When changes occur in a network topology because of the failure or restoration of a link or a network device, IP Fast Reroute enables rapid network convergence by moving traffic to precomputed backup paths until regular convergence mechanisms move traffic to a newly computed best path, also known as a post-convergence path. This network convergence may cause short microloops between two directly or indirectly connected devices in the topology. Microloops are caused when different nodes in the network calculate alternate paths at different times and independently of each other. For instance, if a node converges and sends traffic to a neighbor node, which has not converged yet, traffic may loop between the two nodes.
Microloops may or may not result in traffic loss. If the duration of a microloop is short, that is the network converges quickly, packets may loop for a short duration before their time-to-live (TTL) expires. Eventually, the packets will get forwarded to the destination. If the duration of the microloop is long, that is one of the routers in the network is slow to converge, packets may expire their TTL or the packet rate may exceed the bandwidth, or the packets might be out of order, and packets may get dropped.
Microloops that are formed between a failed device and its neighbors are called local uloops, whereas microloops that are formed between devices that are multiple hops away are called remote uloops. Local uloops are usually seen in networks where local loop-free alternate (LFA) path is not available. In such networks, remote LFAs provide backup paths for the network.
The information discussed above can be illustrated with the help of an example topology as shown in the following figure.
Figure 1. Microloop Example Topology
The assumptions in this example are as follows:
A packet sent from Node 3 to Node 9, the destination, traverses via Node 6.
If a link is established between Node 6 and Node 7, the shortest path for a packet from Node 3 to Node 9 would be Node 1, Node 2, Node 7, and Node 6 before the packet reaches the destination, Node 9.
Figure 2. Microloop Example Topology—Shortest Path
The following figure shows the Forwarding Information Base (FIB) table in each node before the link between Node 6 and Node 7 is established. The FIB entry contains the prefix of the destination node (Node 9) and the next hop.
Figure 3. Microloop Example Topology—FIB Entry
When the link between Node 6 and Node 7 comes up, microloops occur for the links based on the order of convergence of each node. In this example, Node 3 converges first with Node 1 resulting in a microloop between Node 3 and Node 1. Then, Node 1 converges next resulting in a microloop between Node 1 and Node 2. Next, Node 2 converges next resulting in a microloop between Node 2 and Node 7. Finally, Node 7 converges resolving the microloop and the packet reaches the destination Node 9, as shown in the following figure.
Figure 4. Microloop Example Topology—Microloops
Adding the SPF convergence delay, microloop results in a loss of connectivity for 1.5 seconds, which is the convergence duration specified for node 7.