KISS your networks better

By on 19 May 2020

Categories: Tech matters, Development

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Many networks start off small and simple but as they grow, the network tends to morph into a complex setup with multi-vendor equipment, making troubleshooting networking issues hard. Sound familiar?

It’s why my fellow APNIC Trainers and I are always reminding those managing networks of the age-old principle to keep it simple, stupid (KISS).

The KISS principle states that most systems work best if they are kept simple, therefore, simplicity should be a key goal in design, and unnecessary complexity should be avoided.

For example, in the real world, this would mean your Interior Gateway Protocol carrying only your infrastructure prefixes (your point-to-point and loopback prefixes) for reachability, and using Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) to carry your customer prefixes instead of redistributing routes from one routing protocol to another.

Although you’ve all heard these before, here are some useful tips for a hygienic network operation:

  • Back up the current state before making changes to the router configurations.
  • Automate as much as possible to reduce the likelihood of human error. Pre-commit checks are critical with automation.
  • Filter, filter and filter! At the very least implement BCP 38, RFC 7454 and RFC 8212 (or alternatives if your platform doesn’t comply yet).
  • Ask yourself if you ‘really’ need to have the full routing table or can you make do with a partial feed and/or a default route. (Note: you will need to ensure there are no default routes on the border routers if you are going to do invalid route filtering with RPKI).
  • Break things. I don’t know of anyone that has not made a mistake or accidentally configured the wrong setting. I feel that you learn more by troubleshooting and fixing issues than by just following scripts or step-by-step guides.
  • Know when to ask for help. It is better to escalate an issue than to have a system down.
  • Stay up to date with best current practices. Read updates to RFCs and technical specifications on different routing protocols so you have a better understanding of when you need to troubleshoot an issue.

Refresh your routing this May

As part of this month’s APNIC Virtual Training Program theme on routing, we are delivering several live webinars, online tutorials, virtual labs, and self-paced courses through the APNIC Academy. And as always, they’re free!

If you’re new to the networking world you’ll:

  • Learn how a packet from point A reaches point B, and about the glue that binds the Internet by taking a self-paced course in Routing Basics.
  • Get some hands-on practice by making mistakes and trying to fix them using virtual labs.
  • Learn about the BGP, the protocol behind all inter-domain routing decisions on the Internet during the BGP Basics webinar.

If you are already comfortable about networking and routing you can:

Check out the Virtual Training Program to see all upcoming training opportunities.

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The views expressed by the authors of this blog are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of APNIC. Please note a Code of Conduct applies to this blog.

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