OSPF Loop-Free Alternate (LFA) Fast Reroute (FRR)

OSPF Loop-Free Alternate (LFA) Fast Reroute (FRR) allows OSPF to quickly switch (within 50 ms) to a backup path when a primary path fails. Without LFA FRR, OSPF has to re-run SPF to find a new path when the primary path fails. With LFA FRR, OSPF pre-computes a backup path and installs the backup next hop in the forwarding table.

If you have seen my EIGRP LFA FRR lesson, you know that EIGRP uses its feasible successors as backup paths. OSPF doesn’t have the concept of feasible successors but it does have another trick up its sleeve. As a link-state routing protocol, all routers in the same area share the same LSDB. This allows OSPF to run SPF with any other router in the area as the root, finding usable backup paths.

IGPs have two methods to calculate LFAs:

  • Per-link: all prefixes that are reachable through a certain link all share the same next hop address. An IGP can calculate a backup next hop for all prefixes that use the same link. When the link fails, all prefixes will automatically be assigned to use the same backup next hop address. The advantage of per link LFA is that it requires fewer CPU cycles and memory than per-prefix LFA. The downside, however, is that once the primary link fails, you suddenly put a lot of burden on the backup link.
  • Per-prefix: the IGP calculates an LFA for each and every prefix. It requires more CPU cycles and memory but it does offer better load balancing. When a primary path fails, prefixes could use different backup paths, spreading the traffic throughout the network.

When OSPF has to select a backup path, it doesn’t just look for the “next best” lowest metric path but it uses a list of “tie breakers” to decide what path to use. This process is a bit similar to how BGP uses attributes. OSPF is able to use the following tie breakers:

  • SRLG (Shared Risk Link Groups): this is a group of interfaces that have a high likelihood of failing at the same time. For example, VLAN interfaces that use the same physical interface. When one logical interface goes down, it’s very likely that the other logical interfaces on the same physical interface go down too. In the EIGRP LFA FRR lesson, you can find a configuration example for SRLG.
  • Interface Protection: don’t select an LFA that uses the same outgoing interface as the primary path.
  • Broadcast Interface Protection: don’t select backup paths that use the same broadcast network as the primary path. With a broadcast network (most likely a switch), you can have different next hops but you still use the same link. When the switch fails, there is a risk that both the primary and backup path are both unreachable.
  • Node Protection: don’t select a backup path that uses the same next-hop router as your primary path. I will demonstrate this one in the configuration section where it’s explained in detail.
  • Downstream Path: this is very similar to the EIGRP feasible successor rule. A neighbor should have a smaller metric to the destination as the total metric of our primary path. This attribute is added since traffic sent over backup paths might loop for a short time until OSPF recalculates the primary path.
  • Line-Card Disjoint Interfaces: this is similar to SRLGs, don’t use backup paths that use the same line card as the primary path.
  • Metric: the best backup path might not be the one with the lowest metric next to the primary path, which is why we have all these tie breaker attributes. However, you can still use the lowest metric as one of the tie breakers.
  • Equal-Cost Multipath:
    • Primary: prefer a backup path that is part of ECMP (equal cost multipath).
    • Secondary: prefer a backup path is not part of ECMP. This can be useful if a single link in ECMP is unable to handle all traffic. Imagine you have 2x 100 Mbit interfaces carrying about 150 Mbit of traffic. When one of the links fails, a single link will be unable to transmit everything. In this case, it’s best not to use the remaining link of the ECMP as a backup path.

Configuration

Let’s take a look at OSPF LFA FRR in action. We have the following topology:

Ospf Lfa Frr First Topology

There are five routers in total. We focus on R1 that wants to reach 5.5.5.5/32 behind R5. There are three paths. The shortest path is through R2; R3 and R4 could be used as backup paths.

Configurations

Want to take a look for yourself? Here you will find the startup configuration of each device.

R1

hostname R1
!
interface GigabitEthernet2
 ip address 192.168.12.1 255.255.255.0
 ip ospf cost 2
!
interface GigabitEthernet3
 ip address 192.168.13.1 255.255.255.0
 ip ospf cost 3
!
interface GigabitEthernet4
 ip address 192.168.14.1 255.255.255.0
 ip ospf cost 4
!
router ospf 1
 router-id 1.1.1.1
 fast-reroute per-prefix enable area 0 prefix-priority low
 fast-reroute keep-all-paths
 network 192.168.12.0 0.0.0.255 area 0
 network 192.168.13.0 0.0.0.255 area 0
 network 192.168.14.0 0.0.0.255 area 0
!
end

R2

hostname R2
!
interface GigabitEthernet2
 ip address 192.168.12.2 255.255.255.0
 ip ospf cost 2
!
interface GigabitEthernet3
 ip address 192.168.25.2 255.255.255.0
 ip ospf cost 2
!
router ospf 1
 router-id 2.2.2.2
 network 192.168.12.0 0.0.0.255 area 0
 network 192.168.25.0 0.0.0.255 area 0
!
end

R3

hostname R3
!
interface GigabitEthernet2
 ip address 192.168.13.3 255.255.255.0
 ip ospf cost 3
!
interface GigabitEthernet3
 ip address 192.168.35.3 255.255.255.0
 ip ospf cost 3
!
router ospf 1
 router-id 3.3.3.3
 network 192.168.13.0 0.0.0.255 area 0
 network 192.168.35.0 0.0.0.255 area 0
!
end

R4

hostname R4
!
interface GigabitEthernet2
 ip address 192.168.14.4 255.255.255.0
 ip ospf cost 4
!
interface GigabitEthernet3
 ip address 192.168.45.43 255.255.255.0
 ip ospf cost 4
!
router ospf 1
 router-id 4.4.4.4
 network 192.168.14.0 0.0.0.255 area 0
 network 192.168.45.0 0.0.0.255 area 0
!
end

R5

hostname R5
!
interface Loopback0
 ip address 5.5.5.5 255.255.255.255
 ip ospf cost 1
!
interface GigabitEthernet2
 ip address 192.168.25.5 255.255.255.0
 ip ospf cost 1
!
interface GigabitEthernet3
 ip address 192.168.35.5 255.255.255.0
 ip ospf cost 10
!
interface GigabitEthernet4
 ip address 192.168.45.5 255.255.255.0
 ip ospf cost 10
!
router ospf 1
 router-id 5.5.5.5
 network 5.5.5.5 0.0.0.0 area 0
 network 192.168.25.0 0.0.0.255 area 0
 network 192.168.35.0 0.0.0.255 area 0
 network 192.168.45.0 0.0.0.255 area 0
!
end

Without LFA FRR

Let’s first take a look at R1 when we don’t use LFA FRR. Here’s the routing table:

R1#show ip route 5.5.5.5
Routing entry for 5.5.5.5/32
  Known via "ospf 1", distance 110, metric 5, type intra area
  Last update from 192.168.12.2 on GigabitEthernet2, 00:00:40 ago
  Routing Descriptor Blocks:
  * 192.168.12.2, from 5.5.5.5, 00:00:40 ago, via GigabitEthernet2
      Route metric is 5, traffic share count is 1

R1 uses 192.168.12.2 (R2) as its next hop, which is installed in the forwarding table:

R1#show ip cef 5.5.5.5
5.5.5.5/32
  nexthop 192.168.12.2 GigabitEthernet2

Right now, when R2 fails, R1 has to re-run SPF to figure out a new path.

With LFA FRR

Let’s enable fast reroute with the fast-reroute command:

R1(config)#router ospf 1
R1(config-router)#fast-reroute ?
  keep-all-paths  Keep LFA FRR audit trail
  per-prefix      Per-prefix LFA FRR parameters

This router only supports per-prefix LFA. We’ll talk about “keep-all-paths” in a bit. Let’s see what options we have:

R1(config-router)#fast-reroute per-prefix enable ?
  area             Area to enable LFA FRR in
  prefix-priority  Priority of prefixes to be protected

Let’s configure the area we want to protect, area 0 in our case:

R1(config-router)#fast-reroute per-prefix enable area 0 ?
  prefix-priority  Priority of prefixes to be protected

The other thing we have to configure is the priority:

R1(config-router)#fast-reroute per-prefix enable area 0 prefix-priority ?
  high  High priority prefixes
  low   Low priority prefixes

There are two options; high and low. When you select the high priority, OSPF treats loopback and /32 prefixes with higher priority, calculating an LFA for these a bit earlier than other prefixes. When you select the low priority, it just calculates an LFA for all prefixes. Let’s go for the low priority option:

R1(config-router)#fast-reroute per-prefix enable area 0 prefix-priority low

That’s all there is to configure. There is one more command I’d like to show you though:

R1(config-router)#fast-reroute keep-all-paths

When you add this command, OSPF keeps track of all paths…not only the primary path and backup path but all paths that it considered but has not selected. First, let’s look at the routing table:

R1#show ip route 5.5.5.5
Routing entry for 5.5.5.5/32
  Known via "ospf 1", distance 110, metric 5, type intra area
  Last update from 192.168.12.2 on GigabitEthernet2, 00:00:53 ago
  Routing Descriptor Blocks:
  * 192.168.12.2, from 5.5.5.5, 00:00:53 ago, via GigabitEthernet2
      Route metric is 5, traffic share count is 1
      Repair Path: 192.168.13.3, via GigabitEthernet3

Above we see that R1 has selected R2 as the primary path and R3 as a backup path. Let’s look at the forwarding table:

R1#show ip cef 5.5.5.5
5.5.5.5/32
  nexthop 192.168.12.2 GigabitEthernet2
    repair: attached-nexthop 192.168.13.3 GigabitEthernet3

In the forwarding table, we find the repair next hop as well. Excellent! R4 could also be selected as a backup path but R1 preferred R3. We can see a list of all possible backup paths with the following command:

R1#show ip ospf rib 5.5.5.5

            OSPF Router with ID (1.1.1.1) (Process ID 1)


                Base Topology (MTID 0)

OSPF local RIB
Codes: * - Best, > - Installed in global RIB
LSA: type/LSID/originator

*>  5.5.5.5/32, Intra, cost 5, area 0
     SPF Instance 23, age 21:03:19
     Flags: RIB, HiPrio
      via 192.168.12.2, GigabitEthernet2 label 1048578
       Flags: RIB
       LSA: 1/5.5.5.5/5.5.5.5
      repair path via 192.168.13.3, GigabitEthernet3 label 1048578, cost 7
       Flags: RIB, Repair, IntfDj, BcastDj, CostWon, NodeProt, Downstr
       LSA: 1/5.5.5.5/5.5.5.5
      repair path via 192.168.14.4, GigabitEthernet4, cost 9
       Flags: Ignore, Repair, IntfDj, BcastDj, NodeProt
       LSA: 1/5.5.5.5/5.5.5.5

The output above is pretty neat. It shows us the primary path, the backup path, and the ignored path through R4. The information about R4 only shows up because I added the fast-reroute keep-all-paths command.

Tie Breakers

As explained in the first part of this lesson, LFA FRR uses tie breakers to decide which backup path to use. These are similar to the attributes BGP uses. On my CSR1000V router, the following tie breakers are active with the following priorities:

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Forum Replies

  1. Hi Rene

    Got a couple of questions - firstly after a while you stopped using the acronym LFA and used LSA instead - are they in fact the same thing? (I keep thinking of the completely unrelated Link State Advertisment when I read that!)

    “When you have multiple possible LSAs, fast reroute has to select one LSA. EIGRP will not just select the “best” (lowest metric) feasible successor but uses some “tie-breakers” to select the best LSA. When you use per-prefix LSA, we have these four attributes:”

    Also, is the tiebreaker “Lowest repair path metric” effectively just

    ... Continue reading in our forum

  2. Hi,
    yes helpful, thanks
    Waiting for your response i closed my GNS3 lab
    When i restarted the lab, R1 gives me this output

    //cdn-forum.networklessons.com/uploads/default/original/2X/2/2cb8d85d4b8fe8385b1600eaa70469614e47eb06.png

    As you can see, R3 became the repair path (instead of R4) as i just closed and restarted the lab
    I don’t understand why this happened, but now this is correct with the theory: R3 is the repair path because of its better metric, and R1 does not know that R2 and R3 are on the same multi-access segment
    But with my platform / IOS, i cant set

    ... Continue reading in our forum

  3. Hello Dominique

    Sometimes GNS3 can behave in this way. It does occasionally occur where some behaviour is strange, but a reboot or a restart of the lab brings about the expected results. Sometimes it just “gets stuck”. It’s one of the quirks of GNS3 that we have to live

    ... Continue reading in our forum

  4. I am using GNS3, what IOS are you using as mine don’t support the command -
    fast-reroute per-prefix all

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