PyNet Labs- Network Automation Specialists

VRF Full Form – Virtual Routing and Forwarding

Last Updated : May 14, 2022
vrf full form

VRF Full Form in Networking

The VRF full form in networking is Virtual Routing and Forwarding. This is an IP (Internet Protocol) technology that permits the co-existence of multiple instances of a routing table inside the same router simultaneously. The routing table is globally applicable and suitable for all incoming traffic.

What is VRF (Virtual Routing and Forwarding)?

VRF Full Form

VRF (Virtual Routing and Forwarding) works as a logical router, but there is only one routing table in a logical router, while VRF uses multiple routing tables. VRFs are implemented to use the router better and divide the network traffic efficiently.

  • It operates on layer 3 of the OSI Model
  • It allows users to deploy overlapping or the same IP Address without conflict.
  • VRFs are utilized for virtualization and isolation of networks.
  • VPN tunnels for a single client or network are also created using VRF.

There are two types of VRFs:

  1. Complete VRF
  1. VRF Lite

Complete VRF

VRF uses the labelling of traffic at layer 3 to segregate it (Just like VLANs at layer 2). The traffic is segregated from source to destination through MPLS Cloud, which uses MP-BGP.

VRF Lite

VRF Lite is a subset of VRF but without MPLS and MP-BGP. In Cisco’s terminology, the deployment of VRFs without MPLS is VRF Lite. It is mainly used for enterprises having networks with overlapping IP addresses. Each routed interface belongs to exactly one VRF, making VRF Lite very simple.

In light of the success of the VRF, the VRF Lite was accepted with open arms in Data Center and enterprise LAN environments.

VRF vs VRF Lite

To understand VRF and VRFs better, we can compare them. The first thing to notice is that VRF is basically a technology, whereas VRF Lite is a way of using this technology. Here are the differences between VRF and VRF Lite:

It requires MPLS or MP-BGP. It doesn’t support MPLS or BGP functionality. 
It requires Route Target as a part of its configuration. It doesn’t require Route Target. 
Various devices that run VRF share details with each other. Devices running VRF Lite doesn’t share with each other. 
It is highly scalable. It is not scalable at all. 
It is employed in service provider WAN Environment. It is useful in data centers and enterprise environments. 

These are the major differences between VRF and VRF Lite. Let’s move to the advantages of VRF.

Advantages of VRF

Here are some benefits offered by VRF:

  • It allows the creation of multiple routes on one physical device.
  • Multiple Routing tables can be managed by it.
  • It is suitable for the deployment of MP-BGP and MPLS.
  • It allows the usage of overlapping IP Addresses without any conflict.
  • It improves network functionality.

It also empowers network administrators to divide their network with required tools, which provides better security and manageability. VRF lets network administrators separate guest traffic from employee traffic, segment large enterprise networks and support multiple customer networks.

Security in VRF

VRF can also improve the security of networks and could eliminate the need for encryption as well as authentication. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) typically utilize VRF to set up distinct VPNs to serve customers; this is why the technology is called VRF routing or forwarding.

VRF-designed networks rely on 802.1q trunks protocol, MPLS tags or GRE tunnels to expand and keep these VRFs together.

Frequently Asked Questions about VRF

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about Virtual Routing and Forwarding:

Question - Why do we use VRF in networking?

Answer – VRF is utilized in networks to allow the co-existence of multiple versions of the routing table within the same router simultaneously. It can be utilized to divide the router into multiple routing tables as well as multiple forwarding instances, which allow the segregation of all incoming traffic.

Question – What is VLAN and VRF?

Answer – VLAN stands for Virtual LAN. It is a concept which allows dividing the devices on layer 2. It is a custom network created from one or more LANs. VRF stands for Virtual Routing and Forwarding. It is a technology that works like VLAN but on layer 3. It permits several instances of the routing table to be present within a router and allows them to function simultaneously.

Question – What is VRF In MPLS with example? 

Answer - VRFs are generally used with MPLS VPNs, and VRFs without MPLS is known as VRF Lite. MPLS permits a service provider to provide multiple VPNs with the same IP Addresses.

Example: VRF with MPLS allows two or more customers to share one Customer edge router. Here only one physical link is used between CE and provider edge router. 

Question – What is the difference between VPN and VRF? 

Answer - VPN stands for the virtual private network, which is a network that allows private communication over a public network. It is used to encrypt the internet traffic and hide your identity. In contrast, VRF stands for Virtual Routing and Forwarding, a technology that allows multiple VPNs to co-exist in a single router simultaneously.

Question – What is VRF in Cisco Switches?

Answer - The concept of VRF is the same as of VLANs in Cisco Switches, except that VRFs work on Routers and not switches. VRF uses the same method of virtualization as VLANs in Cisco switches. A single switch works as a multi-switch because of the VLAN, whereas a single router looks like a multi-router because of the VRF.

VRF is an integral part of Cisco CCNP Enterprise Certification, one of the most in-demand courses in the networking domain. If you wish to learn more about VRF, you can opt for CCNP ENARSI training with PyNet Labs.

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