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VRP: The future of network routing

The networks and services of today demand greater bandwidth and enhanced processing capability from the control plane. Legacy network devices that use single frames and process routes in a centralized manner are lagging behind, as core routers are gradually evolving towards multi-frame, multi-control board, multi-CPU, and multi-core architecture.

As hardware has developed, network operating systems have evolved from single processing or multiprocessing into fully-distributed & fine-grained multiprocessing. Multi-CPU and multi-core hardware improves control plane processing, while ensuring reliability and scalability.

Huawei’s Versatile Routing Platform (VRP) is a network-level operating system that innovates and adapts to network development. It is a software platform, based on fully distributed architecture, that ensures performance, scalability, reliability and carrier-class management & maintenance.

Distributed architecture

Traditionally, every protocol or service is assigned a processing instance; this is restricted by the processing capability and memory space of a single CPU or core, and is now proving incapable of meeting growing demand.

Based on distributed architecture and industry-first RaaS (Routing as a Service) technology, Huawei VRP integrates various storage resources and dynamically balances the route calculation & storage loads. It also fully leverages both multi-core and multi-CPU parallel processing, so that system performance is greatly enhanced while O&M costs are reduced.

Figure 1 VRP RaaS

Scalability

Huawei VRP enables smooth network upgrade. IP networking generally employs a variety of line cards that require upgrade to better interact with evolving hardware & chipsets, but large-scale software upgrade must be avoided when hardware or line cards are upgraded; software should also be forward and backwards compatible. Using an abstract driver frame and software-hardware decoupling technology, Huawei VRP ensures both for each line card.

Reliability

Equipment reliability is a key issue. Huawei VRP uses Non-Stop x (NSx) and In-Service Software Upgrade (ISSU) technologies to provide comprehensive protection for network equipment; this greatly improves system reliability while ensuring carrier-class operations.

VRP supports Non-Stop Service (NSS), Non-Stop Routing (NSR), Non-Stop Bridge (NSB), and Non-Stop Forwarding (NSF), and delivers board-level NSx and process-level NSx so that full service-level NSx is implemented.

VRP also supports process-level ISSU; operators can select node-level (or board-level) ISSU or process-level ISSU as needed during deployment.

Carrier-class management

The VRP management plane uses a hierarchical architecture, where configuration tools, configuration models, and configuration data are separate. Based on the configuration model, the plane supports flexible expansion and a variety of configuration tools. The following figure illustrates the management plane architecture.

Figure 2 VRP management plane architecture

The configuration interface provides a variety of tools. User configuration requests are resolved using the configuration tools and then processed by the CFG component, which checks & associates them while generating configuration data according to the predefined model. After configuration is complete, the configuration data is stored in a central configuration database and can be obtained by the ARP database for each process.

This architecture greatly facilitates the deployment and maintenance of services. As an open, carrier-class, and multi-service network platform, Huawei VRP lays a solid foundation for the next generation of network operating systems.

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