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Comparison of dynamic routing protocols

Comparison of dynamic routing protocols

Each dynamic routing protocol was designed to meet a specific routing need. Each protocol does some things well, and other things not so well. For this reason, choosing the right dynamic routing protocol for your situation is not an easy task.


Features of dynamic routing protocols

Each protocol is better suited for some situations over others.

Choosing the best dynamic routing protocol depends on the size of your network, speed of convergence required, the level of network maintenance resources available, what protocols the networks you connect to are using, and so on. For more information on these dynamic routing protocols, see Routing Information Protocol (RIP) on page 300, Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) on page 338, Open Shortest Path First (OSPF) on page 377, and Intermediate System to Intermediate System Protocol(IS-IS) on page 419.


Comparing RIP, BGP, and OSPF dynamic routing protocols

Protocol                           RIP                                   BGP                                 OSPF / IS-IS

Routing algorithm           Distance Vector, basic        Distance Vector, advanced



Common uses Small non-complex net- works

Network backbone, ties multinational offices together

Common in large, com- plex enterprise networks

Strengths    Fast and simple to imple- ment


Near universal support

Good when no redund- ant paths

Graceful restart

BFD support

Only needed on border routers

Summarize routes

Fast convergence


Little management over- head

No hop count limitation


Minimum configuration for dynamic routing

Minimum configuration for dynamic routing

Dynamic routing protocols do not pay attention to routing updates from other sources, unless you specifically configure them to do so using CLI redistribute commands within each routing protocol.

The minimum configuration for any dynamic routing to function is to have dynamic routing configured on one interface on the FortiGate unit, and one other router configured as well. Some protocols require larger networks to function as designed.


Minimum configuration based on dynamic protocol





















local and neighbor








at least one


at least one


at least one










Router ID







Dynamic Routing Protocols – Detailed

Interior versus exterior routing protocols

The names interior and exterior are very descriptive. Interior routing protocols are designed for use within a contained network of limited size, whereas exterior routing protocols are designed to link multiple networks together. They can be used in combination in order to simplify network administration. For example, a network can be built with only border routers of a network running the exterior routing protocol, while all the routers on the network run the interior protocol, which prevents them from connecting outside the network without passing through the border. Exterior routers in such a configuration must have both exterior and interior protocols, to communicate with the interior routers and outside the network.

Nearly all routing protocols are interior routing protocols. Only BGP is commonly used as an exterior routing protocol.

You may see interior gateway protocol (IGP) used to refer to interior routing protocols, and exterior gateway protocol (EGP) used to refer to interior routing protocols.

Distance vector versus link-state protocols

Every routing protocol determines the best route between two addresses using a different method. However, there are two main algorithms for determining the best route — Distance vector and Link-state.


Distance vector protocols

In distance vector protocols, routers are told about remote networks through neighboring routers. The distance part refers to the number of hops to the destination, and in more advanced routing protocols these hops can be weighted by factors such as available bandwidth and delay. The vector part determines which router is the next step along the path for this route. This information is passed along from neighboring routers with routing update packets that keep the routing tables up to date. Using this method, an outage along a route is reported back along to the start of that route, ideally before the outage is encountered.

On distance vector protocols, RFC 1058 which defines RIP v1 states the following:

Distance vector algorithms are based on the exchange of only a small amount of information. Each entity (gateway or host) that participates in the routing protocol is assumed to keep information about all of the destinations within the system. Generally, information about all entities connected to one network is summarized by a single entry, which describes the route to all destinations on that network.

There are four main weaknesses inherent in the distance vector method. Firstly, the routing information is not discovered by the router itself, but is instead reported information that must be relied on to be accurate and up-to- date. The second weakness is that it can take a while for the information to make its way to all the routers who need the information — in other words it can have slow convergence. The third weakness is the amount of overhead involved in passing these updates all the time. The number of updates between routers in a larger network can significantly reduce the available bandwidth. The fourth weakness is that distance vector protocols can end up with routing-loops. Routing loops are when packets are routed for ever around a network, and often occur with slow convergence. The bandwidth required by these infinite loops will slow your network to a halt.

There are methods of preventing these loops however, so this weakness is not as serious as it may first appear.





Link-state protocols


Link-state protocols are also known as shortest path first protocols. Where distance vector uses information passed along that may or may not be current and accurate, in link-state protocols each router passes along only information about networks and devices directly connected to it. This results in a more accurate picture of the network topology around your router, allowing it to make better routing decisions. This information is passed between routers using link-state advertisements (LSAs). To reduce the overhead, LSAs are only sent out when information changes, compared to distance vector sending updates at regular intervals even if no information has changed. The more accurate network picture in link-state protocols greatly speed up convergence and avoid problems such as routing-loops.

Classful versus classless routing protocols

Classful versus classless routing protocols

Classful or classless routing refers to how the routing protocol handes the IP addresses. In classful addresses there is the specific address, and the host address of the server that address is connected to. Classless addresses use a combination of IP address and netmask.

Classless Inter-Domain Routing (CIDR) was introduced in 1993 (originally with RFC 1519 and most recently with RFC 4632) to keep routing tables from getting too large. With Classful routing, each IP address requires its own entry in the routing table. With Classless routing, a series of addresses can be combined into one entry potentially saving vast amounts of space in routing tables.

Current routing protocols that support classless routing out of necessity include RIPv2, BGP, IS-IS, and OSPF. Older protocols such as RIPv1 do not support CIDR addresses.

Dynamic routing protocols

Dynamic routing protocols

A dynamic routing protocol is an agreed-on method of routing that the sender, receiver, and all routers along the path (route) support. Typically the routing protocol involves a process running on all computers and routers along that route to enable each router to handle routes in the same way as the others. The routing protocol determines how the routing tables are populated along that route, how the data is formatted for transmission, and what information about a route is included with that route. For example RIP, and BGP use distance vector algorithms, where OSPF uses a shortest path first algorithm. Each routing protocol has different strengths and weaknesses — one protocol may have fast convergence, while another may be very reliable, and a third is very popular for certain businesses like Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

Dynamic routing protocols are different from each other in a number of ways, such as:

  • Classful versus classless routing protocols
  • Interior versus exterior routing protocols
  • Distance vector versus link-state protocols

Comparing static and dynamic routing

Comparing static and dynamic routing

A common term used to describe dynamic routing is convergence. Convergence is the ability to work around network problems and outages — for the routing to come together despite obstacles. For example, if the main router between two end points goes down, convergence is the ability to find a way around that failed router and reach the destination. Static routing has zero convergence beyond trying the next route in its limited local routing table — if a network administrator doesn’t fix a routing problem manually, it may never be fixed, resulting in a downed network. Dynamic routing solves this problem by involving routers along the route in the decision-making about the optimal route, and using the routing tables of these routers for potential routes around the outage. In general, dynamic routing has better scalability, robustness, and convergence. However, the cost of these added benefits include more complexity and some overhead: the routing protocol uses some bandwidth for its own administration.

Comparing static and dynamic routing


Feature Static Routing Dynamic Routing

Hardware sup- port


Supported by all routing hardware


May require special, more expensive routers


Router Memory





Can require considerable memory for larger tables







Overhead                  None                                                    Varying amounts of bandwidth used for routing protocol updates

Scalability                Limited to small networks                    Very scalable, better for larger networks

Robustness              None – if a route fails it has to be fixed manually

Robust – traffic routed around failures auto- matically



Convergence           None                                                    Varies from good to excellent


Dynamic Routing Overview

 Dynamic Routing Overview

This section provides an overview of dynamic routing, and how it compares to static routing. For details on various dynamic routing protocols, see the following chapters for detailed information.

The following topics are included in this section: What is dynamic routing?

Comparison of dynamic routing protocols

Choosing a routing protocol Dynamic routing terminology IPv6 in dynamic routing



What is dynamic routing?

Dynamic routing uses a dynamic routing protocol to automatically select the best route to put into the routing table. So instead of manually entering static routes in the routing table, dynamic routing automatically receives routing updates, and dynamically decides which routes are best to go into the routing table. Its this intelligent and hands-off approach that makes dynamic routing so useful.

Dynamic routing protocols vary in many ways and this is reflected in the various administrative distances assigned to routes learned from dynamic routing. These variations take into account differences in reliability, speed of convergence, and other similar factors. For more information on these administrative distances, see Advanced Static Routing on page 256.

This section includes:

  • Comparing static and dynamic routing
  • Dynamic routing protocols
  • Minimum configuration for dynamic routing

Static routing example

Static routing example

This is an example of a typical small network configuration that uses only static routing.

This network is in a dentist office that includes a number of dentists, assistants, and office staff. The size of the office is not expected to grow significantly in the near future, and the network usage is very stable—there are no new applications being added to the network.


The users on the network are:

  • Admin staff – access to local patient records, and perform online billing
  • Dentists – access and update local patient records, research online from desk
  • Assistants – access and update local patient records in exam rooms

The distinction here is mainly that only the admin staff and dentist’s office need access to the Internet—all the other traffic is local and doesn’t need to leave the local network. Routing is only required for the outbound traffic, and the computers that have valid outbound traffic.

Configuring routing only on computers that need it acts as an additional layer of secur- ity by helping prevent malicious traffic from leaving the network.

This section includes the following topics:

  • Network layout and assumptions
  • General configuration steps
  • Configure FortiGate unit
  • Configure Admin PC and Dentist PCs
  • Testing network configuration

Network layout and assumptions

The computers on the network are admin staff computers, dentist office computers, and dental exam room computers. While there are other devices on the local network such as printers, they do not need Internet access or any routing.

This networked office equipment includes 1 admin staff PC, 3 dentist PCs, and 5 exam room PCs. There are also a network printer, and a router on the network as well.

Assumptions about these computers, and network include:

  • The FortiGate unit is a model with interfaces labeled port1 and port2.
  • The FortiGate unit has been installed and is configured in NAT/Route mode.
  • VDOMs are not enabled.
  • The computers on the network are running MS Windows software.
  • Any hubs required in the network are not shown in the network diagram.
  • The network administrator has access to the ISP IP addresses, and is the super_admin administrator on the FortiGate unit.


Static routing example device names, IP addresses, and level of access


Device Name(s) IP address Need external access?









Device Name(s) IP address Need external access?