Segment Routing v/s RSVP-TE?

SR (Segment Routing) is new and trending topic these days in Telecom Networks. It’s promising and some vendors are pushing for it because of the way we can leverage SDN Controller to steer the traffic through the Network plus how it will remove need of LDP/RSVPE-TE from core however i think there are still some of the use cases where it lacks some capabilities currently. I hope in future all these areas will be fixed and SR becomes THE Option of choice for all Service Providers. These are all my opinions and it would be good to know your views on it.

1)      Bandwidth Reservation issue –> Using SR we can’t reserve the bandwidth in our Network for each LSP as we can do with RSVP-TE. Bandwidth reservation can be critical in some Service provider/Broadcast networks to provide the customer with dedicated bandwidth. We can argue that Controller at the Top can look at the whole Network and would be able to easily manage the reservations however Controller is a single point of failure and I don’t think we can depend upon Controller for this crucial behaviour.?

2)      Lack of Multicast P2MP Support –> Multicast proposes more challenge for the segment routing. SR can only replace Point to point LDP/RSVP-TE however some of the Telecom Networks uses P2MP Multicast services as part of NG-MVPN and for those we still need to depend on RSVP-TE . Moreover MPLS-based multicast solutions have matured now after many years’ of development. I think keeping 2 Technologies i.e one for P2P L2/L3VPN and other for P2MP MVPN will add complexity only to network.

3)      Depth of MPLS Label Stack –> We know that forwarding packets need to push a SR header with a list of segments(labels). Now there are 2 main types of SR Labels. One is Node and other is Adjacency (link). To provide granularity to route the traffic via 15-20 hops we need to push more Adjacency labels at Ingress PE accordingly. This depth of label stack may be a challenge for some type of devices.

Plz see some of the labels stack present in hardware:  (Courtesy:

Linux (kernel 4.10): 2-3 SID’s

Low end off the shelf (merchant) silicon, e.g. BCM Trident2: 3-5 SID’s

High end off the shelf (merchant) silicon, e.g BCM Jericho1 : 4-7 SID’s

Vendor’ silicon, e.g. Juniper’ Trio: 4-10+ SID’s

Even though Vendor may be able to support 15-20 Label stack, we can end up in payload efficiency and MTU issues i.e. because of big size of the header will reduce the efficiency of payload.

4)      State Issues –> One major advantage for segment routing proposed was that the State is only maintained at the head-end. No state is maintained at mid-points and tail-ends. This is good in case if we have Node and Adjacency/Link labels only however there are proposals for Prefix segment Labels also which will increase the state on all the points in network and I don’t think behaviour will be different from LDP/RSVP-TE then.

In case of centrally controlled environment where Controller will take care of everything it will be difficult for Operations Teams to troubleshoot in case anything goes wrong in Network as they need to know the architecture of each device whether it is capable of getting around the Label stack issue via that device. We may be thinking of putting low end devices near to Customer edge as PEs and high end in middle of core, however due to label stack issue we may need to put high end routers only everywhere.

I am not against SR however i would be really pleased if these issues can be taken care or already available (i may well be living in old times) however from my perspective, there is scalability issue which limits application scenarios for segment routing. It may be better for cases where service provider is mostly providing  unicast L2/L3VPN services.

Let me know your views on this and how you are using SR in your environment 🙂




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