LISP Data Plane | LISP Control plane



LISP Control Plane

LISP Control and LISP Data Plane

The networking landscape has undergone significant transformations over the years, with the need for efficient and scalable routing protocols becoming increasingly crucial. In this blog post, we will delve into the world of LISP (Locator/ID Separation Protocol) and explore its control plane, shedding light on its advantages to modern networks.

  • Understanding LISP Control Plane:

LISP, developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), is a protocol that separates the location and identity of network devices. It provides a scalable solution for routing by decoupling the IP address (identity) from a device’s physical location (locator). The control plane of LISP plays a vital role in managing and distributing the mapping information required for efficient and effective routing.

We need a method to separate identity from location that offers many benefits. However, a single address field for identifying a device and determining where it is topologically located is not an optimum approach and presents many challenges with host mobility.

  • The LISP Protocol

The LISP protocol offers an architecture that provides seamless ingress traffic engineering and moves detection without any DNS changes or agents on the host. A design that LISP can use would be active data center design. A vital concept of the LISP protocol is that end hosts operate similarly. Hosts’ IP addresses for tracking sockets and connections and sending and receiving packets do not change.


Before you proceed, you may find the following useful for pre-information:

  1. Observability vs Monitoring
  2. VM Mobility 
  3. What Is VXLAN
  4. LISP Hybrid Cloud
  5. Segment Routing
  6. Remote Browser Isolation


LISP Protocol

Key LISP Control Plane Discussion Points:

  • Introduction to the LISP Control Plane and what is involved.

  • Highlighting the details of the difference between the control vs data plane in a LISP network.

  • Step by step on the LISP control plane activity.

  • Step by step on the LISP data plane activity. 


  • A key point: Hands-on with LISP protocol

In this LISP product demonstration video, we will get hands-on and advanced with LISP configuration and debugging.Locator/ID Separation Protocol (LISP) architecture not only does the separation of device identity and location but also provides a Border Gateway Protocol (BGP)–free multihoming network, enables multi-address-family (AF) support, provides a highly scalable virtual private network (VPN) solution, and allows host mobility in data centers.



Back to basics with the LISP

LISP: An IP overlay solution

LISP is an IP overlay solution that keeps the same semantics for IPv4 and IPv6 packet headers but operates two separate namespaces: one to specify the location and the other to determine the identity. A LISP packet has an inner IP header, which, like the headers of traditional IP packets, is for communicating endpoint to endpoint.

This would be from a particular source to a destination address. Then we have the outer IP header that provides the location the endpoint attaches to. The outer IP headers are also IP addresses.

Therefore, if an endpoint changes location, its IP address remains the same. It is the outer header that consistently gets the packet to the location of the endpoint. The endpoint identifier (EID) address is mapped to a router that the endpoint sits behind, which is understood as the routing locator (RLOC) in LISP terminology.


Benefits of LISP Control Plane:

1. Scalability: LISP’s control plane offers scalability advantages by reducing the size of the routing tables. With LISP, the mapping system maintains only the necessary information, allowing for efficient routing in large networks.

2. Mobility: The control plane of LISP enables seamless mobility as devices move across different locations. By separating the identity and locator, LISP ensures that devices maintain connectivity even when their physical location changes, reducing disruptions and enhancing network flexibility.

3. Traffic Engineering: LISP’s control plane allows for intelligent traffic engineering, enabling network operators to optimize traffic flow based on specific requirements. By leveraging the mapping information, routing decisions can be made dynamically, leading to efficient utilization of network resources.

4. Security: The LISP control plane offers enhanced security features. By separating the identity and locator, LISP helps protect the privacy of devices, making it harder for attackers to track or target specific devices. Additionally, LISP supports authentication mechanisms, ensuring the integrity and authenticity of the mapping information.


Implementing LISP Control Plane:

Several components are required to implement the LISP control plane, including the mapping system, the encapsulation mechanism, and the LISP routers. The mapping system is responsible for storing and distributing the mapping information, while the encapsulation mechanism ensures the separation of identity and locator. LISP routers play a crucial role in forwarding traffic based on the mapping information received from the control plane.

  • Real-World Use Cases:

LISP control plane has found applications in various real-world scenarios, including:

1. Data Centers: LISP helps optimize traffic flow within data centers, facilitating efficient load balancing and reducing latency.

2. Internet Service Providers (ISPs): LISP control plane enables ISPs to enhance their routing infrastructure, improving scalability and mobility support for their customers.

3. Internet of Things (IoT): As the number of connected devices continues to grow, the LISP control plane offers a scalable solution for managing the routing of IoT devices, ensuring seamless connectivity even as devices move.

Control Plane vs Data Plane

The LISP data plane

LISP protocol
LISP protocol and the data plane functions.


  1. Client C1 is located in a remote LISP-enabled site and wants to open a TCP connection with D1, a server deployed in a LISP-enabled Data Center. C1 queries through DNS the IP address of D1, and an A/AAAA record is returned. The address returned is the destination Endpoint Identifier ( EID ), and it’s non-routable. EIDs are IP addresses assigned to hosts.-Client C1 realizes this is not an address on its local subnet and steers the traffic to its default gateway, a LISP-enabled device. This triggers the LISP control-plane activity.
  2. The LISP control plane is triggered only if the lookup produces no results or if the only available match is a default route. This means that a Map-Request ( from ITR to the Mapping system ) is sent only when the destination is not found.
  3. The ITR receives its EID-to-RLOC mapping from the mapping system and updates its local map-cache that previously did not contain the mapping. The local map cache can be used for future communications between these endpoints.
  4. The destination EID will be mapped to several RLOC ( Routing Locator ), which will identify the ( Egress Tunnel Router ) ETRs at the remote Data Center site. Each entry has associated priorities and weights with loading balance, influencing inbound traffic towards the RLOC address space. The specific RLOC is selected on a per-flow basis based on the 5-tuple hashing of the original client’s IP packet.
  5. Once the controls are in place, the ITR performs LISP encapsulation on the original packets and forwards the LISP encapsulated packet to one ( two or more if load balancing is used ) of the RLOCs of the Data Center ETRs. RLOC prefixes are routable addresses.-The destination ETR receives the packet, decapsulates, and sends it towards the destination EID.


LISP control plane

LISP Control plane
LISP Control plan


  1. The destination ETRs register their non-routable EIDs to the Map-Server using a Map-Register message. This is done every 60 seconds.If the ITR does not have a local mapping for the remote EID-RLOC mapping, it will send a Map-Request message to the Map-Resolver. Map-Requests should be rate-limited to avoid denial of service attacks.
  2. The Map-Resolver then forwards the request to the authoritative Map-Server. The Map-Resolver and Map-Server could be the same device. The Map resolver could also be an anycast address.
  3. The Map-Server then forwards the request to the last registered ETR. The ETR looks at the destination of the Map-Request and compares it to its configured EID-to-RLOC database. A match triggers the ETR to directly reply to the ITR with a Map-Reply containing the requested mapping information. Map-Replies are sent on the underlying routing system topology. On the other hand, if there is no match, the Map-Request is dropped.
  4. When the ITR receives the Map-Reply containing the mapping information, it will update its local EID-to-RLOC map cache. All subsequent flows will go forward without the mapping systems integration.


control plane vs data plane

Matt Conran
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