Understanding the Long-Lived BGP Graceful Restart Capability


Junos OS supports the mechanism to preserve BGP routing details for a longer period from a failed BGP peer than the duration for which such routing information is maintained using the BGP graceful restart functionality.

Historically, routing protocols and BGP, in particular, have been designed with a focus on correctness, where a significant aspect of the "correctness" is for each network element's forwarding state to converge toward the current state of the network as quickly as possible. For this reason, the protocol was designed to remove state advertised by routers which went down (from a BGP perspective) as promptly as possible. Using BGP Graceful Restart defined in RFC 4724, the fast convergence functionality has been an attempt to rapidly remove "stale" state from the network.

Over a period of time, two contributing factors have caused this method of rapid removal of stale states to be modified and enhanced. The first is the widespread adoption of tunneled forwarding infrastructures, for example MPLS. Such infrastructures eliminate the risk of some types of forwarding loops that can arise in hop-by-hop forwarding, and thereby reduce one of the motivations for strong consistency between forwarding elements. The second is the increasing use of BGP as a transport for data less closely associated with packet forwarding than was originally the case. Examples include the use of BGP for autodiscovery (VPLS [RFC4761]) and filter programming (FLOWSPEC [RFC5575]). In these cases, BGP data assumes a characteristic that is not in line with traditional routing.

It was important to offer network operators the ability to choose to retain BGP data for a longer period when the BGP control plane fails for some reason. Although the properties of BGP Graceful Restart are close to this desired requirement to preserve BGP information for a longer duration, several gaps exist, most notably in maximum time for which "stale" information can be retained—graceful restart imposes a 4095-second upper-bound limitation. Junos OS supports a BGP capability called long-lived graceful restart capability so that stale information can be retained for a longer time across a session reset. It also supports a new BGP community, "LLGR_STALE", to mark such information. Such stale information is to be treated as least-preferred, and its advertisement limited to BGP speakers that support the new capability.

BGP long-lived graceful restart (LLGR) allows a network operator to choose to maintain stale routing information from a failed BGP peer much longer than the existing BGP Graceful Restart facility. This functionality to maintain the BGP routes for a longer time period is in accordance with the IETF draft, Support for Long-lived BGP Graceful Restart—draft-uttaro-idr-bgp-persistence-03. According to this draft, long-lived graceful restart (LLGR) must be explicitly configured per NLRI, and it includes provisions to prevent the spread of stale information to other peers that do not recognize and validate LLGR. The following benefits and operations are caused by LLGR:

  • Routes from failed nodes are retained for a configured time period (on the order of days).

  • You can examine per-NLRI LLGR negotiation states using appropriate show commands.

  • You can view whether LLGR is currently in effect for a peer, and if it is effective, the period after which it expires.

  • Stale routes retained by LLGR are explicitly marked in the output of the show bgp neighbor command.

  • Stale routes learned from other neighbors are explicitly marked in the output of the show bgp neighbor command (using well-defined communities).

Although the LLGR methodology can be applied to a number of different scenarios, one specific scenario is the salient objective of this feature. In a scenario in which a loss of connectivity between a route reflector and a client occurs, including intermittent connectivity which can cause a connection to be reset before the entire RIB can be transmitted, such a failure does not result in a restart. Also, such a phenomenon does not imply that any sort of connectivity problem between the clients and the next-hops advertised by the route reflector exists. It is anticipated that a typical long-lived restart time is in the order of 12 hours.

All of the behavioral guidelines and operational points described in the IETF draft, draft-uttaro-idr-bgp-persistence-03, for LLGR are supported. Also, backward compatibility with existing Junos OS features in releases earlier than Release 15.1, specifically graceful restart and nonstop routing (NSR), is supported. When LLGR is configured, graceful restart operates in the existing manner, except as explicitly illustrated in the Internet draft. You can also configure both LLGR and NSR at the same time, and achieve the complete LLGR functionality. As a prerequisite for LLGR, support for the IETF draft, Notification Message support for BGP Graceful Restart—draft-ietf- idr-bgp-gr-notification-01, is implemented. This draft extends the behavior of ordinary GR to allow it to protect against communications interruptions and protocol errors.

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