Central Site Internet Connectivity for MPLS VPN User

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Nov 15th, 2008

What are the solutions of Central site Internet connectivity for a MPLS VPN user, and what is the best practice?

I have this problem too.
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marikakis Wed, 11/19/2008 - 07:55

Hello,

Since you mentioned that Internet Access should be through a central site, it is clear that all customer sites (except the central) will somehow have a default (static/dynamic) to reach the central site via the normal VPN path for unknown destinations. Any firewall that might be needed, would be placed at the central site (at least). So, the issue is how the central site accesses the Internet.

Various methods exist to provide Internet Access to an MPLS VPN. I am not sure if any one of them is considered the best. Each method has its pros and cons, and since you have to balance various factors, those factors might conflict at some point. It is hard to get simplicity, optimal routing, maximum degree of security (no matter how you define "security"), reduced memory demands and cover any other special requirements (such as possibility for overlapping between customer addresses) from a single solution. Probably the most secure VPN is the one which is not open to the Internet. If you open it to the Internet, some holes also open inevitably.

One method is to create a separate Internet_Access VPN and have other VPNs create an extranet with that Internet_Access VPN. This method is said to be very secure (at least in terms of backbone exposure). However, if full routing is a requirement, the increased memory demands of this solution might lead you to prefer to keep the internet routing table in the Global Routing Table (GRT). You might have full routing in the GRT of PEs and Ps or in PEs only (second is probably better).

Some names for solutions that exist are: static default routing, dynamic default routing, separate BGP session between PE and CE (via separate interface, subinterface or tunnel), extranet with internet VRF (mentioned earlier), extranet with internet VRF + VRF-aware NAT.

The choice will depend on the requirements of your environment. I cannot possibly describe all methods here and I do not know of a public document that does. If you need an analysis of MPLS VPN security, you may want to take a look at Michael Behringer's great book with M.Morrow "MPLS VPN Security". Another book that describes solutions is "MPLS and VPN Architectures" by Ivan Pepelnjak. There is a Networkers session on MPLS VPNs that lists solutions. There is also a relevant document in CCO:

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/tech/tk436/tk428/technologies_configuration_example09186a00801445fb.shtml (covering static default routing option).

Kind Regards,

M.

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