Show 104 – Is SDN A TRILL Killer?

Greg Ferro & Ethan Banks conclude their chat begun in Show 103 – Choking on Cookies, but take the conversation in a different direction.

What We Discuss

  • TRILL & SPB – are they competing or complimentary? Or aimed at different markets?
  • If SDN really gets a strong foothold in the marketplace because of excellent applications, what might that mean for TRILL and SPB?
  • What has Google *really* demonstrated with their OpenFlow announcement? And what does that mean for the rest of us?
  • If you buy an SDN-based “network-in-a-box” that’s a proprietary vendor solution, what happens to your skill set?
  • SDN is early right now. Can we tell where it’s going to take the industry?
  • A useful application for SDN: end-to-end flow analysis (instead of point-in-time flow analysis).
  • TRILL would pick up steam if Cisco reduced the prohibitive cost of licensing FabricPath.


Show 44 – The Case For Shortest Path Briding

Fake Name Generator

Ethan Banks
Ethan Banks, CCIE #20655, has been managing networks for higher ed, government, financials and high tech since 1995. Ethan co-hosts the Packet Pushers Podcast, which has seen over 3M downloads and reaches over 10K listeners. With whatever time is left, Ethan writes for fun & profit, studies for certifications, and enjoys science fiction. @ecbanks
Ethan Banks
Ethan Banks

    I need to listen to the show, but in a word: yes.

  • Dominik

    I think you missed two of the major points in the SPB vs TRILL discussion.
    TRILL works only for unicasts, if you wanna have the same path selection for unicasts and multicasts you have to stick with SPB.
    SPB will scale up for larger deployments. With TRILL you still have the 4k VLAN limitation.

    • Etherealmind

      Hi Dominik

      TRILL currently supports Unicast, and will support Multicast in the near future. The standards works is nearing completion. 

      SPB will scale for larger deployments. But there are very few large deployments – just a few public cloud providers that don’t want to pay for new features. SPB has missed the early adopters market. 

      It might make a comeback, but I doubt it. 


      • Jon Hudson

        Just to add details ( as I wait for my plane after NANOG 55)

        Multicast works fine in TRILL today, it’s the entire point of the appointed forwarders work in
        What is being added is “coordinated multicast” in and multi-path multicast. Today in TRILL unicast is multi-path but multicast is essentially unipath since each vlan has a single tree and an appointed forwarder (see above).

        Then in you get some cool new stuff like doubling vlans (4k * 4k). So 16,777,216 VLANs.

        My sincere hope is that some day all devices will support both. However the fact remains that today you have the following:

        Cisco (TRILL based)
        Brocade (TRILL based)
        Oracle (open source software version)

        Shipping this year:

        So hopefully by the end of 2012 you will have Cisco, Brocade, IBM, Oracle, HP, Huawei, Dell Force10, Extreme all shipping TRILL. Both Cisco and Brocade have committed publicly to supporting IETF TRILL.

        For SPB you have:
        HP (through H3C)

        Then you have Arista doing MLAG today and TRILL in the future. 

        And Juniper with QFabric. 

        Then don’t forget that Marvell, Fulcrum and Broadcom all have TRILL header support for anyone else that wants to turn it on. 

        So in the near future you will have these options

        TRILL          SPBm          Other
        ———          ———-         ————
         8*                  4*               1

        * HP & Huawei count for both. 

        But hopefully someday you will have 

        TRILL          SPBm          Other———          ———-         ———— 11                  11               0

        And while there are a few SPB folks that LOVE to pick and poke and kick and spit on TRILL. You will not see TRILL folks doing the same to SPB. Competition is good. But so is respect between engineering teams that worked very hard to both come up with good solutions. 

        Once again, these are protocols. NOT religions. 

  • Duaneo

    Isn’t Junipers Qfabric basically a pre-standard TRILL technology like fabric path?  I don’t think I heard them mentioned at all during the show….

    • Etherealmind

      Not at all. Juniper QFabric emulates a chassis and doesn’t use any EMCP protocols to do this. I wrote about this here –

      • Duaneo

        Humm, now i’m wondering if my briefing was under an NDA since i’m not turning up details about this on google…  I can assure you that qfabric is much more than just a virtual chassis mgmt system.