Authored by Faraz Taifehesmatian: Technical Marketing Engineer, Cisco

Why interoperability and standardization is relevant to you

Interoperability provides options for you to mix and match the technology based on your business needs. Either you want to adapt new innovations, or refresh your infrastructure and networking gear.

How do you know which vendor has high interoperability

This is where VXLAN BGP EVPN Multi-Vendor interoperability testing becomes important. It shows how vendors can interoperate with other vendors. This year, eleven vendors participated, including Cisco. Cisco as an industry leader has been an active member of multiple interoperability events and standardization bodies.


Multi-Vendor Interoperability Testing

For the fifth year in a row, Cisco participated in the VXLAN BGP EVPN Multi-Vendor interoperability testing at the European Advanced Networking Test Center (EANTC).

Interop booth at MPLS World Congress – © Photo by EANTC

As part of the interoperability showcase, test results are featured in the (EANTC) white paper and made available as a part of the MPLS + SDN + NFV World Congress.

What innovations were tested this year?

Carsten Rossenhoevel, Managing Director of EANTC recognized Cisco’s continuous efforts as part of the EANTC interoperability event.

“Cisco successfully participated in our annual MPLS SDN NFV interoperability event, contributing to a wide range of tests in the Segment Routing, EVPN, and SDN test areas. This year, our showcase in Paris focused on 5G readiness of multi-vendor transport networks, and Cisco’s commitment to advanced test cases – specifically, but not limited to SRv6, network slicing, and multi-domain controller orchestration – was much appreciated”

Lukas Krattiger, Principal Engineer with Cisco and participated for the last 5 years, shares the traction of EVPN and the interoperability testing at EANTC

Quote: This year, a totla of eleven vendors participated in the VXLAN BGP EVPN interoperabilty testing, showing significant industry adoption year over year. - Lukas Krattiger, Principal Engineer at Cisco


While original co-authoring vendors continued their participation in EANTC, more vendors joined the interoperability event during the past 3 years. Cisco itself successfully participated in the following tests:

  • Ethernet Virtual Private Network (EVPN) – EVPN with VXLAN transport, EVPN enhancements, EVPN routing and EVPN interworking
  • Segment Routing – Segment Routing Anycast, SR LSP Ping/Traceroute, IP Subnet Routing, Egress Peer Engineering (EPE) with SR and BGP Segment Routing BGP-LU
  • Software Defined Networking (SDN) – The Network Configuration Protocol (NETCONF) with YANG Models

From a technology perspective, we focused on VXLAN BGP EVPN test areas with the Cisco Data Center portfolio, the Cisco Nexus 3000- and 9000-Series. Further participation of Cisco was with the IOS-XR-based product line and the Network Services Orchestrator (NSO).

EVPN Test Scenarios

Similar as the previous years, most of the vendors agreed on the following set of “options” for VXLAN EVPN test scenarios:

  • For Layer-2 Service Interface VLAN-based
  • For First-Hop Routing Symmetric-IRB
  • For IP Subnet Routing Interface-Less

For overview of all available “option” you can review Lukas’s Blog. “VXLAN BGP EVPN Implementation Options” is also covered in Appendix A of “Building Data Centers with VXLAN BGP EVPN”.

What’s new? EVPN Enhancement

From a Cisco perspective, the most exciting test scenario was the seamless integration of Cisco’s Any-IRB (Any Integrated Route and Bridge) mode. While the Cisco Switch operate exclusively with Symmetric-IRB between each other, it still has the ability to communicate with Asymmetric-IRB speaker for the same shared IP Subnet. While this doesn’t sound too exciting itself, the dynamic detection and auto-sensing capability shows Cisco’s leadership in the EVPN space.

VXLAN EVPN Any-IRB interoperability topology

Advanced EVPN Functions

Most of the vendors actively participated in the ARP suppression and MAC mobility test scenarios. ARP suppression optimized the ARP flooding within the Layer-2 VPN between the EVPN speaker while MAC mobility ensures Layer-2 attached End-Points are optimally moved. The MAC mobility function has further some additional sub-case for duplicate detection, which was conducted with a sub-set of vendors.

VXLAN EVPN Multi-Vendor Interoperability Topology

Why is it important? Ethernet VPN – Layer-2 VPN and more

Ali Sajassi, Cisco Distinguished Engineer and the Inventor of Ethernet VPN (EVPN) and veteran of Layer-2 VPN’s shares the following about the “why” behind EVPN.

“I started EVPN as a research project within Cisco in early 2006 to address some of the issues we had with the protocols at the time for Ethernet service delivery. One of those protocols was VPLS which was based on data-plane learning causing many limitations. It turned out that some of the issues could never be solved with these legacy protocols because of their data-plane learning mechanism. EPVN was born as the result of short-comings of these legacy protocols to address customer needs that could not be addressed via data-plane learning”

Once having the control-plane method available, which was a well-known and scalable approach for Layer-3 routing protocols, new possibilities became available. Some of them cover traditional point-to-point and point-to-multipoint services for traffic backhauling while others were more sophisticated use-case like Link Aggregation, Micro-Segmentation, SD-WAN, IP- and Multicast VPN’s. Sajassi said further:

“Today EVPN has established itself as defacto standard for network virtualization overlay control protocol across all major market segments Data Center, Enterprise, and Service Provider”

Data Center Network and Data Center Interneconenct (DCI) are use-cases where VXLAN EVPN is one of the most widespread used technologies in this area. Cisco recognized the capabilities of EVPN at invention and shipped VXLAN EVPN with NX-OS release 7.0(3)I1(1) back in February 2015.

Subsequent releases, like the long lived NX-OS 7.0(3)I7-train or the most recent NX-OS 9.2(3), enhanced the feature-set unique to Cisco

Which Cisco data center switches were tested?

At this year’s event, the Cisco Data Center product portfolio was represented with the Cisco Nexus 9300-Series with Cisco’s own Cloud Scale ASIC. Further interoperability test cases were conducted with the Cisco Nexus 3100-V and for the first time the Cisco Nexus 3600-R series of Switches.

The widely deployed Cisco Nexus 9300 conducted the majority of the test scenarios. There specifically the Cisco Nexus 9300-FX and Nexus 9300-FX2 were acting as Device Under Test. For the Nexus 3000-Series we conducted multi-vendor testing around EVPN Active-Active Multihoming (Nexus 3100-V) and BGP Route Reflector capability and scale (Nexus 3600-R).

While many of the basic test scenarios for VXLAN EVPN Layer-2 and Layer-3 forwarding were extensively tested on all the Platforms, more advanced additions like Tenant Routed Multicast (TRM) or Multi-Site still couldn’t find a capable interoperability partner; this even as fully compliant to the documented standards. For the coming years we are looking forward to an addition with an set of Hardware Telemetry test scenarios as an extension to the overall EANTC multi-vendor showcase.


EVPN continues to evolve and proofs its versatility and wide adoption by successful Multi-Vendor interoperability events like the one provided by EANTC. While the original three inventors and co-authors of the standard continue to evolve, the increase to 11 participating vendors shows the wide industry adoption. Another year and new test scenarios will bring new ideas, new inventions and new use-cases to be solved for customer success.

Learn about the details of the EANTC test

MPLS + SDN + NFV World Congress Public Multi-Vendor Interoperability Test 2019

Interoperability Showcase 2019 – Whitepaper




Emmeline Wong

Product Marketing Specialist

Data Center Marketing