Why would you use iBGP over eBGP. i.e why use a single AS with an RR over multiple AS's using eBGP. Is it simply for peering design simplification i.e large amount of devices all peering to a set of RRs?

  • Cisco has a knob called "always compare med" even if the meds are coming from different ASes
    – Rolly
    Dec 19, 2018 at 22:18
  • @Rolly, that would be for your single AS with MED coming from multiple ASes, which is the opposite of the question, where the OP is asking about using multiple ASes on his side. MED is not transitive among multiple ASes, unless you use confederations. It will not work with separate ASes.
    – Ron Maupin
    Dec 20, 2018 at 20:55

1 Answer 1


When using iBGP, you the router must have a full mesh, or you must use a mitigation. Route reflectors are one mitigation. There is another mitigation that is similar to what you suggest, and it is called confederations. It basically breaks your AS in sub-ASes and uses eBGP between the sub-ASes.

You can search for BGP confederations, and you will find documents, such as IP Routing: BGP Configuration Guide:

BGP Routing Domain Confederation

One way to reduce the internal BGP (iBGP) mesh is to divide an autonomous system into multiple subautonomous systems and group them into a single confederation. To the outside world, the confederation looks like a single autonomous system. Each autonomous system is fully meshed within itself and has a few connections to other autonomous systems in the same confederation. Even though the peers in different autonomous systems have external BGP (eBGP) sessions, they exchange routing information as if they were iBGP peers. Specifically, the next hop, Multi Exit Discriminator (MED) attribute, and local preference information are preserved. This feature allows the you to retain a single Interior Gateway Protocol (IGP) for all of the autonomous systems.

To configure a BGP confederation, you must specify a confederation identifier. To the outside world, the group of autonomous systems will look like a single autonomous system with the confederation identifier as the autonomous system number.

Route reflectors are simpler to configure, and it is easy to screw up a confederation design and configurations. If you have a large AS, buying many AS numbers can be problematic, and confederations can internally use private AS numbers because you do not advertise them outside your AS. Some people like router reflectors, and some people like confederations. Having multiple, real ASes really isn't practical.

  • Thanks but the question is more around why use iBGP over eBGP. : )
    – RickD
    Oct 10, 2018 at 14:32
  • The answer explains that. For eBGP, you need to buy a bunch of ASes, and you do not get the advantages of sharing non-transitive attributes and a single IGP. Confederations let you simulate eBGP inside your iBGP AS.
    – Ron Maupin
    Oct 10, 2018 at 14:35
  • Not if you use private ASNs
    – RickD
    Oct 10, 2018 at 14:36
  • Even if you use private AS numbers, you cannot share non-transitive attributes and use a single IGP. Confederations can use private AS numbers and allow you to do that.
    – Ron Maupin
    Oct 10, 2018 at 14:38
  • @felix001, for example, if your AS uses a local preference attribute to route some traffic out one particular router, you cannot share that local preference to a different AS (hence, the name local preference). With iBGP, you can, even with confederations that look like separate ASes inside your AS. MED and next hop do not work across different ASes either.
    – Ron Maupin
    Oct 10, 2018 at 14:41

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