Practical Verification Techniques for Wide-Area Routing

Nick Feamster
2nd ACM Workshop on Hot Topics in Networks, Cambridge, MA, November 2003

Protocol and system designers use verification techniques to analyze a system's correctness properties. Network operators need verification techniques to ensure the "correct" operation of BGP. BGP's distributed dependencies cause small configuration mistakes or oversights to spur complex errors, which sometimes have devas-tating effects on global connectivity. These errors are often difficult to debug because they are sometimes only exposed by a specificmessage arrival pattern or failure scenario. This paper presents an approach to BGP verification that is primarily based on static analysis of router configuration. We argue that: (1) because BGP's configuration affects its fundamental behavior, verification is a program analysis problem, (2) BGP's complex, dynamic interactions are difficult to abstract and impossible to enumerate, which precludes existing verification techniques, (3) because of BGP's flexible, policy-based configuration, some aspects of BGP configuration must be checked against a higher-level specification of intended policy, and (4) although static analysis can catch many configuration errors, simulation and emulation are also necessary to determine the precise scenarios that could expose errors at runtime. Based on these observations, we propose the design of a BGP verification tool, discuss how it could be applied in practice, and describe future research challenges.

[PDF (102KB)] [PostScript (212KB)] [Gzipped PostScript (68KB)]

Bibtex Entry:

   author =       "Nick Feamster",
   title =        "{Practical Verification Techniques for Wide-Area Routing}",
   booktitle =    {2nd ACM Workshop on Hot Topics in Networks},
   year =         {2003},
   month =        {November},
   address =      {Cambridge, MA}