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Versions: 00 draft-ietf-lwig-terminology

LWIG Working Group                                            C. Bormann
Internet-Draft                                   Universitaet Bremen TZI
Intended status: Informational                                  M. Ersue
Expires: May 12, 2013                             Nokia Siemens Networks
                                                       November 08, 2012

               Terminology for Constrained Node Networks


   The Internet Protocol Suite is increasingly used on small devices
   with severe constraints, creating constrained node networks.  This
   document provides a number of basic terms that have turned out to be
   useful in the standardization work for constrained environments.

Status of this Memo

   This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the
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   This Internet-Draft will expire on May 12, 2013.

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   Copyright (c) 2012 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
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Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
   2.  Terminology  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
     2.1.  Constrained Nodes  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
     2.2.  Constrained Networks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
       2.2.1.  Challenged Networks  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  5
     2.3.  Constrained Node Networks  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
       2.3.1.  LLN ("low-power lossy network")  . . . . . . . . . . .  6
       2.3.2.  LoWPAN, 6LoWPAN  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
   3.  Classes of Constrained Devices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
   4.  Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
   Authors' Addresses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12

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1.  Introduction

   Small devices with limited CPU, memory, and power resources, so
   called constrained devices (aka. sensor, smart object, or smart
   device) can constitute a network, becoming "constrained nodes" in
   that network.  Such a network may itself exhibit constraints, e.g.
   with unreliable or lossy channels, limited and unpredictable
   bandwidth, and a highly dynamic topology.

   Constrained devices might be in charge of gathering information in
   diverse settings including natural ecosystems, buildings, and
   factories and send the information to one or more server stations.
   Constrained devices may work under severe resource constraints such
   as limited battery and computing power, little memory and
   insufficient wireless bandwidth, and communication capabilities.
   Other entities on the network, e.g., a base station or controlling
   server, might have more computational and communication resources and
   can support the interaction between the constrained devices and
   applications in more traditional networks.

   Today diverse sizes of constrained devices with different resources
   and capabilities are becoming connected.  Mobile personal gadgets,
   building-automation devices, cellular phones, Machine-to-machine
   (M2M) devices, etc. benefit from interacting with other "things" in
   the near or somewhere in the Internet.  With this, the Internet of
   Things (IoT) becomes a reality, built up out of uniquely identifiable
   and addressable objects (things).  And over the next decade, this
   could grow to large numbers [50billion] of Internet-connected
   constrained devices, greatly increasing the Internet's size and

   The present document provides a number of basic terms that have
   turned out to be useful in the standardization work for constrained
   environments.  The intention is not to exhaustingly cover the field,
   but to make sure a few core terms are used consistently between
   different groups cooperating in this space.

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2.  Terminology

   The main focus of this field of work appears to be _scaling_:

   o  Scaling up Internet technologies to a large number [50billion] of
      inexpensive nodes, while

   o  scaling down the characteristics of each of these nodes and of the
      networks being built out of them, to make this scaling up
      econmically and physically viable.

   The need for scaling down the characteristics of nodes leads to
   _constrained nodes_.

2.1.  Constrained Nodes

   The term "constrained node" is best defined on not meeting certain
   widely held expectations:

   Constrained Node:  A node where some of the characteristics that are
      otherwise pretty much taken for granted for Internet nodes in 2012
      are not attainable, often due to cost constraints and/or physical
      constraints on characteristics such as size, weight, and available

   While this is less than satisfying as a rigorous definition, it is
   grounded in the state of the art and clearly sets apart constrained
   nodes from server systems, desktop or laptop computers, powerful
   mobile devices such as smartphones etc.

   (An alternative name, when the properties as a network node are not
   in focus, is "constrained device".)

   There are multiple facets to the constraints on nodes, often applying
   in combination, e.g.:

   o  constraints on the maximum code complexity (ROM/Flash);

   o  constraints on the size of state and buffers (RAM);

   o  constraints on the available power.

   Section 3 defines a small number of interesting classes ("class-N"
   for N=1,2) of constrained nodes focusing on relevant combinations of
   the first two constraints.  With respect to available power,
   [RFC6606] distinguishes "power-affluent" nodes (mains-powered or
   regularly recharged) from "power-constrained nodes" that draw their
   power from primary batteries or using energy harvesting.

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   The use of constrained nodes in networks often also leads to
   constraints on the networks themselves.  However, there may also be
   constraints on networks that are largely independent from those of
   the nodes.  We therefore distinguish _constrained networks_ and
   _constrained node networks_.

2.2.  Constrained Networks

   We define "constrained network" in a similar way:

   Constrained Network:  A network where some of the characteristics
      pretty much taken for granted for Internet link layers in 2012 are
      not attainable.

   Again, there may be several reasons for this:

   o  cost constraints on the network

   o  constraints of the nodes (for constrained node networks)

   o  physical constraints (e.g., power constraints, media constraints
      such as underwater operation, limited spectrum for very high

   Constraints may include:

   o  low achievable bit rate

   o  high packet loss, packet loss (delivery rate) variability

   o  severe penalties for using larger packets (e.g., high packet loss
      due to link layer fragmentation)

   o  lack of (or severe constraints on) advanced services such as IP

2.2.1.  Challenged Networks

   A constrained network is not necessarily a _challenged_ network

   Challenged Network:  A network that has serious trouble maintaining
      what an applicaton would today expect of the end-to-end IP model,
      e.g., by:

   o  not being able to offer end-to-end IP connectivity at all;

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   o  exhibiting serious interruptions in end-to-end IP connectivity;

   o  exhibiting delay well beyond the MSL defined by TCP.

   All challenged networks are constrained networks in some sense, but
   not all constrained networks are challenged networks.  There is no
   well-defined boundary between the two, though.  Delay-Tolerant
   Networking (DTN) has been designed to cope with challenged networks

2.3.  Constrained Node Networks

   Constrained Node Network:  A network whose characteristics are
      influenced by being composed of a significant portion of
      constrained nodes.

   A constrained node network always is a constrained network because of
   the network constraints stemming from the node constraints, but may
   also have other constraints that already make it a constrained

2.3.1.  LLN ("low-power lossy network")

   A related term that has been used recently is "low-power lossy
   network" (LLN).  The ROLL working group currently is struggling with
   its definition [I-D.ietf-roll-terminology]:

      LLN: Low power and Lossy networks (LLNs) are typically composed of
      many embedded devices with limited power, memory, and processing
      resources interconnected by a variety of links, such as IEEE
      802.15.4 or Low Power WiFi.  There is a wide scope of application
      areas for LLNs, including industrial monitoring, building
      automation (HVAC, lighting, access control, fire), connected home,
      healthcare, environmental monitoring, urban sensor networks,
      energy management, assets tracking and refrigeration.. [sic]

   It is not clear that "LLN" is much more specific than "interesting"
   or "the network characteristics that RPL has been designed for".
   LLNs do appear to have significant loss at the physical layer, with
   significant variability of the delivery rate, and some short-term
   unreliability, coupled with some medium term stability that makes it
   worthwhile to construct medium-term stable directed acyclic graphs
   for routing and do measurements on the edges such as ETX.  Actual
   "low power" does not seem to be required for an LLN
   [I-D.hui-vasseur-roll-rpl-deployment], and the positions on scaling
   of LLNs appear to vary widely [I-D.clausen-lln-rpl-experiences].

   Also, LLNs seem to be composed of constrained nodes; otherwise

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   operation modes such as RPL's "non-storing mode" would not be
   sensible.  So an LLN seems to be a constrained node network with
   certain constraints on the network as well.

2.3.2.  LoWPAN, 6LoWPAN

   One interesting class of a constrained network often used as a
   constrained node network is the "LoWPAN" [RFC4919], a term inspired
   from the name of the IEEE 802.15.4 working group (low-rate wireless
   personal area networks (LR-WPANs)).  The expansion of that acronym,
   "Low-Power Wireless Personal Area Network" contains a hard to justify
   "Personal" that is due to IEEE politics more than due to an
   orientation of LoWPANs around a single person.  Actually, LoWPANs
   have been suggested for urban monitoring, control of large buildings,
   and industrial control applications, so the "Personal" can only be
   considered a vestige.  Maybe the term is best read as "Low-Power
   Wireless Area Networks" (LoWPANs) [WEI].  Originally focused on IEEE
   802.15.4, "LoWPAN" (or when used for IPv6, "6LoWPAN") is now also
   being used for networks built from similarly constrained link layer
   technologies [I-D.ietf-6lowpan-btle]

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3.  Classes of Constrained Devices

   Despite the overwhelming variety of Internet-connected devices that
   can be envisioned, it may be worthwhile to have some succinct
   terminology for different classes of constrained devices.  In this
   document, the following class designations may be used as rough
   indications of device capabilities:

       | Name    | data size (e.g., RAM) | code size (e.g., Flash) |
       | Class 0 |       << 10 KiB       |        << 100 KiB       |
       |         |                       |                         |
       | Class 1 |        ~ 10 KiB       |        ~ 100 KiB        |
       |         |                       |                         |
       | Class 2 |        ~ 50 KiB       |        ~ 250 KiB        |

                  Table 1: Classes of Constrained Devices

   As of the writing of this document, these characteristics correspond
   to distinguishable sets of commercially available chips and design
   cores for constrained devices.  While it is expected that the
   boundaries of these classes will move over time, Moore's law tends to
   be less effective in the embedded space than in personal computing
   devices: Gains made available by increases in transistor count and
   density are more likely to be invested in reductions of cost and
   power requirements than into continual increases in computing power.

   Class 0 devices are very constrained sensor-like motes.  Most likely
   they will not be able to communicate directly with the Internet in a
   secure manner.  Class 0 devices will participate in Internet
   communications with the help of larger devices acting as proxies or
   gateways.  Class 0 devices generally cannot be secured or managed
   comprehensively in the traditional sense.  They will be most likely
   preconfigured and if ever will be reconfigured rarely with a very
   small data set.  For management purposes, they could answer keepalive
   signals and send on/off or basic health indications.

   Class 1 devices cannot easily talk to other Internet nodes employing
   a full protocol stack such as using HTTP, TLS and related security
   protocols and XML-based data representations.  However, they have
   enough power to use a protocol stack specifically designed for
   constrained nodes (e.g., CoAP over UDP) and participate in meaningful
   conversations without the help of a gateway node.  In particular,
   they can provide support for the security functions required on a
   large network.  Therefore, they can be integrated as fully developed
   peers into an IP network, but they need to be parsimonious with state

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   memory, code space, and often power expenditure for protocol and
   application usage.

   Class 2 can already support mostly the same protocol stacks as used
   on notebooks or servers.  However, even these devices can benefit
   from lightweight and energy-efficient protocols and from consuming
   less bandwidth.  Furthermore, using fewer resources for networking
   leaves more resources available to applications.  Thus, using the
   protocol stacks defined for very constrained devices also on Class 2
   devices might reduce development costs and increase the

   Constrained devices with capabilities significantly beyond Class 2
   devices exist.  They are less demanding from a standards development
   point of view as they can largely use existing protocols unchanged.
   The present document therefore does not make any attempt to define
   classes beyond Class 2.  These devices can still be constrained by a
   limited energy supply.

   With respect to examining the capabilities of constrained nodes,
   particularly for Class 1 devices, it is important to understand what
   type of applications they are able to run and which protocol
   mechanisms would be most suitable.  Because of memory and other
   limitations, each specific Class 1 device might be able to support
   only a few selected functions needed for its intended operation.  In
   other words, the set of functions that can actually be supported is
   not static per device type: devices with similar constraints might
   choose to support different functions.  Even though Class 2 devices
   have some more functionality available and may be able to provide a
   more complete set of functions, they still need to be assessed for
   the type of applications they will be running and the protocol
   functions they would need.  To be able to derive any requirements,
   the use cases and the involvement of the devices in the application
   and the operational scenario need to be analyzed.  Use cases may
   combine constrained devices of multiple classes as well as more
   traditional Internet nodes.

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4.  Informative References

              "More Than 50 Billion Connected Devices", Ericsson White
              Paper 284 23-3149 Uen, February 2011, <http://

   [FALL]     Fall, K., "A Delay-Tolerant Network Architecture for
              Challenged Internets", SIGCOMM 2003.

              Clausen, T., Verdiere, A., Yi, J., Herberg, U., and Y.
              Igarashi, "Observations of RPL: IPv6 Routing Protocol for
              Low power and Lossy Networks",
              draft-clausen-lln-rpl-experiences-04 (work in progress),
              July 2012.

              Vasseur, J., Hui, J., Dasgupta, S., and G. Yoon, "RPL
              deployment experience in large scale networks",
              draft-hui-vasseur-roll-rpl-deployment-01 (work in
              progress), July 2012.

              Nieminen, J., Savolainen, T., Isomaki, M., Patil, B.,
              Shelby, Z., and C. Gomez, "Transmission of IPv6 Packets
              over BLUETOOTH Low Energy", draft-ietf-6lowpan-btle-11
              (work in progress), October 2012.

              Vasseur, J., "Terminology in Low power And Lossy
              Networks", draft-ietf-roll-terminology-06 (work in
              progress), September 2011.

              Mariager, P. and J. Petersen, "Transmission of IPv6
              Packets over DECT Ultra Low Energy",
              draft-mariager-6lowpan-v6over-dect-ule-02 (work in
              progress), May 2012.

   [RFC4838]  Cerf, V., Burleigh, S., Hooke, A., Torgerson, L., Durst,
              R., Scott, K., Fall, K., and H. Weiss, "Delay-Tolerant
              Networking Architecture", RFC 4838, April 2007.

   [RFC4919]  Kushalnagar, N., Montenegro, G., and C. Schumacher, "IPv6
              over Low-Power Wireless Personal Area Networks (6LoWPANs):
              Overview, Assumptions, Problem Statement, and Goals",
              RFC 4919, August 2007.

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   [RFC6606]  Kim, E., Kaspar, D., Gomez, C., and C. Bormann, "Problem
              Statement and Requirements for IPv6 over Low-Power
              Wireless Personal Area Network (6LoWPAN) Routing",
              RFC 6606, May 2012.

   [WEI]      Shelby, Z. and C. Bormann, "6LoWPAN: the Wireless Embedded
              Internet", ISBN 9780470747995, 2009.

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Authors' Addresses

   Carsten Bormann
   Universitaet Bremen TZI
   Postfach 330440
   Bremen  D-28359

   Phone: +49-421-218-63921
   Email: cabo@tzi.org

   Mehmet Ersue
   Nokia Siemens Networks

   Email: mehmet.ersue@nsn.com

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