INTERNET-DRAFT                                   David                                      D. Meyer
draft-ietf-idr-bgp-analysis-03.txt               Keyur
draft-ietf-idr-bgp-analysis-04.txt                  K. Patel
Category                                       Informational
Expires: November 2003                              May March 2004                           September 2003

                        BGP-4 Protocol Analysis

Status of this Document

   This document is an Internet-Draft and is in full conformance with
   all provisions of Section 10 of RFC2026.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
   Task Force (IETF), its areas, and its working groups.  Note that
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   This document is a product of an individual. the IDR Working Group.  Comments are solicited
   and should
   be addressed to the author(s). authors, or the mailing list at

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2003). All Rights Reserved.


   The purpose of this report is to document how the requirements for
   advancing a routing protocol from Draft Standard to full Standard
   have been satisfied by Border Gateway Protocol version 4 (BGP-4).

   This report satisfies the requirement for "the second report", as
   described in Section 6.0 of RFC 1264 [RFC1264].  In order to fulfill
   the requirement, this report augments RFC 1774 [RFC1774] and
   summarizes the key features of BGP protocol, and analyzes the
   protocol with respect to scaling and performance.

                           Table of Contents

   1. Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
   2. Key Features and algorithms of the BGP protocol. . . . . . . .   4
    2.1. Key Features. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
    2.2. BGP Algorithms. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
    2.3. BGP Finite State Machine (FSM). . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
   3. BGP Capabilities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7   8
   4. BGP Persistent Peer Oscillations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
   5. Implementation Guidelines. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
   6. BGP Performance characteristics and Scalability. . . . . . . .   8
    5.1.   9
    6.1. Link bandwidth and CPU utilization. . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
     5.1.1.   9
     6.1.1. CPU utilization. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
     5.1.2.  10
     6.1.2. Memory requirements. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
   7. BGP Policy Expressiveness and its Implications . . . . . . . .  12
    7.1. Existence of Unique Stable Routings . . . . . . . . . . . .  13
    7.2. Existence of Stable Routings. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  14
   7.  15
   8. Applicability. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
   8.  16
   9. Intellectual Property. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  16
   9. Acknowledgments.  17
   10. Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  16
   10.  17
   11. Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  17
   11.  18
   12. IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  17
   12.  18
   13. References. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  17
    12.1.  18
    13.1. Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  17
   13.  18
   14. Author's Addresses. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  18
   14.  19
   15. Full Copyright Statement. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  19

1.  Introduction

   BGP-4 is an inter-autonomous system routing protocol designed for
   TCP/IP internets.  Version 1 of the BGP protocol was published in RFC
   1105 [RFC1105].  Since then BGP versions 2, 3, and 4 have been
   developed.  Version 2 was documented in RFC 1163 [RFC1163].  Version
   3 is documented in RFC 1267 [RFC1267].  Version 4 is documented in
   the [BGP4] (version 4 of BGP will hereafter be referred to as BGP).
   The changes between versions are explained in Appendix A of [BGP4].
   Possible applications of BGP in the Internet are documented in RFC
   1772 [RFC1772].

   BGP introduced support for Classless InterDomain Routing [CIDR].
   Since earlier versions of BGP lacked the support for CIDR, they are
   considered obsolete and unusable in today's Internet.

2.  Key Features and algorithms of the BGP protocol

   This section summarizes the key features and algorithms of the BGP
   protocol.  BGP is an inter-autonomous system routing protocol; it is
   designed to be used between multiple autonomous systems.  BGP assumes
   that routing within an autonomous system is done by an intra-
   autonomous system routing protocol.  BGP also assumes that data
   packets are routed from source towards destination independent of the
   source.  BGP does not make any assumptions about intra-autonomous
   system routing protocols deployed within the various autonomous
   systems.  Specifically, BGP does not require all autonomous systems
   to run the same intra-autonomous system routing protocol (i.e.,
   interior gateway protocol or IGP).

   Finally, note that BGP is a real inter-autonomous system routing
   protocol, and as such it imposes no constraints on the underlying
   Internet topology.  The information exchanged via BGP is sufficient
   to construct a graph of autonomous systems connectivity from which
   routing loops may be pruned and many routing policy decisions at the
   autonomous system level may be enforced.

2.1.  Key Features

   The key features of the protocol are the notion of path attributes
   and aggregation of network layer reachability information (NLRI).

   Path attributes provide BGP with flexibility and extensibility.  Path
   attributes are partitioned into well-known and optional.  The
   provision for optional attributes allows experimentation that may
   involve a group of BGP routers without affecting the rest of the
   Internet.  New optional attributes can be added to the protocol in
   much the same way that new options are added to, say, the Telnet
   protocol [RFC854].

   One of the most important path attributes is the Autonomous System
   Path, or AS_PATH.  AS reachability information traverses the
   Internet, this information is augmented by the list of autonomous
   systems that have been traversed thus far, forming the AS_PATH.  The
   AS_PATH allows straightforward suppression of the looping of routing
   information.  In addition, the AS_PATH serves as a powerful and
   versatile mechanism for policy-based routing.

   BGP enhances the AS_PATH attribute to include sets of autonomous
   systems as well as lists via the AS_SET attribute.  This extended
   format allows generated aggregate routes to carry path information
   from the more specific routes used to generate the aggregate.  It
   should be noted however, that as of this writing, AS_SETs are rarely
   used in the Internet [ROUTEVIEWS].

2.2.  BGP Algorithms

   BGP uses an algorithm that is neither a pure distance vector
   algorithm or a pure link state algorithm.  It is instead a modified
   distance vector algorithm referred to as a "Path Vector" algorithm
   that uses path information to avoid traditional distance vector
   problems.  Each route within BGP pairs destination with path
   information to that destination.  Path information (also known as
   AS_PATH information) is stored within the AS_PATH attribute in BGP.
   This allows BGP to reconstruct large portions of overall topology
   whenever required.

   BGP uses an incremental update strategy in order to conserve
   bandwidth and processing power.  That is, after initial exchange of
   complete routing information, a pair of BGP routers exchanges only
   changes to that information.  Such an incremental update design
   requires reliable transport between a pair of BGP routers to function
   correctly.  BGP solves this problem by using TCP for reliable

   In addition to incremental updates, BGP has added the concept of
   route aggregation so that information about groups of networks may be
   aggregated and sent as a single Network Layer Reachability (NLRI).

   Finally, note that BGP is a self-contained protocol.  That is, BGP
   specifies how routing information is exchanged both between BGP
   speakers in different autonomous systems, and between BGP speakers
   within a single autonomous system.

2.3.  BGP Finite State Machine (FSM)

   The BGP FSM is a set of rules that are applied to a BGP speaker's set
   of configured peers for the BGP operation.  A BGP implementation
   requires that a BGP speaker must connect to and listen on TCP port
   179 for accepting any new BGP connections from its peers.  The BGP
   Finite State Machine, or FSM, must be initiated and maintained for
   each new incoming and outgoing peer connections.  However, in steady
   state operation, there will be only one BGP FSM per connection per

   There may exist a temporary period where in a BGP peer may have
   separate incoming and outgoing connections resulting into two
   different BGP FSMs for a peer (instead of one).  This can be resolved
   following BGP connection collision rules defined in the [BGP4].

   Following are different states of BGP FSM for its peers:

   IDLE:           State when BGP peer refuses any incoming

   CONNECT:        State in which BGP peer is waiting for
                   its TCP connection to be completed.

   ACTIVE:         State in which BGP peer is trying to acquire a
                   peer by listening and accepting TCP connection.

   OPENSENT:       BGP peer is waiting for OPEN message from its

                   message from its peer.

   ESTABLISHED:    BGP peer connection is established and exchanges
                   UPDATE, NOTIFICATION, and KEEPALIVE messages with
                   its peer.

   There are different BGP events that operate on above mentioned states
   of BGP FSM for its peers.  These BGP events are used for initiating and
   terminating peer connections.  They also assist BGP in identifying any
   persistent peer connection oscillations and provide a mechanism
   for controlling them.

   Following are different BGP events:

   Manual Start:           Manually start the peer connection.

   Manual Stop:            Manually stop the peer connection.

   Automatic Start:        Local system automatically starts the peer

   Manual start with
   passive TCP flag:       Local system administrator manually starts the
                           peer connection with peer in passive mode.

   Automatic start
   with passive TCP flag:  Local system administrator automatically starts
                           the peer connection with peer in passive mode.

   Automatic start
   with bgp_stop_flap
   option set:             Local system administrator automatically starts
                           the peer connection with peer oscillation
                           damping enabled.

   Automatic start with
   bgp_stop_flap option
   set and passive TCP
   option set:             Local system administrator automatically starts
                           the peer connection with peer oscillation
                           damping enabled and with peer in passive mode.

   Automatic stop:         Local system automatically stops the
                           BGP connection.

   Both, Manual Start and Manual Stop are mandatory BGP events.  All
   other events are optional.

3.  BGP Capabilities

   The BGP Capability mechanism [RFC2842] provides an easy and flexible
   way to introduce new features within the protocol.  In particular,
   the BGP capability mechanism allows peers to negotiate various
   optional features during startup.  This allows the base BGP protocol
   to contain only essential functionality, while at the same time
   providing a flexible mechanism for signaling protocol extensions.

4.  BGP Persistent Peer Oscillations

   Ideally, whenever a BGP speaker detects an error in any peer
   connection, it shuts down the peer and changes its FSM state to IDLE.
   BGP speaker requires a Start event to re-initiate its idle peer
   connection.  If the error remains persistent and BGP speaker
   generates Start event automatically then it may result in persistent
   peer flapping.  However, although peer oscillation is found to be wide-
   wide-spread in BGP implementations, methods for preventing persistent
   peer oscillations are outside the scope of base BGP protocol

5.  Implementation Guidelines

   A robust BGP Performance characteristics and Scalability

   In this section, we provide "order of magnitude" answers to implementation is work conserving.  This means that if
   questions number of how prefixes is bound, arbitrarily high levels of route
   change can be tolerated with bounded impact on route convergence for
   occasionally changes in generally stable routes.

   A BGP implementation under high load conditions should empty as much link bandwidth, router memory and router CPU
   inbound routing updates from its input streams, processing only the
   most recent route if the route for a given NLRI changes multiple
   times.  TCP also provides blocking on the writes on the sender side.
   A BGP protocol will consume implementation under normal conditions. In
   particular, we will address load should expect blocks on write calls
   and send only the scalability most recent routes when sockets unblock rather than
   sending entire history.

   A robust implementation of BGP and its
   limitations. should have the following
         1.  It is important able to note that operate in almost arbitrarily high levels
             of route flap without loosing peerings (failing to send
             keepalives) or loosing other protocol adjacencies as a
             result of BGP does load.

         2.  Instability of a subset of routes should not require all affect the routers
   within an autonomous system to participate
             route advertisements or forwarding associated with the set
             of stable routes.

         3.  High levels of instability and peers of different CPU speed
             or load resulting in faster or slower processing of routes
             should not cause instability and should have a bounded
             impact on the convergence time for generally stable routes.

   Numerous robust BGP protocol. implementations exist.  Producing a robust
   implementation is not a trivial matter but clearly achievable.

6.  BGP Performance characteristics and Scalability

   particular, only the border routers that this section, we provide connectivity between
   the local autonomous system and their adjacent autonomous systems
   need participate in BGP. The ability "order of magnitude" answers to constrain the set
   questions of how much link bandwidth, router memory and router CPU
   cycles the BGP
   speakers is one way to protocol will consume under normal conditions.  In
   particular, we will address scaling issues.

5.1. the scalability of BGP and its

6.1.  Link bandwidth and CPU utilization

   Immediately after the initial BGP connection setup, BGP peers
   exchange complete set of routing information.  If we denote the total
   number of routes in the Internet by N, the mean AS distance of the
   Internet by M (distance at the level of an autonomous system,
   expressed in terms of the number of autonomous systems), the total
   number of autonomous systems in the Internet unique AS paths by A, and assume that the networks are
   uniformly distributed among the autonomous systems, then the worst
   case amount of bandwidth consumed during the initial exchange between
   a pair of BGP speakers is


           BW = O(N + M (M * A) A))

   The following table illustrates the typical amount of bandwidth
   consumed during the initial exchange between a pair of BGP speakers
   based on the above assumptions (ignoring bandwidth consumed by the
   BGP Header).  For purposes of the estimates here, we will calculate MR
   BW = 4 * (N + (M * A)).

    # NLRI       Mean AS Distance       # AS's     Bandwidth (MR)
    ----------   ----------------       ------    ----------------
    40,000       15                     400        184,000   bytes
    100,000      10                     10,000     800,000   bytes
    120,000      10                     15,000     1,080,000 bytes
    140,000      15                     20,000     1,760,000 bytes

    [note that most of this bandwidth is consumed by the NLRI exchange]

   BGP was created specifically to reduce the size of the set of NLRI
   entries which have to be carried and exchanged by border routers.
   The aggregation scheme, defined in RFC 1519 [RFC1519], describes the
   provider-based aggregation scheme in use in today's Internet.

   Due to the advantages of advertising a few large aggregate blocks
   instead of many smaller class-based individual networks, it is
   difficult to estimate the actual reduction in bandwidth and
   processing that BGP has provided over BGP-3.  If we simply enumerate
   all aggregate blocks into their individual class-based networks, we
   would not take into account "dead" space that has been reserved for
   future expansion.  The best metric for determining the success of
   BGP's aggregation is to sample the number NLRI entries in the
   globally connected Internet today and compare it to projected growth
   rates before BGP was deployed.

   At the time of this writing, the full set of exterior routes carried
   by BGP is approximately 120,000 network entries [ROUTEVIEWS].


6.1.1.  CPU utilization

   An important and fundamental feature of BGP is that BGP's CPU
   utilization depends only on the stability of the Internet.  If the
   Internet is stable, then the only link bandwidth and router CPU
   cycles consumed by BGP are due to the exchange of the BGP KEEPALIVE
   messages.  The KEEPALIVE messages are exchanged only between peers.
   The suggested frequency of the exchange is 30 seconds.  The KEEPALIVE
   messages are quite short (19 octets), and require virtually no
   processing.  As a result, the bandwidth consumed by the KEEPALIVE
   messages is about 5 bits/sec.  Operational experience confirms that
   the overhead (in terms of bandwidth and CPU) associated with the
   KEEPALIVE messages should be viewed as negligible.

   During periods of Internet instability, changes to the reachability
   information are passed between routers in UPDATE messages. If we
   denote the number of routing changes per second by C, then in the
   worst case the amount of bandwidth consumed by the BGP can be
   expressed as O(C * M).  The
   greatest overhead per UPDATE message occurs when each UPDATE message
   contains only a single network.  It should be pointed out that in
   practice routing changes exhibit strong locality with respect to the
   AS path.  That is, routes that change are likely to have common AS
   path.  In this case, multiple networks can be grouped into a single
   UPDATE message, thus significantly reducing the amount of bandwidth
   required (see also Appendix F.1 of [BGP4]).

   Since in the steady state the link bandwidth and router CPU cycles
   consumed by the BGP protocol are dependent only on the stability of
   the Internet, it follows that BGP should have no scaling problems in
   the areas of link bandwidth and router CPU utilization.  This assumes
   that as the Internet grows,  the overall stability of the inter-AS
   connectivity of the Internet can be controlled.  In particular, while
   the size of the IPv4 Internet routing table is bounded by O(2^32 O(232 * M),
   (where M is a slow-moving function describing the AS
   interconnectivity of the network), no such bound can be formulated
   for the dynamic properties (i.e., stability) of BGP. Finally, since  Although, the
   dynamic properties of the network cannot be quantitatively bounded, stability must
   they can be addressed via heuristics controlled within BGP.  Beyond certain changes in the
   network, BGP can start to suppress such as changes using BGP Route Flap
   Damping [RFC2439]. Due to the nature [RFC2439], pacing of BGP, such damping
   should be viewed as a matter local to an autonomous system matter
   (see also Appendix F.2 of [BGP4]).

   It may also its route updates, or BGP would be instructive
   unable to compare bandwidth and CPU requirements
   of BGP with the Exterior Gateway Protocol (EGP). While with BGP the
   complete information is exchanged only at the connection
   establishment time, keep up with EGP the complete information is exchanged
   periodically (usually every 3 minutes). Note that both for BGP changes and
   for EGP the amount of information exchanged is roughly on the order
   of the number of networks reachable via a peer that sends the
   information. Therefore, even if one assumes extreme  instabilities of
   BGP, its worst case behavior will be the same as the steady state
   behavior force suppression of its predecessor, EGP.

   Operational experience with BGP showed that the incremental update
   approach employed multiple
   changes over very short periods by causing the BGP provides qualitative improvement in both
   bandwidth and CPU utilization when compared with complete periodic
   updates used by EGP (see also presentation by Dennis Ferguson at peer socket to
   block on the
   Twentieth IETF, March 11-15, 1991, St. Louis).

5.1.2. sender.

6.1.2.  Memory requirements

   To quantify the worst case memory requirements for BGP, we denote the
   total number of networks in the Internet by N, the mean AS distance
   of the Internet by M (distance at the level of an autonomous system,
   expressed in terms of the number of autonomous systems), the total
   number of autonomous systems in the Internet by A, and the total
   number of BGP speakers that a system is peering with by K (note that
   K will usually be dominated by the total number of the BGP speakers
   within a single autonomous system). unique AS paths as A.  Then the worst case memory
   requirements (MR) can be expressed as

           MR = O((N O(N + M * A) (M * K)

   It is interesting to note that prior to the introduction of BGP in
   the NSFNET Backbone, memory requirements on the NSFNET Backbone
   routers running EGP were on the order of O(N *K). A))

   Since a mean AS distance M is a slow moving function of the
   interconnectivity ("meshiness") of the Internet, for all practical
   purposes the worst case router memory requirements are on the order
   of the total number of networks in the Internet times the number of
   peers the local system is peering with.  We expect that the total
   number of networks in the Internet will grow much faster than the
   average number of peers per router.  As a result, BGP's memory
   scaling properties are linearly related to the total number of
   networks in the Internet.

   The following table illustrates typical memory requirements of a
   router running BGP.  We denote average number of routes advertised by
   each peer as N, the total number of unique AS paths as A, the mean AS
   distance of the Internet as M (distance at the level of an autonomous
   system, expressed in terms of the number of autonomous systems),
   number of bytes required to store a route as R, and number of bytes
   required to store one AS in an AS path as P.  It is assumed that each
   network is encoded as four bytes, each AS is encoded as two bytes,
   and each networks is reachable via some fraction of all of the peers
   (# BGP peers/per net).  For purposes of the estimates here, we will
   calculate MR =
   ((N*4) ((N * R) + (M*A)*2) (M * K. A) * P)

     # Networks  Mean AS Distance # AS's # BGP peers/per net Memory Req (MR)
     ----------  ---------------- ------ ------------------- --------------
      100,000           20         3,000         20             1,040,000
      100,000           20        15,000         20             1,040,000
      120,000           10        15,000        100            75,000,000
      140,000           15        20,000        100           116,000,000

   In analyzing BGP's memory requirements, we focus on the size of the
   forwarding table (and ignoring implementation details).  In
   particular, we derive upper bounds for the size of the forwarding
   table.  For example, at the time of this writing, the forwarding
   tables of a typical backbone router carry on the order of 120,000
   entries.  Given this number, one might ask whether it would be
   possible to have a functional router with a table that will have
   1,000,000 entries.  Clearly the answer to this question is independent
   of BGP. Interestingly, in his review of the BGP protocol for the more
   related to how BGP
   review committee in March of 1990, Paul Tsuchiya noted that "BGP does
   not scale well. This is implemented. A robust BGP implementation with a
   reasonable CPU and memory should not really the fault of BGP. It is the fault
   of the flat IP address space. Given the flat IP address space, any
   routing protocol must carry network numbers in its updates." The
   introduction of the provider based aggregation schemes (e.g., RFC
   1519 [RFC1519]) have sought to address this issue, issues scaling to the extent
   possible, within the context of current addressing architectures.

6. such

7.  BGP Policy Expressiveness and its Implications

   BGP is unique among deployed IP routing protocols in that routing is
   determined using semantically rich routing policies.  Although
   routing policies are usually the first thing that comes to a network
   operator's mind concerning BGP, it is important to note that the
   languages and techniques for specifying BGP routing policies are not
   actually a part of the protocol specification (see RFC 2622 [RFC2622]
   for an example of such a policy language).  In addition, the BGP
   specification contains few restrictions, either explicitly or
   implicitly, on routing policy languages.  These languages have
   typically been developed by vendors and have evolved through
   interactions with network engineers in an environment lacking vendor-
   independent standards.

   The complexity of typical BGP configurations, at least in provider
   networks, has been steadily increasing.  Router vendors typically
   provided hundreds of special commands for use in the configuration of
   BGP, and this command set is continually expanding.  For example, BGP
   communities [RFC1997] allow policy writers to selectively attach tags
   to routes and use these to signal policy information to other BGP-
   speaking routers.  Many providers allow customers, and sometimes
   peers, to send communities that determine the scope and preference of
   their routes.  These developments have more and more given the task
   of writing BGP configurations aspects associated with open-ended
   programming.  This has allowed network operators to encode complex
   policies in order to address many unforeseen situations, and has
   opened the door for a great deal of creativity and experimentation in
   routing policies.  This policy flexibility is one of the main reasons
   why BGP is so well suited to the commercial environment of the
   current Internet.

   However, this rich policy expressiveness has come with a cost that is
   often not recognized.  In particular, it is possible to construct
   locally defined routing policies that can lead to unexpected global
   routing anomalies such as (unintended) nondeterminism and to protocol
   divergence.  If the interacting policies causing such anomalies are
   defined in different autonomous systems, then these problems can be
   very difficult to debug and correct.  In the following sections, we
   describe two such cases relating to the existence (or lack thereof)
   of stable routings.


7.1.  Existence of Unique Stable Routings

   One can easily construct sets of policies for which BGP can not
   guarantee that stable routings are unique.  This can be illustrated
   by the following simple example.  Consider the example of four
   Autonomous Systems, AS1, AS2, AS3, and AS4.  AS1 and AS2 are peers,
   and they provide transit for AS3 and AS4 respectively, Suppose
   further that AS3 provides transit for AS4 (in this case AS3 is a
   customer of AS1, and AS4 is  a multihomed customer of both AS3 and AS4).
   AS2).  AS4 may want to use the link to AS3 as a "backup" link, and
   sends AS3 a community value that AS3 has configured to lower the
   preference of AS4's routes to a level below that of its upstream
   provider, AS1.  The intended "backup routing" to AS4 is illustrated

           AS1 ------> AS2
           /|\          |
            |           |
            |           |
            |          \|/
           AS3 ------- AS4
   That is, the AS3-AS4 link is intended to be used only when the
   AS2-AS4 link is down (for outbound traffic, AS4 simply gives routes
   from AS2 a higher local preference).  This is a common scenario in
   today's Internet.  But note that this configuration has another
   stable solution:

           AS1 ------- AS2
            |           |
            |           |
            |           |
           \|/         \|/
           AS3 ------> AS4

   In this case, AS3 does not translate the "depref my route" community
   received from AS4 into a "depref my route" community for AS1, and so
   if AS1 hears the route to AS4 that transits AS3 it will prefer that
   route (since AS3 is a customer).  This state could be reached, for
   example, by starting in the "correct" backup routing shown first,
   bringing down the AS2-AS4 BGP session, and then bringing it back up.
   In general, BGP has no way to prefer the "intended" solution over the
   anomalous one, and which is picked will depend on the unpredictable
   order of BGP messages.

   While this example is relatively simple, many operators may fail to
   recognize that the true source of the problem is that the BGP
   policies of ASes can interact in unexpected ways, and that these
   interactions can result in multiple stable routings.  One can imagine
   that the interactions could be much more complex in the real
   Internet.  We suspect that such anomalies will only become more
   common as BGP continues to evolve with richer policy expressiveness.
   For example, extended communities provide an even more flexible means
   of signaling information within and between autonomous systems than
   is possible with RFC 1997 communities.  At the same time,
   applications of communities by network operators are evolving to
   address complex issues of inter-domain traffic engineering.


7.2.  Existence of Stable Routings

   One can also construct a set of policies for which BGP can not
   guarantee that a stable routing exists (or worse, that a stable
   routing will ever be found).  For example, RFC 3345 [RFC3345]
   documents several scenarios that lead to route oscillations
   associated with the use of the Multi-Exit Discriminator or MED,
   attribute.  Route oscillation will happen in BGP when a set of
   policies has no solution.  That is, when there is no stable routing
   that satisfies the constraints imposed by policy, then BGP has no
   choice by to keep trying.  In addition, BGP configurations can have a
   stable routing, yet the protocol may not be able to find it; BGP can
   "get trapped" down a blind alley that has no solution.

   Protocol divergence is not, however, a problem associated solely with
   use of the MED attribute.  This potential exists in BGP even without
   the use of the MED attribute.  Hence, like the unintended
   nondeterminism described in the previous section, this type of
   protocol divergence is an unintended consequence of the unconstrained
   nature of BGP policy languages.


8.  Applicability

   In this section we answer the question of which environments is BGP
   well suited, and for which environments it is not suitable.  This
   question is partially answered in Section 2 of RFC 1771 [RFC1771], BGP [BGP4], which

        "To characterize the set of policy decisions that can be enforced
        using BGP, one must focus on the rule that an AS advertises to its
        neighbor ASs only those routes that it itself uses.  This rule
        reflects the "hop-by-hop" routing paradigm generally used
        throughout the current Internet.  Note that some policies cannot
        be supported by the "hop-by-hop" routing paradigm and thus require
        techniques such as source routing to enforce.  For example, BGP
        does not enable one AS to send traffic to a neighbor AS intending
        that the traffic take a different route from that taken by traffic
        originating in the neighbor AS.  On the other hand, BGP can
        support any policy conforming to the "hop-by-hop" routing
        paradigm.  Since the current Internet uses only the "hop-by-hop"
        routing paradigm and since BGP can support any policy that
        conforms to that paradigm, BGP is highly applicable as an inter-AS
        routing protocol for the current Internet."

   One of the important points here is that the BGP protocol contains
   only the functionality that is essential, while at the same time
   providing a flexible mechanism within the protocol that allow us to
   extend its functionality.  For example, BGP capabilities provide an
   easy and flexible way to introduce new features within the protocol.
   Finally, since BGP was designed with flexibility and extensibility in
   mind, new and/or evolving requirements can be addressed via existing

   To summarize, BGP is well suitable as an inter-autonomous system
   routing protocol for the IPv4 Internet that is based on IP [RFC791]
   as the Internet Protocol and "hop-by-hop" routing paradigm. Finally,
   BGP is equally applicable to IPv6 [RFC2460] internets.


9.  Intellectual Property

   The IETF takes no position regarding the validity or scope of any
   intellectual property or other rights that might be claimed to
   pertain to the implementation or use of the technology described in
   this document or the extent to which any license under such rights
   might or might not be available; neither does it represent that it
   has made any effort to identify any such rights.  Information on the
   IETF's procedures with respect to rights in standards-track and
   standards-related documentation can be found in BCP-11.  Copies of
   claims of rights made available for publication and any assurances of
   licenses to be made available, or the result of an attempt made to
   obtain a general license or permission for the use of such
   proprietary rights by implementors or users of this specification can
   be obtained from the IETF Secretariat.

   The IETF invites any interested party to bring to its attention any
   copyrights, patents or patent applications, or other proprietary
   rights which may cover technology that may be required to practice
   this standard.  Please address the information to the IETF Executive


10.  Acknowledgments

   We would like to thank Paul Traina for authoring previous versions of
   this document.  Tim Griffin and Griffin, Randy Presuhn Presuhn, Curtis Villamizar and
   Atanu Ghosh also provided many insightful comments on earlier
   versions of this document.


11.  Security Considerations

   This document presents an analysis of the BGP protocol and as such
   presents no new security implications for BGP.


12.  IANA Considerations

   This document presents an analysis of the BGP protocol and hence
   presents no new IANA considerations.


13.  References


13.1.  Informative References

   [BGP4]          Rekhter, Y., T. Li., and S. Hares, Editors, "A
                   Border Gateway Protocol 4 (BGP-4)",
                   draft-ietf-idr-bgp4-20.txt. Work in progress.

                   PROTOCOL SPECIFICATION, RFC 791, September,

   [RFC854]        Postel, J. and J. Reynolds, "TELNET PROTOCOL
                   SPECIFICATION", RFC 854, May, 1983.

   [RFC1105]       Lougheed, K., and Y. Rekhter, "Border Gateway
                   Protocol BGP", RFC 1105, June 1989.

   [RFC1163]       Lougheed, K., and Rekhter, Y, "Border Gateway
                   Protocol BGP", RFC 1105, June 1990.

   [RFC1264]       Hinden, R., "Internet Routing Protocol
                   Standardization Criteria", RFC 1264, October 1991.

   [RFC1267]       Lougheed, K., and Rekhter, Y, "Border Gateway
                   Protocol 3 (BGP-3)", RFC 1105, October 1991.

   [RFC1519]       Fuller, V., Li. T., Yu J., and K. Varadhan,
                   "Classless Inter-Domain Routing (CIDR): an
                   Address Assignment and Aggregation Strategy", RFC
                   1519, September 1993.

   [RFC1771]       Rekhter, Y., and T. Li, "A Border Gateway
                   Protocol 4 (BGP-4)", RFC 1771, March 1995.

   [RFC1772]       Rekhter, Y., and P. Gross, Editors, "Application
                   of the Border Gateway Protocol in the Internet",
                   RFC 1772, March 1995.

   [RFC1997]       Chandra. R, and T. Li, "BGP Communities
                   Attribute",  RFC 1997, August, 1996.

   [RFC2439]       Villamizar, C., Chandra, R., and R. Govindan,
                   "BGP Route Flap Damping", RFC 2439, November

   [RFC2460]       Deering, S, and R. Hinden, "Internet Protocol,
                   Version 6 (IPv6) Specification", RFC 2460,
                   December, 1998.

   [RFC2622]       C.       Alaettinoglu, et C., et. al., "Routing Policy
                   Specification Language (RPSL)" RFC 2622, May,

   [RFC2842]       Chandra, R. and J. Scudder, "Capabilities
                   Advertisement with BGP-4", RFC 2842, May 2000.

   [RFC3345]       McPherson, D., Gill, V., Walton, D., and
                   A. Retana, "Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) Persistent
                   Route Oscillation Condition", RFC 3345,
                   August, 2002.

   [ROUTEVIEWS]    Meyer, D., "The Route Views Project",


14.  Author's Addresses

   David Meyer

   Keyur Patel
   Cisco Systems


15.  Full Copyright Statement

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