Megaport Cloud Router (MCR 2.0) - Launched
When you are looking at seamless agile layer 3 connectivity between cloud service providers such as AWS and Azure and also extending to your on-premise data centre, then a Megaport Cloud Router (MCR) is a excellent choice. A MCR is a virtual instance of a router that is provided by Megaport and deployed in their infrastructure at a number of software enabled global locations. For MCR enabled locations checkout the following link:
The benefit of MCR is the simplification and automation of connecting to your cloud service providers, establish routing to these providers and routing between providers in addition to connecting back to your organisations data centre. This can all be implemented without the investment in hardware, software and additional co-location rack space. Megaport has documented some scenarios and use cases for the MCR at the following link:
Megaport recently launched the latest version of the MCR which this was of interest to me as I wanted to see how the product had been enhanced for further optimizing the methods of interfacing and routing with cloud providers. The launch was for version 2.0 and builds on the capability of their cloud based routing platform.
The following are the key features and capabilities that are provided with the MCR.
3 router rate-limits
Per link BGP on/off toggle
Google API Integration
The MCR version 1 supported rate limits of 100Mbps, 500Mbps, 1Gbps, 3Gbps, 4Gbps and 5Gbps and provided the capability to modify the rate limit up or down based on your requirements. The new MCR router performance options are now simplified to 3 options 2.5Gbps, 5Gbps and 10Gbps. Note that you are now required to select a rate limit for the life of the service, so once selected it cannot be changed. My advice, select a limit that will scale to meet your future needs.
MCR 2.0 provides a maximum capacity of 10Gbps asymmetrical or 5Gbps symmetrical so the choice of MCR will be be dependent of your traffic patterns and will determine how your bandwidth is utilized in your network. With 10Gbps routing per MCR the platform is scalable even for the largest of organisations cloud routing needs.
A simple but useful control is the ability to toggle on or off the BGP state. This may be useful during troubleshooting or temporarily shutting down a BGP peer peer connection without the need to delete and rebuild the service.
BGP was originally built for stability, that is why it is the protocol of the largest of networks including the Internet. A trade off for the stability meant that the setting of thresholds timers, for determining a routing path as no longer valid, were long and resulted in slower convergence of routing tables. To assist with detecting the availability of paths, the bi-directional-forwarding-detection (BFD) protocol provides a more rapid response even during "brown outs". BFD is not a BGP feature but works with protocols like OSPF and BGP to notify them of routing path issues. The default values are 300 milliseconds with a multiplier of 3 so an issue can be detected in less than 1 second. These are configurable to make them less sensitive. The good thing is cloud providers such as AWS and Azure have BFD by default and enable the feature on detection of BFD from your device. Note that for BFD to work it is required for both ends of a peering.
MCR version 1 provided simple BGP setup and configuration but there were little options for modifying BGP peering behavior. So in addition to the BGP toggle state Megaport has added the capability to influence route path and link selection through the use of Multi-exit-discriminator (MED). This is useful when you are looking to suggest to a BGP peer the link or path to prefer based on your routing policy. This will not only allow you to influence the path but also provide a mechanism to balance your traffic over your available links. Megaport has been able to maintain simplicity in configuration with this advanced feature.
Megaport make connectivity simple and with well developed API integration with AWS and Azure, they have now optimized API integration with Google for simple, secure cloud provider connectivity to the Google Cloud Platform. Megaport has not tried to throw too many enhancements to the MCR product and focused a few key features. I anticipate we will see more capabilities added more frequently. My wish list is to have greater visibility of routing with a view of routing tables, ability to add filtering of routes in and out of the MCR providing greater control over policy. I would also like to see the capability to modify the MCR rate limit whilst in service, a capability that was available in the earlier MCR but not in MCR 2.0. Also having the BGP on/off toggle feature linked to halting service cost whilst off is something that will allow an organisation to have a service built and tested and then shut down until it is required by a project team.
I look forward to see the next release of MCR features.