VRF’s (Virtual Routing and Forwarding instances) are massively useful concepts within network operating systems. In the service provider industry VRFs are very much bread and butter. In the enterprise arena, they may also provide useful functions, although it is not as common to see them. Cisco with the Nexus 7k range have VDCs (Virtual Device Contexts) and Juniper have logical-systems. Both of these concepts allow one tin to be divided up into separate instances.
VRF’s essentially provide path isolation functions. They provide separate routing tables, forwarding tables, associated policies and in some cases management. This is network virtualisation “lite”. Also, VRF’s do not rely on MPLS (which is a massive misconception). It’s just a container. Not a protocol . MPLS can be used to provide transport in and out of said container, but the two are not interdependent.
I wanted to present a nice edge case which currently works successfully with Cisco’s IOS but sadly not Junos (I’m hoping this is just time delayed and not permanent). It is now widely accepted that firewalls can provide contexts and logical-systems. The first thing that springs to mind is within multi-tenanted ‘cloud’ providers. But did you know you can configure a Cisco IOS based router to perform highly available (active/standby) IPSec terminating within a VRF. It can save your company money and can reduce device count. The concept is called “FVRF IPsec”, or in English, Front door VRF IPSec.
Figure 1.0 shows a typical scenario (below)
This scenario is common amongst service-providers and geographic separation is normally sold as part of the solution. Under the geographic separation scenario, EoMPLS would normally be used to link the two IP networks together which would be now be apart. L2 connectivity is a requirement for HSRP to function and EoMPLS satisfies this. Specific routes can be added on to each ‘edge x’ device within the VRF to reach the remote IPSec endpoint .I feel I need to clarify what the IP transit situation would be under geographic separation and my answer to that is it depends. As long as the L2 pseudolink or LAN connection linked the two edge routers together, it doesn’t matter which ingress path is taken via packets. This is termed ‘hot potato’ routing for those who are uninitiated.
Presuming each node has IP transit to and from the internet, once HSRP has converged and each node now is aware of its responsibilities, IKE and IPSec can now go through their phases and agree terms. Presuming again that all other configuration is correct, which includes filters for identifying traffic to be encrypted etc, at this point we should have a working topology.
It’s wise to lock down each FVRF ‘edge x’ interface using access-lists. In some environments I’ve worked on, internet breakout ingresses and egresses a different part of the topology and the ‘edge x’ devices have been shared between multiple customers. In these scenarios, you can lock the FVRF interfaces down to the remote peer for IKE , IPSec and ICMP.
As this is a poor mans version of an expensive firewall cluster, please do not expect hit-less failover and recovery. It will take time for IPSec to renegotiate and depending on the exact failure scenario, routing may take time to converge.
Please find a config snippet below for one of the ‘edge x’ devices. If you want a more comprehensive example, please email and I will generate a GNS3 topology with config files. This will include a basic MPLS, OSPF, LDP and MP-BGP topology. IPSec will also function in the manor this post describes. Make sure you have enough resources to run six routers (7200’s naturally)!!!
Please note the interface on the 10.10.10.0/24 LAN is the interface I refer to below called <FVRF_INTERFACE>.
ip sla 1 icmp-echo <IP Address of IPSec Endpoint> source-interface <FVRF Interface> vrf <CustomerX> timeout 15000 frequency 15 ip sla schedule 1 life forever start-time now ! track 1 ip sla 1 ! crypto keyring CUST_X vrf custx pre-shared-key address <IP Address of IPSec Endpoint> key <KEYSTRING> ! crypto isakmp policy 1 encr aes hash md5 authentication pre-share group 2 lifetime 3600 ! crypto isakmp policy 10 encr 3des hash md5 authentication pre-share ! crypto isakmp profile CUST_X vrf custx keyring CUST_X match identity address <IP Address and Mask for IPSec Endpoint> custx ! ! crypto ipsec transform-set CUST_X esp-aes esp-md5-hmac mode transport ! crypto map CUST_X 10 ipsec-isakmp set peer <IP Address for IPSec Endpoint> set transform-set CUST_X set isakmp-profile CUST_X match address CUST_X ! interface <FVRF_INTERFACE> description **<INSERT_DESCRIPTION_HERE>** encapsulation dot1Q xxx ip vrf forwarding custx ip address <FVRF_ADDRESS> <FVRF_MASK> ip access-group CUST_X_FILTER_IN in ip access-group CUST_X_FILTER_OUT out no ip redirects no ip unreachables ip mtu 1500 standby 1 ip <HSRP_ADDRESS> standby 1 priority 120 standby 1 preempt standby 1 name HSRPCUSTX standby 1 track 1 decrement 30 crypto map CUST_X redundancy HSRPCUSTX ! ! ip route vrf custx <REMOTE_DEST> <MASK> 10.10.10.254 track 1 ! ! ip access-list extended CUST_X permit ip <source> <dest> ip access-list extended CUST_X_FILTER_IN permit ip <FVRF_ADDRESS><FVRF_MASK> host 126.96.36.199 !(HSRP) permit esp host <REMOTE_IPSEC><FVRF_ADDRESS> permit udp host <REMOTE_IPSEC><FVRF_ADDRESS> eq 500 deny ip any any log ! ip access-list extended CUST_X_FILTER_OUT permit ip <FVRF_ADDRESS> host 188.8.131.52 permit esp <FVRF_ADDRESS> host <REMOTE_IPSEC> permit udp <FVRF_ADDRESS> host <REMOTE_IPSEC> eq 500 deny ip any any log