Book Review - The Internet Protocol Journal - Volume 2, No. 2

Book Review
OSPF: Anatomy of an Internet Routing Protocol, John T. Moy, Addison Wesley Longman, ISBN 0-201-63472-4, 1998.


John Moy takes the somewhat difficult topic of Internet routing and presents an understandable and engaging tour of specific parts of routing and how this one instance interrelates with other parts of Internet routing. This book is not for the routing novice, although the first couple of chapters provide a quick overview and history of routing and one view point on the distinctions between two architectural choices in routing protocol design, Distance Vector and Link State. This book is really targeted for people that have a basic understanding of what routing is and would like to gain an understanding of this particular tool in the Internet routing "toolbox."


The second section goes into great detail on one implementation of the Link State architecture, Open Shortest Path First Protocol (OSPF). There is a companion volume which contains OSPF specific details and includes source code for building an OSPF service on FreeBSD systems. He covers some background in the design phases of OPSF, delineating why certain choices were made in the evolution of OSPF as we know it today and then starts into what I think of as the heart of the book, an understandable, brief discussion of OSPF design with packet formats. In this section of the book, the author takes a textbook approach and closes each chapter with a series of exercises which test understanding of the principles covered in each chapter. At the end of the section, the FAQ answers a number of questions which operators that are considering OSPF will ask.

The book then changes focus and examines the basics of routing in the context of multicast aware infrastructure. This is an area that is still very dynamic and several of the presumptions that John makes in this section may not be as relevant in today's networking environment. However, he does demonstrate the ability of OSPF to support new features, in this case the variant called Multicast OSPF or MOSPF. A discussion of the integration of MOSPF into OSPF networks as well as MOSPF in Distance Vector Multicast Routing Protocol (DVMRP) networks points out how different routing protocols can work together. DVMRP forms the central core of the Multicast Backbone or Mbone. Both DVMRP and MOSPF lack policy features that many operators demand and so this section remains more of academic interest in understanding how multicast can work.

The fourth section covers configuration and management of OSPF in real networks. Of specific interest to me is the discussion on how OSPF can take advantage of authentication features to ensure the integrity of the routing protocol and the data it sends. Others may find that a discussion of tools for troubleshooting more interesting. A fair amount of the discussion in this section deals with the use of Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) as the tool for managing and configuring OSPF. Its not clear to me that operators of parts of the Internet are comfortable with this approach since SNMP has known vulnerabilities. Such techniques are useful for monitoring OPSF activities and may be used in private networks with a higher comfort level.

Protocol Review

The book closes with a review of popular routing protocols, both current and historic for unicast and multicast environments. John covers some basic ideas on protocol interactions when systems run more than one but does not cover the interactions between multicast and unicast protocols.

-Bill Manning, USC-ISI

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