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Versions: 00 draft-ietf-armd-problem-statement

Internet Engineering Task Force                                T. Narten
Internet-Draft                                                       IBM
Intended status: Informational                              July 5, 2011
Expires: January 6, 2012

                       Problem Statement for ARMD


   This document examines problems related to the massive scaling of
   data centers.  Our initial scope is relatively narrow.  Specifically,
   we focus on address resolution (ARP and ND) within a single L2
   broadcast domain, in which all nodes are within the same physical
   data center.  From an IP perspective, the entire L2 network comprises
   one IP subnet or IPv6 "link".  Data centers in which a single L2
   network spans multiple geographic locations are out-of-scope.

Status of this Memo

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

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

   This Internet-Draft will expire on January 6, 2012.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2011 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
   Provisions Relating to IETF Documents
   (http://trustee.ietf.org/license-info) in effect on the date of
   publication of this document.  Please review these documents
   carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect
   to this document.  Code Components extracted from this document must
   include Simplified BSD License text as described in Section 4.e of

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   the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as
   described in the Simplified BSD License.

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
   2.  Background  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
   3.  Out-of-Scope Topics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
   4.  Address Resolution  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
   5.  Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
   6.  Acknowledgements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
   7.  IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
   8.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
   Author's Address  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

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1.  Introduction

   This document examines problems related to the massive scaling of
   data centers.  Our initial scope is relatively narrow.  Specifically,
   we focus on address resolution (ARP and ND) within a single L2
   broadcast domain, in which all nodes are within the same physical
   data center.  From an IP perspective, the entire L2 network comprises
   one IP subnet or IPv6 "link".  Data centers in which a single L2
   network spans multiple geographic locations are out-of-scope.

   This document is intended to support the ARMD WG identify its work
   areas.  The scope of this document intentionally starts out narrow,
   mirroring the ARMD WG charter.  Expanding the scope requires careful
   thought, as the topic of scaling data centers generally has an almost
   unbounded potential scope.  It is important that this group restrict
   itself to considering problems that are widespread and that it has
   the ability to solve.

2.  Background

   Large, flat L2 networks have long been known to have scaling
   problems.  As the size of an L2 network increases, the level of
   broadcast traffic from protocols like ARP increases.  Large amounts
   of broadcast traffic pose a particular burden because every device
   (switch, host and router) must process and possibly act on such
   traffic.  In addition, large L2 networks can be subject to "broadcast
   storms".  The conventional wisdom for addressing such problems has
   been to say "don't do that".  That is, split the L2 network into
   multiple separate networks, each operating as its own L3/IP subnet.
   Unfortunately, this conflicts in some ways with the current trend of
   virtualized systems.

   Server virtualization is fast becoming the norm in data centers.
   With server virtualization, each physical server supports multiple
   virtual servers, each running its own operating system, middleware
   and applications.  Virtualization is a key enabler of workload
   agility, i.e. allowing any server to host any application and
   providing the flexibility of adding, shrinking, or moving services
   among the physical infrastructure.  Server virtualization provides
   numerous benefits, including higher utilization, increased data
   security, reduced user downtime, and even significant power
   conservation, along with the promise of a more flexible and dynamic
   computing environment.

   The greatest flexibility in VM management occurs when it is possible
   to easily move a VM from one place within the data center to another.
   Unfortunately, movement of services within a data center is easiest

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   when movement takes place within a single IP subnet, that is, within
   a single L2 broadcast domain.  Typically, when a VM is moved, it
   retains such state as its IP address.  That way, no changes on the
   either the VM itself, or on clients communicating with the VM are
   needed.  In contrast, if a VM moves to a new IP subnet, its address
   must change, and clients may need to be made aware of that change.
   From a VM management perspective, life is much simpler if all servers
   are on a single large L2 network.

   With virtualization, a single server now hosts multiple VMs, each
   having its own IP address.  Consequently, the number of addresses per
   machine (and hence per subnet) is increasing, even if the number of
   physical machines stays constant.  Today, it is not uncommon to
   support 10 VMs per physical server.  In a few years, the number will
   likely reach 100 VMs per physical server.

   In the past, services were static in the sense that they tended to
   stay in one physical place.  A service installed on a machine would
   stay on that machine because the cost of moving a service elsewhere
   was generally high.  Moreover, services would tend to be placed in
   such a way as to encourage communication locality.  That is, servers
   would be physically located near the services they accessed most
   heavily.  The network traffic patterns in such environments could
   thus be optimized, in some cases keeping significant traffic local to
   one network segment.  In these more static and carefully managed
   environments, it was possible to build networks that approached
   scaling limitations, but did not actually cross the threshold.

   Today, with VM migration becoming increasing common, traffic patterns
   are becoming more diverse and changing.  In particular, there can
   easily be less locality of network traffic as services are moved for
   such reasons as reducing overall power usage (by consolidating VMs
   and powering off idle machine) or to move a virtual service to a
   physical server with more capacity or a lower load.  In today's
   changing environments, it is becoming more difficult to engineer
   networks as traffic patterns continually shift as VMs move around.

   In summary, both the size and density of L2 networks is increasing,
   with the increased deployment of VMs putting pressure on creating
   ever larger L2 networks.  Today, there are already data centers with
   120,000 physical machines.  That number will only increase going
   forward.  In addition, traffic patterns within a data center are

3.  Out-of-Scope Topics

   At the present time, the following items are out-of-scope for this

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   Cloud Computing  - Cloud Computing is broad topic with many
           definitions.  Without a clear (and probably narrow) scoping
           of what aspect of Cloud Computing to include in this effort,
           it will remain out-of-scope.

   L3 Links  - ARP and ND operate on individual links.  Consequently,
           this effort is currently restricted to L2 networks

   Geographically Extended Network Segments  - Geographically separated
           L2 networks introduce their own complexity.  For example, the
           bandwidth of links may be reduced compared to the local LAN,
           and round-trip delays become more of a factor.  At the
           present time, such scenarios are out-of-scope.

   VPNs    - It is assumed that L2 VLANs are commonly in use to
           segregate traffic.  At the present time, it is unclear how
           that impacts the problem statement for ARMD.  While the limit
           of a maximum of 4095 VLANs may be a problem for large data
           centers, addressing it is out-of-scope for this document.  L3
           VPNs, are also out-of-scope, as are all L3 scenarios.

4.  Address Resolution

   In IPv4, ARP performs address resolution.  To determine the link-
   layer address of a given IP address, a node broadcasts an ARP
   Request.  The request is flooded to all portions of the L2 network,
   and the node with the requested IP address replies with an ARP
   response.  ARP is an old protocol, and by current standards, is
   sparsely documented.  For example, there are no clear requirement for
   retransmitting ARP requests in the absence of replies.  Consequently,
   implementations vary in the details of what they actually implement.

   From a scaling perspective, there are two main problems with ARP.
   First, it uses broadcast, and any network with a large number of
   attached hosts will result in a large amount of broadcast ARP
   traffic.  The second problem is that it is not feasible to change
   host implementations of ARP - current implementations are too widely
   entrenched, and any changes to host implementations of ARP would take
   years to become sufficient deployed to matter.

5.  Summary

   This document outlines the scope of the problem the ARMD effort is
   intended to address.  It intentionally begins with a very narrow

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   scope of kind of data center ARMD is focusing on.  The scope can be
   expanded, but only after identifying shared aspects of data centers
   that can be clearly defined and scoped.

6.  Acknowledgements

7.  IANA Considerations

8.  Security Considerations

Author's Address

   Thomas Narten

   Email: narten@us.ibm.com

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