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RFC 4378

A Framework for Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) Operations and Management (OAM)

Pages: 11

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Network Working Group                                      D. Allan, Ed.
Request for Comments: 4378                               Nortel Networks
Category: Informational                                   T. Nadeau, Ed.
                                                     Cisco Systems, Inc.
                                                           February 2006

         A Framework for Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS)
                    Operations and Management (OAM)

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.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2006).


This document is a framework for how data plane protocols can be applied to operations and maintenance procedures for Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS). The document is structured to outline how Operations and Management (OAM) functionality can be used to assist in fault, configuration, accounting, performance, and security management, commonly known by the acronym FCAPS.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction ....................................................2 2. Terminology .....................................................2 3. Fault Management ................................................2 3.1. Fault Detection ............................................2 3.2. Diagnosis ..................................................6 3.3. Availability ...............................................7 4. Configuration Management ........................................7 5. Accounting ......................................................7 6. Performance Management ..........................................7 7. Security Management .............................................8 8. Security Considerations .........................................9 9. Acknowledgements ................................................9 10. Normative References ...........................................9
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1. Introduction

This memo outlines in broader terms how data plane protocols can assist in meeting the Operations and Management (OAM) requirements outlined in [RFC4377] and [Y1710] and can apply to the management functions of fault, configuration, accounting, performance, and security (commonly known as FCAPS) for MPLS networks, as defined in [RFC3031]. The approach of the document is to outline functionality, the potential mechanisms to provide the function, and the required applicability of data plane OAM functions. Included in the discussion are security issues specific to use of tools within a provider domain and use for inter-provider Label Switched Paths (LSPs).

2. Terminology

The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in [RFC2119]. OAM Operations and Management FCAPS Fault management, Configuration management, Administration management, Performance management, and Security management FEC Forwarding Equivalence Class ILM Incoming Label Map NHLFE Next Hop Label Forwarding Entry MIB Management Information Base LSR Label Switching Router RTT Round Trip Time

3. Fault Management

3.1. Fault Detection

Fault detection encompasses the identification of all data plane failures between the ingress and egress of an LSP. This section will enumerate common failure scenarios and explain how one might (or might not) detect the situation.
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3.1.1. Enumeration and Detection of Types of Data Plane Faults

Lower-layer faults: Lower-layer faults are those in the physical or virtual link that impact the transport of MPLS labeled packets between adjacent LSRs at the specific level of interest. Some physical links (such as SONET/SDH) may have link-layer OAM functionality and detect and notify the LSR of link-layer faults directly. Some physical links (such as Ethernet) may not have this capability and require MPLS or IP layer heartbeats to detect failures. However, once detected, reaction to these fault notifications is often the same as those described in the first case. Node failures: Node failures are those that impact the forwarding capability of a node component, including its entire set of links. This can be due to component failure, power outage, or reset of the control processor in an LSR employing a distributed architecture, etc. MPLS LSP mis-forwarding: Mis-forwarding occurs when there is a loss of synchronization between the data and the control planes in one or more nodes. This can occur due to hardware failure, software failure, or configuration problems. It will manifest itself in one of two forms: - packets belonging to a particular LSP are cross-connected into an NHLFE for which there is no corresponding ILM at the next downstream LSR. This can occur in cases where the NHLFE entry is corrupted. Therefore, the packet arrives at the next LSR with a top label value for which the LSR has no corresponding forwarding information, and is typically dropped. This is a No Incoming Label Map (No ILM) condition and can be detected directly by the downstream LSR that receives the incorrectly labeled packet. - packets belonging to a particular LSP are cross-connected into an incorrect NHLFE entry for which there is a corresponding ILM at the next downstream LSR, but is associated with a different LSP. This may be detected by the following: o some or all of the misdirected traffic is not routable at the egress node, or
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         o  OAM probing is able to detect the fault by detecting the
            inconsistency between the data path and the control plane

   Discontinuities in the MPLS Encapsulation

      The forwarding path of the FEC carried by an LSP may transit nodes
      or links for which MPLS is not configured.  This may result in a
      number of behaviors that are undesirable and not easily detected.

      -  if exposed, payload is not routable at the LSR, resulting in
         silent discard, OR

      -  the exposed MPLS label was not offered by the LSR, which may
         result in either silent discard or mis-forwarding.

      Alternately, the payload may be routable and packets successfully
      delivered but may bypass associated MPLS instrumentation and

   MTU problems

      MTU problems occur when client traffic cannot be fragmented by
      intermediate LSRs and is dropped somewhere along the path of the
      LSP.  MTU problems should appear as a discrepancy in the traffic
      count between the set of ingress LSRs and the egress LSRs for an
      FEC and will appear in the corresponding MPLS MIB performance
      tables in the transit LSRs as discarded packets.

   TTL Mishandling

      The implementation of TTL handling is inconsistent at penultimate
      hop LSRs.  Tools that rely on consistent TTL processing may
      produce inconsistent results in any given network.


      Congestion occurs when the offered load on any interface exceeds
      the link capacity for sufficient time that the interface buffering
      is exhausted.  Congestion problems will appear as a discrepancy in
      the traffic count between the set of ingress LSRs and the egress
      LSRs for an FEC and will appear in the MPLS MIB performance tables
      in the transit LSRs as discarded packets.
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      Mis-ordering of LSP traffic occurs when incorrect or inappropriate
      load sharing is implemented within an MPLS network.  Load sharing
      typically takes place when multiple equal-cost paths exist between
      the ingress and egress of an LSP.  In these cases, traffic is
      split among these equal-cost paths using a variety of algorithms.
      One such algorithm relies on splitting traffic between each path
      on a per-packet basis.  When this is done, it is possible for some
      packets along the path to be delayed due to congestion or slower
      links, which may result in packets being received out of order at
      the egress.  Detection and remedy of this situation may be left up
      to client applications that use the LSPs.  For instance, TCP is
      capable of re-ordering packets belonging to a specific flow
      (although this may result in re-transmission of some of the mis-
      ordered packets).

      Detection of mis-ordering can also be determined by sending probe
      traffic along the path and verifying that all probe traffic is
      indeed received in the order it was transmitted.  This will only
      detect truly pathological problems as mis-ordering typically is an
      insufficiently predictable and repeatable problem.

      LSRs do not normally implement mechanisms to detect mis-ordering
      of flows.

   Payload Corruption

      Payload corruption may occur and may be undetected by LSRs.  Such
      errors are typically detected by client payload integrity

3.1.2. Timeliness

The design of Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and management support systems requires that ample headroom be alloted in terms of their processing capabilities in order to process and handle all necessary fault conditions within the bounds stipulated in the SLA. This includes planning for event handling using a time budget that takes into account the over-all SLA and the time required to address any defects that arise. However, it is possible that some fault conditions may surpass this budget due to their catastrophic nature (e.g., fibre cut) or due to incorrect planning of the time processing budget.
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         ^    --------------
         |    |           ^
         |    |           |----  Time to notify NOC + process/correct
   SLA   |    |           v      defect
   Max - |    -------------
   Time  |    |           ^
         |    |           |-----  Time to diagnose/isolate/correct
         |    |           v
         v    -------------

         Figure 1: Fault Correction Budget

   In figure 1, we represent the overall fault correction time budget by
   the maximum time as specified in an SLA for the service in question.
   This time is then divided into two subsections, the first
   encompassing the total time required to detect a fault and notify an
   operator (or optionally automatically correct the defect).  This
   section may have an explicit maximum time to detect defects arising
   from either the application or a need to do alarm management (i.e.,
   suppression), and this will be reflected in the frequency of OAM
   execution.  The second section indicates the time required to notify
   the operational systems used to diagnose, isolate, and correct the
   defect (if they cannot be corrected automatically).

3.2. Diagnosis

3.2.1. Characterization

Characterization is defined as determining the forwarding path of a packet (which may not be necessarily known). Characterization may be performed on a working path through the network. For example, this is done to determine equal-cost multi-paths (ECMP), the MTU of a path, or simply to know the path occupied by a specific FEC. Characterization will be able to leverage mechanisms used for isolation.

3.2.2. Isolation

Isolation of a fault can occur in two forms. In the first case, the local failure is detected, and the node where the failure occurred is capable of issuing an alarm for such an event. The node should attempt to withdraw the defective resources and/or rectify the situation prior to raising an alarm. Active data plane OAM mechanisms may also detect the failure conditions remotely and issue their own alarms if the situation is not rectified quickly enough. In the second case, the fault has not been detected locally. In this case, the local node cannot raise an alarm, nor can it be expected to
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   rectify the situation.  In this case, the failure may be detected
   remotely via data plane OAM.  This mechanism should also be able to
   determine the location of the fault, perhaps on the basis of limited
   information such as a customer complaint.  This mechanism may also be
   able to automatically remove the defective resources from the network
   and restore service, but should at least provide a network operator
   with enough information by which they can perform this operation.
   Given that detection of faults is desired to happen as quickly as
   possible, tools which possess the ability to incrementally test LSP
   health should be used to uncover faults.

3.3. Availability

Availability is the measure of the percentage of time that a service is operating within a specification, often specified by an SLA. MPLS has several forwarding modes (depending on the control plane used). As such, more than one model may be defined and more than one measurement technique may be required.

4. Configuration Management

Data plane OAM can assist in configuration management by providing the ability to verify the configuration of an LSP or of applications utilizing that LSP. This would be an ad-hoc data plane probe that should verify path integrity (a complete path exists) and that the path function is synchronized with the control plane. As part of the payload, the probe would carry relevant control plane information that the receiver would be able to compare with the local-control plane configuration.

5. Accounting

The requirements for accounting in MPLS networks, as specified in [RFC4377], do not place any requirements on data plane OAM.

6. Performance Management

Performance management permits the information transfer characteristics of LSPs to be measured, perhaps in order to be compared against an SLA. This falls into two categories: latency (where jitter is considered a variation in latency) and information loss. Latency can be measured in two ways: one is to have precisely synchronized clocks at the ingress and egress such that time-stamps in PDUs flowing from the ingress to the egress can be compared. The other is to use an exchange of PING type PDUs that gives a round trip
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   time (RTT) measurement, and an estimate of the one-way latency that
   can be inferred with some loss of precision.  Use of load spreading
   techniques, such as ECMP, mean that any individual RTT measurement is
   only representative of the typical RTT for an FEC.

   To measure information loss, a common practice is to periodically
   read ingress and egress counters (i.e., MIB module counters).  This
   information may also be used for offline correlation.  Another common
   practice is to send explicit probe traffic that traverses the data
   plane path in question.  This probe traffic can also be used to
   measure jitter and delay.

7. Security Management

Providing a secure OAM environment is required if MPLS specific network mechanisms are to be used successfully. To this end, operators have a number of options when deploying network mechanisms including simply filtering OAM messages at the edge of the MPLS network. Malicious users should not be able to use non-MPLS interfaces to insert MPLS-specific OAM transactions. Provider initiated OAM transactions should be able to be blocked from leaking outside the MPLS cloud. Finally, if a provider does wish to allow OAM messages to flow into (or through) their networks, for example, in a multi-provider deployment, authentication and authorization are required to prevent malicious and/or unauthorized access. Also, given that MPLS networks often run IP simultaneously, similar requirements apply to any native IP OAM network mechanisms in use. Therefore, authentication and authorization for OAM technologies is something that MUST be considered when designing network mechanisms that satisfy the framework presented in this document. OAM messaging can address some existing security concerns with the MPLS architecture. That is, through rigorous defect handling, operator's can offer their customers a greater degree of integrity protection that their traffic will not be incorrectly delivered (for example, by being able to detect leaking LSP traffic from a VPN). Support for inter-provider data plane OAM messaging introduces a number of security concerns as, by definition, portions of LSPs will not be within a single provider's network the provider has no control over who may inject traffic into the LSP, which can be exploited for denial of service attacks. OAM PDUs are not explicitly identified in the MPLS header and therefore are not typically inspected by transit LSRs. This creates opportunity for malicious or poorly behaved users to disrupt network operations.
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   Attempts to introduce filtering on target LSP OAM flows may be
   problematic if flows are not visible to intermediate LSRs.  However,
   it may be possible to interdict flows on the return path between
   providers (as faithfulness to the forwarding path is to a return path
   requirement) to mitigate aspects of this vulnerability.

   OAM tools may permit unauthorized or malicious users to extract
   significant amounts of information about network configuration.  This
   would be especially true of IP based tools as, in many network
   configurations, MPLS does not typically extend to untrusted hosts,
   but IP does.  For example, TTL hiding at ingress and egress LSRs will
   prevent external users from using TTL-based mechanisms to probe an
   operator's network.  This suggests that tools used for problem
   diagnosis or which, by design, are capable of extracting significant
   amounts of information will require authentication and authorization
   of the originator.  This may impact the scalability of such tools
   when employed for monitoring instead of diagnosis.

8. Security Considerations

This document describes a framework for MPLS Operations and Management. Although this document discusses and addresses some security concerns in Section 7, it does not introduce any new security concerns.

9. Acknowledgements

The editors would like to thank Monique Morrow from Cisco Systems and Harmen van Der Linde from AT&T for their valuable review comments on this document.

10. Normative References

[RFC2119] Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, March 1997. [RFC3031] Rosen, E., Viswanathan, A., and R. Callon, "Multiprotocol Label Switching Architecture", RFC 3031, January 2001. [RFC4377] Nadeau, T., Morrow, M., Swallow, G., Allan, D., and S. Matsushima, "Operations and Management (OAM) Requirements for Multi-Protocol Label Switched (MPLS) Networks", RFC 4377, February 2006. [Y1710] ITU-T Recommendation Y.1710(2002), "Requirements for OAM Functionality for MPLS Networks".
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Authors' Addresses

David Allan Nortel Networks 3500 Carling Ave. Ottawa, Ontario, CANADA Phone: +1-613-763-6362 EMail: Thomas D. Nadeau Cisco Systems 300 Beaver Brook Drive Boxborough, MA 01824 Phone: +1-978-936-1470 EMail:
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