When traffic engineering tunnels install an IGP route in a Router Information Base (RIB) as next hops, the distance or metric of the route must be calculated. Normally, you could make the metric the same as the IGP metric over native IP paths as if the TE tunnels did not exist. For example, Router A can reach Router C with the shortest distance of 20. X is a route advertised in IGP by Router C. Route X is installed in Router A's RIB with the metric of 20. When a TE tunnel from Router A to Router C comes up, by default the route is installed with a metric of 20, but the next-hop information for X is changed.
Although the same metric scheme can work well in other situations, for some applications it is useful to change the TE tunnel metric (for instance, when there are equal cost paths through TE tunnel and native IP links). You can adjust TE tunnel metrics to force the traffic to prefer the TE tunnel, to prefer the native IP paths, or to load share among them.
Suppose that multiple TE tunnels go to the same destination or different destinations. TE tunnel metrics can force the traffic to prefer some TE tunnels over others, regardless of IGP distances to those destinations.
Setting metrics on TE tunnels does not affect the basic SPF algorithm. It affects only two questions:
Is the TE tunnel installed as one of the next hops to the destination routers?
What is the metric value of the routes being installed into the RIB?
You can modify the metrics for determining the first-hop information in one of the following ways:
If the metric of the TE tunnel to the tailend routers is higher than the metric for the other TE tunnels or native hop-by-hop IGP paths, this tunnel is not installed as the next hop.
If the metric of the TE tunnel is equal to the metric of either other TE tunnels or native hop-by-hop IGP paths, this tunnel is added to the existing next hops.
If the metric of the TE tunnel is lower than the metric of other TE tunnels or native hop-by-hop IGP paths, this tunnel replaces them as the only next hop.
In each of the above cases, the IGP assigns metrics to routes associated with those tailend routers and their downstream routers.
The SPF computation is loop free because the traffic through the TE tunnels is basically source routed. The end result of TE tunnel metric adjustment is the control of traffic loadsharing. If there is only one way to reach the destination through a single TE tunnel, then no matter what metric is assigned, the traffic has only one way to go.
You can represent the TE tunnel metric in two different ways: (1) as an absolute (or fixed) metric or (2) as a relative (or floating) metric.
If you use an absolute metric, the routes assigned with the metric are fixed. This metric is used not only for the routes sourced on the TE tunnel tailend router, but also for each route downstream of this tailend router that uses this TE tunnel as one of its next hops.
For example, if you have TE tunnels to two core routers in a remote point of presence (POP), and one of them has an absolute metric of 1, all traffic going to that POP traverses this low-metric TE tunnel.
If you use a relative metric, the actual assigned metric value of routes is based on the IGP metric. This relative metric can be positive or negative, and is bounded by minimum and maximum allowed metric values. For example, assume the topology shown in the figure below.
Figure 2. Topology That Has No Traffic Engineering Tunnel
If there is no TE tunnel, Router A installs routes x, y, and z and assigns metrics 20, 30, and 40 respectively. Suppose that Router A has a TE tunnel T1 to Router C. If the relative metric -5 is used on tunnel T1, the routes x, y, and z have the installed metrics of 15, 25, and 35. If an absolute metric of 5 is used on tunnel T1, routes x, y and z have the same metric 5 installed in the RIB for Router A. The assigning of no metric on the TE tunnel is a special case, a relative metric scheme where the metric is 0.