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Understanding Filter-Based Tunneling Across IPv4 Networks

Understanding Filter-Based Tunneling Across IPv4 Networks

Generic routing encapsulation (GRE) in its simplest form is the encapsulation of any network layer protocol over any other network layer protocol to connect disjointed networks that lack a native routing path between them. It is a connectionless and stateless Layer 3 encapsulation protocol, and it offers no mechanisms for reliability, flow control, or sequencing.

GRE tunneling is initiated with standard firewall filter actions. Traffic flows through the tunnel provided that the tunnel destination is routable. For MX series routers, this feature is also supported in logical systems.

For MX Series 5G Universal Routing Platforms, when you configure GRE tunneling with firewall filters, you do not need to create tunnel interfaces on Tunnel Services physical interface cards (PICs) or on MPC3E Modular Port Concentrators (MPCs). Instead, PFEs on the Modular Interface Cards (MICs) or MPCs handle the GRE payload encapsulation and decapsulation and provide the tunnel services to the relevant interfaces. As such, a pair of MX Series routers can be installed as provider edge (PE) routers to provide connectivity to customer edge (CE) routers on two disjoint networks.

For PTX Series routers, network services must be set to enhanced-mode for filter-based GRE tunneling to work. For more information on filter based tunneling on the PTX, see tunnel-end-point .

Ingress Firewall Filter on the Ingress PE Router

On the ingress PE router, you configure a tunnel definition that specifies a unidirectional GRE tunnel. For MX series routers with a MIC or MPC ingress logical interface, you attach an encapsulating firewall filter. The firewall filter action references a tunnel definition and initiates the encapsulation of matched packets. The encapsulation process attaches an IPv4 header and a GRE header to the payload packet and then forwards the resulting GRE packet to the filter-specified tunnel.

Ingress Firewall Filter on the Egress PE Router

On the egress PE router, you attach a de-encapsulating firewall filter to the input of all MIC or MPC logical interfaces that are advertised addresses for the router. The firewall filter initiates the de-encapsulation of GRE protocol packets. De-encapsulation removes the inner GRE header and then forwards the original payload packet to its original destination on the destination customer network. If the action specifies an optional routing instance, route lookup is performed using that secondary table instead of the primary table.

Characteristics of Filter-Based Tunneling Across IPv4 Networks

Filter-based tunnels across IPv4 networks are unidirectional. They transport transit packets only, and they do not require tunnel interfaces.

Unidirectional Tunneling

To use filter-based GRE tunnels, start by attaching standard firewall filters at the input of each tunnel endpoint (at both the ingress PE router and the egress PE router). At the input to the ingress PE router, you apply an encapsulating firewall filter. At the input to the egress PE router, apply a de-encapsulating firewall filter.

Bidirectional Tunneling

For bidirectional GRE tunneling, you can use the same pair of PE routers, but you must configure a second tunnel in the reverse direction.

Transit Traffic Payloads

A filter-based GRE IPv4 tunnel can transport unicast or multicast transit traffic payloads only. Filter-initiated encapsulation and decapsulation operations execute on PFEs for Ethernet logical interfaces and aggregated Ethernet interfaces. This design enables more efficient use of PFE bandwidth as compared to GRE tunneling using tunnel interfaces. Routing protocol sessions can not be configured on top of the firewall based tunnels.

The PFEs operate in the forwarding plane to process packets by forwarding them between input and output interfaces using a locally stored forwarding table, which is a local copy of the information from the Routing Engine (RE).

On the other hand, REs operate in the control plane to handle system management, user access to the router, and processes for routing protocols, router interface control, and some chassis component control. The Junos OS architecture separates the functions of these planes to enable flexibility of platform support and scalability of platform performance. Ingress control packets are directed to the control plane where the GRE encapsulation and de-encapsulation processes of the PFEs are not available.

Although you can apply firewall filters to loopback addresses, GRE encapsulating and de-encapsulating firewall filter actions are not supported on router loopback interfaces.

Compact Configuration for Multiple GRE Tunnels

Firewall filters support a wide variety of match criteria and, by extension, the ability to terminate multiple GRE tunnels that match criteria specified in a single firewall filter definition. By creating multiple tunnels, each with its own set of match conditions, you can create tunnels that do not interfere with customer GRE packets or with one another and that re-inject packets to separate routing tables after de-encapsulation.

Tunneling with Firewall Filters and Tunneling with Tunnel Interfaces

Tunneling with tunnel interfaces supports both router control traffic and transit traffic, as well as encryption. Tunneling with firewall filters does not. However, tunneling with firewall filters does provide benefits in performance and scaling.

Forwarding Performance

Filter-based tunneling across IPv4 networks enables more efficient use of PFE bandwidth as compared to GRE tunneling using tunnel interfaces. Encapsulation, de-encapsulation, and route lookup are packet header-processing activities that, for firewall filter-based tunneling, are performed on the PFE. Consequently, the encapsulator never needs to send payload packets to a separate tunnel interface (which might reside on a PIC in a different slot than the interface that receives payload packets).