___/   :
                          :       \    / |     :
                          :        \  /  |     :
                          : IXP     \/   |     :
                          :         /\   |     :
                          :        /  \  |     :
                          :    ___/____\_|_    :
                          :   /   \    /   \   :
                           ..| AS3 |..| AS4 |..
                              \___/    \___/

     Figure 1: Per-Client Policy Controlled Interconnection at an IXP

   Using the example in Figure 1, AS1 does not directly exchange prefix
   information with either AS2 or AS3 at the IXP but only interconnects
   with AS4.  The lines between AS1, AS2, AS3, and AS4 represent
   interconnection relationships, whether via bilateral or multilateral

   In the traditional bilateral interconnection model, per-client policy
   control to a third-party exchange participant is accomplished either
   by not engaging in a bilateral interconnection with that participant
   or by implementing outbound filtering on the BGP session towards that

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RFC 7947                  IXP BGP Route Server            September 2016

   participant.  However, in a multilateral interconnection environment,
   only the route server can perform outbound filtering in the direction
   of the route server client; route server clients depend on the route
   server to perform their outbound filtering for them.

   Assuming the BGP Decision Process [RFC4271] is used, when the same
   prefix is advertised to a route server from multiple route server
   clients, the route server will select a single path for propagation
   to all connected clients.  If, however, the route server has been
   configured to filter the calculated best path from reaching a
   particular route server client, then that client will not receive a
   path for that prefix, although alternate paths received by the route
   server might have been policy compliant for that client.  This
   phenomenon is referred to as "path hiding".

   For example, in Figure 1, if the same prefix were sent to the route
   server via AS2 and AS4, and the route via AS2 was preferred according
   to the BGP Decision Process on the route server, but AS2's policy
   prevented the route server from sending the path to AS1, then AS1
   would never receive a path to this prefix, even though the route
   server had previously received a valid alternative path via AS4.
   This happens because the BGP Decision Process is performed only once
   on the route server for all clients.

   Path hiding will only occur on route servers that employ per-client
   policy control; if an IXP operator deploys a route server without
   implementing a per-client routing policy control system, then path
   hiding does not occur, as all paths are considered equally valid from
   the point of view of the route server.

2.3.2.  Mitigation of Path Hiding

   There are several approaches that can be taken to mitigate against
   path hiding.  Multiple Route Server RIBs

   The most portable method to allow for per-client policy control
   without the occurrence of path hiding is to use a route server BGP
   implementation that performs the per-client best path calculation for
   each set of paths to a prefix, which results after the route server's
   client policies have been taken into consideration.  This can be
   implemented by using per-client Loc-RIBs, with path filtering
   implemented between the Adj-RIB-In and the per-client Loc-RIB.
   Implementations can optimize this by maintaining paths not subject to
   filtering policies in a global Loc-RIB, with per-client Loc-RIBs
   stored as deltas.

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   This implementation is highly portable, as it makes no assumptions
   about the feature capabilities of the route server clients.  Advertising Multiple Paths

   The path distribution model described above assumes standard BGP
   session encoding where the route server sends a single path to its
   client for any given prefix.  This path is selected using the BGP
   path selection Decision Process described in [RFC4271].  If, however,
   it were possible for the route server to send more than a single path
   to a route server client, then route server clients would no longer
   depend on receiving a single path to a particular prefix;
   consequently, the path-hiding problem described in Section 2.3.1
   would disappear.

   We present two methods that describe how such increased path
   diversity could be implemented.  Diverse BGP Path Approach

   The diverse BGP path proposal as defined in [RFC6774] is a simple way
   to distribute multiple prefix paths from a route server to a route
   server client by using a separate BGP session from the route server
   to a client for each different path.

   The number of paths that may be distributed to a client is
   constrained by the number of BGP sessions that the server and the
   client are willing to establish with each other.  The distributed
   paths may be established from the global BGP Loc-RIB on the route
   server in addition to any per-client Loc-RIB.  As there may be more
   potential paths to a given prefix than configured BGP sessions, this
   method is not guaranteed to eliminate the path-hiding problem in all
   situations.  Furthermore, this method may significantly increase the
   number of BGP sessions handled by the route server, which may
   negatively impact its performance.  BGP ADD-PATH Approach

   [RFC7911] proposes a different approach to multiple path propagation,
   by allowing a BGP speaker to forward multiple paths for the same
   prefix on a single BGP session.  As [RFC4271] specifies that a BGP
   listener must implement an implicit withdraw when it receives an
   UPDATE message for a prefix that already exists in its Adj-RIB-In,
   this approach requires explicit support for the feature both on the
   route server and on its clients.

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RFC 7947                  IXP BGP Route Server            September 2016

   If the ADD-PATH capability is negotiated bidirectionally between the
   route server and a route server client, and the route server client
   propagates multiple paths for the same prefix to the route server,
   then this could potentially cause the propagation of inactive,
   invalid, or suboptimal paths to the route server, thereby causing
   loss of reachability to other route server clients.  For this reason,
   ADD-PATH implementations on a route server should enforce a send-only
   mode with the route server clients, which would result in negotiating
   a receive-only mode from the client to the route server.

2.3.3.  Implementation Suggestions

   Authors of route server implementations may wish to consider one of
   the methods described in Section 2.3.2 to allow per-client route
   server policy control without path hiding.

   Recommendations for route server operations are described separately
   in [RFC7948].

3.  Security Considerations

   The path-hiding problem outlined in Section 2.3.1 can be used in
   certain circumstances to proactively block third-party path
   announcements from other route server clients.  Route server
   operators should be aware that security issues may arise unless steps
   are taken to mitigate against path hiding.

   The AS_PATH check described in Section 2.2.2 is normally enabled in
   order to check for malformed AS paths.  If this check is disabled,
   the route server client loses the ability to check incoming UPDATE
   messages for certain categories of problems.  This could potentially
   cause corrupted BGP UPDATE messages to be propagated where they might
   not be propagated if the check were enabled.  Regardless of any
   problems relating to malformed UPDATE messages, this check is also
   used to detect BGP loops; removing the check could potentially cause
   routing loops to be formed.  Consequently, this check SHOULD NOT be
   disabled by IXP participants unless it is needed to establish BGP
   sessions with a route server and, if possible, should only be
   disabled for peers that are route servers.

   Route server operators should carefully consider the security
   practices discussed in "BGP Operations and Security" [RFC7454].

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RFC 7947                  IXP BGP Route Server            September 2016

4.  References

4.1.  Normative References

   [RFC1997]  Chandra, R., Traina, P., and T. Li, "BGP Communities
              Attribute", RFC 1997, DOI 10.17487/RFC1997, August 1996,

   [RFC2119]  Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
              Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, March 1997,

   [RFC4271]  Rekhter, Y., Ed., Li, T., Ed., and S. Hares, Ed., "A
              Border Gateway Protocol 4 (BGP-4)", RFC 4271,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC4271, January 2006,

   [RFC4360]  Sangli, S., Tappan, D., and Y. Rekhter, "BGP Extended
              Communities Attribute", RFC 4360, DOI 10.17487/RFC4360,
              February 2006, <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc4360>.

4.2.  Informative References

   [RFC1863]  Haskin, D., "A BGP/IDRP Route Server alternative to a full
              mesh routing", RFC 1863, DOI 10.17487/RFC1863, October
              1995, <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc1863>.

   [RFC4223]  Savola, P., "Reclassification of RFC 1863 to Historic",
              RFC 4223, DOI 10.17487/RFC4223, October 2005,

   [RFC4456]  Bates, T., Chen, E., and R. Chandra, "BGP Route
              Reflection: An Alternative to Full Mesh Internal BGP
              (IBGP)", RFC 4456, DOI 10.17487/RFC4456, April 2006,

   [RFC6774]  Raszuk, R., Ed., Fernando, R., Patel, K., McPherson, D.,
              and K. Kumaki, "Distribution of Diverse BGP Paths",
              RFC 6774, DOI 10.17487/RFC6774, November 2012,

   [RFC7454]  Durand, J., Pepelnjak, I., and G. Doering, "BGP Operations
              and Security", BCP 194, RFC 7454, DOI 10.17487/RFC7454,
              February 2015, <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc7454>.

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RFC 7947                  IXP BGP Route Server            September 2016

   [RFC7911]  Walton, D., Retana, A., Chen, E., and J. Scudder,
              "Advertisement of Multiple Paths in BGP", RFC 7911,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC7911, July 2016,

   [RFC7948]  Hilliard, N., Jasinska, E., Raszuk, R., and N. Bakker,
              "Internet Exchange BGP Route Server Operations", RFC 7948,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC7948, September 2016,


   The authors would like to thank Ryan Bickhart, Steven Bakker, Martin
   Pels, Chris Hall, Aleksi Suhonen, Bruno Decraene, Pierre Francois,
   and Eduardo Ascenco Reis for their valuable input.

   In addition, the authors would like to acknowledge the developers of
   BIRD, OpenBGPD, Quagga, and IOS whose BGP implementations include
   route server capabilities that are compliant with this document.

   Route server functionality was described in 1995 in [RFC1863], and
   modern route server implementations are based on concepts developed
   in the 1990s by the Routing Arbiter Project and the Route Server Next
   Generation (RSNG) Project, managed by ISI and Merit.  Although the
   original RSNG code is no longer in use at any IXPs, the IXP community
   owes a debt of gratitude to the many people who were involved in
   route server development in the 1990s.  Note that [RFC1863] was made
   historical by [RFC4223].

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RFC 7947                  IXP BGP Route Server            September 2016

Authors' Addresses

   Elisa Jasinska
   BigWave IT
   ul. Skawinska 27/7
   Krakow, MP  31-066

   Email: elisa@bigwaveit.org

   Nick Hilliard
   4027 Kingswood Road
   Dublin  24

   Email: nick@inex.ie

   Robert Raszuk
   Bloomberg LP
   731 Lexington Ave
   New York City, NY  10022
   United States of America

   Email: robert@raszuk.net

   Niels Bakker
   Akamai Technologies B.V.
   Kingsfordweg 151
   Amsterdam  1043 GR

   Email: nbakker@akamai.com

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