Policy-Based Routing (PBR) is a technique used in computer networks to make routing decisions based on policies set by network administrators, rather than solely relying on the destination IP address, which is the traditional method. PBR allows for more granular control over the routing of packets, based on criteria such as source address, destination address, protocol type, port numbers, or even application types.

How Policy-Based Routing Works

  1. Criteria-Based Decisions: Instead of routing packets solely based on the destination IP address, PBR uses policies defined by network administrators to route packets. These policies can be based on various attributes of the packet, such as the source IP address, type of service (ToS), or application type.

  2. Route Maps: PBR is typically implemented using route maps, which are sets of rules that define how packets should be handled. A route map can match specific criteria and then set actions for those matched packets, such as changing the next-hop address or specifying an outbound interface.

  3. Flexible Routing: By allowing routing decisions based on multiple criteria, PBR provides flexibility to optimize network performance, enhance security, and ensure compliance with organizational policies.

Use Cases for Policy-Based Routing

  1. Traffic Optimization: PBR can be used to route traffic through less congested paths or to balance the load across multiple links, improving overall network performance.

  2. Quality of Service (QoS): By routing traffic based on the type of service or application, PBR can ensure that high-priority or latency-sensitive traffic (such as VoIP or video conferencing) receives the necessary bandwidth and minimal delays.

  3. Cost Management: Organizations can use PBR to route traffic through different ISPs based on cost considerations, such as using a cheaper link for non-critical traffic while reserving a more expensive, higher-quality link for critical business applications.

  4. Security: PBR can enhance security by directing specific types of traffic through security devices like firewalls or intrusion detection systems (IDS) before reaching their destination.

Example of PBR Configuration

Here’s a simplified example of how PBR might be configured on a Cisco router:

ip access-list extended PBR-TRAFFIC
  permit ip any
route-map PBR-MAP permit 10
  match ip address PBR-TRAFFIC
  set ip next-hop
interface GigabitEthernet0/0
  ip policy route-map PBR-MAP

In this configuration:

  • An access control list (ACL) named PBR-TRAFFIC matches packets from the network.
  • A route map named PBR-MAP matches the traffic defined by the ACL and sets the next-hop IP address to
  • The PBR-MAP route map is applied to the incoming traffic on the GigabitEthernet0/0 interface.

Example from a Big Company: Amazon AWS

Amazon Web Services (AWS) uses policy-based routing within its Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) service. In AWS, PBR can be implemented using route tables and network ACLs to manage the flow of traffic within a VPC, directing traffic through NAT gateways, VPN connections, or Direct Connect links based on policies.

Benefits of Policy-Based Routing

  1. Granular Control: Provides detailed control over routing decisions based on a variety of criteria, enhancing the ability to manage network performance and security.
  2. Flexibility: Allows administrators to implement complex routing policies that can adapt to specific business needs or network conditions.
  3. Optimized Performance: Can improve network efficiency by optimizing the paths that different types of traffic take through the network.


Policy-Based Routing (PBR) is a powerful tool for network administrators, offering flexibility and control over routing decisions based on policies rather than just destination addresses. This allows for optimized traffic flow, enhanced security, and better overall network management.

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Disclaimer: This post was generated with the help of ChatGPT