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Alternative routing

(also backup routing, secondary routing)

Alternative routing definition

Alternative routing is a technique used in computer networks that establishes additional paths for data to travel between network devices or destinations to make sure data can still flow even if the main path gets blocked or too busy.

Normally, data packets travel along a set path from one place to another in a network. But if that path gets broken or too crowded, alternative routing kicks in. It involves creating extra paths that can be used if the main path fails.

See also: internet routing, routing table, diverse routing

Types of alternative routing

  • Static Routing: Backup routes are manually configured and when a failure occurs, administrators have to activate them.
  • Dynamic Routing: Special protocols automatically calculate alternative routes based on the network's status. When the main path goes down, the routing protocol redirects traffic along the backup paths.
  • Equal-Cost Multipath (ECMP): Traffic is divided among multiple paths that have the same quality. If one path fails, traffic automatically uses the remaining paths.
  • MPLS Fast Reroute: This is a technique used in specific types of networks. It sets up backup paths in advance so that data can quickly switch to them if the main path breaks.

Where is alternative routing used?

  • Big Companies: Large companies use alternative routing inside their networks to make sure their offices and branches can always communicate, even if there are network problems or congestion.
  • Internet Service Providers (ISPs): ISPs use alternative routing to make sure people have internet access even if there are issues with the main connections. It helps them provide stable internet service.
  • Data Centers: Data centers need to be available all the time. Alternative routing is used there to keep services and applications running even if there are network failures or congestion.
  • Wide Area Networks (WANs): WANs connect faraway places like branch offices. Alternative routing is used in WANs to provide backup routes in case the main connections have problems.
  • Cloud Computing: Those that use cloud services need alternative routing to keep their networks connected to the cloud. It ensures that access to those resources remains uninterrupted even during network issues.
  • Telecommunications: Telecom networks use alternative routing to provide reliable voice and data services. It helps prevent call drops or data loss by setting up backup paths.