Providing Layer 2 VPN and Layer 3 VPN services has been a requirement of enterprises from Service Providers. Similarly Data Center networks need to provide Layer 2/3 Overlay facility to applications being hosted.
EVPN is a new control plane protocol to achieve the above . This means it coordinates the distribution of IP and MAC addresses of endpoints over another network. This means it is has its own protocol messages to provide endpoint network addresses distribution mechanism. In the Data Plane traffic will be switched via MPLS Labels next hop lookups or IP next hop lookups.
To provide for a new control plane with new protocol messages providing new features BGP has been used. So it is BGP Update messages which are used as the carrier for EVPN messages. BGP connectivity is first established and messages are exchanged. The messages exchanged will be using BGP and in them EVPN specific information will be exchanged.
The Physical layer topology can be a leaf spine DC Clos fabric of a simple Distribution/Core setup. The links between the nodes will be Ethernet links.
One aspect of EVPN is that the terms Underlay and Overlay are now used. Underlay represent the underlying protocols on top of which EVPN runs. These are the IGP (OSPF,ISIS or BGP), and MPLS (LDP/SR). The underlay also includes the Physical Clos or Core/Distribution topology which has high redundancy built into it using fabric links and LACP/LAGs. The Overlay is the BGP EVPN vitual topology itself which uses the underly network to build a virtual network on top. It is the part of the network which related to providing tenant or vpn endpoints reachability. i.e. MAC address or VPN IP distribution.
It’s a new protocol and if you look at the previous protocols there is little mechanism to provide all active multihoming capability. This refers to one CE being connected via two links to two PEs and both links being active and providing traffic path to far end via ECMP and Multipathing. 2 Chassis multichassis lag has been one option for but it is proprietary per vendor and causes particular virtual chassis link requirement limits. Ingress PE to multiple egress PE per flow based load balancing using BGP multipathing is also newly enabled by EVPN.
There is also little mechanism in previous generation protocols to provide efficient fabric bandwidth utilization for tenant/private networks over meshed-style links. Previous protocols provide single active and single paths and required LDP sessions and tunnels for full mesh over a fabric. MAC learning in BGP over underlay provides this in EVPN.
Similarly there is no mechanism to provide workload (VM) placement flexibility and mobility across a fabric. EVPN provides this via Distributed Anycast Gateway.