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Introducing BGP monitoring from Kentik

Director of Product Management
February 24, 2022

Introducing BGP monitoring from Kentik

Designed at the dawn of the commercial internet, the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) is a policy-based routing protocol that has long been an established part of the internet infrastructure. Historically, BGP was primarily of interest to ISPs and hosting service providers whose revenue depends on delivering traffic.

More recently, as we saw with Facebook’s historic outage, monitoring BGP proactively has become equally important for digital enterprises and web businesses. That’s because their user experience and revenue streams depend on reliable, high-performance internet traffic delivery. To help our customers manage this critical element of network performance, Kentik now includes BGP performance monitoring as part of the Kentik Network Observability Cloud.

BGP monitoring in the Kentik platform
Path Visualization is a part of the BGP Monitor test results. You can see the AS paths currently and at any point in time.

Why build another BGP monitoring product?

While free and commercial solutions for monitoring BGP have existed for several years, there was something that compelled many of our customers to nudge us towards building our own. Part of this had to do with our approach to network observability. Our customers give us great reviews for user experience and for our approach that enables users to answer any question about their network. They wanted BGP monitoring to be a part of the solution.

The other big reason was the limitations that some of the existing “best-of-breed” commercial solutions have. Limitations include:

  • Limited data sources: Most solutions on the market today are solely reliant on publicly available BGP monitors. While these are excellent sources of data, Kentik is uniquely positioned to take this to the next level by leveraging our rich BGP data sets that include both public and private (anonymized) sources of BGP data.
  • Slow initial data retrieval: Given the size of the datasets that a BGP monitoring solution needs to work with, some solutions have a delay (up to several hours, sometimes) before they present you with data. Our design goal has been to make this near-instantaneous.
  • Slow to alert: What good is a BGP monitoring solution if it alerts you after the whole world has found out about the issue, for example, on Twitter? Kentik alerts you nearly instantaneously.
  • Clunky user experience: Collecting and presenting the data is one thing, but doing it in a way that makes it a pleasure to use is a whole different story. Kentik already has information about customer networks, ASes, and prefixes which reduce the time needed to start surfacing up BGP data.
  • Lack of APIs and integrations: It’s 2022, you want the data you need, where you need it.
  • Benefits of a single pane of glass: While synthetic monitoring is a crucial part of managing services in production, correlating test failures to internet routing issues caused by BGP changes, completes the picture.

Those limitations, coupled with our customers’ need for true network observability, were the key reasons for why we embarked on the journey to creating a next-generation BGP monitoring solution, as part of the Kentik Network Observability Cloud. While Kentik BGP Monitor is already more feature-rich than many existing solutions, we can’t wait for you to start using it so we can continue to build on what we have.

Use cases and features

Kentik’s BGP Monitor will address the most common use cases around monitoring BGP state as well as root-causing routing issues when they occur. These include:

Event tracking

See route announcements and withdrawals over time and filter the data by day, hour, AS, prefix and announcement type. This is a crucial part of the day-to-day observation of BGP routing infrastructure and policies.

BGP Monitor “Events” tab showing BGP announcements for Facebook’s /23 and /24 prefixes, before, during and after the historic outage.

Hijack detection

Malicious exploits of BGP’s vulnerabilities can cause routes between the internet’s tens of thousands of Autonomous Systems (ASes) to change, resulting in disruptions to application and service delivery. Being able to alert as soon as these happen is one of the primary use cases of BGP monitoring.

Route leak detection

Route leaks are similar to the malicious hijacking of routes, but caused by inadvertent misconfiguration (for example, human error).

RPKI status check

Resource Public Key Infrastructure (RPKI) is a best practice for securing BGP route announcements, but the improper configuration of ROAs can cause reachability issues. Knowing when these occur and getting alerted is a crucial part of monitoring BGP.

The BGP Monitor Test in Kentik Synthetics, enables you to detect and get alerted on both unexpected origins as well as invalid RPKI status. Both of these conditions can be set up to notify you at your chosen channels (Slack, email, PagerDuty, etc.).

Reachability tracking

We help you track changes in the reachability of your prefixes from hundreds of vantage points all over the internet and will alert you when any of them become unreachable. You need to be sure that traffic from your ASes can make its way to your customers and the service providers you depend on.

Time-series chart showing visibility of prefixes from hundreds of BGP vantage points. Filters show the visibility per prefix by origin AS.

AS path change tracking

Frequent changes in the path that BGP route announcements take between ASes can be a sign of instability. Monitoring for these changes and getting alerted as soon as they occur is a key part of ensuring service reliability.

Time-series chart showing average number of changes in AS path over time.

AS path visualization

Fast troubleshooting of issues requires being able to visualize data to find trouble spots quickly. We give you a 10,000-foot view of changes in BGP routes over time — an indispensable tool!

AS path visualization showing a hop-by-hop view of routes that is “scrubbable” across time.

Last but not least, all of the above metrics can be set up to alert within the product and can be tied to the most common notification channels:

This blog post is just a preview of some of the features of Kentik’s new BGP monitoring solution. In the coming weeks, we will write individual blog posts on each of these use cases. We’d also love to hear from you about other use cases we can be solving for. Please reach out (here or via your account team) today if you’d like to set up a conversation with our product and engineering team.

Sign up for a free trial today to start using BGP monitoring capabilities in Kentik.

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