How Do BGP Limitations Affect a Business and Its Customers?

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Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) is today’s Internet routing protocol. What this means is that BGP determines the path your traffic takes across the Internet to its destination and back. WAN optimization and cloud acceleration – some of the terms you’ll hear to describe BGP optimization services – are being deployed to combat these long-standing disadvantages in routing.

Developed more than 20 years ago, BGP selects a routing path based on the fewest ‘hops’ between Autonomous Systems (AS). Today, more than 60,000 AS make up “the internet”. As you can imagine, BGP’s job is becoming increasingly harder as the number of AS continue to grow.

The problem is BGP doesn’t look at any other performance factors to make routing decisions. It doesn’t know if an AS is short or long, perhaps crossing a state, country or ocean. BGP does not have the ability to detect packet loss, saturated transit services, or other performance limitations – and in many cases can contribute to these issues. BGP is likely to route traffic through a path with high round trip delay, even though a more efficient path exists.

BGP may not take into consideration several performance issues facing the Internet today, but we’re seeing a surge of optimization services emerge in the networking industry. Cloud acceleration — a service known as XCA at Expereo — optimizes BGP with performance and traffic measurement-based analysis, detecting any abnormal routing situation. Three metrics in particular severely impact a business and its customers and are frequently resolved by cloud acceleration processes.

1. Long paths

  • Corporate SaaS application users can suffer from low productivity and low morale as a result of constant delays
  • B2C e-commerce application users do not tolerates delays and this will directly affect the actual sales conversion rates
  • Delays also severely impact the quality of voice communication, causing frustration to users

2. Packet loss

  • Packet loss rates usually produce the same issues and frustrations as high delays.
  • Packet loss turns into a bigger issue with corporate video conferencing quality, and applications that provide document collaboration capability
  • Corporate training video services or consumer video streaming can also be negatively impacted

3. Broken links

  • Routing equipment can malfunction or experience inconsistencies in the control planes. Yet, BGP still sees the network as properly functioning even though it’s not actually forwarding packets
  • Users cannot access their applications until the network equipment is restored
  • Similar situations also occur when operators implement incorrect access-lists, or flood protection mechanisms actually block legitimate user traffic

IOFlood, a company that rents servers to business owners, faced low customer satisfaction due to recurring network performance issues. Data overages were also creating unexpected costs. IOFlood was able to overcome a lack of network data to mitigate routing issues with cloud acceleration. The company freed up a tremendous amount of staff time and reduced customer network complaints to near zero.

These solutions have become increasingly important as SaaS application adoption increases and the Internet becomes a default network connectivity method. What’s important to know is that you can deliver great Quality of Service (QoS) from the internet with these tools. Cloud acceleration executes thousands of tests per minute, then chooses the best path available for your connection, working around any abnormal, erroneous, or sub-optimal routing paths in milliseconds.

Both application performance and availability can be improved by probing all internet destination networks for performance metrics such as packet loss, latency, historical reliability, throughput, and peering capacity. Cloud acceleration continually selects the best routing in real-time, based on these statistics, not just the shortest path between the individual networks that make up the Internet.

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About Author

Sander is CCO (Chief Commercial Officer) of Expereo, the world’s largest managed network and cloud connectivity provider

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