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Bidirectional Remote Procedure Call on RPC-over-RDMA Transports

 


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Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)                          C. Lever
Request for Comments: 8167                                        Oracle
Category: Standards Track                                      June 2017
ISSN: 2070-1721


    Bidirectional Remote Procedure Call on RPC-over-RDMA Transports

Abstract

   Minor versions of Network File System (NFS) version 4 newer than
   minor version 0 work best when Remote Procedure Call (RPC) transports
   can send RPC transactions in both directions on the same connection.
   This document describes how RPC transport endpoints capable of Remote
   Direct Memory Access (RDMA) convey RPCs in both directions on a
   single connection.

Status of This Memo

   This is an Internet Standards Track document.

   This document is a product of the Internet Engineering Task Force
   (IETF).  It represents the consensus of the IETF community.  It has
   received public review and has been approved for publication by the
   Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG).  Further information on
   Internet Standards is available in Section 2 of RFC 7841.

   Information about the current status of this document, any errata,
   and how to provide feedback on it may be obtained at
   http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc8167.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2017 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
   Provisions Relating to IETF Documents
   (http://trustee.ietf.org/license-info) in effect on the date of
   publication of this document.  Please review these documents
   carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect
   to this document.  Code Components extracted from this document must
   include Simplified BSD License text as described in Section 4.e of
   the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as
   described in the Simplified BSD License.

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Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   2.  Understanding RPC Direction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   3.  Immediate Uses of Bidirectional RPC-over-RDMA . . . . . . . .   5
   4.  Flow Control  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
   5.  Sending and Receiving Operations in the Reverse Direction . .   8
   6.  In the Absence of Support for Reverse-Direction Operation . .  11
   7.  Considerations for ULBs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
   8.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
   9.  IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
   10. Normative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
   Acknowledgements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  13
   Author's Address  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  13

1.  Introduction

   RPC-over-RDMA transports, introduced in [RFC8166], efficiently convey
   Remote Procedure Call (RPC) transactions on transport layers capable
   of Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA).  The purpose of this document
   is to enable concurrent operation in both directions on a single
   transport connection using RPC-over-RDMA protocol versions that do
   not have specific facilities for reverse-direction operation.

   Reverse-direction RPC transactions are necessary for the operation of
   version 4.1 of the Network File System (NFS), and in particular, of
   Parallel NFS (pNFS) [RFC5661], though any Upper-Layer Protocol (ULP)
   implementation may make use of them.  An Upper-Layer Binding (ULB)
   for NFS version 4.x callback operation is additionally required (see
   Section 7) but is not provided in this document.

   For example, using the approach described herein, RPC transactions
   can be conveyed in both directions on the same RPC-over-RDMA version
   1 connection without changes to the RPC-over-RDMA version 1 protocol.
   This document does not update the protocol specified in [RFC8166].

   The remainder of this document assumes familiarity with the
   terminology and concepts contained in [RFC8166], especially Sections
   2 and 3.

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "NOT RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and
   "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in
   BCP 14 [RFC2119] [RFC8174] when, and only when, they appear in all
   capitals, as shown here.

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2.  Understanding RPC Direction

   The Open Network Computing Remote Procedure Call (ONC RPC) protocol
   as described in [RFC5531] is architected as a message-passing
   protocol between one server and one or more clients.  ONC RPC
   transactions are made up of two types of messages.

   A CALL message, or "Call", requests work.  A Call is designated by
   the value CALL in the message's msg_type field.  An arbitrary unique
   value is placed in the message's Transaction ID (XID) field.  A host
   that originates a Call is referred to in this document as a
   "Requester".

   A REPLY message, or "Reply", reports the results of work requested by
   a Call.  A Reply is designated by the value REPLY in the message's
   msg_type field.  The value contained in the message's XID field is
   copied from the Call whose results are being returned.  A host that
   emits a Reply is referred to as a "Responder".

   Typically, a Call results in a corresponding Reply.  A Reply is never
   sent without a corresponding Call.

   RPC-over-RDMA is a connection-oriented RPC transport.  In all cases,
   when a connection-oriented transport is used, ONC RPC client
   endpoints are responsible for initiating transport connections, while
   ONC RPC service endpoints passively await incoming connection
   requests.

   RPC direction on connectionless RPC transports is not addressed in
   this document.

2.1.  Forward Direction

   Traditionally, an ONC RPC client acts as a Requester, while an ONC
   RPC service acts as a Responder.  This form of message passing is
   referred to as "forward-direction" operation.

2.2.  Reverse Direction

   The ONC RPC specification [RFC5531] does not forbid passing messages
   in the other direction.  An ONC RPC service endpoint can act as a
   Requester, in which case, an ONC RPC client endpoint acts as a
   Responder.  This form of message passing is referred to as "reverse-
   direction" operation.

   During reverse-direction operation, the ONC RPC client is responsible
   for establishing transport connections, even though RPC Call messages
   come from the ONC RPC server.

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   ONC RPC clients and servers are optimized to perform and scale well
   while handling traffic in the forward direction and might not be
   prepared to handle operation in the reverse direction.  Not until NFS
   version 4.1 [RFC5661] has there been a strong need to handle reverse-
   direction operation.

2.3.  Bidirectional Operation

   A pair of connected RPC endpoints may choose to use only forward-
   direction or only reverse-direction operations on a particular
   transport connection.  Or, these endpoints may send Calls in both
   directions concurrently on the same transport connection.

   "Bidirectional operation" occurs when both transport endpoints act as
   a Requester and a Responder at the same time.

   Bidirectionality is an extension of RPC transport connection sharing.
   Two RPC endpoints wish to exchange independent RPC messages over a
   shared connection, but in opposite directions.  These messages may or
   may not be related to the same workloads or RPC Programs.

2.4.  XID Values

   Section 9 of [RFC5531] introduces the ONC RPC transaction identifier,
   or "XID" for short.  The value of an XID is interpreted in the
   context of the message's msg_type field.

   o  The XID of a Call is arbitrary but is unique among outstanding
      Calls from that Requester.

   o  The XID of a Reply always matches that of the initiating Call.

   When receiving a Reply, a Requester matches the XID value in the
   Reply with a Call it previously sent.

2.4.1.  XID Generation

   During bidirectional operation, forward- and reverse-direction XIDs
   are typically generated on distinct hosts by possibly different
   algorithms.  There is no coordination between forward- and reverse-
   direction XID generation.

   Therefore, a forward-direction Requester MAY use the same XID value
   at the same time as a reverse-direction Requester on the same
   transport connection.  Though such concurrent requests use the same
   XID value, they represent distinct ONC RPC transactions.

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3.  Immediate Uses of Bidirectional RPC-over-RDMA

3.1.  NFS Version 4.0 Callback Operation

   An NFS version 4.0 client employs a traditional ONC RPC client to
   send NFS requests to an NFS version 4.0 server's traditional ONC RPC
   service [RFC7530].  NFS version 4.0 requests flow in the forward
   direction on a connection established by the client.  This connection
   is referred to as a "forechannel" connection.

   An NFS version 4.x "delegation" is simply a promise made by a server
   that it will notify a client before another client or program running
   on the server is allowed access to a file.  With this guarantee, that
   client can operate as sole accessor of the file.  In particular, it
   can manage the file's data and metadata caches aggressively.

   To administer file delegations, NFS version 4.0 introduces the use of
   callback operations, or "callbacks", in Section 10.2 of [RFC7530].
   An NFS version 4.0 server sets up a forward-direction ONC RPC client,
   and an NFS version 4.0 client sets up a forward-direction ONC RPC
   service.  Callbacks flow in the forward direction on a connection
   established between the server's callback client and the client's
   callback service.  This connection is distinct from connections being
   used as forechannels and is referred to as a "backchannel
   connection".

   When an RDMA transport is used as a forechannel, an NFS version 4.0
   client typically provides a TCP-based callback service.  The client's
   SETCLIENTID operation advertises the callback service endpoint with a
   "tcp" or "tcp6" netid.  The server then connects to this service
   using a TCP socket.

   NFS version 4.0 implementations can function without a backchannel in
   place.  In this case, the NFS server does not grant file delegations.
   This might result in a negative performance effect, but correctness
   is not affected.

3.2.  NFS Version 4.1 Callback Operation

   NFS version 4.1 supports file delegation in a similar fashion to NFS
   version 4.0 and extends the callback mechanism to manage pNFS
   layouts, as discussed in Section 12 of [RFC5661].

   NFS version 4.1 transport connections are initiated by NFS version
   4.1 clients.  Therefore, NFS version 4.1 servers send callbacks to
   clients in the reverse direction on connections established by NFS
   version 4.1 clients.

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   NFS version 4.1 clients and servers indicate to their peers that a
   backchannel capability is available on a given transport connection
   in the arguments and results of the NFS CREATE_SESSION or
   BIND_CONN_TO_SESSION operations.

   NFS version 4.1 clients may establish distinct transport connections
   for forechannel and backchannel operation, or they may combine
   forechannel and backchannel operation on one transport connection
   using bidirectional operation.

   Without a reverse-direction RPC-over-RDMA capability, an NFS version
   4.1 client additionally connects using a transport with reverse-
   direction capability to use as a backchannel.  Opening an independent
   TCP socket is the only choice for an NFS version 4.1 backchannel
   connection in this case.

   Implementations often find it more convenient to use a single
   combined transport (i.e., a transport that is capable of
   bidirectional operation).  This simplifies connection establishment
   and recovery during network partitions or when one endpoint restarts.
   This can also enable better scaling by using fewer transport
   connections to perform the same work.

   As with NFS version 4.0, if a backchannel is not in use, an NFS
   version 4.1 server does not grant delegations.  Because NFS version
   4.1 relies on callbacks to manage pNFS layout state, pNFS operation
   is not possible without a backchannel.

4.  Flow Control

   For an RDMA Send operation to work properly, the receiving peer has
   to have already posted a Receive buffer in which to accept the
   incoming message.  If a receiver hasn't posted enough buffers to
   accommodate each incoming Send operation, the receiving RDMA provider
   is allowed to terminate the RDMA connection.

   RPC-over-RDMA transport protocols provide built-in send flow control
   to prevent overrunning the number of pre-posted Receive buffers on a
   connection's receive endpoint using a "credit grant" mechanism.  The
   use of credits in RPC-over-RDMA version 1 is described in
   Section 3.3.1 of [RFC8166].

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4.1.  Reverse-Direction Credits

   RPC-over-RDMA credits work the same way in the reverse direction as
   they do in the forward direction.  However, forward-direction credits
   and reverse-direction credits on the same connection are accounted
   separately.  Direction-independent credit accounting prevents head-
   of-line blocking in one direction from impacting operation in the
   other direction.

   The forward-direction credit value retains the same meaning whether
   or not there are reverse-direction resources associated with an RPC-
   over-RDMA transport connection.  This is the number of RPC requests
   the forward-direction Responder (the ONC RPC server) is prepared to
   receive concurrently.

   The reverse-direction credit value is the number of RPC requests the
   reverse-direction Responder (the ONC RPC client) is prepared to
   receive concurrently.  The reverse-direction credit value MAY be
   different than the forward-direction credit value.

   During bidirectional operation, each receiver has to decide whether
   an incoming message contains a credit request (the receiver is acting
   as a Responder) or a credit grant (the receiver is acting as a
   requester) and apply the credit value accordingly.

   When message direction is not fully determined by context (e.g.,
   suggested by the definition of the RPC-over-RDMA version that is in
   use) or by an accompanying RPC message payload with a call direction
   field, it is not possible for the receiver to tell with certainty
   whether the header credit value is a request or grant.  In such
   cases, the receiver MUST ignore the header's credit value.

4.2.  Inline Thresholds

   Forward- and reverse-direction operation on the same connection share
   the same Receive buffers.  Therefore, the inline threshold values for
   the forward direction and the reverse direction are the same.  The
   call inline threshold for the reverse direction is the same as the
   reply inline threshold for the forward direction, and vice versa.
   For more information, see Section 3.3.2 of [RFC8166].

4.3.  Managing Receive Buffers

   An RPC-over-RDMA transport endpoint posts Receive buffers before it
   can receive and process incoming RPC-over-RDMA messages.  If a sender
   transmits a message for a receiver that has no posted Receive buffer,
   the RDMA provider is allowed to drop the RDMA connection.

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4.3.1.  Client Receive Buffers

   Typically, an RPC-over-RDMA Requester posts only as many Receive
   buffers as there are outstanding RPC Calls.  Therefore, a client
   endpoint without reverse-direction support might, at times, have no
   available Receive buffers.

   To receive incoming reverse-direction Calls, an RPC-over-RDMA client
   endpoint posts enough additional Receive buffers to match its
   advertised reverse-direction credit value.  Each outstanding forward-
   direction RPC requires an additional Receive buffer above this
   minimum.

   When an RDMA transport connection is lost, all active Receive buffers
   are flushed and are no longer available to receive incoming messages.
   When a fresh transport connection is established, a client endpoint
   posts a Receive buffer to handle the Reply for each retransmitted
   forward-direction Call, and it posts enough Receive buffers to handle
   reverse-direction Calls.

4.3.2.  Server Receive Buffers

   A forward-direction RPC-over-RDMA service endpoint posts as many
   Receive buffers as it expects incoming forward-direction Calls.  That
   is, it posts no fewer buffers than the number of credits granted in
   the rdma_credit field of forward-direction RPC replies.

   To receive incoming reverse-direction replies, an RPC-over-RDMA
   server endpoint posts enough additional Receive buffers to handle
   replies for each reverse-direction Call it sends.

   When the existing transport connection is lost, all active Receive
   buffers are flushed and are no longer available to receive incoming
   messages.  When a fresh transport connection is established, a server
   endpoint posts a Receive buffer to handle the Reply for each
   retransmitted reverse-direction Call, and it posts enough Receive
   buffers to handle incoming forward-direction Calls.

5.  Sending and Receiving Operations in the Reverse Direction

   The operation of RPC-over-RDMA transports in the forward direction is
   defined in [RFC5531] and [RFC8166].  In this section, a mechanism for
   reverse-direction operation on RPC-over-RDMA is defined.  Reverse-
   direction operation used in combination with forward-direction
   operation enables bidirectional communication on a common RPC-over-
   RDMA transport connection.

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   Certain fields in the RPC-over-RDMA header have a fixed position in
   all versions of RPC-over-RDMA.  The normative specification of these
   fields is contained in Section 4 of [RFC8166].

5.1.  Sending a Call in the Reverse Direction

   To form a reverse-direction RPC-over-RDMA Call message, an ONC RPC
   service endpoint constructs an RPC-over-RDMA header containing a
   fresh RPC XID in the rdma_xid field (see Section 2.4 for full
   requirements).

   The rdma_vers field MUST contain the same value in reverse- and
   forward-direction Call messages on the same connection.

   The number of requested reverse-direction credits is placed in the
   rdma_credit field (see Section 4).

   Whether presented inline or as a separate chunk, the ONC RPC Call
   header MUST start with the same XID value that is present in the RPC-
   over-RDMA header, and the RPC header's msg_type field MUST contain
   the value CALL.

5.2.  Sending a Reply in the Reverse Direction

   To form a reverse-direction RPC-over-RDMA Reply message, an ONC RPC
   client endpoint constructs an RPC-over-RDMA header containing a copy
   of the matching ONC RPC Call's RPC XID in the rdma_xid field (see
   Section 2.4 for full requirements).

   The rdma_vers field MUST contain the same value in a reverse-
   direction Reply message as in the matching Call message.

   The number of granted reverse-direction credits is placed in the
   rdma_credit field (see Section 4).

   Whether presented inline or as a separate chunk, the ONC RPC Reply
   header MUST start with the same XID value that is present in the RPC-
   over-RDMA header, and the RPC header's msg_type field MUST contain
   the value REPLY.

5.3.  Using Chunks in Reverse-Direction Operations

   A "chunk" refers to a portion of a message's Payload stream that is
   DDP-eligible and that is placed directly in the receiver's memory by
   the transport.  Chunk data may be moved by an explicit RDMA
   operation, for example.  Chunks are defined in Section 3.4.4 and DDP-
   eligibility is covered in Section 6.1 of [RFC8166].

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   Chunks MAY be used in the reverse direction.  They operate the same
   way as in the forward direction.

   An implementation might support only ULPs that have no DDP-eligible
   data items.  Such ULPs may use only small messages, or they may have
   a native mechanism for restricting the size of reverse-direction RPC
   messages, obviating the need to handle Long Messages in the reverse
   direction.

   When there is no ULP requirement for chunks in the reverse direction,
   implementers can choose not to provide support for chunks in the
   reverse direction.  This avoids the complexity of adding support for
   performing RDMA Reads and Writes in the reverse direction.

   When chunks are not implemented, RPC messages in the reverse
   direction are always sent using a Short Message; therefore, they can
   be no larger than what can be sent inline (that is, without chunks).
   Sending an inline message larger than the inline threshold can result
   in loss of connection.

   If a reverse-direction requester provides a non-empty chunk list to a
   Responder that does not support chunks, the Responder MUST reply with
   an RDMA_ERROR message with rdma_err field set to ERR_CHUNK.

5.4.  Reverse-Direction Retransmission

   In rare cases, an ONC RPC service cannot complete an RPC transaction
   and then send a reply.  This can be because the transport connection
   was lost, because the Call or Reply message was dropped, or because
   the ULP delayed or dropped the ONC RPC request.  Typically, the
   Requester sends the RPC transaction again, reusing the same RPC XID.
   This is known as an "RPC retransmission".

   In the forward direction, the Requester is the ONC RPC client.  The
   client is always responsible for establishing a transport connection
   before sending again.

   With reverse-direction operation, the Requester is the ONC RPC
   server.  Because an ONC RPC server does not establish transport
   connections with clients, it cannot retransmit if there is no
   transport connection.  It is forced to wait for the ONC RPC client to
   re-establish a transport connection before it can retransmit ONC RPC
   transactions in the reverse direction.

   If the ONC RPC client peer has no work to do, it can be some time
   before it re-establishes a transport connection.  A waiting reverse-
   direction ONC RPC Call may time out to avoid waiting indefinitely for
   a connection to be established.

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   Therefore, forward-direction Requesters SHOULD maintain a transport
   connection as long as there is the possibility that the connection
   peer can send reverse-direction requests.  For example, while an NFS
   version 4.1 client has open delegated files or active pNFS layouts,
   it maintains one or more transport connections to enable the NFS
   server to perform callback operations.

6.  In the Absence of Support for Reverse-Direction Operation

   An RPC-over-RDMA transport endpoint might not support reverse-
   direction operation (and thus it does not support bidirectional
   operation).  There might be no mechanism in the transport
   implementation to do so.  Or in an implementation that can support
   operation in the reverse direction, the ULP might not yet have
   configured or enabled the transport to handle reverse-direction
   traffic.

   If an endpoint is not prepared to receive an incoming reverse-
   direction message, loss of the RDMA connection might result.  Thus,
   denial of service could result if a sender continues to send reverse-
   direction messages after every transport reconnect to an endpoint
   that is not prepared to receive them.

   When dealing with the possibility that the remote peer has no
   transport-level support for reverse-direction operation, the ULP
   becomes responsible for informing peers when reverse-direction
   operation is supported.  Otherwise, even a simple reverse-direction
   RPC NULL procedure from a peer could result in a lost connection.

   Therefore, a ULP MUST NOT perform reverse-direction ONC RPC
   operations until the peer has indicated it is prepared to handle
   them.  A description of ULP mechanisms used for this indication is
   outside the scope of this document.

   For example, an NFS version 4.1 server does not send backchannel
   messages to an NFS version 4.1 client before the NFS version 4.1
   client has sent a CREATE_SESSION or a BIND_CONN_TO_SESSION operation.
   As long as an NFS version 4.1 client has prepared appropriate
   resources to receive reverse-direction operations before sending one
   of these NFS operations, denial of service is avoided.

7.  Considerations for ULBs

   A ULP that operates on RPC-over-RDMA transports may have procedures
   that include DDP-eligible data items.  DDP-eligibility is specified
   in an Upper-Layer Binding (ULB).  Direction of operation does not
   obviate the need for DDP-eligibility statements.

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   Reverse-direction-only operation requires the client endpoint to
   establish a fresh connection.  The ULB can specify appropriate RPC
   binding parameters for such connections.

   Bidirectional operation occurs on an already-established connection.
   Specification of RPC binding parameters is usually not necessary in
   this case.

   For bidirectional operation, other considerations may apply when
   distinct RPC Programs share an RPC-over-RDMA transport connection
   concurrently.  Consult Section 6 of [RFC8166] for details about what
   else may be contained in a ULB.

8.  Security Considerations

   RPC security is handled in the RPC layer, which is above the
   transport layer where RPC-over-RDMA operates.

   Reverse-direction operations make use of an authentication mechanism
   and credentials that are independent of forward-direction operation
   but otherwise operate in the same fashion as outlined in Section 8.2
   of [RFC8166].

9.  IANA Considerations

   This document does not require any IANA actions.

10.  Normative References

   [RFC2119]  Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
              Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, March 1997,
              <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc2119>.

   [RFC5531]  Thurlow, R., "RPC: Remote Procedure Call Protocol
              Specification Version 2", RFC 5531, DOI 10.17487/RFC5531,
              May 2009, <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc5531>.

   [RFC5661]  Shepler, S., Ed., Eisler, M., Ed., and D. Noveck, Ed.,
              "Network File System (NFS) Version 4 Minor Version 1
              Protocol", RFC 5661, DOI 10.17487/RFC5661, January 2010,
              <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc5661>.

   [RFC7530]  Haynes, T., Ed. and D. Noveck, Ed., "Network File System
              (NFS) Version 4 Protocol", RFC 7530, DOI 10.17487/RFC7530,
              March 2015, <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc7530>.

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   [RFC8166]  Lever, C., Ed., Simpson, W., and T. Talpey, "Remote Direct
              Memory Access Transport for Remote Procedure Call Version
              1", RFC 8166, DOI 10.17487/RFC8166, June 2017,
              <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc8166>.

   [RFC8174]  Leiba, B., "Ambiguity of Uppercase vs Lowercase in RFC
              2119 Key Words", BCP 14, RFC 8174, DOI 10.17487/RFC8174,
              May 2017, <http://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc8174>.

Acknowledgements

   Tom Talpey was an indispensable resource, in addition to creating the
   foundation upon which this work is based.  The author's warmest
   regards go to him for his help and support.

   Dave Noveck provided excellent review, constructive suggestions, and
   navigational guidance throughout the process of drafting this
   document.

   Dai Ngo was a solid partner and collaborator.  Together we
   constructed and tested independent prototypes of the changes
   described in this document.

   The author wishes to thank Bill Baker and Greg Marsden for their
   unwavering support of this work.  In addition, the author gratefully
   acknowledges the expert contributions of Karen Deitke, Chunli Zhang,
   Mahesh Siddheshwar, Steve Wise, and Tom Tucker.

   Special thanks go to Transport Area Director Spencer Dawkins, NFSV4
   Working Group Chair and Document Shepherd Spencer Shepler, and NFSV4
   Working Group Secretary Tom Haynes for their support.

Author's Address

   Charles Lever
   Oracle Corporation
   1015 Granger Avenue
   Ann Arbor, MI  48104
   United States of America

   Phone: +1 248 816 6463
   Email: chuck.lever@oracle.com