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LSP Routes

MPLS and Routing Tables

The IGPs and BGP store their routing information in the inet.0 routing table, the main IP routing table. If the traffic-engineering bgp command is configured, thereby allowing only BGP to use MPLS paths for forwarding traffic, MPLS path information is stored in a separate routing table, inet.3. Only BGP accesses the inet.3 routing table. BGP uses both inet.0 and inet.3 to resolve next-hop addresses. If the traffic-engineering bgp-igp command is configured, thereby allowing the IGPs to use MPLS paths for forwarding traffic, MPLS path information is stored in the inet.0 routing table. (Figure 1 and Figure 2 illustrate the routing tables in the two traffic engineering configurations.)

Figure 1: Routing and Forwarding Tables, traffic-engineering bgpRouting and Forwarding Tables, traffic-engineering bgp

The inet.3 routing table contains the host address of each LSP’s egress router. This routing table is used on ingress routers to route packets to the destination egress router. BGP uses the inet.3 routing table on the ingress router to help in resolving next-hop addresses.

MPLS also maintains an MPLS path routing table (mpls.0), which contains a list of the next label-switched router in each LSP. This routing table is used on transit routers to route packets to the next router along an LSP.

Typically, the egress router in an LSP does not consult the mpls.0 routing table. (This router does not need to consult mpls.0 because the penultimate router in the LSP either changes the packet’s label to a value of 0 or pops the label.) In either case, the egress router forwards it as an IPv4 packet, consulting the IP routing table, inet.0, to determine how to forward the packet.

When a transit or egress router receives an MPLS packet, information in the MPLS forwarding table is used to determine the next transit router in the LSP or to determine that this router is the egress router.

When BGP resolves a next-hop prefix, it examines both the inet.0 and inet.3 routing tables, seeking the next hop with the lowest preference. If it finds a next-hop entry with an equal preference in both routing tables, BGP prefers the entry in the inet.3 routing table.

Figure 2: Routing and Forwarding Tables, traffic-engineering bgp-igpRouting and Forwarding Tables, traffic-engineering bgp-igp

Generally, BGP selects next-hop entries in the inet.3 routing table because their preferences are always lower than OSPF and IS-IS next-hop preferences. When you configure LSPs, you can override the default preference for MPLS LSPs, which might alter the next-hop selection process.

When BGP selects a next-hop entry from the inet.3 routing table, it installs that LSP into the forwarding table in the Packet Forwarding Engine, which causes packets destined for that next hop to enter and travel along the LSP. If the LSP is removed or fails, the path is removed from the inet.3 routing table and from the forwarding table, and BGP reverts to using a next hop from the inet.0 routing table.

Fast Reroute Overview

Fast reroute provides redundancy for an LSP path. When you enable fast reroute, detours are precomputed and preestablished along the LSP. In case of a network failure on the current LSP path, traffic is quickly routed to one of the detours. Figure 3 illustrates an LSP from Router A to Router F, showing the established detours. Each detour is established by an upstream node to avoid the link toward the immediate downstream node and the immediate downstream node itself. Each detour might traverse through one or more label-switched routers (or switches) that are not shown in the figure.

Fast reroute protects traffic against any single point of failure between the ingress and egress routers (or switches). If there is a failure in a scaled fast reroute scenario, the devices lose reachability to all the peers that were connected through the failed link. This leads to traffic interruption, as the BGP session among the devices goes down. If there are multiple failures along an LSP, fast reroute itself might fail. Also, fast reroute does not protect against failure of the ingress or egress routers.

Figure 3: Detours Established for an LSP Using Fast RerouteDetours Established for an LSP Using Fast Reroute

If a node detects that a downstream link has failed (using a link-layer-specific liveness detection mechanism) or that a downstream node has failed (for example, using the RSVP neighbor hello protocol), the node quickly switches the traffic to the detour and, at the same time, signals the ingress router about the link or node failure. Figure 4 illustrates the detour taken when the link between Router B and Router C fails.

Figure 4: Detour After the Link from Router B to Router C FailsDetour After the Link from Router B to Router C Fails

If the network topology is not rich enough (there are not enough routers with sufficient links to other routers), some of the detours might not succeed. For example, the detour from Router A to Router C in Figure 3 cannot traverse link A-B and Router B. If such a path is not possible, the detour does not occur.

Note that after the node switches traffic to the detour, it might switch the traffic again to a newly calculated detour soon after. This is because the initial detour route might not be the best route. To make rerouting as fast as possible, the node switches traffic onto the initial detour without first verifying that the detour is valid. Once the switch is made, the node recomputes the detour. If the node determines that the initial detour is still valid, traffic continues to flow over this detour. If the node determines that the initial detour is no longer valid, it again switches the traffic to a newly computed detour.


If you issue show commands after the node has switched traffic to the initial detour, the node might indicate that the traffic is still flowing over the original LSP. This situation is temporary and should correct itself quickly.

The time required for a fast-rerouting detour to take effect depends on two independent time intervals:

  • Amount of time to detect that there is a link or node failure—This interval depends greatly on the link layer in use and the nature of the failure. For example, failure detection on an SONET/SDH link typically is much faster than on a Gigabit Ethernet link, and both are much faster than detection of a router failure.

  • Amount of time required to splice the traffic onto the detour—This operation is performed by the Packet Forwarding Engine, which requires little time to splice traffic onto the detour. The time needed can vary depending on the number of LSPs being switched to detours.

Fast reroute is a short-term patch to reduce packet loss. Because detour computation might not reserve adequate bandwidth, the detours might introduce congestion on the alternate links. The ingress router is the only router that is fully aware of LSP policy constraints and, therefore, is the only router able to come up with adequate long-term alternate paths.

Detours are created by use of RSVP and, like all RSVP sessions, they require extra state and overhead in the network. For this reason, each node establishes at most one detour for each LSP that has fast reroute enabled. Creating more than one detour for each LSP increases the overhead, but serves no practical purpose.

To reduce network overhead further, each detour attempts to merge back into the LSP as soon as possible after the failed node or link. If you can consider an LSP that travels through n router nodes, it is possible to create n – 1 detours. For instance, in Figure 5, the detour tries to merge back into the LSP at Router D instead of at Router E or Router F. Merging back into the LSP makes the detour scalability problem more manageable. If topology limitations prevent the detour from quickly merging back into the LSP, detours merge with other detours automatically.

Figure 5: Detours Merging into Other DetoursDetours Merging into Other Detours

Configuring Fast Reroute

Fast reroute provides a mechanism for automatically rerouting traffic on an LSP if a node or link in an LSP fails, thus reducing the loss of packets traveling over the LSP.

To configure fast reroute on an LSP, include the fast-reroute statement on the ingress router (or switch):

You can include this statement at the following hierarchy levels:

You do not need to configure fast reroute on the LSP’s transit and egress routers (or switches). Once fast reroute is enabled, the ingress router (or switch) signals all the downstream routers (or switches) that fast reroute is enabled on the LSP, and each downstream router does its best to set up detours for the LSP. If a downstream router does not support fast reroute, it ignores the request to set up detours and continues to support the LSP. A router that does not support fast reroute will cause some of the detours to fail, but otherwise has no impact on the LSP.


To enable PFE fast reroute, configure a routing policy statement with the load-balance per-packet statement at the [edit policy-options policy-statement policy-name then] hierarchy level on each of the routers where traffic might be rerouted. See also Configuring Load Balancing Across RSVP LSPs.

By default, no bandwidth is reserved for the rerouted path. To allocate bandwidth for the rerouted path, include either the bandwidth statement or the bandwidth-percent statement. You can only include one of these statements at a time. If you do not include either the bandwidth statement or the bandwidth-percent statement, the default setting is to not reserve bandwidth for the detour path.

When you include the bandwidth statement, you can specify the specific amount of bandwidth (in bits per second [bps]) you want to reserve for the detour path. The bandwidth does not need to be identical to that allocated for the LSP.

When you specify a bandwidth percent using the bandwidth-percent statement, the detour path bandwidth is computed by multiplying the bandwidth percentage by the bandwidth configured for the main traffic-engineered LSP. For information about how to configure the bandwidth for a traffic-engineered LSP, see Configuring Traffic-Engineered LSPs.

Hop-limit constraints define how many more routers a detour is allowed to traverse compared with the LSP itself. By default, the hop limit is set to 6. For example, if an LSP traverses 4 routers, any detour for the LSP can be up to 10 (that is, 4 + 6) router hops, including the ingress and egress routers.

By default, a detour inherits the same administrative (coloring) group constraints as its parent LSP when CSPF is determining the alternate path. Administrative groups, also known as link coloring or resource class, are manually assigned attributes that describe the “color” of links, such that links with the same color conceptually belong to the same class. If you specify the include-any statement when configuring the parent LSP, all links traversed by the alternate session must have at least one color found in the list of groups. If you specify the include-all statement when configuring the parent LSP, all links traversed by the alternate session must have all of the colors found in the list of groups. If you specify the exclude statement when configuring the parent LSP, none of the links must have a color found in the list of groups. For more information about administrative group constraints, see Configuring Administrative Groups for LSPs.

Detour Merging Process

This section describes the process used by a router to determine which LSP to select when the router receives path messages from different interfaces with identical Session and Sender Template objects. When this occurs, the router needs to merge the path states.

The router employs the following process to determine when and how to merge path states:

  • When all the path messages do not include a fast reroute or a detour object, or when the router is the egress of the LSP, no merging is required. The messages are processed according to RSVP traffic engineering.

  • Otherwise, the router must record the path state in addition to the incoming interface. If the path messages do not share the same outgoing interface and next-hop router, the router considers them to be independent LSPs and does not merge them.

  • For all the path messages that share the same outgoing interface and next-hop router, the router uses the following process to select the final LSP:

    • If only one LSP originates from this node, select it as the final LSP.

    • If only one LSP contains a fast reroute object, select it as the final LSP.

    • If there are several LSPs and some of them have a detour object, eliminate those containing a detour object from the final LSP selection process.

    • If several final LSP candidates remain (that is, there are still both detour and protected LSPs), select the LSPs with fast reroute objects.

    • If none of the LSPs have fast reroute objects, select the ones without detour objects. If all the LSPs have detour objects, select them all.

    • Of the remaining LSP candidates, eliminate from consideration those that traverse nodes that other LSPs avoid.

    • If several candidate LSPs still remain, select the one with the shortest explicit route object (ERO) path length. If more than one LSP has the same path length, select one randomly.

  • Once the final LSP has been identified, the router must transmit only the path messages that correspond to this LSP. All other LSPs are considered merged at this node.

Detour Computations

Computing and setting up detours is done independently at each node. On a node, if an LSP has fast reroute enabled and if a downstream link or node can be identified, the router performs a Constrained Shortest Path First (CSPF) computation using the information in the local traffic engineering database. For this reason, detours rely on your IGP supporting traffic engineering extensions. Without the traffic engineering database, detours cannot be established.

CSPF initially attempts to find a path that skips the next downstream node. Attempting to find this path provides protection against downstream failures in either nodes or links. If a node-skipping path is not available, CSPF attempts to find a path on an alternate link to the next downstream node. Attempting to find an alternate link provides protection against downstream failures in links only. Detour computations might not succeed the first time. If a computation fails, the router recomputes detours approximately once every refresh interval until the computation succeeds. The RSVP metric for each detour is set to a value in the range from 10,000 through 19,999.

Fast Reroute Path Optimization

A fast reroute protection path is nondeterministic. The actual protection path of a particular node depends on the history of the LSP and the network topology when the fast reroute path was computed. The lack of deterministic behavior can lead to operational difficulties and poorly optimized paths after multiple link flaps in a network. Even in a small network, after a few link flaps fast reroute paths can traverse an arbitrarily large number of nodes and can remain in that state indefinitely. This is inefficient and makes the network less predictable.

Fast reroute optimization addresses this deficiency. It provides a global path optimization timer, allowing you to optimize all LSPs that have fast reroute enabled and a detour path up and running. The timer value can be varied depending on the expected RE processing load.

The fast reroute optimization algorithm is based on the IGP metric only. As long as the new path’s IGP metric is lower than the old path’s, the CSPF result is accepted, even if the new path might be more congested (higher bandwidth utilization) or traverses more hops.

In conformance with RFC 4090, Fast Reroute Extensions to RSVP-TE for LSP Tunnels, when a new path is computed and accepted for fast reroute optimization, the existing detour is destroyed first and then the new detour is established. To prevent traffic loss, detours actively protecting traffic are not optimized.

Configuring the Optimization Interval for Fast Reroute Paths

You can enable path optimization for fast reroute by configuring the fast reroute optimize timer. The optimize timer triggers a periodic optimization process that recomputes the fast reroute detour LSPs to use network resources more efficiently.

To enable fast reroute path optimization, specify the number of seconds using the optimize-timer option for the fast-reroute statement:

You can include this statement at the following hierarchy levels:

  • [edit protocols rsvp]

  • [edit logical-systems logical-system-name protocols rsvp]

Adding LSP-Related Routes to the inet.3 or inet6.3 Routing Table

By default, a host route toward the egress router is installed in the inet.3 or inet6.3 routing table. (The host route address is the one you configure in the to statement.) Installing the host route allows BGP to perform next-hop resolution. It also prevents the host route from interfering with prefixes learned from dynamic routing protocols and stored in the inet.0 or inet6.0 routing table.

Unlike the routes in the inet.0 or inet6.0 table, routes in the inet.3 or inet6.3 table are not copied to the Packet Forwarding Engine, and hence they cause no changes in the system forwarding table directly. You cannot use the ping or traceroute command through these routes. The only use for inet.3 or inet6.3 is to permit BGP to perform next-hop resolution. To examine the inet.3 or inet6.3 table, use the show route table inet.3 or show route table inet6.3 command.

To inject additional routes into the inet.3 or inet6.3 routing table, include the install statement:

You can include this statement at the following hierarchy levels:

The specified routes are installed as aliases into the routing table when the LSP is established. Installing additional routes allows BGP to resolve next hops within the specified prefix and to direct additional traffic for these next hops to a particular LSP.

Including the active option with the install statement installs the specified prefix into the inet.0 or inet6.0 routing table, which is the primary forwarding table. The result is a route that is installed in the forwarding table any time the LSP is established, which means you can ping or trace the route. Use this option with care, because this type of prefix is very similar to a static route.

You use alias routes for routers that have multiple addresses being used as BGP next hops, or for routers that are not MPLS capable. In either of these cases, the LSP can be configured to another MPLS capable system within the local domain, which then acts as a “border” router. The LSP then terminates on the border router and, from that router, Layer 3 forwarding takes the packet to the true next-hop router.

In the case of an interconnect, the domain’s border router can act as the proxy router and can advertise the prefix for the interconnect if the border router is not setting the BGP next hop to itself.

In the case of a point of presence (POP) that has routers that do not support MPLS, one router (for example, a core router) that supports MPLS can act as a proxy for the entire POP and can inject a set of prefixes that cover the POP. Thus, all routers within the POP can advertise themselves as interior BGP (IBGP) next hops, and traffic can follow the LSP to reach the core router. This means that normal IGP routing would prevail within the POP.

You cannot use the ping or traceroute commands on routes in the inet.3 or inet6.3 routing table.

For BGP next-hop resolution, it makes no difference whether a route is in inet.0/inet6.0 or inet.3/inet6.3; the route with the best match (longest mask) is chosen. Among multiple best-match routes, the one with the highest preference value is chosen.


The install destination-prefix active statement is not supported on static LSPs. When the install destination-prefix active statement is configured for a static LSP, the MPLS routes do not get installed into the inet.0 routing table.