OSPF V: “You Have Chosen…Wisely” Path Selection Process

You Have Chosen…Wisely

In my opinion, the best movie in the Indiana Jones film franchise was Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade; aside from the pure enjoyment of the action scenes, the film gave great attention between “Indie” and his father.  One of the most-quoted lines from this movie, in pop culture at least, was the statement by the night (pictured above), “You have chosen…wisely.”  The whole concept of making the best possible choice ties in particularly well with OSPF, which puts it head-and-shoulders above Distance Vector routing protocols, since it truly can choose…wisely!  If you recall our earlier discussion about Link-State routing protocols, instead of depending on “mileage” (how far away something is”, the basis for route selection is cost, related to bandwidth.
OSPF uses cost in a cumulative manner–meaning that all of the costs of the links to a destination network are added up together.  If you have ever used a GPS for travel, this makes perfect sense, since the device would recommend the eight-lane Interstate highway (greater “bandwidth”) over the two-lane country road, regardless of the distance.  Ironically, you can even specify the route to avoid toll roads (a different spin on cost), to choose the best way to go.  If you think about it, this makes perfect sense, since you can go faster and have fewer stops on the bigger road, especially if you are tracking the route of travel from end-to-end.  In networking terms, then, OSPF devices will choose a 1.544 T1 link over the vastly inferior 56K link in choosing the best route.  What could be simpler?
Remember how strict and rule-oriented OSPF is?  Well, this applies to route preferences as well, meaning that there are additional selection criteria that will override the cost directive.  This fits into the hierarchy of OSPF areas, and creates the following list of route selection preferences:
1.  Intra-Area: Always choose the path within the area first.
2. Inter-Area: If no routes to the destination exist within the area, choose a path to another area but within the OSPF domain.
3. External Type 1: If no routes to the destination exist within the OSPF domain, choose an E1 route (remember that E1 routes count the cost to the external router in the metric)
4. External Type 2: If no E1 routes exist to the destination, choose an E2 route (remember that E2 routes do not count the cost to the external router in the metric, and redistributed routes are E2 by default)
As you can see, this can substantially change the route selection process.  Next time we will look at EIGRP, which is vastly simpler.
- Joe
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