Definition

session-based routing

Contributor(s): Andy Ory

Session-based routing is a type of routing architecture that is application-centric and designed to route entire sessions instead of individual packets. Sessions are used in communication protocols to represent a temporary, two-way exchange of information between endpoints. Routers that employ the session-based approach keep a transient state on application flows and understand the requirements of named applications, service topology and business policies. This data is used to implement application-specific policies and plot waypoints through the network in real-time, turning the network itself into a service-centric fabric. This eliminates the need for tunneling, a technique used by legacy routers to transmit data.

Legacy internet routers and protocols were designed to work on individual packets and IP addresses rather than on sessions. However, this approach is static and centralized, making it ill-suited for complex initiatives such as 5G, IoT and cloud services. In contrast, session-based routing operates on the entire communication exchange as a bidirectional flow and manages sessions at each router. This allows networks to be application specific, giving routing more context, granularity and control to improve performance, quality of experience, security, path selection, failover and priority while reducing network load.

Enterprises, agencies and service providers in charge of building and operating a network can implement session-based routing. Session-based routing is fully compatible and interoperable with existing network protocols and architectures. Because session-oriented routers are aware of services topology and policy frameworks, the networks they support are sometimes referred to as context-aware networks. 

Benefits of session-based routing

As cloud, mobility and security concepts continue to be popular among trends, network architecture will need to become more dynamic. This makes session-based routing an effective solution to transform networks in the future. Other benefits include:

  • Enables integrated functions previously delivered by middleboxes, such as hyper-segmentation, directionality, network security and load balancing, in a single device.
  • Lower cost and complexity compared to other adaptive routing
  • Supports dynamic path selection, increasing throughput of applications.
  • Better manageability for improved decision-making capabilities.
  • Increased reliability and performance of the network, optimal for use cases such as SD-WAN, hybrid cloud, security, IoT, virtual reality and remote operations.
This was last updated in January 2019

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