Day One: Using Ethernet VPNs for Data Center Interconnect

EVPN is a new standards-based technology that addresses the networking challenges presented by interconnected data centers. Follow the POC Labs topology for testing EVPN starting with all the configurations, moving on to verification procedures, and concluding with high availability testing. It's all here for you to learn and duplicate.

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About the Author

Victor Ganjian is currently a Senior Data Networking Engineer in the Juniper Proof of Concept lab in Westford, Massachusetts. He has 20 years of hands-on experience helping Enterprise and Service Provider customers understand, design, configure, test, and troubleshoot a wide range of IP routing and Ethernet switching related technologies. Victor holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Electrical Engineering from Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts.

Author Q & A

What got you started on this book?

I work in the Juniper Worldwide Proof of Concept (POC) lab in Westford, Massachusetts and this process started when I was asked to perform some EVPN testing for a customer. EVPN was new to me and the POC testing was an opportunity to learn. And like most engineers, I didn't just want to configure and send some traffic through the EVPNs, I wanted to understand how it really worked!

When working with a new technology, as a habit I document all of my work because I know that after a month or two I'll have forgotten 99% of it. After setting up some Juniper routers, switches, a few servers, and some test equipment I started plugging away. I would run some tests, come up with a list of questions, do some online research, and then work with the Juniper System Test and Development Engineers who helped set me straight. When I finished documenting my work I realized that I had a rough draft for the beginnings of a Day One book.

Who is this book for?

This Day One book is for network engineers that are involved with projects that require interconnection of multiple data centers or are just curious about the inner workings of EVPN. The reader should have some knowledge and experience with other VPN technologies that use BGP signaling such as IP VPNs or VPLS, which will help them get up to speed on EVPN more easily. This also allows the reader to compare EVPN against these other VPN technologies, some of which are used today for extending layer 2 connectivity between data centers. Network architects and Systems Engineers responsible for designing and implementing EVPN networks, as well as network administrators or operators responsible for maintaining EVPN networks, will benefit the most.

After reading this book, what's the take away?

The main take away is that the reader will come to recognize that EVPN is an ideal solution for DCI. This may be a strong statement, however the book backs this up with real, in-depth examples that highlight the unique features of EVPN. This helps the reader understand the link between the technical attributes of EVPN and the oft-cited, higher-level benefits that EVPN offers. The examples in the book also highlight the fact that the EVPN in Junos is available and ready right now!

The other take away are the configuration files used in the sample network topology in the book. One of the goals of the book was to provide a working configuration so that the reader could use it as a starting point for testing EVPN in their lab. This lab testing could enhance the reader's learning of EVPN as well as give them a head start on configuring a lab network that more closely resembles what they would deploy in production.

What are you hoping that people will learn from this book?

My goal is for the reader to have a very strong understanding of how EVPN works as well as some practical knowledge. For example, I expect that they would be able to explain the technical details of EVPN to their colleagues and then run to the lab to configure EVPN on a set of routers in order to perform additional testing if they desire.

As we know, the best way to get up to speed on any technology is to get some hands on experience. And although the reader is not actually physically typing commands or generating traffic from the test equipment, the book leverages the CLI and traffic flows along with a sample network topology to clearly demonstrate the various EVPN concepts and features. There is a chapter that steps the reader through the configuration of the EVPN service, explaining the various options along the way. Then the operation of EVPN is examined in the "Verification" chapter which explains topics such as multi-homing, Layer 2 and Layer 3 forwarding and follows each section with detailed examples using "show" commands and, in some cases, generated traffic flows. Finally, link and node failures are introduced in the topology to understand how the network adapts to these events.

What do you recommend as the next item to read after this book?

When I was writing this book I often referenced the IETF "BGP MPLS-Based Ethernet VPN" standard. It was a draft at the time and recently was adopted as a standard by the IETF and published as RFC 7432. So I would recommend reading this RFC, as it will reinforce many of the EVPN concepts and features contained in the book.

What's your inspiration?

My main motivation for writing this book was the fear of forgetting what I had learned about EVPN a month after working with it. Kidding aside, it is very gratifying to learn about any technology to the level of detail in this book. Better yet is the gratification of sharing the knowledge in order to assist others with learning something new.

What's your favorite bit/part in the book?

Since this book was born in the POC lab my favorite part of the book is the diagram of the sample network topology. The book revolves around this network since it is a common reference point that is important when learning about each of the EVPN features such as MAC mobility, load balancing, resiliency, and integrated Layer 3 routing. It brings all of the ideas and concepts together like pieces of a puzzle. The goal of the diagram was to fit as much detail as possible onto it without cluttering so that the reader can easily reference it when following along with the text.