Virtualizing an internet routing platform: by Erik Bais, founder of A2B Internet
byBaise05-09-201707:39 AM - edited 05-09-201707:41 AM
A2B Internet operates in 16 different data centers across the Netherlands, providing solutions within and between data centers for internet service providers, web, cloud and hosting companies. We can provide a complete BGP environment for our customers, including address and routing management.
Convergence time is critical for us. Things change in the internet all the time, but if a link goes down the most important thing is fast convergence of routes, and our equipment was beginning to struggle with the ever-growing scale of the Internet routing tables. Our technical team has a long history of working with Juniper, at other service providers and system integrators. We knew that Juniper’s MX Series could deliver the routing scale we needed, combined with very fast convergence times and a rich set of software features.
We built our new solution using Juniper Networks® virtual MX Series 3D Universal Edge Routers. The virtual MX is a full-featured, carrier grade router with complete control, forwarding and management planes that run the Junos operating system on standard servers. We’d seen the virtual MX in the lab, but we decided to move it right into the production network. It gave us all the experience and the stability of MX Series and the Junos operating system in a state of the art virtual package.
We run the vMX on a virtual KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine), which is an open source hypervisor, on a dedicated bare metal HP server running the Linux Unbuntu operating system. The server allows the vMX to address the network card directly from the virtual environment, using the SR-IOV integration in the Intel Networking Cards. This removes the lag you might normally expect in a virtual environment, so you can have a high-speed interface in a virtual router. And we had the whole system up and running in a couple of hours.
We also found the implementation of IPv6 very straightforward, and actually set up and tested the system using IPv6, before switching our IPv4 services over to the new virtual platform. We now use the vMX routers for all of our Internet-facing connections, and use a 10G physical switched environment for internal distribution.
The whole project went very smoothly and we didn’t hit any issues that related to the Juniper software. Virtualizing the routers is an ideal solution for our customers, who typically don’t require 100Gbps throughput but still want to multi-home their BGP environment. Most importantly, the vMX has drastically improved our internet routing table convergence times. Now we can converge in three-to-four seconds. Even full transit sessions can be changed in seconds, giving our customers a much faster resolution in case of BGP flaps or network problems - and customers notice that. In fact, we get even faster convergence that we’d expect from a dedicated hardware system, because with the vMX, we can scale the routing table convergence independently from the underlying hardware platform.
Now we’re hosting true multi-homed environments for our customers, using multiple vMXs to create an ‘ISP in a box’, with multiple transits, homing and routers and everything virtualized in software running on off-the-shelf hardware. Another benefit of virtualization is the ability to operate several virtual routers on a single physical server – so they can be easily upgraded independently of one another. The software-based Juniper routers allow us to provide a fully virtualized ISP solution. And we get exactly the same software as the established hardware platforms with 20 years of software development behind them. So now we have extremely fast convergence, a highly stable environment, one that enables automation, with painless IPv6 deployment, and it’s cost-effective. For us, this has been much more than just another network upgrade.