xBGP: Faster Innovation in Routing Protocols


Thomas Wirtgen, Tom Rousseaux, Quentin De Coninck, and Nicolas Rybowski, ICTEAM, UCLouvain; Randy Bush, Internet Initiative Japan & Arrcus, Inc; Laurent Vanbever, NSG, ETH Zürich; Axel Legay and Olivier Bonaventure, ICTEAM, UCLouvain


Internet Service Providers use routers from multiple vendors that support standardized routing protocols. Network operators deploy new services by tuning these protocols. Unfortunately, while standardization is necessary for interoperability, this is a slow process. As a consequence, new features appear very slowly in routing protocols.

We propose a new implementation model for BGP, called xBGP, that enables ISPs to innovate by easily deploying BGP extensions in their multivendor network. We define a vendor-neutral xBGP API which can be supported by any BGP implementation and an eBPF Virtual Machine that allows executing extension code within these BGP implementations. We demonstrate the feasibility of our approach by extending both FRRouting and BIRD.

We demonstrate seven different use cases showing the benefits that network operators can obtain using xBGP programs. We propose a verification toolchain that enables operators to compile and verify the safety properties of xBGP programs before deploying them. Our testbed measurements show that the performance impact of xBGP is reasonable compared to native code.

NSDI '23 Open Access Sponsored by
King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST)

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This content is available to:

@inproceedings {285096,
author = {Thomas Wirtgen and Tom Rousseaux and Quentin De Coninck and Nicolas Rybowski and Randy Bush and Laurent Vanbever and Axel Legay and Olivier Bonaventure},
title = {{xBGP}: Faster Innovation in Routing Protocols},
booktitle = {20th USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation (NSDI 23)},
year = {2023},
isbn = {978-1-939133-33-5},
address = {Boston, MA},
pages = {575--592},
url = {https://www.usenix.org/conference/nsdi23/presentation/wirtgen},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = apr,
Wirtgen Paper (Prepublication) PDF

Presentation Video