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Re: Zebra/linux device production networking?

  • From: David Coulson
  • Date: Tue Jun 06 18:54:43 2006

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Nick Burke wrote:
> How many of you have actually use(d) Zebra/Linux as a routing device
> (core and/or regional, I'd be interested in both) in a production (read:
> 99.999% required, hsrp, bgp, dot1q, other goodies) environment?

Sure - I've done this before. We ran 7200s on the border (DS-3
interfaces for Linux didn't make sense at the time) and Linux boxes
running all these features (plus some others) on the core. Worked
flawlessly and the only downtime encountered over the two years it was
running was during failover which took <5sec. Of course, the time
invested in building it totally offset any savings, but that particular
employer considered your time to be 'free', even though you could be
billing instead, but that's a whole other argument.

However, if I've got a Cisco router, in my city I can easily find 20
people in half an hour who I'd trust to get into my gear and work on it.
I'd find another 50 if I went out 200miles. Linux on the other hand -
Maybe three, including me. State wide, probably not even 20. I'm not
talking RHCE people - I'm talking about people who can really
troubleshoot kernel networking issues, device driver problems and so
forth. Not easily accessible (or cheap) resources.

Right now I've got a pair of Linux boxes (Debian based, 2.6 kernels)
running Quagga (Zebra fork - I'd recommend it over Zebra) for BGP and
OSPF, pulling two full loads. HSRP is provided with LinuxVirtualServer
(aka heartbeat) and I'm doing dot1q with STP. No PVST support on Linux
though. It all just works. Had a memory problem on one box, which killed
it, but I've had that on plenty of Cisco gear too. None of the problems
have really been 'Linux' related. 99% of them are user related, in that,
I set an IP wrong, or I screw up a netmask - Usual kind of junk.

Basically, if you're not comfortable with the idea of it, you're not
comfortable supporting it. It'll cost leaps and bounds more supporting
the environment compared to Cisco hardware. I have specific Linux
expertise and experience which makes me go "I can do that on Linux" and
have it work without problems, but also coming from a Cisco background I
know where the line between being able to prove a point and making
something that is manageable comes into play.

Right now we're looking at building out a small POP in another building.
I'm seriously considering a pair of Linux boxes running Quagga rather
than 7200s that we'd normally go with. I can easily dump 3+ full loads
on them, plus I can get gig connections on PCIe without having to fork
out 10 grand on a NPE-G1. Am I going to do it? No idea. Technically,
there is no issue. If I drop dead the day after it's built and someone
new has to maintain it, then that's a potential problem.

David
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