NTP Over Anycast. The Easy Way to Sync Clients and Servers
What Is NTP Over Anycast?
NTP, or Network Time Protocol, is a widely used networking protocol that enables computers and devices to synchronize their system clocks with a reference time source. It ensures accurate timekeeping in computer networks by allowing devices to obtain precise time information from NTP servers, which are typically synchronized to highly accurate atomic clocks. NTP is essential for various applications and services that rely on synchronized time, such as network security, authentication, and data logging. (Network Time Protocol) over Anycast mode is a software technology that allows two (or more) NTP servers to sync clients via a single IP address.
NTP is a packet network-based synchronization protocol to sync a client clock to a network master clock.
Anycast is a networking methodology using standard routing protocols where messages are routed to one of a group of potential receivers via a single Anycast address, thus significantly simplifying the configuration management for the larger pool of clients.
Associate one of their network ports to an Anycast IP address
Remove themselves as an available time source if the reference is lost or degraded, or vice versa
Though NTP clients typically need to be individually configured with the IP address(es) they are to sync with – even when using NTP over Anycast mode – this mode allows the clients to be configured with one address instead of multiple and lets the “nearest” available time server to respond to the request.
How It Works
Configure an Anycast IP address to any Orolia network interface.
NTP server responds to client requests as directed by the configured routing protocol so long as the time server is in sync.
NTP server becomes “unavailable” if the time server goes out of sync or a problem with its reference is detected. Client requests are directed to the “next-nearest” server, which is also configured with the NTP over Anycast address.
NTP server is automatically made available when synchronized.
When to Use NTP Over Anycast
Configuring NTP clients for mission-critical timing using NTP servers with static IP addresses can be problematic for large deployments across several network and geographic boundaries. Referencing an NTP server by hostname with existing DNS infrastructure can help, but still requires a lot of configuration.
For Anycast-enabled networks, the ability to route NTP requests to several potential servers via a single IP address, without any specific client configuration, offers the simplest, most reliable, most scalable approach.
Benefits to You
Reduce latency, increase availability, improve scalability of NTP deployments.
Simplify the management of a reliable wide-area NTP deployment with redundant stratum-1 servers.
Leverage the ability of a “smart” NTP server for a simple NTP client implementation.
How to Get NTP Over Anycast
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Sadie Nedo is a global account manager at Safran, where she supports the public safety market. For over a decade, she has specialized in helping PSAPs develop and deploy solutions that simplify the integration of precision timing and frequency into their critical infrastructures. She holds a bachelor's degree in advertising and public relations from Rochester Institute of Technology.