Virtual routing and forwarding (VRF) is a technology based on the operating principle of a physical router. Unlike a single router, virtual routers (VR) can be run simultaneously as multiple instances. Each of these instances uses its own routing and forwarding table. Because each virtual router instance (VRI) runs autonomously, network traffic on the assigned interfaces is separated from the traffic managed by other virtual routers. This special separation of networks increases network security without having to use VPNs like on a common network. Because it is possible to use the same IP addresses or IP ranges on multiple virtual routers, which can even overlap without conflicting each other, virtual routers can also be used for managing network traffic for multiple networks with identical network configurations simultaneously on the firewall.
Virtual routing can be used to segment network paths without using additional devices. The number of network paths is limited only by the number of available network interfaces. The concept of keeping traffic on multiple network paths separated can be overridden by configuring access rules that forward specific traffic from one path to another. As an example, all traffic from different network paths can be routed to a common path that leads to the Internet, thereby reducing the overhead for configuring access rules for routed traffic that flows from different networks to the Internet simultaneously. By combining different types of interface types, like network, VLAN or bundled interfaces, the different possibilities offer a huge variety of applications.
Virtual Router Naming and Identification
For configuration purposes, each virtual router instance receives a unique logical ID and a name. The firewall's standard routing instance is named 'default' and has the virtual router ID = 0. These two values cannot be changed. Unlike a user-defined virtual router instance, the default router instance cannot be deleted. Every additional virtual router instance can be configured individually. The virtual router IDs are set automatically in the range between 1 and 255 when a new instance is created. The virtual router ID can also be entered manually for special purposes, e.g., for configuring an HA cluster where all virtual routers must be configured identically on both HA partners. In addition, this ID is required for assigning virtual router instances in VPN configurations.
The maximal number of additional configurable virtual router instances varies depending on the firewall model.
|Model||RAM [GB]||Additional VRF Instances|
|F200, F201, F300, F301||-||n.a.|
|Cloud Level 1||n.a.||0|
|Cloud Level 2||n.a.||1|
|Cloud Level 4||n.a.||3|
|Cloud Level 6||n.a.||5|
|Cloud Level 8||n.a.|
|VF10, TSF10, TSFp10||n.a.||0|
|VF25, TSF25, TSFp25||n.a.||0|
|VF50, TSF50, TSFp50||n.a.||0|
|VF100, TSF100, TSFp100||n.a.||1|
|VF250, TSF250, TSFp250||n.a.||1|
|VF500, TSF500, TSFp500||n.a.||3|
|VF1000, TSF1000, TSFp1000||n.a.||5|
|VF2000, TSF2000, TSFp2000||n.a.||7|
|VF4000, TSF4000, TSFp4000||n.a.||9|
|VF8000, TSF8000, TSFp8000||n.a.||19|
Virtual Routers, Network and Dynamic Interfaces, VLAN, and Ethernet Bundled Interfaces
VLANs can be configured for each network interface. If necessary, both network and VLAN interfaces can be combined to Ethernet bundled interfaces. With their specific characteristics, each of these interface types can be assigned to a virtual router.
|Network Interfaces (eth0, eth1, ...)||Yes|
Management Interface and Virtual Routers
Because licenses are bound to the MAC address of the network interface on which the management IP is configured, the management interface must always reside under control of the default router.
For more information about the grace period and the validity of licenses, see Validity.
Remote Management Tunnels and Virtual Routers
Default routes can also be assigned to VR instances. When you must manage your firewall via a remote management tunnel, always configure a default route on the default router instance. This is necessary because the connection service on port 692 for the remote management tunnel is supported only in the default router instance.
For more information on how to configure a remote management tunnel, see How to Configure a Remote Management Tunnel for a CloudGen Firewall.
Virtual Routers and Services
All services that run on top of a server are available only for the default router instance. Some services can be used on additional virtual router instances if certain conditions are met:
|Service / Feature|
|Access Control Service||*Yes||No|
*Only for administrative purposes
|DHCP Relay Service||Yes||No|
|FTP Gateway Service||Yes||No|
*Only if authenticated users are NOT defined.
|Spam Filter Service||Yes||No|
|SSH Proxy Service||Yes||No|
|URL Filter Service|
Only available for HTTP Proxy.
*Available for the Firewall service.
|No||*Check license dependency for Application Control.|
|Access Controller |
Yes: using VPN Interface Index.
|Virus Scanner Service||*Yes||*Yes||*If feature is licensed. See also Virtual Routers and Application Control below.|
|Local DNS cache||Yes||No||Also available for additional virtual routers if traffic is redirected to default router.|
|DNS Interception||Yes||No||Also available for additional virtual routers if traffic is redirected to default router.|
Virtual Routers and Application Control
If Application Control is licensed, some restrictions may apply.
|Available to |
|URL Filter in the Firewall||Yes||For firewall service only|
Only configurable for
ATP scan available.
|ATP scan available.|
Quarantine NOT available.
|File Content Scan||Yes||Yes|
|Archive Content Scan||Yes||Yes|
|Mail DNSBL Check||Yes||Yes|
Virtual Routers and Access Rules
Access rules control how and whether traffic can pass from one interface to another. If only one router is used on the firewall, managing an access rule in the rule list is straightforward. However, if multiple virtual router instances live side by side in a common environment, it is recommended to build rule lists in order to maintain an overview of the access rules that refer to different virtual router instances.
For more information, see How to Create New Rule Lists.
Configuring and Activating Virtual Routers
Configuring a virtual router is similar to configuring IP addresses and routing tables. However, there are some differences in the workflow due to the conditions described in this article.
For more information, see How to Configure and Activate a Virtual Router Instance with Hardware, Virtual, VLAN, or Bundled Interfaces.
Redirecting Traffic between Multiple Virtual Router Instances
The idea of virtual routers is to separate traffic between multiple network paths. In certain cases, however, it may be useful to redirect traffic between separated paths or from multiple paths to a common path, e.g., to the Internet.
For more information, see How to Redirect Traffic between Multiple Virtual Router Instances.
Virtual Routers and High Availability
Virtual routers can also be configured on HA partners. Because HA partners must (with some exceptions) be configured identically, there are three different ways for configuring virtual routers depending on how the partners are managed in a network environment. In all cases, the administrator is responsible for setting up an identical configuration in order to ensure that syncing between the two HA partners will work as expected.
- For more information on how to configure two stand-alone firewalls working as HA partners, see How to Configure High Availability Stand-Alone CloudGen Firewalls for Virtual Routing.
- For more information on how to configure two CC-managed firewalls working as HA partners, see How to Configure High Availability CC-Managed CloudGen Firewalls for Virtual Routing.
Virtual Routers and VPN
Virtual routers also support Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). The VPN service is fully available to the default router instance. When using VPN in connection with an additional virtual router, TINA and site-to-site VPN are the only protocols supported. Client-to-site VPN and IKEv1/V2 tunnels are not available to additional virtual routers.