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Direct Routing vs. Indirect Routing: What is the difference?

Updated: Sep 9, 2022

Direct routing vs indirect routing

One of my peers asked me about the differences between Direct and Indirect Routing. After a few minutes of discussion, naturally, we Googled. But (much to my surprise) none of the top 10 search SERP results provided a satisfactory answer. Don't worry. I will give you the gist of it, in case you have landed upon this blog before the painful experience of skimming through paragraphs of irrelevant information:

  1. There were loads of websites providing the definition, images of routings and direct routing in Teams phone system.

  2. The information provided was too technical and not for everyone.

  3. The website does provide a simplified explanation yet fails to provide differences between direct and indirect routing all the same.

Betting on Google's algorithm, I concluded that there is obviously a need to simplify and just in plain terms, write a blog about Direct vs. Indirect routing that actually includes the differences between the two. So, let’s start with the basic understanding of both the routing methodologies and the technical process part. Then, we move on to the differences between direct and indirect routing and why direct routing is beneficial. Finally, we discuss briefly about direct routing for Microsoft Teams.

What is Routing?

Routing is the process of selecting a path for traffic in a network or between/across multiple networks. There are two types of routings: direct and indirect.

What is Direct Routing?

The destination host is connected to the same physical network as the sender host – when the source and destination are located on the same physical network.

In simple terms, when a machine can send an IP packet to another machine without going through a third machine (or a router), we refer to it as “Direct routing.”

What is Indirect Routing?

The destination host and the deliverer are not on the same network – packet travels from routers to routers till it reaches a router on the same physical network as the destination.

Again, in simple terms, when the machine must send an IP packet to another machine through one or more intermediate machines (routers), we refer to it as “Indirect routing.”

Now that we have a basic understanding of direct and indirect routing, let’s move on to the technical part.

How Does Direct Routing Work?

Direct routing is the process where packets are not sent through intermediate nodes.

  • The correspondent sends a message to the home agent asking for the address of the receiver.

  • The home agent then replies with the address of the destination.

  • The correspondent then sends the packet to the foreign agent, which forwards it to the destination node.

  • Additionally, an anchor foreign agent is present, which keeps track of the address in case the receiver shifts to a separate foreign network.

  • There is no routing problem as there is no transmission through intermediate nodes.

How Does Indirect Routing Work?

The sender/correspondent is unaware of the destination node’s address.

  • It sends the packet to the home agent present in the same network.

  • If the destination is in the same network, the packet is sent directly; else, it is sent to the foreign agent.

  • The address is intercepted by the foreign agent and sends the packet to the destination node.

  • Finally, the destination node sends a reply to the sender node, and the process ends.

  • This process leads to Triangular Routing due to transmission through intermediate nodes.

Direct Routing vs. Indirect Routing

Now that we have seen the technicalities about the routing processes, let us compare and see the differences between direct and indirect routing:

​Direct Routing

Indirect Routing

The sender and receiver are present in the same network.

The sender and receiver are present in different networks.

​It is an efficient process as the data is sent without the intermediate nodes.

​It is an inefficient process as the data is sent through the home and foreign agents.

The process is cost-effective as there are no redundant links.

The process is costly due to the presence of additional links.

Routing tables are not required for data transfer.

Routing tables are required for data transfer.

Why you should choose Direct Routing?

After looking at the comparison between direct and indirect routing, let us now see why direct routing is a better option:

  1. It is a cost-effective solution.

  2. Direct routing is an efficient process as:

    1. It helps in the optimal transfer of data from sender to receiver.

    2. There is no redundancy in sending data through intermediate nodes.

    3. It eliminates the additional links present in the indirect route.

  3. The process solves the Triangular Routing problem (data transfer through intermediate nodes).

Post the pandemic, as the businesses continue to evolve, there is a tremendous increase in remote working opportunities. Therefore, the demand for direct routing for Microsoft Teams has soared to a greater height.

Direct Routing for Microsoft Teams

Direct routing for MS Teams

Direct routing with Microsoft Teams allows users more flexibility in voice calling, among other benefits discussed before. MS Teams is a unified communication platform where we can perform voice calling, messaging, meetings, and document sharing. When coupled with direct routing, MS Teams becomes the best voice calling solution for business. Many enterprises have already implemented direct routing solution for MS Teams because of the following reasons:

  • It helps Teams and non-Teams users to communicate with each other.

  • It gives easy deployment options to companies as compared to Microsoft calling plans.

  • It improves flexibility as it replaces multiple carriers with one.

  • It helps companies in using their existing infrastructure without the use of new devices.

  • It provides cheaper monthly payments, better customer support, and coverage in all countries.


Indirect routing is the process of transmission of data through intermediate nodes. This leads to problems like addition of redundant nodes, excess cost, and lack of optimal data transfer. These challenges have been overcome by direct routing. During the pandemic, the workspace has shifted into a completely virtual mode. Enterprises have started realizing the potential of direct routing as a voice calling solution, and thereby, the adoption of direct routing for Microsoft Teams has risen by 894% as compared to February 2020.

Hence, going by the market scenario, we can soon see a world with direct routing enabled for their MS Teams as a norm.

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