Generic Routing Encapsulation

What Does Generic Routing Encapsulation Mean?

Developed by Cisco Systems, Generic Routing Encapsulation (GRE) is a tunneling protocol that makes it
possible to encapsulate, over an Internet Protocol network, a large variety of network
layer protocols inside virtual point-to-point links. GRE is defined by RFC 2784
and as a tunneling protocol, carries OSI layer 3 protocols in the network. GRE creates a private point-to-point connection, just like that of a
virtual private network. Therefore, it finds widespread usage in the creation
of VPNs (with PPTP and IPsec). Unlike IP-to-IP tunneling, GRE can
transport IPv6 and multicast traffic between networks.


Techopedia Explains Generic Routing Encapsulation

Generic Routing Encapsulation encapsulates a payload, which is an inner packet, that is to be delivered to a
destination, which is an outer IP packet. Endpoints that support GRE can then
send such routed encapsulated packages through IP networks. In the process, the
payload naturally comes across several routers, which do not parse the
payload but rather only the outer IP packet. Thus, in this manner the payload
is forwarded to the endpoint, which is the destination. When the payload
reaches the GRE tunneling endpoint, the encapsulation is removed
(de-encapsulation) and the inner packet is available.

GRE offers a
connection that is both stateless and private. However, it is not considered a secure protocol because it lacks encryption. An alternative in this
regard would be a protocol like IPsec Encapsulation Security Payload.


Related Terms

Margaret Rouse

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.