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NorthStar Controller Features Overview

The NorthStar Controller software provides traffic-engineering-based solutions for WAN and edge (data center edge and WAN edge) networks. After the NorthStar Controller has connected to the network and dynamic topology acquisition is performed to provide a real-time routing view of the network topology, you can view the network model from the NorthStar Controller UI. You can then plan, analyze, and assess the impact of network changes you want to make before implementing them.

Highlights of supported use cases and features include:

  • Multi-user login—Multiple full-access users can be logged into NorthStar simultaneously and a single user can log into NorthStar multiple times from different devices. This is achieved with an architecture that distributes the responsibilities of the NorthStar server.

  • Web UI—Provides Operator access to the NorthStar Controller application. Features available by way of the web UI are defined by user role. The web UI is accessed through a webserver URL, using a modern web browser.


    To perform simulations without affecting the live network, you can use the NorthStar Planner, which is available through both a web UI and Java client UI. As more features are added to the NorthStar Planner web UI, the Java client will eventually be discontinued.

  • Dynamic topology acquisition—Use routing protocols (IS-IS, OSPF, and BGP-LS) to obtain real-time topology updates.

  • Label-switched path (LSP) reporting—Label edge routers (LERs) use PCEP reports to report all types of LSPs (PCC_controlled, PCC_delegated, and PCE_initiated) to the NorthStar Controller.

  • LSP provisioning—Create LSPs from the NorthStar Controller or update LSPs that have been delegated to the NorthStar Controller. You can also create multiple LSPs at one time.

  • Symmetric pair groups—Design a pair of LSPs so that the LSP from the ingress LER to the egress LER follows the same path as the LSP from the egress LER to the ingress LER. You can access this feature in the web UI by navigating to Applications > Provision LSP, and clicking on the Advanced tab.

  • Diverse LSPs—From the NorthStar Controller UI, design two LSPs so that the paths are node, link, or SRLG diverse from each other.


    The NorthStar Controller supports diverse point-to-point LSPs. The provisioning of diverse point-to-multipoint LSPs is not supported.

  • Standby and secondary LSPs—Provide an alternate route in the event the primary route fails. The tunnel ID, from node, to node, and IP address of a secondary or standby LSP are identical to that of the primary LSP. However, secondary and standby LSPs have the following differences:

    • A secondary LSP is not signaled until the primary LSP fails.

    • A standby LSP is signaled regardless of the status of the primary LSP.

  • Time-based LSP scheduling—Schedule the creation of LSPs based on future requirements by using time-based calendaring. You can schedule an LSP as a one-time event or recurring daily event for a specified period of time to schedule setup, modification, and teardown of LSPs based on the traffic load, bandwidth, and setup and hold priority requirements of your network over time. The scheduling of an LSP is configured on the primary path, and the scheduled time applies to all paths (primary, secondary, and standby).

  • LSP templates—The NorthStar Controller supports LSP templates configured on the router. A template defines a set of LSP attributes to apply to all PCE-initiated LSPs that provide a name match with the regular expression (regex) name specified in the template. By associating LSPs (through regex name matching) with an LSP template, you can automatically enable or disable LSP attributes across any LSPs that provide a name match with the regex name that is specified in the template. In the NorthStar UI, the same attributes are applied.

  • Auto-bandwidth support—Auto-bandwidth parameters are figured on the router, even when the LSP has been delegated to the NorthStar Controller. You can enable auto-bandwidth parameters by way of a template on the router so that any PCE-controlled LSP that provides a name match with a regular expression (regex) name defined in a template inherits the LSP attributes specified in that template. The NorthStar Controller applies the same attributes and displays them in the UI.


    The bandwidth specified in a PCE-initiated LSP must be greater than or equal to the minimum bandwidth that is specified in an auto-bandwidth template, or the template should not contain a minimum-bandwidth clause. In addition, the bandwidth specified in a PCE-initiated LSP should not exceed the maximum bandwidth that is specified in the template.

    Auto-bandwidth behavior varies depending on the LSP type:

    • Router-controlled (PCC-controlled) LSPs—The NorthStar Controller must learn about router-controlled LSPs. The PCC performs statistical accounting of LSP bandwidth and LSP resizing is driven by bandwidth threshold triggers. The NorthStar Controller is updated accordingly.

    • NorthStar Controller-managed (PCC-delegated) LSPs —The PCC performs bandwidth accounting for these LSPs. When bandwidth thresholds are reached, a PCReq message is sent to the NorthStar Controller’s Path Computation Server (PCS) to compute the Explicit Route Object (ERO). The PCC determines how to resize the LSP while the PCS provides the ERO that meets the constraints. These LSPs are delegated as usual, and PCRpt messages are sent with the Delegation bit set.

      When bandwidth threshold triggers are reached on the PCC, a PCRpt message is sent to the PCE. The PCRpt message includes the vendor TLV specifying the new requested bandwidth. The following conditions apply:

      • If a new path is available, make-before-break (MBB) signaling is attempted and a new path is signaled. The PCRpt message from the PCC to PCE reports the updated path.

      • If a new path is not found, the process described above is repeated whenever the adjust interval timer is triggered.

    • NorthStar Controller-created (PCE-initiated) LSPs—When an LSP is created from the NorthStar Controller UI, a template defines the auto-bandwidth attributes associated with the LSP, which allows the PCC to treat the LSP as an auto-bandwidth LSP. All other LSP behavior is the same as the NorthStar Controller-managed LSP.

  • LSP optimization—Analyze and optimize LSPs that have been delegated to the NorthStar Controller. You can use the Analyze Now feature to run a path optimization analysis and create an optimization report to help you determine whether optimization should be done. You can also use the Optimize Now feature to automatically optimize paths, with or without a user-defined timer. A report is not created when you use Optimize Now, and the optimization is based on the current network conditions, not on the conditions in effect the last time the analysis was done.

  • Enable or disable LSP provisioning from the NorthStar Controller—The administrator can globally enable or disable provisioning of LSPs for all NorthStar Controller users by navigating to Administration>System Settings. If provisioning is disabled, changes can still be made in the UI, but they are not pushed out to the network.

  • Schedule maintenance events—Select nodes and links for maintenance. When you schedule a maintenance event on nodes or links, the NorthStar Controller routes delegated LSPs around those nodes and links that are scheduled for maintenance. After completion of the maintenance event, delegated LSPs are reverted back to optimal paths.

  • Run simulations for scheduled maintenance events—Run simulations from the NorthStar Controller on scheduled maintenance events for different failure scenarios to test the resilience of your network, or run simulations before the event occurs. Network simulation is based on the current network state for the selected maintenance events at the time the simulation is initiated. Simulation does not simulate the maintenance event for a future network state or simulate elements from other concurrent maintenance events. You can run network simulations based on selected elements for maintenance or extended failure simulations, with the option to include exhaustive failures.

  • TE++ LSPs—A TE++ LSP includes a set of paths that are configured as a specific container statement and individual LSP statements, called sub-LSPs, which all have equal bandwidth.

    For TE++ LSPs, a normalization process occurs that resizes the LSP when either of the following two triggers initiates the normalization process:

    • A periodic timer

    • Bandwidth thresholds are met

    When either of the preceding triggers is fired, one of the following events can occur:

    • No change is required.

    • LSP splitting—Add another LSP and distribute bandwidth across all the LSPs.

    • LSP merging—Delete an LSP and distribute bandwidth across all the LSPs.

    For a TE++ LSP, the NorthStar Controller displays a single LSP with a set of paths, and the LSP name is based on the matching prefix name of all members. The correlation between TE-LSPs is based on association, and the LSP is deleted when there is no remaining TE LSP.


    TE++ is supported on PCC (router) controlled LSPs and delegated LSPs, but TE++ LSPs cannot be created on the NorthStar Controller.

  • Multilayer support—Improves the quality of NorthStar Controller path computations by factoring in a level of information about the transport domain that would otherwise not be available. The topology information is pushed to the NorthStar Controller client in the form of a YANG-based data model over RESTCONF and REST APIs. This ensures that the client and the transport network entity can communicate. For more information about YANG data modeling, see draft-ietf-teas-yang-te-topo-01, YANG Data Model for TE Topologies.

  • OpenStack support using a two-VM model—The NorthStar Controller can be installed and run using a two-VM OpenStack model. The NorthStar Controller application is installed on top of the Linux VM. The JunosVM is provided in Qcow2 format.

  • Containerized Routing Protocol Daemon (cRPD) installation of NorthStar Controller—Junos cRPD installation is available as an alternative to Junos VM. BGP Monitoring Protocol (BMP) provides topology acquisition and NTAD is not available, so BGP-LS must be used in the network. Deployed in Docker, this type of installation reduces the overhead typical with Junos VM, resulting in less resource consumption and faster startup time. With cRPD:

    • CentOS or Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.x is required. Earlier versions are not supported.

    • cRPD shares the address(es) of the NorthStar application server.

    • Junos cRPD documentation is available in the Juniper Networks TechLibrary. There, you will also find a link to the Licensing Guide which describes Junos cRPD licensing requirements.

  • User authentication with an external LDAP server—You can specify that users are to be authenticated using an external LDAP server rather than the default local authentication. This enables in-house authentication. The client sends an authentication request to the NorthStar Controller, which forwards it to the external LDAP server. Once the LDAP server accepts the request, NorthStar queries the user profile for authorization and sends the response to the client. The NorthStar web UI facilitates LDAP authentication configuration with an admin-only window available from the Administration menu.

    User authentication from a RADIUS server is also available.

  • Secondary loopback address support—The NorthStar Controller supports using a secondary loopback address as the MPLS-TE destination address. When you modify a node in the web UI, you have the option to add destination IP addresses in addition to the default IPv4 router ID address, and assign a descriptive tag to each. You can then specify a tag as the destination IP address when provisioning an LSP.


    A secondary IP address must be configured on the router for the LSP to be provisioned correctly.

  • P2MP support—The NorthStar Controller receives the P2MP names used to group sub-LSPs together from the PCC/PCE, by way of autodiscovery. In the NorthStar Controller web UI, a new P2MP window is now available that displays the P2MP LSPs and their sub-LSPs. Detailed information about the sub-LSPs is also available in the Tunnel tab of the network information table. From the P2MP window, right-clicking a P2MP name displays a graphical tree view of the group.

  • Admin groups—Admin groups, also known as link coloring or resource class assignment, are manually assigned attributes that describe the “color” of links, such that links with the same color conceptually belong to the same class. You can use admin groups to implement a variety of policy-based LSP setups. Admin group values for PCE-initiated LSPs created in the controller are carried by PCEP.

    The NorthStar Controller web UI also supports setting admin group attributes for LSPs in the Advanced tab of the Provision LSP and Modify LSP windows. The admin group for PCC-delegated and locally controlled LSPs can be viewed in the web UI as well. For PCC-delegated LSPs, existing attributes can be modified in the web UI.

  • High availability (active/standby)—The NorthStar Controller high availability (HA) implementation provides an active/standby solution, meaning that one node in the cluster (the active node) runs the active NorthStar components (PCE, Toposerver, Path Computation, REST), while the remaining (standby) nodes run only those processes necessary to maintain database and BGP-LS connectivity unless the active node fails. HA is an optional feature.

  • Multiple Network-Facing Interfaces for High Availability Deployments—A total of five monitored interfaces are now supported, one of which is designated by the user as the cluster communication (Zookeeper) interface. The script allows configuration of the monitored interfaces in both the host configuration (Host interfaces 1 through 5), and JunosVM configuration (JunosVM interfaces 1 through 5). In HA Setup, enables configuration of all of the interfaces on each of the nodes in the HA cluster.

  • Source Packet Routing in Networking (SPRING), also known as segment routing—Segment routing is a control-plane architecture that enables an ingress router to steer a packet through a specific set of nodes and links in the network. For more information about segment routing, see the following Junos OS documentation: Understanding Source Packet Routing in Networking (SPRING). Adjacency segment ID (SID) labels (associated with links) and node SID labels (associated with nodes) can be displayed on the NorthStar topological map and SR-LSP tunnels can be created using both adjacency SID and node SID labels.

  • Health monitoring—A process in the NorthStar Controller architecture that provides health monitoring functionality in the areas of process, server, connectivity, and license monitoring, and the monitoring of distributed analytics collectors in an HA environment. Navigate to Administration > System Health to view monitored parameters. Critical health monitoring information is pushed to a web UI banner that appears above the Juniper Networks logo.

  • Analytics—Streams data from the network devices, via data collectors, to the NorthStar Controller where it is processed, stored, and made available for viewing in the web UI. The NorthStar Controller periodically connects to the network in order to obtain the configuration of the network devices. It uses this information to correlate IP addresses, interfaces, and devices. The collection schedule is user-configured. Junos Telemetry Interface (JTI) sensors generate data from the PFE (LSP traffic data, logical and physical interface traffic data), and send probes through the data-plane. In addition to connecting the routing engine to the management network, a data port must be connected to the collector on one of your devices. The rest of the devices in the network can use that interface to reach the collector. Views and work flows in the web UI support visualization of collected data so it can be interpreted.

  • Netconf Persistence—Allows you to create a collection task for netconf and display the results of the collection. Netconf collection is used by the Analytics feature to obtain the network device configuration information needed to organize and display collected data in a meaningful way in the web UI.

  • Provisioning of LSPs via Netconf—As an alternative to provisioning LSPs (P2P) using PCEP (the default), you can now provision using Netconf. And with Netconf, you can provision P2MP LSPs as well. To use Netconf, the NorthStar Controller must rely on periodic device collection to learn about LSPs and other updates to the network. Unlike with PCEP, the NorthStar Controller with Netconf supports logical systems.