Understanding Routed and Routing Protocols

Those entering the networking field are bombarded with new terms, acronyms and concepts. Many concepts are obviously unique. Others seem to be ambiguous. At first, the concept of routing and routed protocol might seem to be overlapping. However, these are two separate terms that represent separate, but related, concepts.

This article is an attempt to disambiguate these terms. Understanding their relationship will enable more concise communication when discussing concepts and issues with collegues. Below is a visual overview of these terms.

RoutedvsRouting

Routed Protocols

As indicated in the visual, routed protocols go THROUGH the network. This may also be termed transit packets. Each packet has some type of header information. These headers follow the rules of their respective protocols. Examples are IPv4, IPv6, Appletalk and IPX. Currently, IPv4 and IPv6 are the routed protocols that are commonly used.

Routing Protocol

To enable the routing of routed protocols, routers need to know where all of the possible destinations are. An administrator could manually program each router to include all of the possible destinations. However this would not be a dynamic or scalable solution. To answer these concerns, routing protocols were developed.

Routing protocols allow routers to share their knowledge of networks with one another. Routers automatically know about their directly connected networks. These directly connected networks are then shared with neighboring routers via a routing protocol. In addition, routers also share the knowledge of the routes learned from their neighbors. Examples of routing protocols are EIGRP, RIP, OSPF and BGP.

About Paul Stewart, CCIE 26009 (Security)

Paul is a Network and Security Engineer, Trainer and Blogger who enjoys understanding how things really work. With over 15 years of experience in the technology industry, Paul has helped many organizations build, maintain and secure their networks and systems.
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