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RFC 5057 - Multiple Dialog Usages in the Session Initiation Prot

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Network Working Group                                          R. Sparks
Request for Comments: 5057                              Estacado Systems
Category: Informational                                    November 2007

       Multiple Dialog Usages in the Session Initiation Protocol

Status of This Memo

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


   Several methods in the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) can create
   an association between endpoints known as a dialog.  Some of these
   methods can also create a different, but related, association within
   an existing dialog.  These multiple associations, or dialog usages,
   require carefully coordinated processing as they have independent
   life-cycles, but share common dialog state.  Processing multiple
   dialog usages correctly is not completely understood.  What is
   understood is difficult to implement.

   This memo argues that multiple dialog usages should be avoided.  It
   discusses alternatives to their use and clarifies essential behavior
   for elements that cannot currently avoid them.

   This is an informative document and makes no normative statements of
   any kind.

Table of Contents

   1.  Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  2
   2.  Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  2
   3.  Examples of Multiple Usages  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
     3.1.  Transfer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
     3.2.  Reciprocal Subscription  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
   4.  Usage Creation and Destruction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
     4.1.  Invite Usages  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
     4.2.  Subscribe usages . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
   5.  Proper Handling of Multiple Usages . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
     5.1.  A Survey of the Effect of Failure Responses on Usages
           and Dialogs  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
     5.2.  Transaction Timeouts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
     5.3.  Matching Requests to Usages  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
     5.4.  Target Refresh Requests  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
     5.5.  Refreshing and Terminating Usages  . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
     5.6.  Refusing New Usages  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
     5.7.  Replacing Usages . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
   6.  Avoiding Multiple Usages . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
   7.  Security Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
   8.  Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
   9.  Acknowledgments  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
   10. Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24

1.  Overview

   This is an informative document.  It makes no normative statements of
   any kind.  This document refines the concept of a dialog usage in the
   Session Initiation Protocol (SIP [1]), and discusses what led to its
   existence.  It explores ambiguity associated with processing multiple
   dialog usages that share a dialog.  In particular, it surveys the
   effect of SIP failure responses on transaction, dialog usage, and
   dialog state.  This document will help the implementer understand
   what is required to process multiple dialog usages correctly, and
   will provide information for future standards-track work that will
   clarify RFC 3261 and other related documents.  Finally, the document
   explores single-usage dialog alternatives (using SIP extensions) to
   multiple dialog usages.

2.  Introduction

   Several methods in SIP can establish a dialog.  When they do so, they
   also establish an association between the endpoints within that
   dialog.  This association has been known for some time as a "dialog
   usage" in the developer community.  A dialog initiated with an INVITE
   request has an invite usage.  A dialog initiated with a SUBSCRIBE

   request has a subscribe usage.  A dialog initiated with a REFER
   request has a subscribe usage.

   Dialogs with multiple usages arise when a usage-creating action
   occurs inside an existing dialog.  Such actions include accepting a
   REFER or SUBSCRIBE issued inside a dialog established with an INVITE
   request.  Multiple REFERs within a dialog create multiple
   subscriptions, each of which is a new dialog usage sharing common
   dialog state.  (Note that any REFER issued utilizing the
   subscription-suppression mechanism specified in [2] creates no new
   usage.)  Similarly, an endpoint in a dialog established with an
   INVITE might subscribe to its peer's Key Press Markup Language (KPML)
   [3] and later issue a REFER, resulting in three dialog usages sharing
   common dialog state.

   The common state in the dialog shared by any usages is exactly:

   o  the Call-ID

   o  the local Tag

   o  the remote Tag

   o  the local CSeq

   o  the remote CSeq

   o  the Route-set

   o  the local contact

   o  the remote target

   o  the secure flag

   Usages have state that is not shared in the dialog.  For example, a
   subscription has a duration, along with other usage-specific state.
   Multiple subscriptions in the same dialog each have their own

   A dialog comes into existence with the creation of the first usage,
   and continues to exist until the last usage is terminated (reference
   counting).  Unfortunately, many of the usage management aspects of
   SIP, such as authentication, were originally designed with the
   implicit assumption that there was one usage per dialog.  The
   resulting mechanisms have mixed effects, some influencing the usage,
   and some influencing the entire dialog.

   The current specifications define two usages, invite and subscribe.
   A dialog can share up to one invite usage and arbitrarily many
   subscribe usages.

   Because RFC 3261 [1] states that user-agents should reuse Call-ID and
   increment CSeq across a series of registration requests (and that to-
   tags appear in register responses in some of the examples), some
   implementations have treated REGISTER as if it were in a dialog.
   However, RFC 3261 explicitly calls out that REGISTER does not create
   a dialog.  A series of REGISTER requests does not create any usage or
   dialog.  Similarly, PUBLISH [4] does not create any usage or dialog.

3.  Examples of Multiple Usages

3.1.  Transfer

   In Figure 1, Alice transfers a call she received from Bob to Carol.
   A dialog (and an invite dialog usage) between Alice and Bob comes
   into being with the 200 OK labeled F1.  A second usage (a
   subscription to event refer) comes into being with the NOTIFY labeled
   F2.  This second usage ends when the subscription is terminated by
   the NOTIFY transaction labeled F3.  The dialog still has one usage
   (the invite usage), which lasts until the BYE transaction labeled F4.
   At this point, the dialog has no remaining usages, so it ceases to
   exist.  Details of each of these messages are shown in Figure 2.

                                Alice              Bob         Carol
                                  |    INVITE       |            |
                                  |<----------------|            |
    Dialog 1  Usage 1             |    200 OK (F1)  |            |
    -start-   -start- ----------->|---------------->|            |
       |         |                |    ACK          |            |
       |         |                |<----------------|            |
       |         |                | reINVITE/200/ACK|            |
       |         |                |   (hold)        |            |
       |         |                |---------------->|            |
       |         |                |   REFER         |            |
       |         |     Dialog 1   |---------------->|            |
       |         |     Usage 2    |   NOTIFY (F2)   |            |
       |         |     -start- -->|<----------------| INVITE     |
       |         |        |       |   200 NOTIFY    |----------->|
       |         |        |       |---------------->| 200 OK     |
       |         |        |       |   200 REFER     |<-----------|
       |         |        |       |<----------------| ACK        |
       |         |        |       |   NOTIFY (F3)   |----------->|
       |         |        |       |<----------------|            |
       |         |        |       |   200           |     .      |
       |         |      -end-  -->|---------------->|     .      |
       |         |                |   BYE (F4)      |  Dialog 2  |
       |         |                |<----------------|  proceeds  |
       |         |                |   200           |     .      |
     -end-     -end- ------------>|---------------->|     .      |

                                 Figure 1

     Message Details (abridged to show only dialog or usage details)
       SIP/2.0 200 OK
       Call-ID: dialog1@bob.example.com
       CSeq: 100 INVITE
       To: <sip:Alice@alice.example.com>;tag=alicetag1
       From: <sip:Bob@bob.example.com>;tag=bobtag1
       Contact: <sip:aliceinstance@alice.example.com>

       NOTIFY sip:aliceinstance@alice.example.com SIP/2.0
       Event: refer
       Call-ID: dialog1@bob.example.com
       CSeq: 101 NOTIFY
       To: <sip:Alice@alice.example.com>;tag=alicetag1
       From: <sip:Bob@bob.example.com>;tag=bobtag1
       Contact: <sip:bobinstance@bob.example.com>

       NOTIFY sip:aliceinstance@alice.example.com SIP/2.0
       Event: refer
       Subscription-State: terminated;reason=noresource
       Call-ID: dialog1@bob.example.com
       CSeq: 102 NOTIFY
       To: <sip:Alice@alice.example.com>;tag=alicetag1
       From: <sip:Bob@bob.example.com>;tag=bobtag1
       Contact: <sip:bobinstance@bob.example.com>
       Content-Type: message/sipfrag

       SIP/2.0 200 OK

       BYE sip:aliceinstance@alice.example.com SIP/2.0
       Call-ID: dialog1@bob.example.com
       CSeq: 103 BYE
       To: <sip:Alice@alice.example.com>;tag=alicetag1
       From: <sip:Bob@bob.example.com>;tag=bobtag1
       Contact: <sip:bobinstance@bob.example.com>

                                 Figure 2

3.2.  Reciprocal Subscription

   In Figure 3, Alice subscribes to Bob's presence.  For simplicity,
   assume Bob and Alice are both serving their presence from their
   endpoints instead of a presence server.  To focus on the essential
   points, the figure leaves out any rendezvous signaling through which
   Alice discovers Bob's endpoint.

   Bob is interested in Alice's presence too, so he subscribes to Alice
   (in most deployed presence/IM systems, people watch each other).  He
   decides to skip the rendezvous step since he's already in a dialog
   with Alice, and sends his SUBSCRIBE inside that dialog (a few early
   SIMPLE clients behaved exactly this way).

   The dialog and its first usage comes into being at F1, which
   establishes Alice's subscription to Bob.  Its second usage begins at
   F2, which establishes Bob's subscription to Alice.  These two
   subscriptions are independent - they have distinct and different
   expirations, but they share all the dialog state.

   The first usage ends when Alice decides to unsubscribe at F3.  Bob's
   subscription to Alice, and thus the dialog, continues to exist.
   Alice's UA must maintain this dialog state even though the
   subscription that caused it to exist in the first place is now over.
   The second usage ends when Alice decides to terminate Bob's

   subscription at F4 (she's probably going to reject any attempt on
   Bob's part to resubscribe until she's ready to subscribe to Bob
   again).  Since this was the last usage, the dialog also terminates.
   Details of these messages are shown in Figure 4.

                               Alice                 Bob
                                 |                    |
                                 | SUBSCRIBE          |
    Dialog    Usage 1            | NOTIFY (F1)        |
    -start-   -start-  --------->|<-------------------|
       |         |               | 200 SUBSCRIBE      |
       |         |               |<-------------------|
       |         |               | 200 NOTIFY         |
       |         |               |------------------->|
       |         |               | SUBSCRIBE          |
       |         |               |<-------------------|
       |         |    Usage 2    | NOTIFY (F2)        |
       |         |    -start- -->|------------------->|
       |         |       |       | 200 SUBSCRIBE
       |         |       |       |------------------->|
       |         |       |       | 200 NOTIFY         |
       |         |       |       |<-------------------|
       |         |       |       |         :          |
       |         |       |       |         :          |
       |         |       |       | (un)SUBSCRIBE (F3) |
       |         |       |       |------------------->|
       |         |       |       | 200                |
       |         |       |       |<-------------------|
       |         |       |       | NOTIFY             |
       |         |       |       |<-------------------|
       |         |       |       | 200                |
       |       -end- ----------->|------------------->|
       |                 |       |         :          |
       |                 |       |         :          |
       |                 |       | NOTIFY        (F4) |
       |                 |       | (Terminated)       |
       |                 |       |------------------->|
       |                 |       | 200                |
     -end-             -end-  -->|<-------------------|
                                 |                    |

                                 Figure 3

     Message Details (abridged to show only dialog or usage details)
       NOTIFY sip:aliceinstance@alice.example.com SIP/2.0
       Event: presence
       Subscription-State: active;expires=600
       Call-ID: alicecallid1@alice.example.com
       From: <sip:Bob@bob.example.com>;tag=bobtag2
       To: <sip:Alice@alice.example.com>;tag=alicetag2
       CSeq: 100 NOTIFY
       Contact: <sip:bobinstance@bob.example.com>

       NOTIFY sip:bobinstance@bob.example.com SIP/2.0
       Event: presence
       Subscription-State: active;expires=1200
       Call-ID: alicecallid1@alice.example.com
       To: <sip:Bob@bob.example.com>;tag=bobtag2
       From: <sip:Alice@alice.example.com>;tag=alicetag2
       CSeq: 500 NOTIFY
       Contact: <sip:aliceinstance@alice.example.com>

       SUBSCRIBE sip:bobinstance@bob.example.com SIP/2.0
       Event: presence
       Expires: 0
       Call-ID: alicecallid1@alice.example.com
       To: <sip:Bob@bob.example.com>;tag=bobtag2
       From: <sip:Alice@alice.example.com>;tag=alicetag2
       CSeq: 501 SUBSCRIBE
       Contact: <sip:aliceinstance@alice.example.com>

       NOTIFY sip:bobinstance@bob.example.com SIP/2.0
       Event: presence
       Subscription-State: terminated;reason=deactivated
       Call-ID: alicecallid1@alice.example.com
       To: <sip:Bob@bob.example.com>;tag=bobtag2
       From: <sip:Alice@alice.example.com>;tag=alicetag2
       CSeq: 502 NOTIFY
       Contact: <sip:aliceinstance@alice.example.com>

                                 Figure 4

4.  Usage Creation and Destruction

   Dialogs come into existence along with their first usage.  Dialogs
   terminate when their last usage is destroyed.  The messages that
   create and destroy usages vary per usage.  This section provides a
   high-level categorization of those messages.  The section does not
   attempt to explore the REGISTER pseudo-dialog.

4.1.  Invite Usages

   Created by:  non-100 provisional responses to INVITE; 200 response to

   Destroyed by:  200 responses to BYE; certain failure responses to
      INVITE, UPDATE, PRACK, INFO, or BYE; anything that destroys a
      dialog and all its usages

4.2.  Subscribe usages

   Created by:  200 class responses to SUBSCRIBE; 200 class responses to
      REFER; NOTIFY requests

   Destroyed by:  200 class responses to NOTIFY-terminated; NOTIFY or
      refresh-SUBSCRIBE request timeout; certain failure responses to
      NOTIFY or SUBSCRIBE; expiration without refresh if network issues
      prevent the terminal NOTIFY from arriving; anything that destroys
      a dialog and all its usages

5.  Proper Handling of Multiple Usages

   The examples in Section 3 show straightforward cases where it is
   fairly obvious when the dialog begins and ends.  Unfortunately, there
   are many scenarios where such clarity is not present.  For instance,
   in Figure 1, what would it mean if the response to the NOTIFY (F2)
   were a 481?  Does that simply terminate the refer subscription, or
   does it destroy the entire dialog?  This section explores the problem
   areas with multiple usages that have been identified to date.

5.1.  A Survey of the Effect of Failure Responses on Usages and Dialogs

   For this survey, consider a subscribe usage inside a dialog
   established with an invite usage.  Unless stated otherwise, we'll
   discuss the effect on each usage and the dialog when a client issuing
   a NOTIFY inside the subscribe usage receives a failure response (such
   as a transferee issuing a NOTIFY to event refer).  Further, unless
   otherwise stated, the conclusions apply to arbitrary multiple usages.
   This survey is written from the perspective of a client receiving the

   error response.  The effect on dialogs and usages at the server
   issuing the response is the same.

   3xx responses:  Redirection mid-dialog is not well understood in SIP,
      but whatever effect it has impacts the entire dialog and all of
      its usages equally.  In our example scenario, both the
      subscription and the invite usage would be redirected by this
      single response.

   For the failure responses with code 400 and greater, there are three
   common ways the failure can affect the transaction, usage, and dialog

   Transaction Only  The error affects only the transaction, not the
      usage or dialog the transaction occurs in (beyond affecting the
      local CSeq).  Any other usage of the dialog is unaffected.  The
      error is a complaint about this transaction, not the usage or
      dialog that the transaction occurs in.

   Destroys Usage  The error destroys the usage, but not the dialog.
      Any other usages sharing this dialog are not affected.

   Destroys Dialog  The error destroys the dialog and all usages sharing

   Table 1 and Table 2 display how the various codes affect transaction,
   usage, or dialog state.  Response code specific comments or
   exceptions follow the table.

        |   Transaction Only   | Destroys Usage | Destroys Dialog |
        | 400 (or unknown 4xx) |    405, 480    |  404, 410, 416  |
        |  401, 402, 403, 406  |    481, 489    |     482, 483    |
        |   407, 408, 412-415  |       501      |     484, 485    |
        |  417, 420, 421, 422  |                |     502, 604    |
        |     423, 428, 429    |                |                 |
        |   436-438, 486, 487  |                |                 |
        |  488, 491, 493, 494  |                |                 |
        | 500 (or unknown 5xx) |                |                 |
        |     503, 504, 505    |                |                 |
        |       513, 580       |                |                 |
        | 600 (or unknown 6xx) |                |                 |
        |       603, 606       |                |                 |

                                  Table 1

    |   Code  | Reason                          |    Impact   | Notes |
    | 400/4xx | Bad Request                     | Transaction |       |
    |   401   | Unauthorized                    | Transaction |       |
    |   402   | Payment Required                | Transaction |  (1)  |
    |   403   | Forbidden                       | Transaction |       |
    |   404   | Not Found                       |    Dialog   |  (2)  |
    |   405   | Method Not Allowed              |    Usage    |  (3)  |
    |   406   | Not Acceptable                  | Transaction |       |
    |   407   | Proxy Authentication Required   | Transaction |       |
    |   408   | Request Timeout                 | Transaction |  (4)  |
    |   410   | Gone                            |    Dialog   |  (2)  |
    |   412   | Conditional Request Failed      | Transaction |       |
    |   413   | Request Entity Too Large        | Transaction |       |
    |   414   | Request-URI Too Long            | Transaction |       |
    |   415   | Unsupported Media Type          | Transaction |       |
    |   416   | Unsupported URI Scheme          |    Dialog   |  (2)  |
    |   417   | Unknown Resource-Priority       | Transaction |       |
    |   420   | Bad Extension                   | Transaction |       |
    |   421   | Extension Required              | Transaction |       |
    |   422   | Session Interval Too Small      | Transaction |  (5)  |
    |   423   | Interval Too Brief              | Transaction |       |
    |   428   | Use Identity Header             | Transaction |       |
    |   429   | Provide Referrer Identity       | Transaction |  (6)  |
    |   436   | Bad Identity-Info               | Transaction |       |
    |   437   | Unsupported Certificate         | Transaction |       |
    |   438   | Invalid Identity Header         | Transaction |       |
    |   480   | Temporarily Unavailable         |    Usage    |  (7)  |
    |   481   | Call/Transaction Does Not Exist |    Usage    |  (8)  |
    |   482   | Loop Detected                   |    Dialog   |  (9)  |
    |   483   | Too Many Hops                   |    Dialog   |  (10) |
    |   484   | Address Incomplete              |    Dialog   |  (2)  |
    |   485   | Ambiguous                       |    Dialog   |  (2)  |
    |   486   | Busy Here                       | Transaction |  (11) |
    |   487   | Request Terminated              | Transaction |       |
    |   488   | Not Acceptable Here             | Transaction |       |
    |   489   | Bad Event                       |    Usage    |  (12) |
    |   491   | Request Pending                 | Transaction |       |
    |   493   | Undecipherable                  | Transaction |       |
    |   494   | Security Agreement Required     | Transaction |       |
    | 500/5xx | Server Internal Error           | Transaction |  (13) |
    |   501   | Not Implemented                 |    Usage    |  (3)  |
    |   502   | Bad Gateway                     |    Dialog   |  (14) |
    |   503   | Service Unavailable             | Transaction |  (15) |
    |   504   | Server Time-Out                 | Transaction |  (16) |
    |   505   | Version Not Supported           | Transaction |       |
    |   513   | Message Too Large               | Transaction |       |

    |   580   | Precondition Failure            | Transaction |       |
    | 600/6xx | Busy Everywhere                 | Transaction |  (17) |
    |   603   | Decline                         | Transaction |       |
    |   604   | Does Not Exist Anywhere         |    Dialog   |  (2)  |
    |   606   | Not Acceptable                  | Transaction |       |

                                  Table 2

   (1) 402 Payment Required:  This is a reserved response code.  If
      encountered, it should be treated as an unrecognized 4xx.

   (2) 404 Not Found:

       410 Gone:

       416 Unsupported URI Scheme:

       484 Address Incomplete:

       485 Ambiguous:

       604 Does Not Exist Anywhere:

      The Request-URI that is being rejected is the remote target set by
      the Contact provided by the peer.  Getting this response means
      that something has gone fundamentally wrong with the dialog state.

   (3) 405 Method Not Allowed:

       501 Not Implemented:

      Either of these responses would be aberrant in our example
      scenario since support for the NOTIFY method is required by the
      usage.  In this case, the UA knows the condition is unrecoverable
      and should stop sending NOTIFYs on the usage.  Any refresh
      subscriptions should be rejected.  In general, these errors will
      affect at most the usage.  If the request was not integral to the
      usage (it used an unknown method, or was an INFO inside an INVITE
      usage, for example), only the transaction will be affected.

   (4) 408 Request Timeout:  Receiving a 408 will have the same effect
      on usages and dialogs as a real transaction timeout as described
      in Section 5.2.

   (5) 422 Session Interval Too Small:  This response does not make
      sense for any mid-usage request.  If it is received, an element in
      the path of the request is violating protocol, and the recipient
      should treat this as it would an unknown 4xx response.

   (6) 429 Provide Referrer Identity:  This response won't be returned
      to a NOTIFY as in our example scenario, but when it is returned to
      a REFER, it is objecting only to the REFER request itself.

   (7) 480 Temporarily Unavailable:  RFC 3261 is unclear on what this
      response means for mid-usage requests.  Future updates to that
      specification are expected to clarify that this response affects
      only the usage in which the request occurs.  No other usages are
      affected.  If the response included a Retry-After header field,
      further requests in that usage should not be sent until the
      indicated time has past.  Requests in other usages may still be
      sent at any time.

   (8) 481 Call/Transaction Does Not Exist:  This response indicates
      that the peer has lost its copy of the dialog usage state.  The
      dialog itself should not be destroyed unless this was the last

      The effects of a 481 on a dialog and its usages are the most
      ambiguous of any final response.  There are implementations that
      have chosen the meaning recommended here, and others that destroy
      the entire dialog without regard to the number of outstanding
      usages.  Going forward with this clarification will allow those
      deployed implementations that assumed only the usage was destroyed
      to work with a wider number of implementations.  Existing
      implementations that destroy all other usages in the dialog will
      continue to function as they do now, except that peers following
      the recommendation will attempt to do things with the other usages
      and this element will return 481s for each of them until they are
      all gone.  However, the necessary clarification to RFC 3261 needs
      to make it very clear that the ability to terminate usages
      independently from the overall dialog using a 481 is not
      justification for designing new applications that count on
      multiple usages in a dialog.

      The 481 response to a CANCEL request has to be treated
      differently.  For CANCEL, a 481 means the UAS can't find a
      matching transaction.  A 481 response to a CANCEL affects only the
      CANCEL transaction.  The usage associated with the INVITE is not

   (9) 482 Loop Detected:  This response is aberrant mid-dialog.  It
      will only occur if the Record-Route header field were improperly
      constructed by the proxies involved in setting up the dialog's
      initial usage, or if a mid-dialog request forks and merges (which
      should never happen).  Future requests using this dialog state
      will also fail.

         An edge condition exists during RFC 3263 failover at the
         element sending a request, where the request effectively forks
         to multiple destinations from the client.  Some implementations
         increase risk entering this edge condition by trying the next
         potential location as determined by RFC 3263 very rapidly if
         the first does not immediately respond.  In any situation where
         a client sends the same request to more than one endpoint, it
         must be prepared to receive a response from each branch (and
         should choose a "best" response to act on following the same
         guidelines as a forking proxy).  In this particular race
         condition, if multiple branches respond, all but one will most
         likely return a 482 Merged Request.  The client should select
         the remaining non-482 response as the "best" response.

   (10) 483 Too Many Hops:  Similar to 482, receiving this mid-dialog is
      aberrant.  Unlike 482, recovery may be possible by increasing Max-
      Forwards (assuming that the requester did something strange like
      using a smaller value for Max-Forwards in mid-dialog requests than
      it used for an initial request).  If the request isn't tried with
      an increased Max-Forwards, then the agent should follow the
      Destroy Dialog actions.

   (11) 486 Busy Here:  This response is nonsensical in our example
      scenario, or in any scenario where this response comes inside an
      established usage.  If it occurs in that context, it should be
      treated as an unknown 4xx response.

   (12) 489 Bad Event:  In our example scenario, [5] declares that the
      subscription usage in which the NOTIFY is sent is terminated.
      This response is only valid in the context of SUBSCRIBE and
      NOTIFY.  UAC behavior for receiving this response to other methods
      is not specified, but treating it as an unknown 4xx is a
      reasonable practice.

   (13) 500 and 5xx unrecognized responses:  If the response contains a
      Retry-After header field value, the server thinks the condition is
      temporary, and the request can be retried after the indicated
      interval.  If the response does not contain a Retry-After header
      field value, the UA may decide to retry after an interval of its
      choosing or attempt to gracefully terminate the usage.  Whether or
      not to terminate other usages depends on the application.  If the

      UA receives a 500 (or unrecognized 5xx) in response to an attempt
      to gracefully terminate this usage, it can treat this usage as
      terminated.  If this is the last usage sharing the dialog, the
      dialog is also terminated.

   (14) 502 Bad Gateway:  This response is aberrant mid-dialog.  It will
      only occur if the Record-Route header field were improperly
      constructed by the proxies involved in setting up the dialog's
      initial usage.  Future requests using this dialog state will also

   (15) 503 Service Unavailable:  As per [6], the logic handling
      locating SIP servers for transactions may handle 503 requests
      (effectively, sequentially forking at the endpoint based on DNS
      results).  If this process does not yield a better response, a 503
      may be returned to the transaction user.  Like a 500 response, the
      error is a complaint about this transaction, not the usage.
      Because this response occurred in the context of an established
      usage (hence an existing dialog), the route-set has already been
      formed and any opportunity to try alternate servers (as
      recommended in [1]) has been exhausted by the RFC3263 logic.

   (16) 504 Server Time-out:  It is not obvious under what circumstances
      this response would be returned to a request in an existing

   (17) 600 and 6xx unrecognized responses:  Unlike 400 Bad Request, a
      600 response code says something about the recipient user, not the
      request that was made.  This end user is stating an unwillingness
      to communicate.  If the response contains a Retry-After header
      field value, the user is indicating willingness to communicate
      later and the request can be retried after the indicated interval.
      This usage, and any other usages sharing the dialog are
      unaffected.  If the response does not contain a Retry-After header
      field value, the UA may decide to retry after an interval of its
      choosing or attempt to gracefully terminate the usage.  Whether or
      not to terminate other usages depends on the application.  If the
      UA receives a 600 (or unrecognized 6xx) in response to an attempt
      to gracefully terminate this usage, it can treat this usage as
      terminated.  If this is the last usage sharing the dialog, the
      dialog is also terminated.

5.2.  Transaction Timeouts

   [1] states that a UAC should terminate a dialog (by sending a BYE) if
   no response is received for a request sent within a dialog.  This
   recommendation should have been limited to the invite usage instead
   of the whole dialog. [5] states that a timeout for a NOTIFY removes a

   subscription, but a SUBSCRIBE that fails with anything other than a
   481 does not.  Given these statements, it is unclear whether a
   refresh SUBSCRIBE issued in a dialog shared with an invite usage
   destroys either usage or the dialog if it times out.

   Generally, a transaction timeout should affect only the usage in
   which the transaction occurred.  Other uses sharing the dialog should
   not be affected.  In the worst case of timeout due to total transport
   failure, it may require multiple failed messages to remove all usages
   from a dialog (at least one per usage).

   There are some mid-dialog messages that never belong to any usage.
   If they timeout, they will have no effect on the dialog or its

5.3.  Matching Requests to Usages

   For many mid-dialog requests, identifying the usage they belong to is
   obvious.  A dialog can have at most one invite usage, so any INVITE,
   UPDATE, PRACK, ACK, CANCEL, BYE, or INFO requests belong to it.  The
   usage (i.e. the particular subscription) SUBSCRIBE, NOTIFY, and REFER
   requests belong to can be determined from the Event header field of
   the request.  REGISTER requests within a (pseudo)-dialog belong to
   the registration usage.  (As mentioned before, implementations aren't
   mixing registration usages with other usages, so this document isn't
   exploring the consequences of that bad behavior).

   According to [1], "an OPTIONS request received within a dialog
   generates a 200 OK response that is identical to one constructed
   outside a dialog and does not have any impact on that dialog".  Thus,
   OPTIONS does not belong to any usage.  Only those failures discussed
   in Section 5.1 and Section 5.2 that destroy entire dialogs will have
   any effect on the usages sharing the dialog with a failed OPTIONS

   MESSAGE requests are discouraged inside a dialog.  Implementations
   are restricted from creating a usage for the purpose of carrying a
   sequence of MESSAGE requests (though some implementations use it that
   way, against the standard recommendation).  A failed MESSAGE
   occurring inside an existing dialog will have similar effects on the
   dialog and its usages as a failed OPTIONS request.

   Mid-dialog requests with unknown methods cannot be matched with a
   usage.  Servers will return a failure response (likely a 501).  The
   effect on the dialog and its usages at either the client or the
   server should be similar to that of a failed OPTIONS request.

   These guidelines for matching messages to usages (or determining
   there is no usage) apply equally when acting as a UAS, a UAC, or any
   third party tracking usage and dialog state by inspecting all
   messages between two endpoints.

5.4.  Target Refresh Requests

   Target refresh requests update the remote target of a dialog when
   they are successfully processed.  The currently defined target
   refresh requests are INVITE, UPDATE, SUBSCRIBE, NOTIFY, and REFER

   The remote target is part of the dialog state.  When a target refresh
   request affects it, it affects it for ALL usages sharing that dialog.
   If a subscription and invite usage are sharing a dialog, sending a
   refresh SUBSCRIBE with a different contact will cause reINVITEs from
   the peer to go to that different contact.

   A UAS will only update the remote target if it sends a 200 class
   response to a target refresh request.  A UAC will only update the
   remote target if it receives a 200 class response to a target refresh
   request.  Again, any update to a dialog's remote target affects all
   usages of that dialog.

   There is known ambiguity around the effects of provisional responses
   on remote targets that a future specification will attempt to
   clarify.  Furthermore, because the remote target is part of the
   dialog state, not any usage state, there is ambiguity in having
   target refresh requests in progress simultaneously on multiple usages
   in the same dialog.  Implementation designers should consider these
   conditions with care.

5.5.  Refreshing and Terminating Usages

   Subscription and registration usages expire over time and must be
   refreshed (with a refresh SUBSCRIBE, for example).  This expiration
   is usage state, not dialog state.  If several subscriptions share a
   dialog, refreshing one of them has no effect on the expiration of the

   Normal termination of a usage has no effect on other usages sharing
   the same dialog.  For instance, terminating a subscription with a
   NOTIFY/Subscription-State: terminated will not terminate an invite
   usage sharing its dialog.  Likewise, ending an invite usage with a
   BYE does not terminate any active Event: refer subscriptions
   established on that dialog.

5.6.  Refusing New Usages

   As the survey of the effect of failure responses shows, care must be
   taken when refusing a new usage inside an existing dialog.  Choosing
   the wrong response code will terminate the dialog and all of its
   usages.  Generally, returning a 603 Decline is the safest way to
   refuse a new usage.

5.7.  Replacing Usages

   [8] defines a mechanism through which one usage can replace another.
   It can be used, for example, to associate the two dialogs in which a
   transfer target is involved during an attended transfer.  It is
   written using the term "dialog", but its intent was only to affect
   the invite usage of the dialog it targets.  Any other usages inside
   that dialog are unaffected.  For some applications, the other usages
   may no longer make sense, and the application may terminate them as

   However, the interactions between Replaces and multiple dialog usages
   have not been well explored.  More discussion of this topic is
   needed.  Implementers should avoid this scenario completely.

6.  Avoiding Multiple Usages

   Processing multiple usages correctly is not completely understood.
   What is understood is difficult to implement and is very likely to
   lead to interoperability problems.  The best way to avoid the trouble
   that comes with such complexity is to avoid it altogether.

   When designing new applications or features that use SIP dialogs, do
   not require endpoints to construct multiple usages to participate in
   the application or use the feature.  When designing endpoints,
   address the existing multiple usage scenarios as best as possible.
   Outside those scenarios, if a peer attempts to create a second usage
   inside a dialog, refuse it.

   Unfortunately, there are existing applications, like transfer, that
   currently entail multiple usages, so the simple solution of "don't do
   it" will require some transitional work.  This section looks at the
   pressures that led to these existing multiple usages and suggests

   When executing a transfer, the transferor and transferee currently
   share an invite usage and a subscription usage within the dialog
   between them.  This is a result of sending the REFER request within
   the dialog established by the invite usage.  Implementations were led
   to this behavior by these primary problems:

   1.  There was no way to ensure that a REFER on a new dialog would
       reach the particular endpoint involved in a transfer.  Many
       factors, including details of implementations and changes in
       proxy routing between an INVITE and a REFER could cause the REFER
       to be sent to the wrong place.  Sending the REFER down the
       existing dialog ensured it got to the same endpoint with which
       the dialog was established.

   2.  It was unclear how to associate an existing invite usage with a
       REFER arriving on a new dialog, where it was completely obvious
       what the association was when the REFER came on the invite
       usage's dialog.

   3.  There were concerns with authorizing out-of-dialog REFERs.  The
       authorization policy for REFER in most implementations piggybacks
       on the authorization policy for INVITE (which is, in most cases,
       based simply on "I placed or answered this call").

   Globally Routable User Agent (UA) URIs (GRUUs) [9] have been defined
   specifically to address problem 1 by providing a URI that will reach
   one specific user-agent.  The Target-Dialog header field [10] was
   created to address problems 2 and 3.  This header field allows a
   request to indicate the dialog identifiers of some other dialog,
   providing association with the other dialog that can be used in an
   authorization decision.

   The Join [11] and Replaces [8] mechanisms can also be used to address
   problem 1.  When using this technique, a new request is sent outside
   any dialog with the expectation that it will fork to possibly many
   endpoints, including the one we're interested in.  This request
   contains a header field listing the dialog identifiers of a dialog in
   progress.  Only the endpoint holding a dialog matching those
   identifiers will accept the request.  The other endpoints the request
   may have forked to will respond with an error.  This mechanism is
   reasonably robust, failing only when the routing logic for out-of-
   dialog requests changes such that the new request does not arrive at
   the endpoint holding the dialog of interest.

   The reachability aspects of using a GRUU to address problem 1 can be
   combined with the association-with-other-dialogs aspects of the Join/
   Replaces and Target-Dialog mechanisms.  A REFER request sent out-of-
   dialog can be sent towards a GRUU, and identify an existing dialog as
   part of the context the receiver should use.  The Target-Dialog
   header field can be included in the REFER listing the dialog this
   REFER is associated with.  Figure 5 sketches how this could be used
   to achieve transfer without reusing a dialog.  For simplicity, the
   diagram and message details do not show the server at example.com

   that will be involved in routing the GRUU.  Refer to [9] for those

   Alice                             Bob                           Carol
     |                                |                              |
     | F1 INVITE (Bob's AOR)          |                              |
     |    Call-ID: (call-id one)      |                              |
     |    Contact: (Alice's-GRUU)     |                              |
     |------------------------------->|                              |
     | F2 200 OK                      |                              |
     |    To: <>;tag=totag1           |                              |
     |    From: <>;tag=fromtag1       |                              |
     |    Call-ID: (call-id one)      |                              |
     |    Contact: (Bob's-GRUU)       |                              |
     |<-------------------------------|                              |
     |    ACK                         |                              |
     |------------------------------->|                              |
     |             :                  |                              |
     |  (Bob places Alice on hold)    |                              |
     |             :                  | F3 INVITE (Carol's AOR)      |
     |                                |    Call-ID: (call-id two)    |
     |                                |    Contact: (Bob's-GRUU)     |
     |                                |----------------------------->|
     |                                | F4 200 OK                    |
     |                                |    To: <>;tag=totag2         |
     |                                |    From: <>;tag=fromtag2     |
     |                                |    Call-ID: (call-id two)    |
     |                                |    Contact: (Carol's-GRUU)   |
     |                                |<-----------------------------|
     |                                |    ACK                       |
     |                                |----------------------------->|
     |                                |            :                 |
     |                                |  (Bob places Carol on hold)  |
     | F5 REFER (Alice's-GRUU)        |            :                 |
     |    Call-ID: (call-id three)    |                              |
     |    Refer-To: (Carol's-GRUU)    |                              |
     |    Target-Dialog: (call-id one,totag1,fromtag1)               |
     |    Contact: (Bob's-GRUU)       |                              |
     |<-------------------------------|                              |
     |    202 Accepted                |                              |
     |------------------------------->|                              |

     |    NOTIFY (Bob's-GRUU)         |                              |
     |    Call-ID: (call-id three)    |                              |
     |------------------------------->|                              |
     |    200 OK                      |                              |
     |<-------------------------------|                              |
     |                                |                              |
     |                  F6 INVITE (Carol's-GRUU)                     |
     |                     Call-ID: (call-id four)                   |
     |                     Contact: (Alice's-GRUU)                   |
     |                     200 OK                                    |
     |                     Contact: (Carol's-GRUU)                   |
     |                     ACK                                       |
     |                                |                              |
     | F7 NOTIFY (Bob's-GRUU)         |                              |
     |    Call-ID: (call-id three)    |                              |
     |------------------------------->|                              |
     |    200 OK                      |                              |
     |<-------------------------------|                              |
     |    BYE (Alice's-GRUU)          |                              |
     |    Call-ID: (call-id one)      |                              |
     |<-------------------------------|   BYE (Carol's-GRUU)         |
     |                                |   Call-ID: (call-id two)     |
     |    200 OK                      |----------------------------->|
     |------------------------------->|   200 OK                     |
     |                                |<-----------------------------|
     |                                |                              |

                  Figure 5: Transfer without dialog reuse

   In message F1, Alice invites Bob indicating support for GRUUs (and
   offering a GRUU for herself):

      Message F1 (abridged, detailing pertinent fields)

        INVITE sip:bob@example.com SIP/2.0
        Call-ID: 13jfdwer230jsdw@alice.example.com
        Supported: gruu
        Contact: <sip:alice@example.com;gr=urn:uuid:(Alice's UA's bits)>

   Message F2 carries Bob's GRUU to Alice.

      Message F2 (abridged, detailing pertinent fields)

        SIP/2.0 200 OK
        Supported: gruu
        To: <sip:bob@example.com>;tag=totag1
        From: <sip:alice@example.com>;tag=fromtag1
        Contact: <sip:bob@example.com;gr=urn:uuid:(Bob's UA's bits)>

   Bob decides to try to transfer Alice to Carol, so he puts Alice on
   hold and sends an INVITE to Carol.  Carol and Bob negotiate GRUU
   support similar to what happened in F1 and F2.

      Message F3 (abridged, detailing pertinent fields)

        INVITE sip:carol@example.com SIP/2.0
        Supported: gruu
        Call-ID: 23rasdnfoa39i4jnasdf@bob.example.com
        Contact: <sip:bob@example.com;gr=urn:uuid:(Bob's UA's bits)>

      Message F4 (abridged, detailing pertinent fields)

        SIP/2.0 200 OK
        Supported: gruu
        To: <sip:carol@example.com>;tag=totag2
        From: <sip:bob@example.com>;tag=fromtag2
        Call-ID: 23rasdnfoa39i4jnasdf@bob.example.com
        Contact: <sip:carol@example.com;gr=urn:uuid:(Carol's UA's bits)>

   After consulting Carol, Bob places her on hold and refers Alice to
   her using message F5.  Notice that the Refer-To URI is Carol's GRUU,
   and that this is on a different Call-ID than message F1.  (The URI in
   the Refer-To header is line-broken for readability in this document;
   it would not be valid to break the URI this way in a real message.)

      Message F5 (abridged, detailing pertinent fields)

        REFER sip:aanewmr203raswdf@example.com SIP/2.0
        Call-ID: 39fa99r0329493asdsf3n@bob.example.com
        Refer-To: <sip:carol@example.com;g=urn:uid:(Carol's UA's bits)
        Target-Dialog: 13jfdwer230jsdw@alice.example.com;
        Supported: gruu
        Contact: <sip:bob@example.com;gr=urn:uuid:(Bob's UA's bits)>

   Alice uses the information in the Target-Dialog header field to
   determine that this REFER is associated with the dialog she already
   has in place with Bob.  Alice is now in a position to use the same
   admission policy she used for in-dialog REFERs: "Do I have a call
   with this person?".  She accepts the REFER, sends Bob the obligatory
   immediate NOTIFY, and proceeds to INVITE Carol with message F6.

      Message F6 (abridged, detailing pertinent fields)

            sip:carol@example.com;gr=urn:uuid:(Carol's UA's bits)
            \                                                   /
              \                                                /
               |                                              |
               v                                              v
        INVITE                                                  SIP/2.0
        Call-ID: 4zsd9f234jasdfasn3jsad@alice.example.com
        Replaces: 23rasdnfoa39i4jnasdf@bob.example.com;
        Supported: gruu
        Contact: <sip:alice@example.com;gr=urn:uuid:(Alice's UA's bits)>

   Carol accepts Alice's invitation to replace her dialog (invite usage)
   with Bob, and notifies him that the REFERenced INVITE succeeded with

      Message F7 (abridged, detailing pertinent fields)

        NOTIFY sip:boaiidfjjereis@example.com SIP/2.0
        Subscription-State: terminated;reason=noresource
        Call-ID: 39fa99r0329493asdsf3n@bob.example.com
        Contact: <sip:alice@example.com;gr=urn:uuid:(Alice's UA's bits)>
        Content-Type: message/sipfrag

        SIP/2.0 200 OK

   Bob then ends his invite usages with both Alice and Carol using BYEs.

7.  Security Considerations

   Handling multiple usages within a single dialog is complex and
   introduces scenarios where the right thing to do is not clear.  The
   ambiguities described here can result in unexpected disruption of
   communication if response codes are chosen carelessly.  Furthermore,
   these ambiguities could be exploited, particularly by third-parties
   injecting unauthenticated requests or inappropriate responses.
   Implementations choosing to create or accept multiple usages within a
   dialog should give extra attention to the security considerations in

   [1], especially those concerning the authenticity of requests and
   processing of responses.

   Service implementations should carefully consider the effects on
   their service of peers making different choices in these areas of
   ambiguity.  A service that requires multiple usages needs to pay
   particular attention to the effect on service and network utilization
   when a client fails to destroy a dialog the service believes should
   be destroyed.  A service that disallows multiple usages should
   consider the effect on clients that, for instance, destroy the entire
   dialog when only a usage should be torn down.  In the worst case of a
   service deployed into a network with a large number of misbehaving
   clients trying to create multiple usages in an automated fashion, a
   retry storm similar to an avalanche restart could be induced.

8.  Conclusion

   Handling multiple usages within a single dialog is complex and
   introduces scenarios where the right thing to do is not clear.
   Implementations should avoid entering into multiple usages whenever
   possible.  New applications should be designed to never introduce
   multiple usages.

   There are some accepted SIP practices, including transfer, that
   currently require multiple usages.  Recent work, most notably GRUU,
   makes those practices unnecessary.  The standardization of those
   practices and the implementations should be revised as soon as
   possible to use only single-usage dialogs.

9.  Acknowledgments

   The ideas in this document have been refined over several IETF
   meetings with many participants.  Significant contribution was
   provided by Adam Roach, Alan Johnston, Ben Campbell, Cullen Jennings,
   Jonathan Rosenberg, Paul Kyzivat, and Rohan Mahy.  Members of the
   reSIProcate project also shared their difficulties and discoveries
   while implementing multiple-usage dialog handlers.

10.  Informative References

   [1]   Rosenberg, J., Schulzrinne, H., Camarillo, G., Johnston, A.,
         Peterson, J., Sparks, R., Handley, M., and E. Schooler, "SIP:
         Session Initiation Protocol", RFC 3261, June 2002.

   [2]   Levin, O., "Suppression of Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)
         REFER Method Implicit Subscription", RFC 4488, May 2006.

   [3]   Burger, E. and M. Dolly, "A Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)
         Event Package for Key Press Stimulus (KPML)", RFC 4730,
         November 2006.

   [4]   Niemi, A., "Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) Extension for
         Event State Publication", RFC 3903, October 2004.

   [5]   Roach, A., "Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)-Specific Event
         Notification", RFC 3265, June 2002.

   [6]   Rosenberg, J. and H. Schulzrinne, "Session Initiation Protocol
         (SIP): Locating SIP Servers", RFC 3263, June 2002.

   [7]   Sparks, R., "The Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) Refer
         Method", RFC 3515, April 2003.

   [8]   Mahy, R., Biggs, B., and R. Dean, "The Session Initiation
         Protocol (SIP) "Replaces" Header", RFC 3891, September 2004.

   [9]   Rosenberg, J., "Obtaining and Using Globally Routable User
         Agent (UA) URIs (GRUU) in the  Session Initiation Protocol
         (SIP)", Work in Progress, June 2006.

   [10]  Rosenberg, J., "Request Authorization through Dialog
         Identification in the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)",
         RFC 4538, June 2006.

   [11]  Mahy, R. and D. Petrie, "The Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)
         "Join" Header", RFC 3911, October 2004.

Author's Address

   Robert J. Sparks
   Estacado Systems

   EMail: RjS@estacado.net

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