[Docs] [txt|pdf] [Tracker] [WG] [Email] [Diff1] [Diff2] [Nits]

Versions: 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 RFC 2722

Internet Engineering Task Force                           Nevil Brownlee
INTERNET-DRAFT                                The University of Auckland

Cyndi Mills
GTE Laboratories, Inc

Greg Ruth
GTE Internteworking

August 1999
Expires February 2000

Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture

<draft-ietf-rtfm-architecture-08.txt>

Status of this Memo

This document is an Internet-Draft and is in full conformance with all
provisions of Section 10 of RFC2026.

Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering Task
Force (IETF), its areas, and its working groups.  Note that other groups
may also distribute working documents as Internet-Drafts.

Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any
time.  It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference material
or to cite them other than as "work in progress."

The list of current Internet-Drafts can be accessed at
http://www.ietf.org/ietf/1id-abstracts.txt

The list of Internet-Draft Shadow Directories can be accessed at

This Internet Draft is a product of the Realtime Traffic Flow
Measurement Working Group of the IETF.

Abstract

This document provides a general framework for describing network
traffic flows, presents an architecture for traffic flow measurement and
reporting, discusses how this relates to an overall network traffic flow
architecture and indicates how it can be used within the Internet.

INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

Contents

1  Statement of Purpose and Scope                                      3
1.1 Introduction . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3

2  Traffic Flow Measurement Architecture                               5
2.1 Meters and Traffic Flows   .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
2.2 Interaction Between METER and METER READER  . . . . . . . . .   7
2.3 Interaction Between MANAGER and METER . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
2.4 Interaction Between MANAGER and METER READER  . . . . . . . .   8
2.5 Multiple METERs or METER READERs  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
2.6 Interaction Between MANAGERs (MANAGER - MANAGER)  . . . . . .  10
2.7 METER READERs and APPLICATIONs  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10

3  Traffic Flows and Reporting Granularity                            10
3.1 Flows and their Attributes  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
3.2 Granularity of Flow Measurements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  13
3.3 Rolling Counters, Timestamps, Report-in-One-Bucket-Only . . .  14

4  Meters                                                             16
4.1 Meter Structure  . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  17
4.2 Flow Table . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  19
4.3 Packet Handling, Packet Matching  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  19
4.4 Rules and Rule Sets  . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  23
4.5 Maintaining the Flow Table  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  28
4.6 Handling Increasing Traffic Levels  . . . . . . . . . . . . .  29

5.1 Identifying Flows in Flow Records . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  30
5.2 Usage Records, Flow Data Files  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  30
5.3 Meter to Meter Reader:  Usage Record Transmission . . . . . .  31

6  Managers                                                           32
6.1 Between Manager and Meter:  Control Functions . . . . . . . .  32
6.2 Between Manager and Meter Reader:  Control Functions  . . . .  33
6.3 Exception Conditions . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  34
6.4 Standard Rule Sets . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  35

7  Security Considerations                                            36
7.1 Threat Analysis  . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  36
7.2 Countermeasures  . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  37

8  IANA Considerations                                                38
8.1 PME Opcodes  . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  38
8.2 RTFM Attributes  . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  39

9  APPENDICES                                                         40
9.1 Appendix A: Network Characterisation  . . . . . . . . . . . .  40
9.2 Appendix B: Recommended Traffic Flow Measurement Capabilities  41
9.3 Appendix C: List of Defined Flow Attributes . . . . . . . . .  42

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                           [Page 2]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

9.4 Appendix D: List of Meter Control Variables . . . . . . . . .  43
9.5 Appendix E: Changes Introduced Since RFC 2063 . . . . . . . .  44

10 Acknowledgments                                                    44

11 References                                                         44

1  Statement of Purpose and Scope

1.1  Introduction

This document describes an architecture for traffic flow measurement and
reporting for data networks which has the following characteristics:

- The traffic flow model can be consistently applied to any protocol,
below), network and transport layers of the networking stack.

- Traffic flow attributes are defined in such a way that they are
valid for multiple networking protocol stacks, and that traffic
flow measurement implementations are useful in multi-protocol
environments.

- Users may specify their traffic flow measurement requirements by
writing 'rule sets,' allowing them to collect the flow data they
need while ignoring other traffic.

- The data reduction effort to produce requested traffic flow
information is placed as near as possible to the network
measurement point.  This minimises the volume of data to be
obtained (and transmitted across the network for storage), and
reduces the amount of processing required in traffic flow analysis
applications.

'Adjacent' (as used above) is a layer-neutral term for the next layer
down in a particular instantiation of protocol layering.  Although
not implicitly advocate or dismiss any particular form of tunnelling or
layering.

The architecture specifies common metrics for measuring traffic flows.
By using the same metrics, traffic flow data can be exchanged and
compared across multiple platforms.  Such data is useful for:

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                           [Page 3]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

- Understanding the behaviour of existing networks,

- Planning for network development and expansion,

- Quantification of network performance,

- Verifying the quality of network service, and

- Attribution of network usage to users.

The traffic flow measurement architecture is deliberately structured
using address attributes which are defined in a consistent way at the
Adjacent, Network and Transport layers of the networking stack, allowing
specific implementations of the architecture to be used effectively in
multi-protocol environments.  Within this document the term 'usage data'
is used as a generic term for the data obtained using the traffic flow
measurement architecture.

In principle one might define address attributes for higher layers, but
it would be very difficult to do this in a general way.  However, if an
RTFM traffic meter were implemented within an application server (where
would be possible to use the rest of the rtfm architecture to collect
application-specific information.  Use of the same model for both
network- and application-level measurement in this way could simplify
the development of generic analysis applications which process and/or
correlate both traffic and usage information.  Experimental work in this
area is described in the RTFM 'New Attributes' document [RTFM-NEW].

This document is not a protocol specification.  It specifies and
structures the information that a traffic flow measurement system needs
to collect, describes requirements that such a system must meet, and

For performance reasons, it may be desirable to use traffic information
gathered through traffic flow measurement in lieu of network statistics
obtained in other ways.  Although the quantification of network
performance is not the primary purpose of this architecture, the
measured traffic flow data may be used as an indication of network
performance.

A cost recovery structure decides "who pays for what." The major issue
here is how to construct a tariff (who gets billed, how much, for which
things, based on what information, etc).  Tariff issues include
fairness, predictability (how well can subscribers forecast their
network charges), practicality (of gathering the data and administering
the tariff), incentives (e.g. encouraging off-peak use), and cost
recovery goals (100% recovery, subsidisation, profit making).  Issues
such as these are not covered here.

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                           [Page 4]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

Background information explaining why this approach was selected is
provided by the 'Internet Accounting Background' RFC [ACT-BKG].

2  Traffic Flow Measurement Architecture

A traffic flow measurement system is used by Network Operations
personnel to aid in managing and developing a network.  It provides a
tool for measuring and understanding the network's traffic flows.  This
information is useful for many purposes, as mentioned in section 1
(above).

The following sections outline a model for traffic flow measurement,
which draws from working drafts of the OSI accounting model [OSI-ACT].

2.1  Meters and Traffic Flows

At the heart of the traffic measurement model are network entities
called traffic METERS. Meters observe packets as they pass by a single
point on their way through the network and classify them into certain
groups.  For each such group a meter will accumulate certain attributes,
for example the numbers of packets and bytes observed for the group.
These METERED TRAFFIC GROUPS may correspond to a user, a host system, a
network, a group of networks, a particular transport address (e.g. an IP
port number), any combination of the above, etc, depending on the
meter's configuration.

We assume that routers or traffic monitors throughout a network are
instrumented with meters to measure traffic.  Issues surrounding the
choice of meter placement are discussed in the 'Internet Accounting
Background' RFC [ACT-BKG]. An important aspect of meters is that they
provide a way of succinctly aggregating traffic information.

For the purpose of traffic flow measurement we define the concept of a
TRAFFIC FLOW, which is like an artificial logical equivalent to a call
or connection.  A flow is a portion of traffic, delimited by a start and
stop time, that belongs to one of the metered traffic groups mentioned
above.  Attribute values (source/destination addresses, packet counts,
byte counts, etc.)  associated with a flow are aggregate quantities
reflecting events which take place in the DURATION between the start and
stop times.  The start time of a flow is fixed for a given flow; the
stop time may increase with the age of the flow.

For connectionless network protocols such as IP there is by definition
no way to tell whether a packet with a particular source/destination
combination is part of a stream of packets or not - each packet is
completely independent.  A traffic meter has, as part of its

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                           [Page 5]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

configuration, a set of 'rules' which specify the flows of interest, in
terms of the values of their attributes.  It derives attribute values
from each observed packet, and uses these to decide which flow they
belong to.  Classifying packets into 'flows' in this way provides an
economical and practical way to measure network traffic and subdivide it
into well-defined groups.

Usage information which is not derivable from traffic flows may also be
of interest.  For example, an application may wish to record accesses to
various different information resources or a host may wish to record the
username (subscriber id) for a particular network session.  Provision is
made in the traffic flow architecture to do this.  In the future the
measurement model may be extended to gather such information from
applications and hosts so as to provide values for higher-layer flow
attributes.

As well as FLOWS and METERS, the traffic flow measurement model includes
MANAGERS, METER READERS and ANALYSIS APPLICATIONS, which are explained
in following sections.  The relationships between them are shown by the
diagram below.  Numbers on the diagram refer to sections in this
document.

MANAGER
/       \
2.3 /         \ 2.4
/           \
/             \                       ANALYSIS
METER   <----->   METER READER  <----->   APPLICATION
2.2                     2.7

- MANAGER: A traffic measurement manager is an application which
configures 'meter' entities and controls 'meter reader' entities.
It sends configuration commands to the meters, and supervises the
proper operation of each meter and meter reader.  It may well be
convenient to combine the functions of meter reader and manager
within a single network entity.

- METER: Meters are placed at measurement points determined by
Network Operations personnel.  Each meter selectively records
network activity as directed by its configuration settings.  It can
also aggregate, transform and further process the recorded activity
before the data is stored.  The processed and stored results are
called the 'usage data.'

- METER READER: A meter reader transports usage data from meters so
that it is available to analysis applications.

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                           [Page 6]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

- ANALYSIS APPLICATION: An analysis application processes the usage
data so as to provide information and reports which are useful for
network engineering and management purposes.  Examples include:

-TRAFFIC FLOW MATRICES, showing the total flow rates for many of
the possible paths within an internet.

-FLOW RATE FREQUENCY DISTRIBUTIONS, summarizing flow rates over
a period of time.

-USAGE DATA showing the total traffic volumes sent and received
by particular hosts.

The operation of the traffic measurement system as a whole is best
understood by considering the interactions between its components.
These are described in the following sections.

2.2  Interaction Between METER and METER READER

The information which travels along this path is the usage data itself.
A meter holds usage data in an array of flow data records known as the
FLOW TABLE. A meter reader may collect the data in any suitable manner.
For example it might upload a copy of the whole flow table using a file
transfer protocol, or read the records in the current flow set one at a
time using a suitable data transfer protocol.  Note that the meter
reader need not read complete flow data records, a subset of their
attribute values may well be sufficient.

A meter reader may collect usage data from one or more meters.  Data may
be collected from the meters at any time.  There is no requirement for
collections to be synchronized in any way.

2.3  Interaction Between MANAGER and METER

A manager is responsible for configuring and controlling one or more
meters.  Each meter's configuration includes information such as:

- Flow specifications, e.g. which traffic flows are to be measured,
how they are to be aggregated, and any data the meter is required
to compute for each flow being measured.

- Meter control parameters, e.g. the 'inactivity' time for flows (if
no packets belonging to a flow are seen for this time the flow is
considered to have ended, i.e. to have become idle).

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                           [Page 7]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

- Sampling behaviour.  Normally every packet will be observed.  It
may sometimes be necessary to use sampling techniques so as to
observe only some of the packets (see following note).

A note about sampling:  Current experience with the measurement
architecture shows that a carefully-designed and implemented meter
compresses the data sufficiently well that in normal LANs and WANs of
today sampling is seldom, if ever, needed.  For this reason sampling
algorithms are not prescribed by the architecture.  If sampling is
needed, e.g. for metering a very-high-speed network with fine-grained
flows, the sampling technique should be carefully chosen so as not to
bias the results.  For a good introduction to this topic see the IPPM
Working Group's RFC "Framework for IP Performance Metrics" [IPPM-FRM].

A meter may run several rule sets concurrently on behalf of one or more
(i.e. a 'rule set') to a meter.  Control parameters which apply to an
individual rule set should be set by the manager after it downloads that
rule set.

One manager should be designated as the 'master' for a meter.
Parameters such as sampling behaviour, which affect the overall
operation of the meter, should only be set by the master manager.

2.4  Interaction Between MANAGER and METER READER

A manager is responsible for configuring and controlling one or more
meter readers.  A meter reader may only be controlled by a single
manager.  A meter reader needs to know at least the following for every
meter it is collecting usage data from:

- The meter's unique identity, i.e. its network name or address.

- How often usage data is to be collected from the meter.

- Which flow records are to be collected (e.g. all flows, flows for a
particular rule set, flows which have been active since a given
time, etc.).

- Which attribute values are to be collected for the required flow
records (e.g. all attributes, or a small subset of them)

Since redundant reporting may be used in order to increase the
reliability of usage data, exchanges among multiple entities must be
considered as well.  These are discussed below.

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                           [Page 8]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

2.5  Multiple METERs or METER READERs

/         |          \
/          |           \
=====METER 1     METER 2=====METER 3    METER 4=====
\           |          /
\          |         /

Several uniquely identified meters may report to one or more meter
readers.  The diagram above gives an example of how multiple meters and

In the diagram above meter 1 is read by meter reader A, and meter 4 is
read by meter reader B. Meters 1 and 4 have no redundancy; if either
meter fails, usage data for their network segments will be lost.

Meters 2 and 3, however, measure traffic on the same network segment.
One of them may fail leaving the other collecting the segment's usage
If one meter reader fails, the other will continue collecting usage data
from both meters.

The architecture does not require multiple meter readers to be
synchronized.  In the situation above meter readers A and B could both
collect usage data at the same intervals, but not necesarily at the same
times.  Note that because collections are asynchronous it is unlikely
that usage records from two different meter readers will agree exactly.

If identical usage records were required from a single meter, a manager
could achieve this using two identical copies of a ruleset in that
meter.  Let's call them RS1 and RS2, and assume that RS1 is running.
When a collection is to be made the manager switches the meter from RS1
to RS2, and directs the meter reader(s) to read flow data for RS1 from
the meter.  For the next collection the manager switches back to RS1,
and so on.  Note, however, that it is not possible to get identical
usage records from more than one meter, since there is no way for a
manager to switch rulesets in more than one meter at the same time.

If there is only one meter reader and it fails, the meters continue to
run.  When the meter reader is restarted it can collect all of the
accumulated flow data.  Should this happen, time resolution will be lost
(because of the missed collections) but overall traffic flow information
will not.  The only exception to this would occur if the traffic volume
was sufficient to 'roll over' counters for some flows during the
failure; this is addressed in the section on 'Rolling Counters.'

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                           [Page 9]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

2.6  Interaction Between MANAGERs (MANAGER - MANAGER)

Synchronization between multiple management systems is the province of
network management protocols.  This traffic flow measurement
architecture specifies only the network management controls necessary to
perform the traffic flow measurement function and does not address the
more global issues of simultaneous or interleaved (possibly conflicting)
commands from multiple network management stations or the process of
transferring control from one network management station to another.

Once a collection of usage data has been assembled by a meter reader it
can be processed by an analysis application.  Details of analysis
applications - such as the reports they produce and the data they
require - are outside the scope of this architecture.

It should be noted, however, that analysis applications will often
require considerable amounts of input data.  An important part of
running a traffic flow measurement system is the storage and regular
reduction of flow data so as to produce daily, weekly or monthly summary
files for further analysis.  Again, details of such data handling are
outside the scope of this architecture.

3  Traffic Flows and Reporting Granularity

A flow was defined in section 2.1 above in abstract terms as follows:

"A TRAFFIC FLOW is an artifical logical equivalent to a call or
connection, belonging to a (user-specieied) METERED TRAFFIC
GROUP."

In practical terms, a flow is a stream of packets observed by the meter
as they pass across a network between two end points (or from a single
end point), which have been summarized by a traffic meter for analysis
purposes.

3.1  Flows and their Attributes

Every traffic meter maintains a table of 'flow records' for flows seen
by the meter.  A flow record holds the values of the ATTRIBUTES of
interest for its flow.  These attributes might include:

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                          [Page 10]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

- ADDRESSES for the flow's source and destination.  These comprise
the protocol type, the source and destination addresses at various
network layers (extracted from the packet header), and the number
of the interface on which the packet was observed.

- First and last TIMES when packets were seen for this flow, i.e. the
'creation' and 'last activity' times for the flow.

- COUNTS for 'forward' (source to destination) and 'backward'
(destination to source) components (e.g. packets and bytes) of the
flow's traffic.  The specifying of 'source' and 'destination' for
flows is discussed in the section on packet matching below.

- OTHER attributes, e.g. the index of the flow's record in the flow
table and the rule set number for the rules which the meter was
running while the flow was observed.  The values of these
attributes provide a way of distinguishing flows observed by a
meter at different times.

The attributes listed in this document (Appendix C) provide a basic
(i.e. useful minimum) set; IANA considerations for allocating new
attributes are set out in section 8 below.

A flow's METERED TRAFFIC GROUP is specified by the values of its ADDRESS
attributes.  For example, if a flow's address attributes were specified
address 26.1.0.1" then only IP packets from 10.1.0.1 to 26.1.0.1 and
back would be counted in that flow.  If a flow's address attributes
specified only that "source address = IP address 10.1.0.1," then all IP
packets from and to 10.1.0.1 would be counted in that flow.

more of the following types:

- The INTERFACE NUMBER for the flow, i.e. the interface on which the
meter measured the traffic.  Together with a unique address for the
meter this uniquely identifies a particular physical-level port.

from the peer address in a particular instantiation of protocol
it does not implicitly advocate or dismiss any particular form of
tunnelling or layering.

For example, if flow measurement is being performed using IP as the
normally be a six-octet Media Access Control (MAC) address.  For a
host connected to the same LAN segment as the meter the adjacent
address will be the MAC address of that host.  For hosts on other
LAN segments it will be the MAC address of the adjacent (upstream
or downstream) router carrying the traffic flow.

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                          [Page 11]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

- The PEER ADDRESS, which identifies the source or destination of the
packet for the network layer (n) at which traffic measurement is
being performed.  The form of a peer address will depend on the
network-layer protocol in use, and the measurement network layer
(n).

- The TRANSPORT ADDRESS, which identifies the source or destination
port for the packet, i.e. its (n+1) layer address.  For example, if
flow measurement is being performed at the IP layer a transport
address is a two-octet UDP or TCP port number.

The four definitions above specify addresses for each of the four lowest
layers of the OSI reference model, i.e. Physical layer, Link layer,
Network layer and Transport layer.  A FLOW RECORD stores both the VALUE
for each of its addresses (as described above) and a MASK specifying
which bits of the address value are being used and which are ignored.
Note that if address bits are being ignored the meter will set them to
zero, however their actual values are undefined.

One of the key features of the traffic measurement architecture is that
attributes have essentially the same meaning for different protocols, so
that analysis applications can use the same reporting formats for all
protocols.  This is straightforward for peer addresses; although the
form of addresses differs for the various protocols, the meaning of a
'peer address' remains the same.  It becomes harder to maintain this
correspondence at higher layers - for example, at the Network layer IP,
Novell IPX and AppleTalk all use port numbers as a 'transport address,'
but CLNP and DECnet have no notion of ports.

Reporting by adjacent intermediate sources and destinations or simply by
meter interface (most useful when the meter is embedded in a router)
supports hierarchical Internet reporting schemes as described in the
'Internet Accounting Background' RFC [ACT-BKG]. That is, it allows
backbone and regional networks to measure usage to just the next lower
level of granularity (i.e. to the regional and stub/enterprise levels,
respectively), with the final breakdown according to end user (e.g. to
source IP address) performed by the stub/enterprise networks.

In cases where network addresses are dynamically allocated (e.g. dial-in
subscribers), further subscriber identification will be necessary if
flows are to ascribed to individual users.  Provision is made to further
specify the metered traffic group through the use of an optional
SUBSCRIBER ID as part of the flow id.  A subscriber ID may be associated
with a particular flow either through the current rule set or by
unspecified means within a meter.  At this time a subscriber ID is an
arbitrary text string; later versions of the architecture may specify
details of its contents.

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                          [Page 12]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

3.2  Granularity of Flow Measurements

GRANULARITY is the 'control knob' by which an application and/or the
reporting against its level of detail.  A coarser granularity means a
greater level of aggregation; finer granularity means a greater level of
detail.  Thus, the number of flows measured (and stored) at a meter can
be regulated by changing the granularity of their attributes.  Flows are
like an adjustable pipe - many fine-granularity streams can carry the
data with each stream measured individually, or data can be bundled in
one coarse-granularity pipe.  Time granularity may be controlled by
varying the reporting interval, i.e. the time between meter readings.

Flow granularity is controlled by adjusting the level of detail for the
following:

- The metered traffic group (address attributes, discussed above).

- The categorisation of packets (other attributes, discussed below).

- The lifetime/duration of flows (the reporting interval needs to be
short enough to measure them with sufficient precision).

The set of rules controlling the determination of each packet's metered
traffic group is known as the meter's CURRENT RULE SET. As will be
shown, the meter's current rule set forms an integral part of the
reported information, i.e. the recorded usage information cannot be
properly interpreted without a definition of the rules used to collect
that information.

Settings for these granularity factors may vary from meter to meter.
They are determined by the meter's current rule set, so they will change
if network Operations personnel reconfigure the meter to use a new rule
set.  It is expected that the collection rules will change rather
infrequently; nonetheless, the rule set in effect at any time must be
identifiable via a RULE SET NUMBER. Granularity of metered traffic
groups is further specified by additional ATTRIBUTES. These attributes
include:

- Attributes which record information derived from other attribute
values.  Six of these are defined (SourceClass, DestClass,
FlowClass, SourceKind, DestKind, FlowKind), and their meaning is
determined by the meter's rule set.  For example, one could have a
subroutine in the rule set which determined whether a source or
destination peer address was a member of an arbitrary list of
networks, and set SourceClass/DestClass to one if the source/dest
peer address was in the list or to zero otherwise.

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                          [Page 13]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

- Administratively specified attributes such as Quality of Service
and Priority, etc.  These are not defined at this time.

Settings for these granularity factors may vary from meter to meter.
They are determined by the meter's current rule set, so they will change
if Network Operations personnel reconfigure the meter to use a new rule
set.

A rule set can aggregate groups of addresses in two ways.  The simplest
is to use a mask in a single rule to test for an address within a masked
group.  The other way is to use a sequence of rules to test for an
to set a derived attribute (e.g. FlowKind) to indicate the flow's group.

The LIFETIME of a flow is the time interval which began when the meter
observed the first packet belonging to the flow and ended when it saw
the last packet.  Flow lifetimes are very variable, but many - if not
most - are rather short.  A meter cannot measure lifetimes directly;
instead a meter reader collects usage data for flows which have been
active since the last collection, and an analysis application may
compare the data from each collection so as to determine when each flow
actually stopped.

The meter does, however, need to reclaim memory (i.e. records in the
flow table) being held by idle flows.  The meter configuration includes
a variable called InactivityTimeout, which specifies the minimum time a
meter must wait before recovering the flow's record.  In addition,
before recovering a flow record the meter should be sure that the flow's
data has been collected by all meter readers which registered to collect
it.  These two wait conditions are desired goals for the meter; they are
not difficult to achieve in normal usage, however the meter cannot
guarantee to fulfil them absolutely.

These 'lifetime' issues are considered further in the section on meter
readers (below).  A complete list of the attributes currently defined is
given in Appendix C later in this document.

3.3  Rolling Counters, Timestamps, Report-in-One-Bucket-Only

Once a usage record is sent, the decision needs to be made whether to
clear any existing flow records or to maintain them and add to their
counts when recording subsequent traffic on the same flow.  The second
method, called rolling counters, is recommended and has several
reliability - the system can now often survive the loss of some usage
records, such as might occur if a meter reader failed and later
restarted.  The next usage record will very often contain yet another
reading of many of the same flow buckets which were in the lost usage

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                          [Page 14]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

record.  The 'continuity' of data provided by rolling counters can also
supply information used for "sanity" checks on the data itself, to guard
against errors in calculations.

The use of rolling counters does introduce a new problem:  how to
distinguish a follow-on flow record from a new flow record.  Consider
the following example.

CONTINUING FLOW        OLD FLOW, then NEW FLOW

start time = 1            start time = 1
Usage record N:       flow count = 2000      flow count = 2000 (done)

start time = 1            start time = 5
Usage record N+1:     flow count = 3000      new flow count = 1000

Total count:                 3000                    3000

In the continuing flow case, the same flow was reported when its count
was 2000, and again at 3000:  the total count to date is 3000.  In the
OLD/NEW case, the old flow had a count of 2000.  Its record was then
stopped (perhaps because of temporary idleness), but then more traffic
with the same characteristics arrived so a new flow record was started
and it quickly reached a count of 1000.  The total flow count from both
the old and new records is 3000.

The flow START TIMESTAMP attribute is sufficient to resolve this.  In
the example above, the CONTINUING FLOW flow record in the second usage
record has an old FLOW START timestamp, while the NEW FLOW contains a
recent FLOW START timestamp.  A flow which has sporadic bursts of
activity interspersed with long periods of inactivity will produce a
sequence of flow activity records, each with the same set of address
attributes, but with increasing FLOW START times.

Each packet is counted in at most one flow for each running ruleset, so
as to avoid multiple counting of a single packet.  The record of a
single flow is informally called a "bucket." If multiple, sometimes
overlapping, records of usage information are required (aggregate,
individual, etc), the network manager should collect the counts in
sufficiently detailed granularity so that aggregate and combination
counts can be reconstructed in post-processing of the raw usage data.
Alternatively, multiple rulesets could be used to collect data at
different granularities.

For example, consider a meter from which it is required to record both
'total packets coming in interface #1' and 'total packets arriving from
any interface sourced by IP address = a.b.c.d,' using a single rule set.
Although a bucket can be declared for each case, it is not clear how to

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                          [Page 15]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

handle a packet which satisfies both criteria.  It must only be counted
once.  By default it will be counted in the first bucket for which it
qualifies, and not in the other bucket.  Further, it is not possible to
reconstruct this information by post-processing.  The solution in this
case is to define not two, but THREE buckets, each one collecting a
unique combination of the two criteria:

Bucket 1:  Packets which came in interface 1,
AND were sourced by IP address a.b.c.d

Bucket 2:  Packets which came in interface 1,
AND were NOT sourced by IP address a.b.c.d

Bucket 3:  Packets which did NOT come in interface 1,
AND were sourced by IP address a.b.c.d

(Bucket 4:  Packets which did NOT come in interface 1,
AND NOT sourced by IP address a.b.c.d)

The desired information can now be reconstructed by post-processing.
"Total packets coming in interface 1" can be found by adding buckets 1 &
2, and "Total packets sourced by IP address a.b.c.d" can be found by
adding buckets 1 & 3.  Note that in this case bucket 4 is not explicitly
required since its information is not of interest, but it is supplied
here in parentheses for completeness.

Alternatively, the above could be achieved by running two rule sets (A
and B), as follows:

Bucket 1:  Packets which came in interface 1;
counted by rule set A.

Bucket 2:  Packets which were sourced by IP address a.b.c.d;
counted by rule set B.

4  Meters

A traffic flow meter is a device for collecting data about traffic flows
at a given point within a network; we will call this the METERING POINT.
The header of every packet passing the network metering point is offered
to the traffic meter program.

A meter could be implemented in various ways, including:

- A dedicated small host, connected to a broadcast LAN (so that it
can see all packets as they pass by) and running a traffic meter
program.  The metering point is the LAN segment to which the meter
is attached.

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                          [Page 16]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

- A multiprocessing system with one or more network interfaces, with
drivers enabling a traffic meter program to see packets.  In this
case the system provides multiple metering points - traffic flows
on any subset of its network interfaces can be measured.

- A packet-forwarding device such as a router or switch.  This is
similar to (b) except that every received packet should also be
forwarded, usually on a different interface.

4.1  Meter Structure

An outline of the meter's structure is given in the following diagram:

Briefly, the meter works as follows:

- Incoming packet headers arrive at the top left of the diagram and
are passed to the PACKET PROCESSOR.

- The packet processor passes them to the Packet Matching Engine
(PME) where they are classified.

- The PME is a Virtual Machine running a pattern matching program
contained in the CURRENT RULE SET. It is invoked by the Packet
Processor, executes the rules in the current rule set as described
in section 4.3 below, and returns instructions on what to do with
the packet.

- Some packets are classified as 'to be ignored.'  They are discarded
by the Packet Processor.

- Other packets are matched by the PME, which returns a FLOW KEY
describing the flow to which the packet belongs.

- The flow key is used to locate the flow's entry in the FLOW TABLE;
a new entry is created when a flow is first seen.  The entry's data
fields (e.g. packet and byte counters) are updated.

- A meter reader may collect data from the flow table at any time.
It may use the 'collect' index to locate the flows to be collected
within the flow table.

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                          [Page 17]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

packet                     +------------------+
header                     | Current Rule Set |
|                        +--------+---------+
|                                 |
|                                 |
+-------*--------+    'match key'  +------*-------+
|    Packet      |---------------->|    Packet    |
|   Processor    |                 |   Matching   |
|                |<----------------|    Engine    |
+--+----------+--+  'flow key'     +--------------+
|          |
|          |
Ignore *          | Count (via 'flow key')
|
+--*--------------+
| 'Search' index  |
+--------+--------+
|
+--------*--------+
|                 |
|   Flow Table    |
|                 |
+--------+--------+
|
+--------*--------+
| 'Collect' index |
+--------+--------+
|
*

The discussion above assumes that a meter will only be running a single
rule set.  A meter may, however, run several rule sets concurrently.  To
do this the meter maintains a table of current rulesets.  The packet
processor matches each packet against every current ruleset, producing a
single flow table containing flows from all the rule sets.  One way to
implement this is to use the Rule Set Number attribute in each flow as
part of the flow key.

A packet may only be counted once in a rule set (as explained in section
3.3 above), but it may be counted in any of the current rulesets.  The
overall effect of doing this is somewhat similar to running several
independent meters, one for each rule set.

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                          [Page 18]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

4.2  Flow Table

Every traffic meter maintains 'flow table,' i.e. a table of TRAFFIC FLOW
RECORDS for flows seen by the meter.  Details of how the flow table is
maintained are given in section 4.5 below.  A flow record contains
attribute values for its flow, including:

- Addresses for the flow's source and destination.  These include
packet header), and the identity of the interface on which the
packet was observed.

- First and last times when packets were seen for this flow.

- Counts for 'forward' (source to destination) and 'backward'
(destination to source) components of the flow's traffic.

- Other attributes, e.g. state of the flow record (discussed below).

The state of a flow record may be:

- INACTIVE: The flow record is not being used by the meter.

- CURRENT: The record is in use and describes a flow which belongs to
the 'current flow set,' i.e. the set of flows recently seen by the
meter.

- IDLE: The record is in use and the flow which it describes is part
of the current flow set.  In addition, no packets belonging to this
flow have been seen for a period specified by the meter's
InactivityTime variable.

4.3  Packet Handling, Packet Matching

Each packet header received by the traffic meter program is processed as
follows:

- Extract attribute values from the packet header and use them to
create a MATCH KEY for the packet.

- Match the packet's key against the current rule set, as explained
in detail below.

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                          [Page 19]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

The rule set specifies whether the packet is to be counted or ignored.
If it is to be counted the matching process produces a FLOW KEY for the
flow to which the packet belongs.  This flow key is used to find the
flow's record in the flow table; if a record does not yet exist for this
flow, a new flow record may be created.  The data for the matching flow
record can then be updated.

For example, the rule set could specify that packets to or from any host
in IP network 130.216 are to be counted.  It could also specify that
flow records are to be created for every pair of 24-bit (Class C)
subnets within network 130.216.

Each packet's match key is passed to the meter's PATTERN MATCHING ENGINE
(PME) for matching.  The PME is a Virtual Machine which uses a set of
instructions called RULES, i.e. a RULE SET is a program for the PME. A
packet's match key contains source (S) and destination (D) interface

If measured flows were unidirectional, i.e. only counted packets
travelling in one direction, the matching process would be simple.  The
PME would be called once to match the packet.  Any flow key produced by
a successful match would be used to find the flow's record in the flow
table, and that flow's counters would be updated.

Flows are, however, bidirectional, reflecting the forward and reverse
packets of a protocol interchange or 'session.'  Maintaining two sets of
counters in the meter's flow record makes the resulting flow data much
simpler to handle, since analysis programs do not have to gather
together the 'forward' and 'reverse' components of sessions.
Implementing bi-directional flows is, of course, more difficult for the
meter, since it must decide whether a packet is a 'forward' packet or a
'reverse' one.  To make this decision the meter will often need to
invoke the PME twice, once for each possible packet direction.

The diagram below describes the algorithm used by the traffic meter to
process each packet.  Flow through the diagram is from left to right and
top to bottom, i.e. from the top left corner to the bottom right corner.
S indicates the flow's source address (i.e. its set of source address
attribute values) from the packet header, and D indicates its

There are several cases to consider.  These are:

- The packet is recognised as one which is TO BE IGNORED.

- The packet would MATCH IN EITHER DIRECTION. One situation in which
this could happen would be a rule set which matches flows within
network X (Source = X, Dest = X) but specifies that flows are to be
created for each subnet within network X, say subnets y and z.  If,
for example a packet is seen for y->z, the meter must check that
flow z->y is not already current before creating y->z.

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                          [Page 20]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

- The packet MATCHES IN ONE DIRECTION ONLY. If its flow is already
current, its forward or reverse counters are incremented.
Otherwise it is added to the flow table and then counted.

Ignore
--- match(S->D) -------------------------------------------------+
| Suc   | NoMatch                                           |
|       |          Ignore                                   |
|      match(D->S) -----------------------------------------+
|       | Suc   | NoMatch                                   |
|       |       |                                           |
|       |       +-------------------------------------------+
|       |                                                   |
|       |             Suc                                   |
|      current(D->S) ---------- count(D->S,r) --------------+
|       | Fail                                              |
|       |                                                   |
|      create(D->S) ----------- count(D->S,r) --------------+
|                                                           |
|             Suc                                           |
current(S->D) ------------------ count(S->D,f) --------------+
| Fail                                                      |
|             Suc                                           |
current(D->S) ------------------ count(D->S,r) --------------+
| Fail                                                      |
|                                                           |
create(S->D) ------------------- count(S->D,f) --------------+
|
*

The algorithm uses four functions, as follows:

match(A->B) implements the PME.  It uses the meter's current rule set
to match the attribute values in the packet's match key.  A->B means
that the assumed source address is A and destination address B, i.e.
that the packet was travelling from A to B.  match() returns one of
three results:

'Ignore' means that the packet was matched but this flow is not
to be counted.

'NoMatch' means that the packet did not match.  It might, however
match with its direction reversed, i.e. from B to A.

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                          [Page 21]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

'Suc'  means that the packet did match, i.e. it belongs to a flow
which is to be counted.

current(A->B) succeeds if the flow A-to-B is current - i.e. has
a record in the flow table whose state is Current - and fails
otherwise.

create(A->B) adds the flow A-to-B to the flow table, setting the
value for attributes - such as addresses - which remain constant,
and zeroing the flow's counters.

count(A->B,f) increments the 'forward' counters for flow A-to-B.
count(A->B,r) increments the 'reverse' counters for flow A-to-B.
'Forward' here means the counters for packets travelling from
A to B.  Note that count(A->B,f) is identical to count(B->A,r).

When writing rule sets one must remember that the meter will normally
try to match each packet in the reverse direction if the forward match
does not succeed.  It is particularly important that the rule set does
not contain inconsistencies which will upset this process.

Consider, for example, a rule set which counts packets from source
network A to destination network B, but which ignores packets from
source network B. This is an obvious example of an inconsistent rule
set, since packets from network B should be counted as reverse packets
for the A-to-B flow.

This problem could be avoided by devising a language for specifying rule
files and writing a compiler for it, thus making it much easier to
produce correct rule sets.  An example of such a language is described
in the 'SRL' document [RTFM-SRL]. Another approach would be to write a
'rule set consistency checker' program, which could detect problems in
hand-written rule sets.

Normally, the best way to avoid these problems is to write rule sets
which only classify flows in the forward direction, and rely on the
meter to handle reverse-travelling packets.

Occasionally there can be situations when a rule set needs to know the
direction in which a packet is being matched.  Consider, for example, a
rule set which wants to save some attribute values (source and
destination addresses perhaps) for any 'unusual' packets.  The rule set
will contain a sequence of tests for all the 'usual' source addresses,
follwed by a rule which will execute a 'NoMatch' action.  If the match
fails in the S->D direction, the NoMatch action will cause it to be
retried.  If it fails in the D->S direction, the packet can be counted
as an 'unusual' packet.

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                          [Page 22]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

To count such an 'unusual' packet we need to know the matching
direction:  the MatchingStoD attribute provides this.  To use it, one
follows the source address tests with a rule which tests whether the
matching direction is S->D (MatchingStoD value is 1).  If so, a
'NoMatch' action is executed.  Otherwise, the packet has failed to match
in both directions; we can save whatever attribute values are of
interest and count the 'unusual' packet.

4.4  Rules and Rule Sets

A rule set is an array of rules.  Rule sets are held within a meter as
entries in an array of rule sets.

Rule set 1 (the first entry in the rule set table) is built-in to the
meter and cannot be changed.  It is run when the meter is started up,
and provides a very coarse reporting granularity; it is mainly useful
for verifying that the meter is running, before a 'useful' rule set is

A meter also maintains an array of 'tasks,' which specify what rule sets
the meter is running.  Each task has a 'current' rule set (the one which
it normally uses), and a 'standby' rule set (which will be used when the
overall traffic level is unusually high).  If a task is instructed to
use rule set 0, it will cease measuring; all packets will be ignored
until another (non-zero) rule set is made current.

Each rule in a rule set is an instruction for the Packet Matching
Engine, i.e. it is an instruction for a Virtual Machine.  PME
instructions have five component fields, forming two logical groups as
follows:

+-------- test ---------+    +---- action -----+
attribute & mask = value:    opcode,  parameter;

The test group allows PME to test the value of an attribute.  This is
done by ANDing the attribute value with the mask and comparing the
result with the value field.  Note that there is no explicit provision
to test a range, although this can be done where the range can be
covered by a mask, e.g. attribute value less than 2048.

The PME maintains a Boolean indicator called the 'test indicator,' which
determines whether or not a rule's test is performed.  The test
indicator is initially set (true).

The opcode group specifies what action may be performed when the rule is
executed.  Opcodes contain two flags:  'goto' and 'test,' as detailed in
the table below.  Execution begins with rule 1, the first in the rule
set.  It proceeds as follows:

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                          [Page 23]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

If the test indicator is true:
Perform the test, i.e. AND the attribute value with the
mask and compare it with the value.
If these are equal the test has succeeded; perform the
rule's action (below).
If the test fails execute the next rule in the rule set.
If there are no more rules in the rule set, return from the
match() function indicating NoMatch.

If the test indicator is false, or the test (above) succeeded:
Set the test indicator to this opcode's test flag value.
Determine the next rule to execute.
If the opcode has its goto flag set, its parameter value
specifies the number of the next rule.
Opcodes which don't have their goto flags set either
determine the next rule in special ways (Return),
or they terminate execution (Ignore, NoMatch, Count,
CountPkt).
Perform the action.

The PME maintains two 'history' data structures.  The first, the
'return' stack, simply records the index (i.e. 1-origin rule number) of
each Gosub rule as it is executed; Return rules pop their Gosub rule
index.  Note that when the Ignore, NoMatch, Count and CountPkt actions
are performed, PME execution is terminated regardless of whether the PME
is executing a subroutine ('return' stack is non-empty) or not.

The second data structure, the 'pattern' queue, is used to save
information for later use in building a flow key.  A flow key is built
by zeroing all its attribute values, then copying attribute number, mask
and value information from the pattern queue in the order it was
enqueued.

An attribute number identifies the attribute actually used in a test.
It will usually be the rule's attribute field, unless the attribute is a
'meter variable.'  Details of meter variables are given after the table
of opcode actions below.

The opcodes are:

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                          [Page 24]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

opcode         goto    test

1  Ignore           0       -
2  NoMatch          0       -
3  Count            0       -
4  CountPkt         0       -
5  Return           0       0
6  Gosub            1       1
7  GosubAct         1       0
8  Assign           1       1
9  AssignAct        1       0
10  Goto             1       1
11  GotoAct          1       0
12  PushRuleTo       1       1
13  PushRuleToAct    1       0
14  PushPktTo        1       1
15  PushPktToAct     1       0
16  PopTo            1       1
17  PopToAct         1       0

The actions they perform are:

Ignore:         Stop matching, return from the match() function
indicating that the packet is to be ignored.

NoMatch:        Stop matching, return from the match() function
indicating failure.

Count:          Stop matching.  Save this rule's attribute number,
mask and value in the PME's pattern queue, then
construct a flow key for the flow to which this
packet belongs.  Return from the match() function
indicating success.  The meter will use the flow
key to search for the flow record for this
packet's flow.

CountPkt:       As for Count, except that the masked value from
the packet header (as it would have been used in
the rule's test) is saved in the PME's pattern
queue instead of the rule's value.

Gosub:          Call a rule-matching subroutine.  Push the current
rule number on the PME's return stack, set the
test indicator then goto the specified rule.

GosubAct:       Same as Gosub, except that the test indicator is
cleared before going to the specified rule.

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                          [Page 25]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

Return:         Return from a rule-matching subroutine.  Pop the
number of the calling gosub rule from the PME's
'return' stack and add this rule's parameter value
to it to determine the 'target' rule.  Clear the
test indicator then goto the target rule.

A subroutine call appears in a rule set as a Gosub
rule followed by a small group of following rules.
Since a Return action clears the test flag, the
action of one of these 'following' rules will be
executed; this allows the subroutine to return a
result (in addition to any information it may save
in the PME's pattern queue).

Assign:         Set the attribute specified in this rule to the
parameter value specified for this rule.  Set the
test indicator then goto the specified rule.

AssignAct:      Same as Assign, except that the test indicator
is cleared before going to the specified rule.

Goto:           Set the test indicator then goto the
specified rule.

GotoAct:        Clear the test indicator then goto the specified
rule.

PushRuleTo:     Save this rule's attribute number, mask and value
in the PME's pattern queue. Set the test
indicator then goto the specified rule.

PushRuleToAct:  Same as PushRuleTo, except that the test indicator
is cleared before going to the specified rule.

PushRuleTo actions may be used to save the value
and mask used in a test, or (if the test is not
performed) to save an arbitrary value and mask.

PushPktTo:      Save this rule's attribute number, mask, and the
have been used in the rule's test), in the PME's
pattern queue.  Set the test indicator then goto
the specified rule.

PushPktToAct:   Same as PushPktTo, except that the test indicator
is cleared before going to the specified rule.

PushPktTo actions may be used to save a value from
simplest way to program this is to use a zero value

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                          [Page 26]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

for the PushPktTo rule's value field, and to
GoToAct to the PushPktTo rule (so that it's test is
not executed).

PopTo:          Delete the most recent item from the pattern
queue, so as to remove the information saved by
an earlier 'push' action.  Set the test indicator
then goto the specified rule.

PopToAct:       Same as PopTo, except that the test indicator
is cleared before going to the specified rule.

As well as the attributes applying directly to packets (such as
further attribtes.  These are:

Null:       Tests performed on the Null attribute always succeed.

MatchingStoD:  Indicates whether the PME is matching the packet
with its addresses in 'wire order' or with its
addresses reversed.  MatchingStoD's value is 1 if the
addresses are in wire order (StoD), and zero otherwise.

v1 .. v5:   v1, v2, v3, v4 and v5 are 'meter variables.'  They
provide a way to pass parameters into rule-matching
subroutines.  Each may hold the number of a normal
attribute; its value is set by an Assign action.
When a meter variable appears as the attribute of a
rule, its value specifies the actual attribute to be
tested.  For example, if v1 had been assigned
SourcePeerAddress as its value, a rule with v1 as its

SourceClass, DestClass, FlowClass,
SourceKind, DestKind, FlowKind:
These six attributes may be set by executing PushRuleTo
actions.  They allow the PME to save (in flow records)
information which has been built up during matching.
Their values may be tested in rules; this allows one
to set them early in a rule set, and test them later.

The opcodes detailed above (with their above 'goto'and 'test' values)
form a minimum set, but one which has proved very effective in current
meter implementations.  From time to time it may be useful to add
further opcodes; IANA considerations for allocating these are set out in
section 8 below.

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                          [Page 27]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

4.5  Maintaining the Flow Table

The flow table may be thought of as a 1-origin array of flow records.
(A particular implementation may, of course, use whatever data structure
is most suitable).  When the meter starts up there are no known flows;
all the flow records are in the 'inactive' state.

Each time a packet is matched for a flow which is not in a current flow
set a flow record is created for it; the state of such a record is
'current.'  When selecting a record for the new flow the meter searches
the flow table for an 'inactive' record.  If no inactive records are
available it will search for an 'idle' one instead.  Note that there is
no particular significance in the ordering of records within the flow
table.

A meter's memory management routines should aim to minimise the time
spent finding flow records for new flows, so as to minimise the setup
overhead associated with each new flow.

Flow data may be collected by a 'meter reader' at any time.  There is no
requirement for collections to be synchronized.  The reader may collect
the data in any suitable manner, for example it could upload a copy of
the whole flow table using a file transfer protocol, or it could read
the records in the current flow set row by row using a suitable data
transfer protocol.

The meter keeps information about collections, in particular it
maintains ReaderLastTime variables which remember the time the last
specifies the minimum time the meter will wait before considering that a
flow is idle.

The meter must recover records used for idle flows, if only to prevent
it running out of flow records.  Recovered flow records are returned to
the 'inactive' state.  A variety of recovery strategies are possible,
including the following:

One possible recovery strategy is to recover idle flow records as soon
as possible after their data has been collected by all readers which
have registered to do so.  To implement this the meter could run a
background process which scans the flow table looking for 'current'
flows whose 'last packet' time is earlier than the meter's
LastCollectTime.

Another recovery strategy is to leave idle flows alone as long as
possible, which would be acceptable if one was only interested in
measuring total traffic volumes.  It could be implemented by having the
meter search for collected idle flows only when it ran low on 'inactive'
flow records.

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                          [Page 28]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

One further factor a meter should consider before recovering a flow is
the number of meter readers which have collected the flow's data.  If
flow's data before its memory is recovered.

Of course a meter reader may fail, so the meter cannot wait forever for
it.  Instead the meter must keep a table of active meter readers, with a
timeout specified for each.  If a meter reader fails to collect flow
data within its timeout interval, the meter should delete that reader
from the meter's active meter reader table.

4.6  Handling Increasing Traffic Levels

Under normal conditions the meter reader specifies which set of usage
records it wants to collect, and the meter provides them.  If, however,
memory usage rises above the high-water mark the meter should switch to
a STANDBY RULE SET so as to decrease the rate at which new flows are
created.

When the manager, usually as part of a regular poll, becomes aware that
the meter is using its standby rule set, it could decrease the interval
between collections.  This would shorten the time that flows sit in
memory waiting to be collected, allowing the meter to free flow memory
faster.

The meter could also increase its efforts to recover flow memory so as
to reduce the number of idle flows in memory.  When the situation
returns to normal, the manager may request the meter to switch back to
its normal rule set.

Usage data is accumulated by a meter (e.g. in a router) as memory
permits.  It is collected at regular reporting intervals by meter
readers, as specified by a manager.  The collected data is recorded in
stable storage as a FLOW DATA FILE, as a sequence of USAGE RECORDS.

The following sections describe the contents of usage records and flow
data files.  Note, however, that at this stage the details of such
records and files is not specified in the architecture.  Specifying a
common format for them would be a worthwhile future development.

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                          [Page 29]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

5.1  Identifying Flows in Flow Records

Once a packet has been classified and is ready to be counted, an
appropriate flow data record must already exist in the flow table;
otherwise one must be created.  The flow record has a flexible format
where unnecessary identification attributes may be omitted.  The
determination of which attributes of the flow record to use, and of what
values to put in them, is specified by the current rule set.

Note that the combination of start time, rule set number and flow
subscript (row number in the flow table) provide a unique flow
identifier, regardless of the values of its other attributes.

The current rule set may specify additional information, e.g. a computed
attribute value such as FlowKind, which is to be placed in the attribute
section of the usage record.  That is, if a particular flow is matched
by the rule set, then the corresponding flow record should be marked not
only with the qualifying identification attributes, but also with the
additional information.  Using this feature, several flows may each
carry the same FlowKind value, so that the resulting usage records can
be used in post-processing or between meter reader and meter as a
criterion for collection.

5.2  Usage Records, Flow Data Files

The collected usage data will be stored in flow data files on the meter
reader, one file for each meter.  As well as containing the measured
usage data, flow data files must contain information uniquely
identifiying the meter from which it was collected.

A USAGE RECORD contains the descriptions of and values for one or more
flows.  Quantities are counted in terms of number of packets and number
of bytes per flow.  Other quantities, e.g. short-term flow rates, may be
added later; work on such extensions is described in the RTFM 'New
Attributes' document [RTFM-NEW].

Each usage record contains the metered traffic group identifier of the
meter (a set of network addresses), a time stamp and a list of reported
flows (FLOW DATA RECORDS). A meter reader will build up a file of usage
records by regularly collecting flow data from a meter, using this data
to build usage records and concatenating them to the tail of a file.
Such a file is called a FLOW DATA FILE.

A usage record contains the following information in some form:

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                          [Page 30]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

+-------------------------------------------------------------------+
|    RECORD IDENTIFIERS:                                            |
|      Meter Id (& digital signature if required)                   |
|      Timestamp                                                    |
|      Collection Rules ID                                          |
+-------------------------------------------------------------------+
|    FLOW IDENTIFIERS:            |    COUNTERS                     |
|      Address List               |       Packet Count              |
|      Subscriber ID (Optional)   |       Byte Count                |
|      Attributes (Optional)      |    Flow Start/Stop Time         |
+-------------------------------------------------------------------+

5.3  Meter to Meter Reader:  Usage Record Transmission

The usage record contents are the raison d'etre of the system.  The
accuracy, reliability, and security of transmission are the primary
concerns of the meter/meter reader exchange.  Since errors may occur on
networks, and Internet packets may be dropped, some mechanism for
ensuring that the usage information is transmitted intact is needed.

Flow data is moved from meter to meter reader via a series of protocol
exchanges between them.  This may be carried out in various ways, moving
individual attribute values, complete flows, or the entire flow table
(i.e. all the active and idle flows).  One possible method of achieving
this transfer is to use SNMP; the 'Traffic Flow Measurement:  Meter MIB'
RFC [RTFM-MIB] gives details.  Note that this is simply one example; the
transfer of flow data from meter to meter reader is not specified in
this document.

The reliability of the data transfer method under light, normal, and
extreme network loads should be understood before selecting among
collection methods.

In normal operation the meter will be running a rule file which provides
the required degree of flow reporting granularity, and the meter
reader(s) will collect the flow data often enough to allow the meter's
garbage collection mechanism to maintain a stable level of memory usage.

In the worst case traffic may increase to the point where the meter is
in danger of running completely out of flow memory.  The meter
implementor must decide how to handle this, for example by switching to
a default (extremely coarse granularity) rule set, by sending a trap
message to the manager, or by attempting to dump flow data to the meter

Users of the Traffic Flow Measurement system should analyse their
requirements carefully and assess for themselves whether it is more
important to attempt to collect flow data at normal granularity

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                          [Page 31]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

(increasing the collection frequency as needed to keep up with traffic
volumes), or to accept flow data with a coarser granularity.  Similarly,
it may be acceptable to lose flow data for a short time in return for
being sure that the meter keeps running properly, i.e. is not
overwhelmed by rising traffic levels.

6  Managers

A manager configures meters and controls meter readers.  It does this
via the interactions described below.

6.1  Between Manager and Meter:  Control Functions

- DOWNLOAD RULE SET: A meter may hold an array of rule sets.  One of
these, the 'default' rule set, is built in to the meter and cannot
be changed; this is a diagnostic feature, ensuring that when a
meter starts up it will be running a known ruleset.

All other rule sets must be downloaded by the manager.  A manager
may use any suitable protocol exchange to achieve this, for example
an FTP file transfer or a series of SNMP SETs, one for each row of
the rule set.

manager must instruct the meter which rule sets will be the
'current' and 'standby' ones for each task the meter is to perform.

- SET HIGH WATER MARK: A percentage of the flow table capacity, used
by the meter to determine when to switch to its standby rule set
(so as to increase the granularity of the flows and conserve the
meter's flow memory).  Once this has happened, the manager may also
change the polling frequency or the meter's control parameters (so
as to increase the rate at which the meter can recover memory from
idle flows).  The meter has a separate high water mark value for
each task it is currently running.

If the high traffic levels persist, the meter's normal rule set may
have to be rewritten to permanently reduce the reporting
granularity.

- SET FLOW TERMINATION PARAMETERS: The meter should have the good
sense in situations where lack of resources may cause data loss to
purge flow records from its tables.  Such records may include:

- Flows that have already been reported to all registered meter
readers, and show no activity since the last report,
- Oldest flows, or
- Flows with the smallest number of observed packets.

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                          [Page 32]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

- SET INACTIVITY TIMEOUT: This is a time in seconds since the last
packet was seen for a flow.  Flow records may be reclaimed if they
have been idle for at least this amount of time, and have been
collected in accordance with the current collection criteria.

It might be useful if a manager could set the FLOW TERMINATION
PARAMETERS to different values for different tasks.  Current meter
implementations have only single ('whole meter') values for these
parameters, and experience to date suggests that this provides an

6.2  Between Manager and Meter Reader:  Control Functions

Because there are a number of parameters that must be set for traffic
flow measurement to function properly, and viable settings may change as
a result of network traffic characteristics, it is desirable to have
dynamic network management as opposed to static meter configurations.
Many of these operations have to do with space tradeoffs - if memory at
the meter is exhausted, either the collection interval must be decreased
or a coarser granularity of aggregation must be used to reduce the
number of active flows.

Increasing the collection interval effectively stores data in the meter;
usage data in transit is limited by the effective bandwidth of the
virtual link between the meter and the meter reader, and since these
limited network resources are usually also used to carry user data (the
purpose of the network), the level of traffic flow measurement traffic
should be kept to an affordable fraction of the bandwidth.
("Affordable" is a policy decision made by the Network Operations
personnel).  At any rate, it must be understood that the operations
below do not represent the setting of independent variables; on the
contrary, each of the values set has a direct and measurable effect on
the behaviour of the other variables.

Network management operations follow:

- MANAGER and METER READER IDENTIFICATION: The manager should ensure
that meters are read by the correct set of meter readers, and take
meter readers so identified should be prepared to poll if necessary
and accept data from the appropriate meters.  Alternate meter
readers may be identified in case both the primary manager and the
primary meter reader are unavailable.  Similarly, alternate
managers may be identified.

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                          [Page 33]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

- REPORTING INTERVAL CONTROL: The usual reporting interval should be
selected to cope with normal traffic patterns.  However, it may be
possible for a meter to exhaust its memory during traffic spikes
even with a correctly set reporting interval.  Some mechanism
should be available for the meter to tell the manager that it is in
danger of exhausting its memory (by declaring a 'high water'
condition), and for the manager to arbitrate (by decreasing the
polling interval, letting nature take its course, or by telling the
meter to ask for help sooner next time).

- GRANULARITY CONTROL: Granularity control is a catch-all for all the
parameters that can be tuned and traded to optimise the system's
ability to reliably measure and store information on all the
traffic (or as close to all the traffic as an administration
requires).  Granularity:

- Controls the amount of address information identifying each
flow, and
- Determines the number of buckets into which user traffic will
be lumped together.

Since granularity is controlled by the meter's current rule set,
the manager can only change it by requesting the meter to switch to
a different rule set.  The new rule set could be downloaded when
required, or it could have been downloaded as part of the meter's
initial configuration.

- FLOW LIFETIME CONTROL: Flow termination parameters include timeout
parameters for obsoleting inactive flows and removing them from
tables, and maximum flow lifetimes.  This is intertwined with
reporting interval and granularity, and must be set in accordance
with the other parameters.

6.3  Exception Conditions

Exception conditions must be handled, particularly occasions when the
meter runs out of space for flow data.  Since - to prevent an active
task from counting any packet twice - packets can only be counted in a
single flow, discarding records will result in the loss of information.
The mechanisms to deal with this are as follows:

- METER OUTAGES: In case of impending meter outages (controlled
restarts, etc.)  the meter could send a trap to the manager.  The
manager could then request one or more meter readers to pick up the
data from the meter.

Following an uncontrolled meter outage such as a power failure, the
meter could send a trap to the manager indicating that it has
rule set and advise the meter reader(s) that the meter is running

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                          [Page 34]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

again.  Alternatively, the meter reader may discover from its
regular poll that a meter has failed and restarted.  It could then
advise the manager of this, instead of relying on a trap from the
meter.

- METER READER OUTAGES: If the collection system is down or isolated,
the meter should try to inform the manager of its failure to
communicate with the collection system.  Usage data is maintained
in the flows' rolling counters, and can be recovered when the meter

- MANAGER OUTAGES: If the manager fails for any reason, the meter
should continue measuring and the meter reader(s) should keep
gathering usage records.

- BUFFER PROBLEMS: The network manager may realise that there is a
'low memory' condition in the meter.  This can usually be
attributed to the interaction between the following controls:

- The reporting interval is too infrequent, or
- The reporting granularity is too fine.

Either of these may be exacerbated by low throughput or bandwidth
of circuits carrying the usage data.  The manager may change any of
these parameters in response to the meter (or meter reader's) plea
for help.

6.4  Standard Rule Sets

Although the rule table is a flexible tool, it can also become very
complex.  It may be helpful to develop some rule sets for common
applications:

- PROTOCOL TYPE: The meter records packets by protocol type.  This
will be the default rule table for Traffic Flow Meters.

- ADJACENT SYSTEMS: The meter records packets by the MAC address of
the Adjacent Systems (neighbouring originator or next-hop).
(Variants on this table are "report source" or "report sink" only.)
This strategy might be used by a regional or backbone network which
wants to know how much aggregate traffic flows to or from its
subscriber networks.

- END SYSTEMS: The meter records packets by the IP address pair
contained in the packet.  (Variants on this table are "report
source" or "report sink" only.)  This strategy might be used by an
End System network to get detailed host traffic matrix usage data.

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                          [Page 35]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

- TRANSPORT TYPE: The meter records packets by transport address; for
IP packets this provides usage information for the various IP
services.

- HYBRID SYSTEMS: Combinations of the above, e.g. for one interface
This strategy might be used by an enterprise network to learn
detail about local usage and use an aggregate count for the shared
regional network.

7  Security Considerations

7.1  Threat Analysis

A traffic flow measurement system may be subject to the following kinds
of attacks:

- ATTEMPTS TO DISABLE A TRAFFIC METER: An attacker may attempt to
disrupt traffic measurement so as to prevent users being charged
for network usage.  For example, a network probe sending packets to
a large number of destination and transport addresses could produce
a sudden rise in the number of flows in a meter's flow table, thus
forcing it to use its coarser standby rule set.

- UNAUTHORIZED USE OF SYSTEM RESOURCES: An attacker may wish to gain
dadvantage or cause mischief (e.g. denial of service) by subverting
any of the system elements - meters, meter readers or managers.

- UNAUTHORIZED DISCLOSURE OF DATA: Any data that is sensitive to
disclosure can be read through active or passive attacks unless it
is suitably protected.  Usage data may or may not be of this type.
Control messages, traps, etc.  are not likely to be considered
sensitive to disclosure.

- UNAUTHORIZED ALTERATION, REPLACEMENT OR DESTRUCTION OF DATA:
Similarly, any data whose integrity is sensitive can be altered,
replaced/injected or deleted through active or passive attacks
unless it is suitably protected.  Attackers may modify message
streams to falsify usage data or interfere with the proper
operation of the traffic flow measurement system.  Therefore, all
messages, both those containing usage data and those containing
control data, should be considered vulnerable to such attacks.

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                          [Page 36]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

7.2  Countermeasures

The following countermeasures are recommended to address the possible
threats enumerated above:

- ATTEMPTS TO DISABLE A TRAFFIC METER can't be completely countered.
In practice, flow data records from network security attacks have
proved very useful in determining what happened.  The most
effective approach is first to configure the meter so that it has
three or more times as much flow memory as it needs in normal
operation, and second to collect the flow data fairly frequently so
as to minimise the time needed to recover flow memory after such an
attack.

- UNAUTHORIZED USE OF SYSTEM RESOURCES is countered through the use
of authentication and access control services.

- UNAUTHORIZED DISCLOSURE OF DATA is countered through the use of a
confidentiality (encryption) service.

- UNAUTHORIZED ALTERATION, REPLACEMENT OR DESTRUCTION OF DATA is
countered through the use of an integrity service.

A Traffic Measurement system must address all of these concerns.  Since
a high degree of protection is required, the use of strong cryptographic
methodologies is recommended.  The security requirements for
communication between pairs of traffic measurmement system elements are
summarized in the table below.  It is assumed that meters do not
communicate with other meters, and that meter readers do not communicate
directly with other meter readers (if synchronization is required, it is
handled by the manager, see Section 2.5).  Each entry in the table
indicates which kinds of security services are required.  Basically, the
requirements are as follows:

Security Service Requirements for RTFM elements

+------------------------------------------------------------------+
| from\to |    meter     | meter reader | application |  manager   |
|---------+--------------+--------------+-------------+------------|
| meter   |     N/A      |  authent     |     N/A     |  authent   |
|         |              |  acc ctrl    |             |  acc ctrl  |
|         |              |  integrity   |             |            |
|         |              |  confid **   |             |            |
|---------+--------------+--------------+-------------+------------|
| meter   |   authent    |     N/A      |  authent    |  authent   |
| reader  |   acc ctrl   |              |  acc ctrl   |  acc ctrl  |
|         |              |              |  integrity  |            |
|         |              |              |  confid **  |            |
|---------+--------------+--------------+-------------+------------|

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                          [Page 37]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

|---------+--------------+--------------+-------------+------------|
| appl    |     N/A      |  authent     |             |            |
|         |              |  acc ctrl    |     ##      |    ##      |
|---------+--------------+--------------+-------------+------------|
| manager |  authent     |  authent     |     ##      |  authent   |
|         |  acc ctrl    |  acc ctrl    |             |  acc ctrl  |
|         |  integrity   |  integrity   |             |  integrity |
+------------------------------------------------------------------+

N/A = Not Applicable    ** = optional    ## = outside RTFM scope

- When any two elements intercommunicate they should mutually
authenticate themselves to one another.  This is indicated by
'authent' in the table.  Once authentication is complete, an
element should check that the requested type of access is allowed;
this is indicated on the table by 'acc ctrl.'

- Whenever there is a transfer of information its integrity should be
protected.

- Whenever there is a transfer of usage data it should be possible to
ensure its confidentiality if it is deemed sensitive to disclosure.
This is indicated by 'confid' in the table.

Security protocols are not specified in this document.  The system
elements' management and collection protocols are responsible for
providing sufficient data integrity, confidentiality, authentication and
access control services.

8  IANA Considerations

The RTFM Architecture, as set out in this document, has two sets of
assigned numbers.  Considerations for assigning them are discussed in
this section, using the example policies as set out in the "Guidelines
for IANA Considerations" document [IANA-RFC].

8.1  PME Opcodes

The Pattern Matching Engine (PME) is a virtual machine, executing RTFM
rules as its instructions.  The PME opcodes appear in the 'action' field
of an RTFM rule.  The current list of opcodes, and their values for the
PME's 'goto' and 'test' flags, are set out in section 4.4 above ("Rules
and Rulesets).

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                          [Page 38]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

The PME opcodes are pivotal to the RTFM architecture, since they must be
implemented in every RTFM meter.  Any new opcodes must therefore be
allocated through an IETF Consensus action [IANA-RFC].

Opcodes are simply non-negative integers, but new opcodes should be
allocated sequentially so as to keep the total opcode range as small as
possible.

8.2  RTFM Attributes

Attribute numbers in the range of 0-511 are globally unique and are
allocated according to an IETF Consensus action [IANA-RFC]. Appendix C
of this document allocates a basic (i.e. useful minimum) set of
attribtes; they are assigned numbers in the range 0 to 63.  The RTFM
working group is working on an extended set of attributes, which will
have numbers in the range 64 to 127.

Vendor-specific attribute numbers are in the range 512-1023, and will be
allocated using the First Come FIrst Served policy [IANA-RFC]. Vendors
requiring attribute numbers should submit a request to IANA giving the
attribute names:  IANA will allocate them the next available numbers.

Attribute numbers 1024 and higher are Reserved for Private Use
[IANA-RFC]. Implementors wishing to experiment with further new
attributes should use attribute numbers in this range.

Attribute numbers are simply non-negative integers.  When writing
specifications for attributes, implementors must give sufficient detail
for the new attributes to be easily added to the RTFM Meter MIB
[RTFM-MIB]. In particular, they must indicate whether the new attributes
may be:

- tested in an IF statement
- saved by a SAVE statement or set by a STORE statement
- read from an RTFM meter

(IF, SAVE and STORE are statements in the SRL Ruleset Language
[RTFM-SRL]).

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                          [Page 39]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

9  APPENDICES

9.1  Appendix A: Network Characterisation

Internet users have extraordinarily diverse requirements.  Networks
differ in size, speed, throughput, and processing power, among other
factors.  There is a range of traffic flow measurement capabilities and
requirements.  For traffic flow measurement purposes, the Internet may
be viewed as a continuum which changes in character as traffic passes
through the following representative levels:

International                    |
Backbones/National        ---------------
/                \
Regional/MidLevel     ----------   ----------
/     \     \ /    /     \
Stub/Enterprise     ---   ---   ---   ----   ----
|||   |||   |||   ||||   ||||
End-Systems/Hosts   xxx   xxx   xxx   xxxx   xxxx

Note that mesh architectures can also be built out of these components,
and that these are merely descriptive terms.  The nature of a single
network may encompass any or all of the descriptions below, although
some networks can be clearly identified as a single type.

BACKBONE networks are typically bulk carriers that connect other
networks.  Individual hosts (with the exception of network management
devices and backbone service hosts) typically are not directly connected
to backbones.

REGIONAL networks are closely related to backbones, and differ only in
size, the number of networks connected via each port, and geographical
coverage.  Regionals may have directly connected hosts, acting as hybrid
backbone/stub networks.  A regional network is a SUBSCRIBER to the
backbone.

STUB/ENTERPRISE networks connect hosts and local area networks.
STUB/ENTERPRISE networks are SUBSCRIBERS to regional and backbone
networks.

END SYSTEMS, colloquially HOSTS, are SUBSCRIBERS to any of the above
networks.

Providing a uniform identification of the SUBSCRIBER in finer
granularity than that of end-system, (e.g. user/account), is beyond the
scope of the current architecture, although an optional attribute in the

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                          [Page 40]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

traffic flow measurement record may carry system-specific 'user
identification' labels so that meters can implement proprietary or
non-standard schemes for the attribution of network traffic to
responsible parties.

9.2  Appendix B: Recommended Traffic Flow Measurement Capabilities

Initial recommended traffic flow measurement conventions are outlined
here according to the following Internet building blocks.  It is
important to understand what complexity reporting introduces at each
network level.  Whereas the hierarchy is described top-down in the
previous section, reporting requirements are more easily addressed
bottom-up.

End-Systems
Stub Networks
Enterprise Networks
Regional Networks
Backbone Networks

END-SYSTEMS are currently responsible for allocating network usage to
end-users, if this capability is desired.  From the Internet Protocol
perspective, end-systems are the finest granularity that can be
identified without protocol modifications.  Even if a meter violated
protocol boundaries and tracked higher-level protocols, not all packets
could be correctly allocated by user, and the definition of user itself
varies widely from operating system to operating system (e.g. how to
trace network usage back to users from shared processes).

STUB and ENTERPRISE networks will usually collect traffic data either by
is required in the local area network.  If no local reporting is
required, they may record usage information in the exit router to track
external traffic only.  (These are the only networks which routinely use
attributes to perform reporting at granularities finer than end-system

REGIONAL networks are intermediate networks.  In some cases, subscribers
will be enterprise networks, in which case the intermediate system
network address is sufficient to identify the regional's immediate
subscriber.  In other cases, individual hosts or a disjoint group of
hosts may constitute a subscriber.  Then end-system network address
pairs need to be tracked for those subscribers.  When the source may be
an aggregate entity (such as a network, or adjacent router representing

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                          [Page 41]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

traffic from a world of hosts beyond) and the destination is a singular
entity (or vice versa), the meter is said to be operating as a HYBRID
system.

At the regional level, if the overhead is tolerable it may be

BACKBONE networks are the highest level networks operating at higher
link speeds and traffic levels.  The high volume of traffic will in most
cases preclude detailed traffic flow measurement.  Backbone networks

9.3  Appendix C: List of Defined Flow Attributes

This Appendix provides a checklist of the attributes defined to date;
others will be added later as the Traffic Measurement Architecture is
further developed.

Note that this table gives only a very brief summary.  The Meter MIB
[RTFM-MIB] provides the definitive specification of attributes and their
allowed values.  The MIB variables which represent flow attributes have
'flowData' prepended to their names to indicate that they belong to the
MIB's flowData table.

0  Null

8  SourcePeerType         Integer
11  SourceTransType        Integer

18  DestPeerType           Integer
21  DestTransType          Integer

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                          [Page 42]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

26  RuleSet                Integer     Meter attribute

27  ToOctets               Integer     Source-to-Dest counters
28  ToPDUs                 Integer
29  FromOctets             Integer     Dest-to-Source counters
30  FromPDUs               Integer
31  FirstTime              Timestamp   Activity times
32  LastActiveTime         Timestamp
33  SourceSubscriberID     String      Session attributes
34  DestSubscriberID       String
35  SessionID              String

36  SourceClass            Integer     'Computed' attributes
37  DestClass              Integer
38  FlowClass              Integer
39  SourceKind             Integer
40  DestKind               Integer
41  FlowKind               Integer

50  MatchingStoD           Integer     PME variable

51  v1                     Integer     Meter Variables
52  v2                     Integer
53  v3                     Integer
54  v4                     Integer
55  v5                     Integer

65
..  'Extended' attributes (to be defined by the RTFM working group)
127

9.4  Appendix D: List of Meter Control Variables

Meter variables:
Flood Mark                    Percentage
Inactivity Timeout (seconds)  Integer

Current Rule Set Number       Integer
Standby Rule Set Number       Integer
High Water Mark               Percentage

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                          [Page 43]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

9.5  Appendix E: Changes Introduced Since RFC 2063

The first version of the Traffic Flow Measurement Architecture was
published as RFC 2063 in January 1997.  The most significant changes
made since then are summarised below.

- A Traffic Meter can now run multiple rule sets concurrently.  This
makes a meter much more useful, and required only minimal changes
to the architecture.

- 'NoMatch' replaces 'Fail' as an action.  This name was agreed to at
the Working Group 1996 meeting in Montreal; it better indicates
that although a particular match has failed, it may be tried again

- The 'MatchingStoD' attribute has been added.  This is a Packet
Matching Engine (PME) attribute indicating that addresses are being
matched in StoD (i.e. 'wire') order.  It can be used to perform
different actions when the match is retried, thereby simplifying
some kinds of rule sets.  It was discussed and agreed to at the San
Jose meeting in 1996.

- Computed attributes (Class and Kind) may now be tested within a
rule set.  This lifts an unneccessary earlier restriction.

- The list of attribute numbers has been extended to define ranges
for 'basic' attributes (in this document) and 'extended' attributes
(currently being developed by the RTFM Working Group).

- The 'Security Considerations' section has been completely
rewritten.  It provides an evaluation of traffic measurement
security risks and their countermeasures.

10  Acknowledgments

An initial draft of this document was produced under the auspices of the
IETF's Internet Accounting Working Group with assistance from SNMP, RMON
and SAAG working groups.  Particular thanks are due to Stephen Stibler
(IBM Research) for his patient and careful comments during the
preparation of this draft.

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                          [Page 44]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

11  References

[802-3]    IEEE 802.3/ISO 8802-3 Information Processing Systems - Local
Area Networks - Part 3: Carrier sense multiple access with
collision detection (CSMA/CD) access method and physical
layer specifications, 2nd edition, September 21, 1990.

[ACT-BKG]  Mills, C., Hirsch, G. and Ruth, G., "Internet Accounting
Background," RFC 1272, November 1991.

[IANA-RFC] Alvestrand, H. and T. Narten, "Guidelines for Writing an
IANA Considerations Section in RFCs", BCP 26, RFC 2434,
October 1998.

[IPPM-FRM] Paxson, V., Almes, G., Mahdavi, J. and  Mathis, M.,
"Framework for IP Performance Metrics," RFC 2330, May 1998.

[OSI-ACT]  International Standards Organisation (ISO), "Management
Framework," Part 4 of Information Processing Systems Open
Systems Interconnection Basic Reference Model,
ISO 7498-4, 1994.

[RTFM-MIB] Brownlee, N., "Traffic Flow Measurement: Meter MIB",
RFC 2064, January 1997.

[RTFM-NEW] Handelman, S.W., Brownlee, N., Ruth, G., Stibler, S.,
"New Attributes for Traffic Flow Measurment,"  Internet
Draft 'Work in progress' to become an Informational RFC

[RTFM-SRL] Brownlee, N.,  "SRL: A Language for Describing Traffic
Flows and Specifying Actions for Flow Groups,"  Internet
Draft 'Work in progress' to become an Informational RFC

Nevil Brownlee
Information Technology Systems & Services
The University of Auckland
Private Bag 92-019
Auckland, New Zealand

Phone: +64 9 373 7599 x8941
E-mail: n.brownlee@auckland.ac.nz

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                          [Page 45]


INTERNET-DRAFT      Traffic Flow Measurement: Architecture     August 99

Cyndi Mills
GTE Laboratories, Inc
40 Sylvan Rd.
Waltham, MA 02451, U.S.A.

Phone: +1 781 466 4278
E-mail: cmills@gte.com

Greg Ruth
GTE Internteworking
3 Van de Graaff Drive
P.O. Box 3073
Burlington, MA 01803, U.S.A.

Phone: +1 781 262 4831
E-mail: gruth@gte.com

Expires February 2000

Brownlee, Mills, Ruth                                          [Page 46]



Html markup produced by rfcmarkup 1.109, available from https://tools.ietf.org/tools/rfcmarkup/