Network routers. Switches. Border gateway protocol. Autonomous systems.
All play an integral role in the complex internet infrastructure.
Network routers are an integral piece of hardware. As changes occur in the network hardware space, their importance increases.
Here, we will take a look at network routers, and what they mean to the internet infrastructure landscape.
What is a Network Router?
A network router is the hardware to forward a data packet from one autonomous system to another. Alternatively, they can be used more generically. To forward data packets from one IP or network to another.
Simply put, a router connects networks.
In internet infrastructure, network routers run border gateway protocol (BGP). Which, determines the next autonomous system (AS) (Link to AS Post) hop within a data packets path. The routers are installed at internet exchange points (IXPs).
The Importance of Network Routers
Network routers play a big role in improving the structure of the internet and networks.
Network routers, for most of their existence, were manufactured with the intent of running hardware specific software. This becomes problematic, as you are subject to one manufactures software. There are limitations in this scenario.
With network routers, there is a need to customize a network for specific business use cases. This is where the router chosen becomes important.
Recently, hardware has become less of a constraint.
The Change in Network Hardware
Network hardware has changed in the past few years. It has followed the open source movement. Hardware has become generic, and now software independent from hardware can run.
This makes the network router important in that it can handle your network infrastructure.
The bigger factor this shift has played is that there is a new movement in networking. A movement to network functions virtualization (NFV), software defined networking (SDN), and network automation. All three are possible by a change in network routers.
Network Functions Virtualization
Network functions virtualization (NFV) is a framework for network architecture. The goal is to provide an all-encompassing framework for designing and implementing a network.
NFV focuses on three core areas. The focus is:
- Network infrastructure: The infrastructure component focuses on network hardware. This is the most pertinent area to network routers.
- Network functions: Functions is the area that concerns the running of software. This is the software defined networking component.
- Network management: Management refers to the ongoing maintenance of the network. Our discussion on network automation would take place in this category.
This framework works in conjunction with software defined networking. One does not function without the other.
Software Defined Networking
Software defined networking (SDN) is the separation of networking hardware and software.
In networking, there are three network layers, or more aptly called, planes. The three network planes are the management plane, the control plane, and the data plane.
For SDN, what occurred is the movement of the control plane “off the box”. That means the control plane has been removed from networking hardware. This process has made the implementation of hardware with open source software possible.
In SDN, the software has been removed from the network router.
Network automation, simply, is the automation of manual and repetitive tasks.
The benefit of using network automation is the prevention of “fat fingers”, mistakes, and becoming more efficient. The change in network routers has made this conversation and movement possible.
Network automation makes the ability work with DevOps a more seamless integration. Also, with more cloud adoption, and infrastructure as code, implementation becomes easier.
To implement network automation, a NetDevOps culture shift can bridge the gap between networking and DevOps.
How Datapath.io Uses Network Routers
At Datapath.io, we run an SDN environment.
We use open source software, OpenFlow, to run our own version of BGP. This allows us to change the BGP Best Path Selected internet routes. This provides upwards of 60% network performance improvements.
Also, Datapath.io provides control over network latency, bandwidth, and cost. Providing you with complete control over your network connection.
As we have discussed, network routers play an integral role in networking. From routing data packets between autonomous systems to making network automation possible. Network routers are important to the networking discussion.
To learn more about network performance, you can download the AWS Network Optimization Whitepaper.