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IPPM                                                             H. Song
Internet-Draft                                                 Futurewei
Intended status: Informational                                   T. Zhou
Expires: May 3, 2021                                               Z. Li
                                                               G. Mirsky
                                                               ZTE Corp.
                                                                 J. Shin
                                                              SK Telecom
                                                                  K. Lee
                                                                   LG U+
                                                        October 30, 2020

    Postcard-based On-Path Flow Data Telemetry using Packet Marking


   The document describes a packet-marking variation of the Postcard-
   Based Telemetry (PBT), referred to as PBT-M.  Unlike the instruction-
   based PBT, as embodied in [I-D.ietf-ippm-ioam-direct-export], PBT-M
   does not require the encapsulation of a telemetry instruction header,
   so it avoids some of the implementation challenges of the
   instruction-based PBT.  However, PBT-M has unique issues that need to
   be considered.  This document serves as a scheme overview and
   provides design guidelines applicable to implementations in different
   network protocols.

Status of This Memo

   This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the
   provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
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   Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
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   material or to cite them other than as "work in progress."

   This Internet-Draft will expire on May 3, 2021.

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Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2020 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
   (https://trustee.ietf.org/license-info) in effect on the date of
   publication of this document.  Please review these documents
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   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.

Table of Contents

   1.  Motivation  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   2.  PBT-M: Marking-based PBT  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
   3.  New Challenges  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
   4.  PBT-M Design Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
     4.1.  Packet Marking  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
     4.2.  Flow Path Discovery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
     4.3.  Packet Identity for Export Data Correlation . . . . . . .   8
     4.4.  Control the Load  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   5.  Implementation Recommendation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
     5.1.  Configuration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
     5.2.  Postcard Format . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
     5.3.  Data Correlation  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
   6.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
   7.  IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
   8.  Contributors  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
   9.  Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
   10. Informative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
   Authors' Addresses  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12

1.  Motivation

   To gain detailed data plane visibility to support effective network
   OAM, it is essential to be able to examine the trace of user packets
   along their forwarding paths.  Such on-path flow data reflect the
   state and status of each user packet's real-time experience and
   provide valuable information for network monitoring, measurement, and

   The telemetry data include but not limited to the detailed forwarding
   path, the timestamp/latency at each network node, and, in case of
   packet drop, the drop location, and the reason.  The emerging

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   programmable data plane devices allow user-defined data collection or
   conditional data collection based on trigger events.  Such on-path
   flow data are from and about the live user traffic, which complements
   the data acquired through other passive and active OAM mechanisms
   such as IPFIX [RFC7011] and ICMP [RFC2925].

   On-path telemetry was developed to cater to the need of collecting
   on-path flow data.  There are two basic modes for on-path telemetry:
   the passport mode and the postcard mode.  In the passport mode, each
   node on the path adds the telemetry data to the user packets (i.e.,
   stamp the passport).  The accumulated data-trace carried by user
   packets are exported at a configured end node.  In the postcard mode,
   each node directly exports the telemetry data using an independent
   packet (i.e., send a postcard) to avoid the need for carrying the
   data with user packets.

   In-situ OAM trace option (IOAM) [I-D.ietf-ippm-ioam-data] is a
   representative of the passport mode on-path telemetry.  A prominent
   advantage of the passport mode is that it naturally retains the
   telemetry data correlation along the entire path.  The passport mode
   also reduces the number of data export packets.  These help to
   simplify the data collector and analyzer's work.  On the other hand,
   the passport mode faces the following challenges.

   o  Issue 1: Since the telemetry instruction header and data
      processing must be done in the data-plane fast-path, it may
      interfere with the normal traffic forwarding (e.g., leading to
      forwarding performance degradation) and lead to inaccurate
      measurements (e.g., resulting in longer latency measurements than
      usual).  This undesirable "observer effect" is problematic to
      carrier networks where stringent SLA must be observed.

   o  Issue 2: The passport mode may significantly increase the user
      packet's original size by adding data at each on-path node.  The
      size may exceed the path MTU, so either the technique cannot
      apply, or the packet needs to be fragmented.  That could be
      challenging when other network service headers (e.g., segment
      routing or service function chaining) are also present.  Limiting
      the data size or path length reduces the effectiveness of INT.

   o  Issue 3: The instruction header needs to be encapsulated into user
      packets for transport.  [I-D.brockners-inband-oam-transport] has
      discussed several encapsulation approaches for different transport
      protocols.  So far, there is no feasible solution to encapsulate
      the instruction header in MPLS and IPv4 networks, which are still
      the most widely deployed.  It is also challenging to encapsulate
      the instruction header in IPv6 [I-D.song-ippm-ioam-ipv6-support].

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   o  Issue 4: The telemetry information is transported in plain text
      along the network paths.  The instruction header and data are
      vulnerable to eavesdropping and tampering as well as DoS attack.
      Extra protective measurement is difficult on the data-plane fast-

   o  Issue 5: Since the passport mode only exports the telemetry data
      at the designated end node, if the packet is dropped in the
      network, the data will be lost as well.  It cannot pinpoint the
      packet drop location, which is desired by fault diagnosis.  Even
      worse, the end node may be unaware of the packet and data loss at

   The postcard mode provides a perfect complement to the passport mode.
   In the variant of the postcard-based telemetry (PBT) which uses an
   instruction header, the postcards that carry telemetry data can be
   generated by a node's slow path and transported in-band or out-of-
   band, independent of the original user packets.  IOAM direct export
   option (DEX) [I-D.ietf-ippm-ioam-direct-export] is a representative
   of PBT.  Since an instruction header is still needed while
   successfully addressing issue 2 and 5 and partially addressing issue
   1 and 4, this type of instruction-based PBT still cannot address
   issue 3.

   This document describes another variation of the postcard mode on-
   path telemetry, the marking-based PBT (PBT-M).  Unlike the
   instruction-based PBT, PBT-M does not require the encapsulation of a
   telemetry instruction header, so it avoids some of the implementation
   challenges of the instruction-based PBT.  However, PBT-M has unique
   issues that need to be considered.  This document discusses the
   challenges and their solutions of the marking-based PBT.

2.  PBT-M: Marking-based PBT

   As the name suggests, PBT-M only needs a marking-bit in the existing
   headers of user packets to trigger the telemetry data collection and
   export.  The sketch of PBT-M is as follows.  If on-path data need to
   be collected, the user packet is marked at the path head node.  At
   each PBT-aware node, if the mark is detected, a postcard (i.e., the
   dedicated OAM packet triggered by a marked user packet) is generated
   and sent to a collector.  The postcard contains the data requested by
   the management plane.  The requested data are configured by the
   management plane.  Once the collector receives all the postcards for
   a single user packet, it can infer the packet's forwarding path and
   analyze the data set.  The path end node is configured to unmark the
   packets to its original format if necessary.

   The overall architecture of PBT-M is depicted in Figure 1.

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                         +------------+        +-----------+
                         | Network    |        | Telemetry |
                         | Management |(-------| Data      |
                         |            |        | Collector |
                         +-----:------+        +-----------+
                               :                     ^
                               :configurations       |postcards
                               :                     |(OAM pkts)
                :             :               :      |       :
                :   +---------:---+-----------:---+--+-------:---+
                :   |         :   |           :   |          :   |
                V   |         V   |           V   |          V   |
             +------+-+     +-----+--+     +------+-+     +------+-+
   usr pkts  | Head   |     | Path   |     | Path   |     | End    |
        ====>| Node   |====>| Node   |====>| Node   |====>| Node   |===>
             |        |     | A      |     | B      |     |        |
             +--------+     +--------+     +--------+     +--------+
           mark usr pkts  gen postcards  gen postcards  gen postcards
           gen postcards                                unmark usr pkts

                      Figure 1: Architecture of PBT-M

   PBT-M aims to address the issues listed above.  It also introduces
   some new benefits.  The advantages of PBT-M are summarized as

   o  1: PBT-M avoids augmenting user packets with new headers and
      introducing new data plane protocols.  The telemetry data
      collecting signaling remains in the data plane.

   o  2: PBT-M is extensible for collecting arbitrary new data to
      support possible future use cases.  The data set to be collected
      can be configured through the management plane or control plane.
      Since there is no limitation on the types of data, any data other
      than those defined in [I-D.ietf-ippm-ioam-data] can also be
      collected.  Since there is no size constraint anymore, it is free
      to use a more flexible data set template for data type definition.

   o  3: PBT-M avoids interfering with the normal forwarding and
      affecting the forwarding performance.  Hence, the collected data
      are free to be transported independently through in-band or out-
      of-band channels.  The data collecting, processing, assembly,
      encapsulation, and transport are, therefore, decoupled from the
      forwarding of the corresponding user packets and can be performed
      in data-plane slow-path if necessary.

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   o  4: For PBT-M, the types of data collected from each node can vary
      depending on application requirements and node capability.  This
      is either impossible or very difficult to be supported by the
      passport mode in which the instruction header conveys data types
      collected per node.

   o  5: PBT-M makes it easy to secure the collected data without
      exposing it to unnecessary entities.  For example, both the
      configuration and the telemetry data can be encrypted before being
      transported, so passive eavesdropping and a man-in-the-middle
      attack can both be deterred.

   o  6: Even if a user packet under inspection is dropped at some node
      in the network, the postcards collected from the preceding nodes
      are still valid and can be used to diagnose the packet drop
      location and reason.

3.  New Challenges

   Although PBT-M addresses the issues of the passport mode telemetry
   and the instruction-based PBT, it introduces a few new challenges.

   o  Challenge 1 (Packet Marking): A user packet needs to be marked to
      trigger the path-associated data collection.  Since the PBT-M does
      not augment user packets with any new header fields, it needs to
      reserve or reuse bits from the existing header fields.  This
      raises a similar issue as in the Alternate Marking Scheme

   o  Challenge 2 (Configuration): Since the packet header will not
      carry OAM instructions anymore, the data plane devices need to be
      configured to know what data to collect.  However, in general, the
      forwarding path of a flow packet (due to ECMP or dynamic routing)
      is unknown beforehand (note that there are some notable
      exceptions, such as segment routing).  If the per-flow customized
      data collection is required, configuring the data set for each
      flow at all data plane devices might be expensive in terms of
      configuration load and data plane resources.

   o  Challenge 3 (Data Correlation): Due to the variable transport
      latency, the dedicated postcard packets for a single packet may
      arrive at the collector out of order or be dropped in networks for
      some reason.  In order to infer the packet forwarding path, the
      collector needs some information from the postcard packets to
      identify the user packet affiliation and the order of path node

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   o  Challenge 4 (Load Overhead): Since each postcard packet has its
      header, the overall network bandwidth overhead of PBT is higher
      than IOAM.  A large number of postcards could add processing
      pressure on data collecting servers.  That can be used as an
      attack vector for DoS.

4.  PBT-M Design Considerations

   To address the above challenges, we propose several design details of

4.1.  Packet Marking

   To trigger the path-associated data collection, usually, a single bit
   from some header field is sufficient.  While no such bit is
   available, other packet-marking techniques are needed.  We discuss
   several possible application scenarios.

   o  IPv4.  Alternate Marking (AM) [RFC8321] is an IP flow performance
      measurement framework that also requires a single bit for packet
      coloring.  The difference is that AM does in-network measurement
      while PBT-M only collects and exports data at network nodes (i.e.,
      the data analysis is done at the collector rather than in the
      network nodes).  AM suggests to use some reserved bit of the Flag
      field or some unused bit of the TOS field.  Actually, AM can be
      considered a sub-case of PBT-M, so that the same bit can be used
      for PBT-M.  The management plane is responsible for configuring
      the actual operation mode.

   o  SFC NSH.  The OAM bit in the NSH header can be used to trigger the
      on-path data collection [I-D.ietf-sfc-nsh].  PBT does not add any
      other metadata to NSH.

   o  MPLS.  Instead of choosing a header bit, we take advantage of the
      synonymous flow label [I-D.bryant-mpls-synonymous-flow-labels]
      approach to mark the packets.  A synonymous flow label indicates
      the on-path data should be collected and forwarded through a

   o  SRv6: A flag bit in SRH can be reserved to trigger the on-path
      data collection [I-D.song-6man-srv6-pbt].  SRv6 OAM
      [I-D.ietf-6man-spring-srv6-oam] has adopted the O-bit in SRH flags
      as the marking bit to trigger the telemetry.

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4.2.  Flow Path Discovery

   In case the path that a flow traverses is unknown in advance, all
   PBT-aware nodes should be configured to react to the marked packets
   by exporting some basic data, such as node ID and TTL before a data
   set template for that flow is configured.  This way, the management
   plane can learn the flow path dynamically.

   If the management plane wants to collect the on-path data for some
   flow, it configures the head node(s) with a probability or time
   interval for the flow packet marking.  When the first marked packet
   is forwarded in the network, the PBT-aware nodes will export the
   basic data set to the collector.  Hence, the flow path is identified.
   If other data types need to be collected, the management plane can
   further configure the data set's template to the target nodes on the
   flow's path.  The PBT-aware nodes collect and export data accordingly
   if the packet is marked and a data set template is present.

   If the flow path is changed for any reason, the new path can be
   quickly learned by the collector.  Consequently, the management plane
   controller can be directed to configure the nodes on the new path.
   The outdated configuration can be automatically timed out or
   explicitly revoked by the management plane controller.

4.3.  Packet Identity for Export Data Correlation

   The collector needs to correlate all the postcard packets for a
   single user packet.  Once this is done, the TTL (or the timestamp, if
   the network time is synchronized) can be used to infer the flow
   forwarding path.  The key issue here is to correlate all the
   postcards for the same user packet.

   The first possible approach includes the flow ID plus the user packet
   ID in the OAM packets.  For example, the flow ID can be the 5-tuple
   IP header of the user traffic, and the user packet ID can be some
   unique information pertaining to a user packet (e.g., the sequence
   number of a TCP packet).

   If the packet marking interval is large enough, the flow ID is enough
   to identify a user packet.  As a result, it can be assumed that all
   the exported postcard packets for the same flow during a short time
   interval belong to the same user packet.

   Alternatively, if the network is synchronized, then the flow ID plus
   the timestamp at each node can also infer the postcard affiliation.
   However, some errors may occur under some circumstances.  For
   example, two consecutive user packets from the same flows are marked,
   but one exported postcard from a node is lost.  It is difficult for

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   the collector to decide to which user packet the remaining postcard
   is related.  In many cases, such a rare error has no catastrophic
   consequence.  Therefore it is tolerable.

4.4.  Control the Load

   PBT-M should not be applied to all the packets all the time.  It is
   better to be used in an interactive environment where the network
   telemetry applications dynamically decide which subset of traffic is
   under scrutiny.  The network devices can limit the PBT rate through
   sampling and metering.  The PBT packets can be distributed to
   different servers to balance the processing load.

   It is important to understand that the total amount of data exported
   by PBT-M is identical to that of IOAM.  The only extra overhead is
   the packet header of the postcards.  In the case of IOAM, it carries
   the data from each node throughout the path to the end node before
   exporting the aggregated data.  On the other hand, PBT-M directly
   exports local data.  The overall network bandwidth impact depends on
   the network topology and scale, and PBT-M could be more bandwidth

5.  Implementation Recommendation

5.1.  Configuration

   The head node's ACL should be configured to filter out the target
   flows for telemetry data collection.  Optionally, a flow packet
   sampling rate or probability could be configured to monitor a subset
   of the flow packets.

   The telemetry data set that should be exported by postcards at each
   path node could be configured using the data set templates specified,
   for example, in IPFIX [RFC7011].  In future revisions, we will
   provide more details.

   The PBT-aware path nodes could be configured to respond or ignore the
   marked packets.

5.2.  Postcard Format

   The postcard should use the same data export format as that used by
   IOAM.  [I-D.spiegel-ippm-ioam-rawexport] proposes a raw format that
   can be interpreted by IPFIX.  In future revisions, we will provide
   more details.

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5.3.  Data Correlation

   Enough information should be included to help the collector to
   correlate and order the postcards for a single user packet.
   Section 4.3 provides several possible means.  The application
   scenario and network protocol are important factors to determine the
   means to use.  In future revisions, we will provide details for
   representative applications.

6.  Security Considerations

   Several security issues need to be considered.

   o  Eavesdrop and tamper: the postcards can be encrypted and
      authenticated to avoid such security threats.

   o  DoS attack: PBT can be limited to a single administrative domain.
      The mark must be removed at the egress domain edge.  The node can
      rate-limit the extra traffic incurred by postcards.

7.  IANA Considerations

   No requirement for IANA is identified.

8.  Contributors

   We thank Alfred Morton who provided valuable suggestions and comments
   helping improve this draft.

9.  Acknowledgments


10.  Informative References

              Brockners, F., Bhandari, S., Govindan, V., Pignataro, C.,
              Gredler, H., Leddy, J., Youell, S., Mizrahi, T., Mozes,
              D., Lapukhov, P., and R. Chang, "Encapsulations for In-
              situ OAM Data", draft-brockners-inband-oam-transport-05
              (work in progress), July 2017.

              Bryant, S., Swallow, G., Sivabalan, S., Mirsky, G., Chen,
              M., and Z. Li, "RFC6374 Synonymous Flow Labels", draft-
              bryant-mpls-synonymous-flow-labels-01 (work in progress),
              July 2015.

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              Ali, Z., Filsfils, C., Matsushima, S., Voyer, D., and M.
              Chen, "Operations, Administration, and Maintenance (OAM)
              in Segment Routing Networks with IPv6 Data plane (SRv6)",
              draft-ietf-6man-spring-srv6-oam-07 (work in progress),
              July 2020.

              Brockners, F., Bhandari, S., and T. Mizrahi, "Data Fields
              for In-situ OAM", draft-ietf-ippm-ioam-data-10 (work in
              progress), July 2020.

              Song, H., Gafni, B., Zhou, T., Li, Z., Brockners, F.,
              Bhandari, S., Sivakolundu, R., and T. Mizrahi, "In-situ
              OAM Direct Exporting", draft-ietf-ippm-ioam-direct-
              export-00 (work in progress), February 2020.

              Quinn, P., Elzur, U., and C. Pignataro, "Network Service
              Header (NSH)", draft-ietf-sfc-nsh-28 (work in progress),
              November 2017.

              Song, H., "Support Postcard-Based Telemetry for SRv6 OAM",
              draft-song-6man-srv6-pbt-01 (work in progress), October

              Song, H., Li, Z., and S. Peng, "Approaches on Supporting
              IOAM in IPv6", draft-song-ippm-ioam-ipv6-support-00 (work
              in progress), March 2020.

              Spiegel, M., Brockners, F., Bhandari, S., and R.
              Sivakolundu, "In-situ OAM raw data export with IPFIX",
              draft-spiegel-ippm-ioam-rawexport-01 (work in progress),
              October 2018.

   [RFC2925]  White, K., "Definitions of Managed Objects for Remote
              Ping, Traceroute, and Lookup Operations", RFC 2925,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC2925, September 2000,

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   [RFC7011]  Claise, B., Ed., Trammell, B., Ed., and P. Aitken,
              "Specification of the IP Flow Information Export (IPFIX)
              Protocol for the Exchange of Flow Information", STD 77,
              RFC 7011, DOI 10.17487/RFC7011, September 2013,

   [RFC8321]  Fioccola, G., Ed., Capello, A., Cociglio, M., Castaldelli,
              L., Chen, M., Zheng, L., Mirsky, G., and T. Mizrahi,
              "Alternate-Marking Method for Passive and Hybrid
              Performance Monitoring", RFC 8321, DOI 10.17487/RFC8321,
              January 2018, <https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc8321>.

Authors' Addresses

   Haoyu Song
   2330 Central Expressway
   Santa Clara, 95050

   Email: hsong@futurewei.com

   Tianran Zhou
   156 Beiqing Road
   Beijing, 100095
   P.R. China

   Email: zhoutianran@huawei.com

   Zhenbin Li
   156 Beiqing Road
   Beijing, 100095
   P.R. China

   Email: lizhenbin@huawei.com

   Greg Mirsky
   ZTE Corp.

   Email: gregimirsky@gmail.com

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   Jongyoon Shin
   SK Telecom
   South Korea

   Email: jongyoon.shin@sk.com

   Kyungtae Lee
   LG U+
   South Korea

   Email: coolee@lguplus.co.kr

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