North American Network Operators Group

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RE: Zebra/linux device production networking?

  • From: Michael.Dillon
  • Date: Wed Jun 07 06:39:24 2006

> I would be interested to know how many "software" (for want of a better
> description) routers are in live production in this kind of environment
> i.e. the 99.9999% Uptime variety, from speaking to people albeit
> randomly in data centres it would seem to be more common than one might
> expect.

It is indeed very common. That is why there are several
implementations of BGP and routing software available.
These are used in dozens and dozens of commercial products
some of which are sold as IP routers, plain and simple.

In any case, 5 nines and 6 nines are not always what the
marketing department claims. They often exclude planned
maintenance periods so if you reboot once a week or you
have a crash after changing a config, that doesn't count
against the 5 nines. In addition, the 5 nines figure
generally applies to the network, not to individual devices
within it. Networks can be designed so that the failure
of a device does not cause a network outage.

This whole issue is so complex that you just can't
make blanket recommendations. Even the biggest networks
don't just buy and deploy big iron. They run every new
router model and software release through an extensive
battery of tests. Then they write operational guidelines
telling people which features can be used in which
situations. They do this to avoid crashes and network
outages because the big iron (Cisco/Juniper) simply
cannot provide that on its own.

A smart small company can get excellent results from
Linux routers (although I would take a serious look 
at FreeBSD or OpenBSD for this). Process is as important
as hardware.

--Michael Dillon