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Real-time BGP Monitoring with Isolario and BGPlay

Alessandro Improta — 05 Oct 2015
The Isolario project introduces a new concept of Route Collectors to devise real-time services and attract new BGP data sources. Thanks to the integration of BGPlay, the project provides new interesting troubleshooting tools to monitor BGP routes in real-time.


Route collectors are extremely valuable to discover information about the Internet inter-domain ecosystem. However, the potential usage of data collected is limited by the small amount of ASes sharing their routing information and the nature of these ASes, typically provider independent and/or worldwide ISPs. We believe that one of the main reasons is that most AS administrators do not find any useful outcome in sharing their data and participating in any of these projects.

The Isolario project ( IIT-CNR ) tries to introduce an additional motivation to attract even more ASes in participating in a route collecting project, thus increasing the amount of public routing information. To do that Isolario enhances the classic concept of BGP route collector introducing a set of real-time services built on top of the incoming BGP flows which are available only to administrators that decide to join the project, following the classic principle of reciprocity .

Towards real-time services

BGP route collection is performed by servers that mimic the behaviour of an AS border router and that regularly collect routing information from connected ASes. Such data however can only be used in a posteriori analyses to investigate routing problems.

Differently, Isolario is designed to parse and elaborate BGP data sent from its feeders and to provide results in real-time to the related network administrators. This is achieved by enhancing the classic concept of a route collector. In the dedicated Enhanced Route Collectors (ERC) modules devised for this goal  (Figure 1)  the incoming flows are duplicated as soon as they arrive and feed both the Route Collecting Software (RCS) and service modules which are implemented on the different components of the system (Figure 2).

Figure 1 - Enhanced Route Collector overview

Figure 1: Overview of Enhanced Route Collector (ERC) module

Isolario users interact with the system from a private area on the Isolario website. As soon as a service has been chosen, data will flow in a dedicated WebSocket channel between the system and the user browser. WebSockets have been chosen to send data to users as soon as new results are available, easing also the integration of browser widgets and dashboards.

Figure 2 - Isolario architecture overview

Figure 2: Various components of the Isolario system


Real-time services available in Isolario have been designed to ease the job of network administrators and can be subdivided in flow-based and in subnet-based .

An example of a service falling in the first class is the Routing Table Viewer (RTV) , which has been created to help with discovering routing problems caused by the behaviour of its BGP neighbours from the real-time analysis of the incoming BGP flow. An example of the second class is My Subnet Reachability (MSR) , which help the network administrator to understand whether the networks he or she manages are reachable from every Isolario feeder (and how) in real-time. These services assume the physical presence of users in front of a computer, but according Murphy's law outages and peculiar network events are more likely to happen when they are not checking them. Thus, we also designed an Alerting service to monitor the incoming BGP flows and to notify users of interesting events as soon as they happen.

Real-time BGPlay integrated in Isolario

BGPlay , a well-known tool for the visualisation of inter-domain routing, has been recently released in its real-time version . Thanks to a close cooperation with Massimo Candela , Software Engineer at the RIPE NCC, we are proud to announce that this web application has been integrated in the real-time Isolario services to ease the visualisation of network events.

BGPlay integration in Isolario

Figure 3: BGPlay main interface

As soon as the Isolario system receives a BGP packet, it is streamed to the BGPlay application on the browser, which updates the reachability graph on the fly. Figure 3 shows the main view of the tool, the blue nodes are the feeders peering with the Isolario route collectors, the red nodes are the ASes announcing the queried prefix, and the black nodes are other ASes involved in the routing. Each event received from the streaming triggers an animation of the paths resembling the convergence to the new reachability state.

The BGPlay tool is currently integrated in Isolario real-time services such as MSR and RTV. BGPlay can be accessed by clicking on the BGPlay  tab as soon as the real-time service is started. It is possible to experience Isolario real-time services and BGPlay by accessing Isolario with guest credentials.

Feedback and contacts

The Isolario project is not-for-profit and open to every network administrator. To join us we just require to set up (at least) one BGP session with the total Internet reachability with one of our route collectors. More details about Isolario can be found on the project website .

Please don't hesitate to contact us (info [at] isolario [dot] it) for question or feedback, or if you are interested in possible collaborations.


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