ECMP Limitations

Limitations of MidoNet ECMP for load-balancing to a set of stateful services:

  • ECMP route selection is "flow-hash mod N"
  • MidoNet does not test that the routes are ordered the same in every Agent so that "hash mod N" will return the same result on different L3 Gateways as long as N does not change.
  • The hash algorithm does not satisfy "consistent hashing" properties, in particular, it does not minimise the impact of changes to the load-balanced set. Therefore, when the load-balanced set changes, any active flow that is recomputed (because it lasts more than 30 seconds or because upstream routing causes it to ingress a new gateway) will be balanced to a different back-end, usually leading to a broken connection.

    • Note that MidoNet’s DNAT rules as well as L4 LBaaS implementation do generate per-flow state so those features are more resilient to backend set changes.
  • The hash algorithm is not symmetric, so return packets are unlikely to traverse the same VNF instance.

    • This matters for stateful services that need to see traffic in both directions. Some stateful services can live without. And some stateful service instances forward traffic with their own address and therefore receive the return traffic without ECMP configuration.
  • MidoNet’s L3 Gateway makes use of ECMP for choosing an egress gateway for packets heading out of the logical network (to the rest of the data center or to the Internet). That use-case works fine because it is load-balancing to a set of stateless upstream routers. There is no harm to suddenly sending packets in a flow out of a different gateway node (apart from the possibility of some packets arriving out of order at the destination endpoint).

Despite the limitations discussed above, MidoNet’s ECMP works pretty well for a number of use-cases including load-balancing a VIP to an Active-Active HA set of L7 load-balancers.

Remember that you can program MidoNet’s virtual router’s tables using either MidoNet’s native API or via the Neutron ExtraRoute API extension.

Questions? Discuss on Mailing Lists or Chat.
Found an error? Report a bug.


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