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Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) is a standardized exterior gateway protocol designed to exchange routing and reachability information among autonomous systems (AS) on the Internet. The protocol is classified as a path vector protocol. The Border Gateway Protocol makes routing decisions based on paths, network policies, or rule-sets configured by a network administrator and is involved in making core routing decisions.
BGP may be used for routing within an autonomous system. In this application it is referred to as Interior Border Gateway Protocol, Internal BGP, or iBGP. In contrast, the Internet application of the protocol may be referred to as Exterior Border Gateway Protocol, External BGP, or eBGP.
BGP neighbors, called peers, are established by manual configuration between routers to create a TCP session on port 179. A BGP speaker sends 19-byte keep-alive messages every 60 seconds to maintain the connection. Among routing protocols, BGP is unique in using TCP as its transport protocol.
When BGP runs between two peers in the same autonomous system (AS), it is referred to as Internal BGP (iBGP or Interior Border Gateway Protocol). When it runs between different autonomous systems, it is called External BGP (eBGP or Exterior Border Gateway Protocol). Routers on the boundary of one AS exchanging information with another AS are called border or edge routers or simply eBGP peers and are typically connected directly, while iBGP peers can be interconnected through other intermediate routers. Other deployment topologies are also possible, such as running eBGP peering inside a VPN tunnel, allowing two remote sites to exchange routing information in a secure and isolated manner. The main difference between iBGP and eBGP peering is in the way routes that were received from one peer are propagated to other peers. For instance, new routes learned from an eBGP peer are typically redistributed to all iBGP peers as well as all other eBGP peers (if transit mode is enabled on the router). However, if new routes are learned on an iBGP peering, then they are re-advertised only to all eBGP peers. These route-propagation rules effectively require that all iBGP peers inside an AS are interconnected in a full mesh.
How routes are propagated can be controlled in detail via the route-maps mechanism. This mechanism consists of a set of rules. Each rule describes, for routes matching some given criteria, what action should be taken. The action could be to drop the route, or it could be to modify some attributes of the route before inserting it in the routing table.