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RFC 1937 - "Local/Remote" Forwarding Decision in Switched Data L


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Network Working Group                                         Y. Rekhter
Request for Comments: 1937                                 Cisco Systems
Category: Informational                                       D. Kandlur
                                  T.J. Watson Research Center, IBM Corp.
                                                                May 1996

  "Local/Remote" Forwarding Decision in Switched Data Link Subnetworks

Status of this Memo

   This memo provides information for the Internet community.  This memo
   does not specify an Internet standard of any kind.  Distribution of
   this memo is unlimited.

Abstract

   The IP architecture assumes that each Data Link subnetwork is labeled
   with a single IP subnet number. A pair of hosts with the same subnet
   number communicate directly  (with no routers); a pair of hosts with
   different subnet numbers always communicate through one or more
   routers. As indicated in RFC1620, these assumptions may be too
   restrictive for large data networks, and specifically for networks
   based on switched virtual circuit (SVC) based technologies (e.g. ATM,
   Frame Relay, X.25), as these assumptions impose constraints on
   communication among hosts and routers through a network.  The
   restrictions may preclude full utilization of the capabilities
   provided by the underlying SVC-based Data Link subnetwork.  This
   document describes extensions to the IP architecture that relaxes
   these constraints, thus enabling the full utilization of the services
   provided by SVC-based Data Link subnetworks.

1.  Background

   The following briefly recaptures the concept of the IP Subnet.  The
   topology is assumed to be composed of hosts and routers
   interconnected via links (Data Link subnetworks).  An IP address of a
   host with an interface attached to a particular link is a tuple
   <prefix length, address prefix, host number>, where host number is
   unique within the subnet address prefix.  When a host needs to send
   an IP packet to a destination, the host needs to determine whether
   the destination address identifies an interface that is connected to
   one of the links the host is attached to, or not.  This referred to
   as the "local/remote" decision. The outcome of the "local/remote"
   decision is based on (a) the destination address, and (b) the address
   and the prefix length associated with the the local interfaces.  If
   the outcome is "local", then the host resolves the IP address to a
   Link Layer address (e.g. by using ARP), and then sends the packet

   directly to that destination (using the Link layer services).  If the
   outcome is "remote", then the host uses one of its first-hop routers
   (thus relying on the services provided by IP routing).

   To summarize, two of the important attributes of the IP subnet model
   are:

      hosts with a common subnet address prefix are assumed to be
      attached to a common link (subnetwork), and thus communicate with
      each other directly, without any routers - "local";

      hosts with different subnet address prefixes are assumed to be
      attached to different links (subnetworks), and thus communicate
      with each other only through routers - "remote".

   A typical example of applying the IP subnet architecture to an SVC-
   based Data Link subnetwork is "Classical IP and ARP over ATM"
   (RFC1577).  RFC1577 provides support for ATM deployment that follows
   the traditional IP subnet model and introduces the notion of a
   Logical IP Subnetwork (LIS).  The consequence of this model is that a
   host is required to setup an ATM SVC to any host within its LIS; for
   destinations outside its LIS the host must forward packets through a
   router.  It is important to stress that this "local/remote" decision
   is based solely on the information carried by the destination address
   and the address and prefix lengths associated with the local
   interfaces.

2.  Motivations

   The diversity of TCP/IP applications results in a wide range of
   traffic characteristics.  Some applications last for a very short
   time and generate only a small number of packets between a pair of
   communicating hosts (e.g. ping, DNS). Other applications have a short
   lifetime, but generate a relatively large volume of packets (e.g.
   FTP). There are also applications that have a relatively long
   lifetime, but generate relatively few packets (e.g.  Telnet).
   Finally, we anticipate the emergence of applications that have a
   relatively long lifetime and generate a large volume of packets (e.g.
   video-conferencing).

   SVC-based Data Link subnetworks offer certain unique capabilities
   that are not present in other (non-SVC) subnetworks (e.g. Ethernet,
   Token Ring).  The ability to dynamically establish and tear-down SVCs
   between communicating entities attached to an SVC-based Data Link
   subnetwork enables the dynamic dedication and redistribution of
   certain communication resources (e.g. bandwidth) among the entities.
   This dedication and redistribution of resources could be accomplished
   by relying solely on the mechanism(s) provided by the Data Link

   layer.

   The unique capabilities provided by SVC-based Data Link subnetworks
   do not come "for free".  The mechanisms that provide dedication and
   redistribution of resources have certain overhead (e.g. the time
   needed to establish an SVC, resources associated with maintaining a
   state for an SVC). There may also be a monetary cost associated with
   establishing and maintaining an SVC. Therefore, it is very important
   to be cognizant of such an overhead and to carefully balance the
   benefits provided by the mechanisms against the overhead introduced
   by such mechanisms.

   One of the key issues for using SVC-based Data Link subnetworks in
   the TCP/IP environment is the issue of switched virtual circuit (SVC)
   management.  This includes SVC establishment and tear-down, class of
   service specification, and SVC sharing.  At one end of the spectrum
   one could require SVC establishment between communicating entities
   (on a common Data Link subnetwork) for any application. At the other
   end of the spectrum, one could require communicating entities to
   always go through a router, regardless of the application.  Given the
   diversity of TCP/IP applications, either extreme is likely to yield a
   suboptimal solution with respect to the ability to efficiently
   exploit capabilities provided by the underlying Data Link layer.

   The traditional IP subnet model is too restrictive for flexible and
   adaptive use of SVC-based Data Link subnetworks - the use of a
   subnetwork is driven by information completely unrelated to the
   characteristics of individual applications.  To illustrate the
   problem consider "Classical IP and ARP over ATM" (RFC1577).  RFC1577
   provides support for ATM deployment that follows the traditional IP
   subnet model, and introduces the notion of a Logical IP Subnetwork
   (LIS).  The consequence of this model is that a host is required to
   setup an SVC to any host within its LIS, and it must forward packets
   to destinations outside its LIS through a router.  This
   "local/remote" forwarding decision, and consequently the SVC
   management, is based solely on the information carried in the source
   and destination addresses and the subnet mask associated with the
   source address and has no relation to the nature of the applications
   that generated these packets.

3.  QoS/Traffic Driven "Local/Remote" Decision

   Consider a host attached to an SVC-based Data Link subnetwork, and
   assume that the "local/remote" decision the host could make is not
   constrained by the IP subnet model. When such a host needs to send a
   packet to a destination, the host might consider any of the following
   options:

      Use a best-effort SVC to the first hop router.

      Use an SVC to the first hop router dedicated to a particular type
      of service (ie: predictive real time).

      Use a dedicated SVC to the first hop router.

      Use a best-effort SVC to a router closer to the destination than
      the first hop router.

      Use an SVC to a router closer to the destination than the first
      hop router dedicated to a particular type of service.

      Use a dedicated SVC to a router closer to the destination than the
      first hop router.

      Use a best-effort SVC directly to the destination (if the
      destination is on the same Data Link subnetwork as the host).

      Use an SVC directly to the destination dedicated to a particular
      type of service (if the destination is on the same Data Link
      subnetwork as the host).

      Use a dedicated SVC directly to the destination (if the
      destination is on the same Data Link subnetwork as the host).

   In the above we observe that the forwarding decision at the host is
   more flexible than the "local/remote" decision of the IP subnet
   model. We also observe that the host's forwarding decision may take
   into account QoS and/or traffic requirements of the applications
   and/or cost factors associated with establishing and maintaining a
   VC, and thus improve the overall SVC management. Therefore, removing
   constraints imposed by the IP subnet model is an important step
   towards better SVC management.

3.1 Extending the scope of possible "local" outcomes

   A source may have an SVC (either dedicated or shared) to a
   destination if both the source and the destination are on a common
   Data Link subnetwork. The ability to create and use the SVC (either
   dedicated or shared) is completely decoupled from the source and
   destination IP addresses, but is instead coupled to the QoS and/or
   traffic characteristics of the application. In other words, the
   ability to establish a direct VC (either dedicated or shared) between
   a pair of hosts on a common Data Link subnetwork has nothing to do
   with the IP addresses of the hosts. In contrast with the IP subnet
   model (or the LIS mode), the "local" outcome becomes divorced from
   the addressing information.

3.2 Allowing the "remote" outcome where applicable

   A source may go through one or more routers to reach a destination if
   either (a) the destination is not on the same Data Link subnetwork as
   the source, or (b) the destination is on the same Data Link
   subnetwork as the source, but the QoS and/or traffic requirements of
   the application on the source do not justify a direct (either
   dedicated or shared) VC.

   When the destination is not on the same Data Link subnetwork as the
   source, the source may select between either (a) using its first-hop
   (default) router, or (b) establishing a "shortcut" to a router closer
   to the destination than the first-hop router.  The source should be
   able to select between these two choices irrespective of the source
   and destination IP addresses.

   When the destination is on the same Data Link subnetwork as the
   source, but the QoS and/or traffic requirements do not justify a
   direct VC, the source should be able to go through a router
   irrespective of the source and destination IP addresses.

   In contrast with the IP subnet model (or the LIS model) the "remote"
   outcome, and its particular option (first-hop router versus router
   closer to the destination than the first-hop router), becomes
   decoupled from the addressing information.

3.3 Sufficient conditions for direct connectivity

   The ability of a host to establish an SVC to a peer  on a common
   switched Data Link subnetwork is predicated on its knowledge  of the
   Link Layer address of the peer or an intermediate point closer to the
   destination.  This document assumes the existence of mechanism(s)
   that can provide the host with this information. Some of the possible
   alternatives are NHRP, ARP, or static configuration; other
   alternatives are not precluded.  The ability to acquire the Link
   Layer address of the peer should not be viewed as an indication that
   the host and the peer can establish an SVC - the two may be on
   different Data Link subnetworks, or may be on a common Data Link
   subnetwork that is partitioned.

3.4 Some of the implications

   Since the "local/remote" decision would depend on factors other than
   the addresses of the source and the destination, a pair of hosts may
   simultaneously be using two different means to reach each other,
   forwarding traffic for applications with different QoS/and or traffic
   characteristics differently.

3.5 Address assignment

   It is expected that if the total number of hosts and routers on a
   common SVC-based Data Link subnetwork is sufficiently large, then the
   hosts and routers could be partitioned into groups, called Local
   Addressing Groups (LAGs). Each LAG would have hosts and routers. The
   routers within a LAG would act as the first-hop routers for the hosts
   in the LAG. If the total number of hosts and routers is not large,
   then all these hosts and routers could form a single LAG. Criteria
   for determining LAG sizes are outside the scope of this document.

   To provide scalable routing each LAG should be given an IP address
   prefix, and elements within the LAG should be assigned addresses out
   of this prefix. The routers in a LAG would then advertise (via
   appropriate routing protocols) routes to the prefix associated with
   the LAG. These routes would be advertised as "directly reachable"
   (with metric 0). Thus, routers within a LAG would act as the last-hop
   routers for the hosts within the LAG.

4. Conclusions

   Different approaches to SVC-based Data Link subnetworks used by
   TCP/IP yield substantially different results with respect to the
   ability of TCP/IP applications to efficiently exploit the
   functionality provided by such subnetworks.  For example, in the case
   of ATM both LAN Emulation [LANE] and "classical" IP over ATM
   [RFC1577] localize host changes below the IP layer, and therefore may
   be good first steps in the ATM deployment.  However, these approaches
   alone are likely to be inadequate for the full utilization of ATM.

   It appears that any model that does not allow SVC management based on
   QoS and/or traffic requirements will preempt the full use of SVC-
   based Data Link subnetworks.  Enabling more direct connectivity for
   applications that could benefit from the functionality provided by
   SVC-based Data Link subnetworks, while relying on strict hop by hop
   paths for other applications, could facilitate exploration of the
   capabilities provided by these subnetworks.

   While this document does not define any specific coupling between
   various QoS, traffic characteristics and other parameters, and SVC
   management, it is important to stress that efforts towards
   standardization of various QoS, traffic characteristics, and other
   parameters than an application could use (through an appropriate API)
   to influence SVC management are essential for flexible and adaptive
   use of SVC-based Data Link subnetworks.

   The proposed model utilizes the SVC-based infrastructure for the
   applications that could benefit from the capabilities supported
   within such an infrastructure, and takes advantage of a router-based
   overlay for all other applications.  As such it provides a balanced
   mix of router-based and switch-based infrastructures, where the
   balance could be determined by the applications requirements.

5. Security Considerations

   Security issues are not discussed in this memo.

6. Acknowledgements

   The authors would like to thank Joel Halpern (NewBridge), Allison
   Mankin (ISI), Tony Li (cisco Systems), Andrew Smith (BayNetworks),
   and Curtis Villamizar (ANS) for their review and comments.

References

   [LANE] "LAN Emulation over ATM specification - version 1", ATM Forum,
   Feb.95.

   [Postel 81] Postel, J., Sunshine, C., Cohen, D., "The ARPA Internet
   Protocol", Computer Networks, 5, pp. 261-271, 1983.

   [RFC792]  Postel, J., "Internet Control Message Protocol- DARPA
   Internet Program Protocol Specification", STD 5, RFC 792, ISI,
   September 1981.

   [RFC1122]  Braden, R., Editor, "Requirements for Internet Hosts -
   Communication Layers", STD 3, RFC 1122, USC/ISI, October 1989.

   [RFC1577] Laubach, M., "Classical IP and ARP over ATM", January 1994.

   [RFC1620] Braden, R., Postel, J., Rekhter, Y., "Internet Architecture
   Extensions for Shared Media", May 1994.

   [RFC1755] Perez, M., Liaw, F., Grossman, D., Mankin, A., Hoffman, E.,
   Malis, A., "ATM Signalling Support for IP over ATM", January 1995.

14.  Authors' Addresses

   Yakov Rekhter
   Cisco Systems
   170 West Tasman Drive,
   San Jose, CA 95134-1706

   Phone:  (914) 528-0090
   EMail:  yakov@cisco.com

   Dilip Kandlur
   T.J. Watson Research Center IBM Corporation
   P.O. Box 704
   Yorktown Heights, NY 10598

   Phone:  (914) 784-7722
   EMail:  kandlur@watson.ibm.com

 

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