OSPF Load Balancing Alternatives for Managing WAN Gateways

Solid alternatives to OSPF load balancingIncreasingly, enterprises are leveraging multiple WAN links at their branches to connect their offices to their data centers and headquarters. Historically one of the options to manage their network routing is through Open Shortest Path First (OSPF), which is an Interior Gateway Protocol (IGP). IGPs are primarily used within the same autonomous networks and it primarily consists of exchanging routing information between gateways that are deployed within the same Local Area Network (LAN).

OSPF is a link-state based routing protocol, as opposed to the distance-vector routing protocols, so the gateways exchange connectivity map information. OSPF also allows you to define route weights (or costs) based on various parameters such as latency, throughput or availability. So, one can use OSPF to load balance between gateways, say with a strategy of assigning equal weights. Even though this is possible, it is fairly restrictive in its capabilities to intelligently load balance based on more in-depth understanding of the network conditions.

OSPF also can be quite complicated to setup and modify. Especially for organizations that are interested in policing traffic at an application granularity as a function of more dynamic characteristics of the network, OSPF can feel dull and archaic.

So, what is the alternative to using OSPF for load balancing? One modern approach is to leverage SDWAN (Software Defined Wide Area Network) routers to drop the load balancing algorithm(s) that fits your network onto the Software Defined routers. As an example, IT managers can implement special types of Broadband Bonding for their data traffic and real-time optimized load balancing algorithms, by simply pushing the custom functionality, i.e. Network Function Virtualization (NFV) to their network gateways. This allows the IT manager to set up sophisticated implementation with ease and also provides the ability to adapt the functionalities as their network requirements and application demands change.

Cahit Akin, CEO, Mushroom Networks, Inc. 

Mushroom Networks is the provider of SD-WAN (Software Defined WAN) and NFV solutions capable of Broadband Bonding that enables self-healing WAN networks that route around network problems such as latency, jitter and packet loss.



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