Shortest Path Bridging (SPB) Protocol
By Gail Caros
Over the years we have seen the number of Data Link and Network Layer protocols whittled down to
Ethernet and IP, while the number of routing protocols (RIP, RIPII, OSPF) and Transport Layers
(UDP, TCP, RDP) increased to address the advent of new applications emerging. I stand in awe of the
folks on the IETF along with their ingenuity to extend IPV4 well past its expected lifespan through
creative methods devised via subnetting, use of private subnets, NAT, spoofing, etc. You really need
to take your hat off to these creative individuals. Talk about making the most of something!
That being said, deploying a network in the era of the "Internet of things", is to say the least
quite challenging. Those of you who are tasked with maintaining the IP Addressing and extending the
network to support the vast number of users and devices in a secure fashion are to be commended.
I sympathize with all of you who have to carve out an IP range, negotiate for a maintenance window
to deploy a new application, and then have to spend late night hours programming each switch
(ingress/egress) with the IP addresses that you manually input. Hoping that you input each of the
32 bits correctly without a fat finger or dyslexic moment.
Some of you are so adept at writing the scripts that are executed at each point that you remind
me of those irritating folks in typing class (yes, back then it was typing, not keyboarding) that
could type 100 words per minute without a mistake. Quite unnatural, even freakish I'd say. Anyway,
back to networking. I almost forgot, multicast. Great IDEA! But woe to those of you with Cisco or
Enterasys networks, should you be asked to deploy.
I can only imagine that some very bright, out of the box thinkers must have been sitting in a
room with a really big white board pondering these issues. Or perhaps they sat in a brew house
discussing them over a few beers when they decided to make a list. This list consisted of all the
networking protocols, and in another column all the services these protocols performed and in yet
another column the problems the protocols were created to solve.
Finally in the last column, all the challenges associated with them. I can just see them sitting
back and asking themselves, "What if we could create a NEW networking standard that could do all the
good things, and eliminate the problems"... hmmmm - the birth of SPB!
SPB is a scalable (it can grow really big!), extensible (it can support new devices, applications, etc.),
secure (you can't hack what you can't see), fast (lots of high speed links), resilient (it can have
a link or two or three... go down and your packets still get around), and simple (zero touch cores,
endpoint only provisioning, no more scripts, maintenance windows, or all-nighters!) standard.