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

Versions: 00 01 02 03 04 05

Network Working Group                                          T. Narten
Internet-Draft                                                       IBM
Intended status: Informational                            April 15, 2008
Expires: October 17, 2008

                Routing and Addressing Problem Statement

Status of this Memo

   By submitting this Internet-Draft, each author represents that any
   applicable patent or other IPR claims of which he or she is aware
   have been or will be disclosed, and any of which he or she becomes
   aware will be disclosed, in accordance with Section 6 of BCP 79.

   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-

   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

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

   This Internet-Draft will expire on October 17, 2008.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The IETF Trust (2008).

Narten                  Expires October 17, 2008                [Page 1]

Internet-Draft  Routing and Addressing Problem Statement      April 2008


   Note this document is unchanged relative to -01, which recently

   There has been much discussion over the last years about the overall
   scalability of the Internet routing system.  This document attempts
   to describe what the actual problem is and the various demands being
   placed on the routing system that have made finding a straightforward
   solution difficult.

   Comments should be sent to rrg@psg.com or to radir@ietf.org.

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
   2.  Terms and Definitions  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  4
   3.  Background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
     3.1.  Technical Aspects  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
     3.2.  Business Aspects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  7
     3.3.  Alignment of Incentives  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
     3.4.  Table Growth Targets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  8
   4.  Pressures on Routing Table Size  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
     4.1.  Traffic Engineering  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
     4.2.  Multihoming  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
     4.3.  End Site Renumbering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
     4.4.  Acquisitions and Mergers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
     4.5.  RIR Address Allocation Policies  . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
     4.6.  Dual Stack Pressure on the Routing Table . . . . . . . . . 13
     4.7.  Internal Customer Routes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
     4.8.  IPv4 Address Exhaustion  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
   5.  Pressures on Control Plane Load  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
     5.1.  Interconnection Richness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
     5.2.  Multihoming  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
     5.3.  Traffic Engineering  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
     5.4.  Questionable Operational Practices?  . . . . . . . . . . . 16
       5.4.1.  Rapid shuffling of prefixes  . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
       5.4.2.  Anti-Route Hijacking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
       5.4.3.  Operational Ignorance  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
     5.5.  RIR Policy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
   6.  Summary  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
   7.  Security Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
   8.  IANA Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
   9.  Acknowledgments  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
   10. Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
   Author's Address . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
   Intellectual Property and Copyright Statements . . . . . . . . . . 25

Narten                  Expires October 17, 2008                [Page 2]

Internet-Draft  Routing and Addressing Problem Statement      April 2008

1.  Introduction

   Prompted in part by the recent IAB workshop on Routing & Addressing
   [RFC4984], there has been a renewed focus on the problem of routing
   scalability within the Internet.  The issue itself is not new, with
   discussions dating back at least 10-15 years [GSE, ROAD,...].

   This document attempts to define the "problem", with the aim of
   describing the essential aspects so that the community has a way of
   evaluating whether proposed solutions actually address or impact the
   underlying problem or "pain points" in a significant manner.

Narten                  Expires October 17, 2008                [Page 3]

Internet-Draft  Routing and Addressing Problem Statement      April 2008

2.  Terms and Definitions

   Control Plane:  The routing setup protocols and their associated
      state that are needed to create and maintain the data structures
      used to forward packets from one network to another.  The term is
      defined broadly to include all protocols needed to construct and
      maintain the forwarding tables used to forward packets.

   Control Plane Load:  The actual load associated with operating the
      Control Plane.  The higher the control plane load, the higher the
      cost of operating the control plane (in terms of hardware and

   Control Plane Cost:  The overall cost associated with operating the
      Control Plane.  The cost consists of capital costs (for hardware),
      bandwidth costs (for the control plane signalling) and any other
      operational cost associated with operating and maintaining the
      control plane.

   Default Free Zone (DFZ):  That part of the Internet where routers
      maintain full routing tables.  Many routers maintain only partial
      routes, having explicit routes for "local" destinations (i.e.,
      prefixes) plus a "default" for everything else.  For such routers,
      building and maintaining routing tables is relatively simple
      because the amount of information learned and maintained can be
      small.  In contrast, routers in the DFZ maintain complete
      information about all reachable destinations, which currently
      number in the hundreds of thousands of entries.

   Routing Information Base (RIB):  The data structures a router
      maintains that hold the information about destinations and paths
      to those destinations.  The amount of state information maintained
      is dependent on a number of factors, including the number of
      individual prefixes, the number of BGP peers, the number of
      distinct paths, etc.  The RIB may also include information about
      unused ("backup") paths for a given prefix as well as the active
      path(s) used for forwarding.

   Forwarding Information Base (FIB):  The actual table used while
      making forwarding decisions for individual packets.  The FIB is a
      compact, optimized subset of the RIB, containing only the
      information needed to actually forward individual packets, i.e.,
      mapping a packet's destination address to an outgoing interface
      and next-hop.  The FIB only stores information about paths
      actually used for forwarding; it typically does not store
      information about backup paths.  The FIB is typically constructed
      from specialized hardware components, which have different (and
      higher) cost properties than the hardware typically used to

Narten                  Expires October 17, 2008                [Page 4]

Internet-Draft  Routing and Addressing Problem Statement      April 2008

      maintain the RIB.

   Traffic Engineering (TE):  In this document, "traffic engineering"
      refers to the current practice of inbound, inter-AS traffic
      engineering.  TE is accomplished by placing more-specific routes
      in the FIB and/ or increasing the frequency of routing updates in
      order to control inbound traffic at the boundary of an Autonomous
      system (AS).

   Provider Aggregatable (PA) address space:  Address space that an end
      site obtains from an upstream ISP's address block.  The main
      benefit of PA address space is that reachability to all of a
      provider's customers can be achieved by advertising a single
      "provider aggregate" address prefix into the DFZ, rather than
      needing to announce individual prefixes for each customer.  An
      important disadvantage is a requirement that the customer return
      those addresses (and renumber) when changing providers.

   Provider Independent (PI) address space:  Address space that an end
      site obtains directly from a Regional Internet Registry (RIR) for
      addressing its devices.  The main advantage (for the end site) is
      that it does not have to return those addresses (and renumber its
      site) upon changing providers.  However, PI address blocks are not
      aggregatable and thus each individual PI assignment results in an
      individual prefix being injected into the DFZ.

   Site:  Any topologically and administratively distinct entity that
      connects to the Internet.  A site can range from a large
      enterprise or ISP to a small home site.

Narten                  Expires October 17, 2008                [Page 5]

Internet-Draft  Routing and Addressing Problem Statement      April 2008

3.  Background

   Within the DFZ, both the size of the RIB and FIB and the overall
   update rate have historically increased at a greater than linear
   rate.  Specifically:

   o  The number of individual prefixes that are propagated into the DFZ
      has and continues to increase at a super-linear rate.  The reasons
      behind this increase are varied and discussed below.  Because each
      individual prefix requires resources to process, any increase in
      the number of prefixes results in a corresponding increase in
      resources needed.  Each individual prefix that appears in routing
      updates requires state in the RIB (and possibly the FIB) and
      consumes processing resources when updates related to the prefix
      are received.

   o  The overall rate of routing updates is increasing, requiring
      routers to process updates at an increased rate or converge more
      slowly if they cannot.  The rate increase is driven by a number of
      factors (discussed below).  It should be noted that the overall
      routing update rate is dependent on two factors: the number of
      individual prefixes and the mean per-prefix update rate.  While it
      is clear that the overall number of prefixes is increasing super-
      linearly, further study is needed to determine whether the mean
      per-prefix update rate is increasing as well [1].

   This super linear growth presents a scalability challenge for current
   and/or future routers.  There are two aspects to the challenge.  The
   first one is purely technical: can we build routers (i.e., hardware &
   software) actually capable of handling the control plane load, both
   today and going forward?  The second challenge is one of economics:
   is the cost of developing, building and deploying such routers
   economically sustainable, given current and realistic business models
   that govern how ISPs operate as businesses?

   Finally, the scalability challenge is aggravated by the lack of any
   limiting architectural upper-bound on the growth rate and a weakening
   of traditional social constraints on the growth rate that have helped
   restrain growth so far.  Going forward, there is considerable
   uncertainty whether future growth rates will continue to be
   sufficiently constrained so that router development can keep up.

3.1.  Technical Aspects

   The technical challenge of building routers relates to the resources
   needed to process a larger and increasingly dynamic amount of routing
   information.  More specifically, routers must maintain an increasing
   amount of associated state information in the RIB, they must be

Narten                  Expires October 17, 2008                [Page 6]

Internet-Draft  Routing and Addressing Problem Statement      April 2008

   capable of populating a growing FIB, they must perform forwarding
   lookups at line rates (while accessing the FIB) and they must be able
   to initialize the RIB and FIB at boot time.  Moreover, this activity
   must take place within acceptable time frames (i.e., paths for
   individual destinations must converge and stabilize within an
   acceptable time period).  Finally, the hardware needed to achieve
   this cannot have unreasonable power consumption or cooling demands.

3.2.  Business Aspects

   Even if it is technically possible to build routers capable of
   meeting the technical and operational requirements, it is also
   necessary that the overall cost to build, maintain and deploy such
   equipment meet reasonable business expectations.  ISPs, after all,
   are run as businesses.  As such, they must be able to plan, develop
   and construct viable business plans that provide an acceptable return
   on investment (i.e., one acceptable to investors).

   While the IETF does not (and cannot) concern itself with business
   models or the profitability of the ISP community, the cost of running
   the routing subsystem as a whole is directly influenced by the
   routing architecture of the Internet, which clearly is the IETF's
   business.  Further, because cost implications are part of each and
   every engineering decision, controlling or limiting the overall cost
   of running the routing subsystem (through architectural decisions) is
   part of the IETF's fundamental charter.  Consequently, having the
   IETF continue with an architectural model that places unbounded cost
   requirements on critical infrastructure represents an undue risk to
   the future of the Internet as a whole.

   One aspect of planning concerns the assumptions made about the
   expected usable lifetime of purchased equipment.  Businesses
   typically expect that once deployed, equipment can remain in use for
   some projected amount of time (e.g., 3-5 years).  Upgrading equipment
   earlier than planned is more easily justified (as an unplanned
   expense) when a new business opportunity is enabled as a result of an
   upgrade.  For example, an upgrade might be justified by an ability to
   support increased traffic or an increase in the number of customer
   connections, etc., where the upgrade can translate into increased
   revenue.  In contrast, it is more difficult to justify unplanned
   upgrades in the absence of corresponding customer benefit (and
   revenue) to cover the upgrade cost.  It is generally desired that
   deployed equipment remain usable over its planned lifetime.  An
   increase in the resources required to support larger or more dynamic
   routing tables is viewed as a sort of "unfunded mandate", in that
   customers do not expect to have to pay more just to retain the same
   level of service as before, i.e., having all destinations be
   reachable as was the case in the past.  This undermining of planning

Narten                  Expires October 17, 2008                [Page 7]

Internet-Draft  Routing and Addressing Problem Statement      April 2008

   is particularly problematic when the increase in routing demand
   originates external to the ISP, and the ISP has no way to control or
   limit it (e.g., the increased demand comes from being part of the

   From a business perspective, it is desirable to maintain or increase
   the useful lifespan of routing equipment, by improving the scaling
   properties of the routing and addressing system.

3.3.  Alignment of Incentives

   Today's growth pattern is influenced by the scaling properties of the
   current system.  If the system had better scaling properties, we
   would be able support and enable more widespread usage of certain
   applications such as multihoming and traffic engineering.  Currently
   the system does not allow everyone to multihome, as there are some
   barriers to multihoming due to operational practices that try to
   strike a balance between the amount of multihoming and preservation
   of routing slots.  It is desirable that the routing and addressing
   system exert the least possible back pressure on end user
   applications and deployment scenarios, to enable the broadest
   possible use of the Internet.

   One aspect of the current architecture is a misalignment of cost and
   benefit.  Injecting individual prefixes into the DFZ creates a small
   amount of "pain" for those routers that are part of the DFZ.  Each
   individual prefix has a small cost, but the aggregate sum of all
   prefixes is significant, and leads to the core problem at hand.
   Those that inject prefixes into the DFZ do not generally pay the cost
   associated with the individual prefix -- it is carried by the routers
   in the DFZ.  But the originator of the prefix receives the benefit.
   Hence, there is misalignment of incentives between those receiving
   the benefit and those bearing the cost of providing the benefit.
   Consequently, incentives are not aligned properly to produce a
   natural balance between the cost and benefit of maintaining routing

3.4.  Table Growth Targets

   A precise target for the rate of table size or routing update
   increase that should reasonably be supported going forward is
   difficult to state in quantitative terms.  One target might simply be
   to keep the growth at a stable, but manageable growth rate so that
   the increased router functionality can roughly be covered by
   improvements in technology (e.g., increased processor speeds,
   reductions in component costs, etc.).

   However, it is highly desirable to significantly bring down (or even

Narten                  Expires October 17, 2008                [Page 8]

Internet-Draft  Routing and Addressing Problem Statement      April 2008

   reverse) the growth rate in order to meet user expectations for
   specific services.  As discussed below, there are numerous pressures
   to deaggregate routes.  These pressures come from users seeking
   specific, tangible service improvements that provide "business-
   critical" value.  Today, some of those services simply cannot be
   supported to the degree that future demand can reasonably be expected
   because of the negative implications on DFZ table growth.  Hence,
   valuable services are available to some, but not all potential
   customers.  As the need for such services becomes increasingly
   important, it will be difficult to deny such services to large
   numbers of users, especially when some "lucky" sites are able to use
   the service and others are not.

Narten                  Expires October 17, 2008                [Page 9]

Internet-Draft  Routing and Addressing Problem Statement      April 2008

4.  Pressures on Routing Table Size

   There are a number of factors behind the increase in the quantity of
   prefixes appearing in the DFZ.  From a theoretical perspective, the
   number of prefixes in the DFZ can be minimized through aggressive
   aggregation [RFC4632].  In practice, strict adherence to the CIDR
   principles is difficult.

4.1.  Traffic Engineering

   Traffic engineering (TE) is the act of arranging for certain Internet
   traffic to use or avoid certain network paths (that is, TE attempts
   to place traffic where capacity exists, or where some set of
   parameters of the path is more favorable to the traffic being placed

   Outbound TE is typically accomplished by using internal IGP metrics
   to choose the shortest exit for two equally good BGP paths.
   Adjustment of IGP metrics controls how much traffic flows over
   different internal paths to specific exit points for two equally good
   BGP paths.  Additional traffic can be moved by applying some policy
   to depreference or filter certain routes from specific BGP peers.
   Because outbound TE is achieved via a site's own IGP, outbound TE
   does not impact routing outside of a site.

   Inbound TE is performed by announcing a more-specific route along the
   preferred path that "catches" the desired traffic and channels it
   away from the path it would take otherwise (i.e., via a larger
   aggregate).  At the BGP level, if the address range requiring TE is a
   portion of a larger address aggregate, network operators implementing
   TE are forced to de-aggregate otherwise aggregatable prefixes in
   order to steer the traffic of the particular address range to
   specific paths.

   TE is performed by both ISPs and customer networks, for three primary

   o  First, to match traffic with network capacity, or to spread the
      traffic load across multiple links (frequently referred to as
      "load balancing").

   o  Second, to reduce costs by shifting traffic to lower cost paths or
      by balancing the incoming and outgoing traffic volume to maintain
      appropriate peering relations.

   o  Finally, TE is sometimes deployed to enforce certain forms of
      policy (e.g., government traffic may not be permitted to transit
      through other countries).

Narten                  Expires October 17, 2008               [Page 10]

Internet-Draft  Routing and Addressing Problem Statement      April 2008

   TE impacts route scaling in two ways.  First, inbound TE can result
   in additional prefixes being advertised into the DFZ.  Second,
   Network operators usually achieve traffic engineering by "tweaking"
   the processing of routing protocols to achieve desired results, e.g.,
   by sending updates at an increased rate.  In addition, some devices
   attempt to automatically find better paths and then advertise those
   preferences through BGP, though the extent to which such tools are in
   use and contributing to the control plane load is unknown.

   In today's highly competitive environment, providers require TE to
   maintain good performance and low cost in their networks.

4.2.  Multihoming

   Multihoming refers generically to the case in which a site is served
   by more than one ISP [RFC4116].  Multihoming is used to provide
   backup paths (i.e., to remove single points of failure), to achieve
   load-sharing, and to achieve policy or performance objectives (e.g.,
   to use lower latency or higher bandwidth paths).  Multihoming may
   also be a requirement due to contract or law.

   Multihoming can be accomplished using either PI or PA address space.
   A multihomed site advertises its site prefix into the routing system
   of each of its providers.  For PI space, the site's PI space is used,
   and the prefix is propagated throughout the DFZ.  For PA space, the
   PA site prefix may (or may not) be propagated throughout the DFZ,
   with the details depending on what type of multihoming is sought.

   If the site uses PA space, the PA site prefix allocated from one of
   its providers (whom we'll call the Primary Provider) is used.  The PA
   site prefix will be aggregatable by the Primary Provider but not the
   others.  To achieve the same level of multihoming as described in the
   case with PI addresses above, the PA site prefix will need to be
   injected into the routing system of all of its ISPs, and throughout
   the DFZ.  In addition, because of the longest-match forwarding rule,
   the Primary Provider must also advertise and propagate the individual
   PA site prefix; otherwise, the path via the primary provider (as
   advertised via the aggregate) will never be selected due to the
   longest match rule.  For the type of multihoming described here,
   where the PA site prefix is propagated throughout the DFZ, the use of
   PI vs. PA space has no impact on the control plane load.  The
   increased load is due entirely to the need to propagate the site's
   individual prefix into the DFZ.

   The demand for multihoming is increasing [2].  The increase in
   multihoming demand is due to the increased reliance on the Internet
   for mission and business-critical applications (where businesses
   require 7x24 availability for their services) and the general

Narten                  Expires October 17, 2008               [Page 11]

Internet-Draft  Routing and Addressing Problem Statement      April 2008

   decrease in cost of Internet connectivity.

4.3.  End Site Renumbering

   It is generally considered painful and costly to renumber a site,
   with the cost proportional to the size and complexity of the network
   and most importantly, to the degree that addresses are stored in
   places that are difficult in practice to update.  When using PA
   space, a site must renumber when changing providers.  Larger sites
   object to this cost and view the requirement to renumber akin to
   being held "hostage" to the provider from which PA space was
   obtained.  Consequently, many sites desire PI space.  Having PI space
   provides independence from any one provider and makes it easier to
   switch providers (for whatever reason).  However, each individual PI
   prefix must be propagated throughout the DFZ and adds to the control
   plane load.

   It should be noted that while larger sites may also want to
   multihome, the cost of renumbering drives some sites to seek PI
   space, even though they do not multihome.

4.4.  Acquisitions and Mergers

   Acquisitions and mergers take place for business reasons, which
   usually have little to do with the network topologies of the impacted
   organizations.  When a business sells off part of itself, the assets
   may include networks, attached devices, etc.  A company that
   purchases or merges with other organizations may quickly find that
   its network assets are numbered out of many different and
   unaggragatable address blocks.  Consequently, an individual
   organization may find itself unable to announce a single prefix for
   all of their networks without renumbering a significant portion of
   its network.

   Likewise, selling off part of a business may involve selling part of
   a network as well, resulting in the fragmentation of one address
   block into two (or more) smaller blocks.  Because the resultant
   blocks belong to different companies, they can no longer be
   advertised by a single aggregate and the resultant fragments may need
   to be advertised individually into the DFZ.

4.5.  RIR Address Allocation Policies

   ISPs and multihoming end sites obtain address space from RIRs.  As an
   entity grows, it needs additional address space and requests more
   from its RIR.  In order to be able to obtain additional address space
   that can be aggregated with the previously-allocated address space,
   the RIR must keep a reserve of space that the requester can grow into

Narten                  Expires October 17, 2008               [Page 12]

Internet-Draft  Routing and Addressing Problem Statement      April 2008

   in the future.  But any reserved address space cannot be used for any
   other purpose.  Hence, there is an inherent conflict between holding
   address space in reserve to allow for the future growth of an
   existing allocation and using address space efficiently.  In IPv4,
   there has been a heavy emphasis on conserving address space and
   obtaining efficient utilization.  Consequently, insufficient space
   has been held in reserve to allow for the growth of all sites and
   some allocations have had to be made from discontiguous address
   blocks.  For IPv6, a greater emphasis has been placed on aggregation.

4.6.  Dual Stack Pressure on the Routing Table

   The recommended IPv6 deployment model is dual-stack, where IPv4 and
   IPv6 are run in parallel across the same links.  This has two
   implications for routing.  First, although alternative scenarios are
   possible, it seems likely that many routers will be supporting both
   IPv4 and IPv6 simultaneously and will thus be managing both IPv4 and
   IPv6 routing tables within a single router.  Second, for sites
   connected via both IPv4 and IPv6, both IPv4 and IPv6 prefixes will
   need to be propagated into the routing system.  Consequently, dual-
   stack routers will maintain both an IPv4 and IPv6 route to reach the
   same destination.

   It is possible to make some simple estimates on the approximate size
   of the IPv6 tables that would be needed if all sites reachable via
   IPv4 today were also reachable via IPv6.  In theory, each autonomous
   system (AS) needs only a single aggregate route.  This provides a
   lower bound on the size of the fully-realized IPv6 routing table.
   (As of July 2007, [3] states there are 25,836 active ASes in the
   routing system.)

   A single IPv6 aggregate will not allow for inbound traffic
   engineering.  End sites will need to advertise a number of smaller
   prefixes into the DFZ if they desire to gain finer grained control
   over their IPv6 inbound traffic.  This will increase the size of the
   IPv6 routing table beyond the lower bound discussed above.  There is
   reason to expect the IPv6 routing table will be smaller than the
   current IPv4 table, however, because the larger initial assignments
   to end sites will minimize the de-aggregation that occurs when a site
   must go back to its upstream address provider or RIR and receive a
   second, non-contiguous assignment.

   It is possible to extrapolate what the size of the IPv6 Internet
   routing table would be if widespread IPv6 adoption occurred, from the
   current IPv4 Internet routing table.  Each active AS (25,836) would
   require at least one aggregate.  In addition, the IPv6 Internet table
   would also carry more-specific prefixes for traffic engineering.
   Assume that the IPv6 Internet table will carry the same number of

Narten                  Expires October 17, 2008               [Page 13]

Internet-Draft  Routing and Addressing Problem Statement      April 2008

   more specifics as the IPv4 Internet table.  In this case one can take
   the number of IPv4 Internet routes and subtract the number of CIDR
   aggregates that they could easily be aggregated down to.  As of July
   2007, the 229,789 routes can be easily aggregated down to 150,018
   CIDR aggregates [3].  That difference yields 79,771 extra more-
   specific prefixes.  Thus if each active AS (25,836) required one
   aggregate, and an additional 79,771 more specifics were required,
   then the IPv6 Internet table would be 105,607 prefixes.

4.7.  Internal Customer Routes

   In addition to the Internet routing table, networks must also carry
   their internal routing table.  Internal routes are defined as more-
   specific routes that are not advertised to the DFZ.  This primarily
   consists of prefixes that are a more-specific of a provider aggregate
   (PA) and are assigned to a single homed customer.  The DFZ need only
   carry the PA aggregate in order to deliver traffic to the provider.
   However, the provider's routers require the more-specific route to
   deliver traffic to the end site.

   This could also consist of more-specific prefixes advertised by
   multihomed customers with the no-export community.  This is useful
   when the fine grained control of traffic to be influenced can be
   contained to the neighboring network.

   For a large ISP, the internal IPv4 table can be between 50,000 and
   150,000 routes.  During the dot com boom some ISPs had more internal
   prefixes than there were in the Internet table.  Thus the size of the
   internal routing table can have significant impact on the scalability
   and should not be discounted.

4.8.  IPv4 Address Exhaustion

   The IANA and RIR free pool of IPv4 addresses will be exhausted within
   a few years.  As the free pool shrinks, the size of the remaining
   unused blocks will also shrink and unused blocks previously held in
   reserve for expansion of existing allocations or otherwise not used
   due to their smaller size will be allocated for use.  Consequently,
   as the community looks to use every piece of available address space
   (no matter how small) there will be an increasing pressure to
   advertise additional prefixes in the DFZ.

Narten                  Expires October 17, 2008               [Page 14]

Internet-Draft  Routing and Addressing Problem Statement      April 2008

5.  Pressures on Control Plane Load

   This section describes a number of trends and pressures that are
   contributing to the overall load of computing Internet paths.  The
   previous section described pressures that are increasing the size of
   the routing table.  Even if the size could be bounded, the amount of
   work needed to maintain paths for a given set of prefixes appears to
   be increasing.

5.1.  Interconnection Richness

   The degree of interconnectedness between ASes has increased in recent
   years.  That is, the Internet as whole is becoming "flatter" with an
   increasing number of possible paths interconnecting sites [4].  As
   the number of possible paths increase, the amount of computation
   needed to find a best path also increases.  This computation comes
   into effect whenever a change in path characteristics occurs, whether
   from a new path becoming available, an existing path failing, or a
   change in the attributes associated with a potential path.  Thus,
   even if the total number of prefixes were to stay constant, an
   increase in the interconnection richness implies an increase in the
   resources needed to maintain routing tables.

5.2.  Multihoming

   Multihoming places pressure on the routing system in two ways.
   First, an individual prefix for a multihomed site (whether PI or PA)
   must be propagated into the routing system, so that other sites can
   find a good path to the site.  Even if the site's prefix comes out of
   a PA block, an individual prefix for the site needs to be advertised
   so that the most desirable path to the site can be chosen when the
   path through the aggregate is sub-optimal.  Second, a multihomed site
   will be connected to the Internet in more than one place, increasing
   the overall level of interconnection richness.  If an outage occurs
   on any of the circuits connecting the site to the Internet, those
   changes will be propagated into the routing system.  In contrast, a
   singly-homed site numbered out of a Provider Aggregate places no
   additional control plane load in the DFZ as the details of the
   connectivity status to the site are kept internal to the provider to
   which it connects.

5.3.  Traffic Engineering

   The mechanisms used to achieve multihoming and inbound Traffic
   Engineering are the same.  In both cases, a specific prefix is
   advertised into the routing system to "catch" traffic and route it
   over a different path than it would otherwise be carried.  When
   multihoming, the specific prefix is one that differs from that of its

Narten                  Expires October 17, 2008               [Page 15]

Internet-Draft  Routing and Addressing Problem Statement      April 2008

   ISP or is a more-specific of the ISP's PA.  Traffic Engineering is
   achieved by taking one prefix and dividing it into a number of
   smaller and more-specific ones, and advertising them in order to gain
   finer-grained control over the paths used to carry traffic covered by
   those prefixes.

   Traffic Engineering increases the number of prefixes carried in the
   routing system.  In addition, when a circuit fails (or the routing
   attributes associated with the circuit change), additional load is
   placed on the routing system by having multiple prefixes potentially
   impacted by the change, as opposed to just one.

5.4.  Questionable Operational Practices?

   Some operators are believed to engage in operational practices that
   increase the load on the routing system.

5.4.1.  Rapid shuffling of prefixes

   Some networks try to assert fine-grained control of inbound traffic
   by modifying route announcements frequently in order to migrate
   traffic to less loaded links quickly.  The goal of this is to achieve
   higher utilization of multiple links.  In addition, some route
   selection devices actively measure link or path utilization and
   attempt to optimize inbound traffic by withholding or depreferencing
   certain prefixes in their advertisements.  In short, any system that
   actively measures load and modifies route advertisements in real time
   increases the load on the routing system, as any change in what is
   advertised must ripple through the entire routing system.

5.4.2.  Anti-Route Hijacking

   In order to reduce the threat of accidental (or intentional)
   hijacking of its address space by an unauthorized third party, some
   sites advertise their space as a set of smaller prefixes rather than
   as one aggregate.  That way, if someone else advertised a path for
   the larger aggregate (or a small piece of the aggregate), it will be
   ignored in favor of the more-specific announcements.  This increases
   both the number of prefixes advertised, and the number of updates.

5.4.3.  Operational Ignorance

   It is believed that some undesirable practices result from operator
   ignorance, where the operator is unaware of what they are doing and
   the impact that has on the DFZ.

   The default behavior of most BGP configurations is to automatically
   propagate all learned routes.  That is, one must take explicit

Narten                  Expires October 17, 2008               [Page 16]

Internet-Draft  Routing and Addressing Problem Statement      April 2008

   configuration steps to prevent the automatic propagation of learned
   routes.  In addition, it is often significant work to figure out how
   to (safely) aggregate routes (and which ones to aggregate) in order
   to reduce the number of advertisements propagated elsewhere.  While
   vendors could provide additional configuration "knobs" to reduce
   leakage, the implementation of additional features increases
   complexity and some operators may fear that the new configuration
   will break their existing routing setup.  Finally, leaking routes
   unnecessarily does not generally harm those with the
   misconfiguration, hence, there is less motivation to address the

5.5.  RIR Policy

   RIR address policy has direct impact on the control plane load
   because address policy determines who is eligible for a PI assignment
   (which impacts how many are given out in practice) and the size of
   the assignment (which impacts how much address space can be
   aggregated within a single assignment).  If PI assignments for end
   sites did not exist, then those end sites would not advertise their
   own prefix directly into the global routing system; instead their
   address block would be covered by their provider's aggregate.  That
   said, RIRs have adopted PI policies in response to community demand,
   for reasons described elsewhere (e.g., to support multihoming and to
   avoid the need to renumber).  In short, RIR policy can be seen as a
   symptom rather than a root cause.

Narten                  Expires October 17, 2008               [Page 17]

Internet-Draft  Routing and Addressing Problem Statement      April 2008

6.  Summary

   As discussed in previous sections, in the current operating
   environment, it appears to be becoming increasingly difficult for
   ISPs to recover control plane related costs associated with the
   growth of the Internet.  Moreover, real business and user needs are
   creating increasing pressure to use techniques that increase the
   control plane load for ISPs operating within the DFZ.  While the
   system largely works today, there is a real risk that the current
   cost and incentive structures will be unable to keep control plane
   costs manageable (within the context of then-available routing
   hardware) over the next decades.  The Internet needs a routing and
   addressing model designed with this in mind.  Thus, in the absence of
   a business model that better supports such cost recovery, there is a
   need for an approach to routing and addressing that fulfils the
   following criteria:

   1.  Provides sufficient benefits to the party bearing the costs of
       deploying and maintaining the technology to recover the cost for
       doing so.

   2.  Reduces the growth rate of the DFZ control plane load.  In the
       current architecture, this is dominated by the routing, which is
       dependent on:

       A.  The number of individual prefixes in the DFZ

       B.  The update rate associated with those prefixes.

       Any change to the control plane architecture must result in a
       reduction in the overall control plane load, and shouldn't simply
       shift the load from one place in the system to another, without
       reducing the overall load as a whole.

   3.  Allows any end site wishing to multihome to do so

   4.  Supports ISP and enterprise TE needs

   5.  Allows end sites to switch providers while minimizing
       configuration changes to internal end site devices.

   6.  Provides end-to-end convergence/restoration of service at least
       comparable to that provided by the current architecture

   The problem statement in this document has purposefully been scoped
   to focus on the growth of the routing update function of the DFZ.
   Other problems that may seem related, but do not directly impact the
   route scaling problem are not considered to be "in scope" at this

Narten                  Expires October 17, 2008               [Page 18]

Internet-Draft  Routing and Addressing Problem Statement      April 2008

   time.  For example, Mobile IP [RFC3344] [RFC3775] and NEMO [RFC3963]
   place no pressures on the routing system.  They are layered on top of
   existing IP, using tunneling to forward packets via a care-of
   addresses.  Hence, "improving" these technologies (e.g., by having
   them leverage a solution to the multihoming problem), while a
   laudable goal, is not considered a part of this problem statement.

Narten                  Expires October 17, 2008               [Page 19]

Internet-Draft  Routing and Addressing Problem Statement      April 2008

7.  Security Considerations


Narten                  Expires October 17, 2008               [Page 20]

Internet-Draft  Routing and Addressing Problem Statement      April 2008

8.  IANA Considerations

   This document contains no IANA actions.

Narten                  Expires October 17, 2008               [Page 21]

Internet-Draft  Routing and Addressing Problem Statement      April 2008

9.  Acknowledgments

   The initial version of this document was produced by the Routing and
   Addressing Directorate (http://www.ietf.org/IESG/content/radir.html).
   The membership of the directorate at that time included Marla
   Azinger, Vince Fuller, Vijay Gill, Thomas Narten, Erik Nordmark,
   Jason Schiller, Peter Schoenmaker, and John Scudder.

   Comments should be sent to ram@iab.org or to radir@ietf.org.

Narten                  Expires October 17, 2008               [Page 22]

Internet-Draft  Routing and Addressing Problem Statement      April 2008

10.  Informative References

   [RFC3344]  Perkins, C., "IP Mobility Support for IPv4", RFC 3344,
              August 2002.

   [RFC3775]  Johnson, D., Perkins, C., and J. Arkko, "Mobility Support
              in IPv6", RFC 3775, June 2004.

   [RFC3963]  Devarapalli, V., Wakikawa, R., Petrescu, A., and P.
              Thubert, "Network Mobility (NEMO) Basic Support Protocol",
              RFC 3963, January 2005.

   [RFC4116]  Abley, J., Lindqvist, K., Davies, E., Black, B., and V.
              Gill, "IPv4 Multihoming Practices and Limitations",
              RFC 4116, July 2005.

   [RFC4632]  Fuller, V. and T. Li, "Classless Inter-domain Routing
              (CIDR): The Internet Address Assignment and Aggregation
              Plan", BCP 122, RFC 4632, August 2006.

   [RFC4984]  Meyer, D., Zhang, L., and K. Fall, "Report from the IAB
              Workshop on Routing and Addressing", RFC 4984,
              September 2007.

   [1]  <http://www3.ietf.org/proceedings/06mar/slides/grow-3.pdf>

   [2]  <http://www.cidr-report.org/as2.0/, http://www.cidr-report.org/

   [3]  <http://www.cidr-report.org/as2.0/>

   [4]  <http://www.potaroo.net/bgprpts/bgp-average-aspath-length.png>

Narten                  Expires October 17, 2008               [Page 23]

Internet-Draft  Routing and Addressing Problem Statement      April 2008

Author's Address

   Thomas Narten

   Email: narten@us.ibm.com

Narten                  Expires October 17, 2008               [Page 24]

Internet-Draft  Routing and Addressing Problem Statement      April 2008

Full Copyright Statement

   Copyright (C) The IETF Trust (2008).

   This document is subject to the rights, licenses and restrictions
   contained in BCP 78, and except as set forth therein, the authors
   retain all their rights.

   This document and the information contained herein are provided on an

Intellectual Property

   The IETF takes no position regarding the validity or scope of any
   Intellectual Property Rights or other rights that might be claimed to
   pertain to the implementation or use of the technology described in
   this document or the extent to which any license under such rights
   might or might not be available; nor does it represent that it has
   made any independent effort to identify any such rights.  Information
   on the procedures with respect to rights in RFC documents can be
   found in BCP 78 and BCP 79.

   Copies of IPR disclosures made to the IETF Secretariat and any
   assurances of licenses to be made available, or the result of an
   attempt made to obtain a general license or permission for the use of
   such proprietary rights by implementers or users of this
   specification can be obtained from the IETF on-line IPR repository at

   The IETF invites any interested party to bring to its attention any
   copyrights, patents or patent applications, or other proprietary
   rights that may cover technology that may be required to implement
   this standard.  Please address the information to the IETF at


   Funding for the RFC Editor function is provided by the IETF
   Administrative Support Activity (IASA).

Narten                  Expires October 17, 2008               [Page 25]

Html markup produced by rfcmarkup 1.129d, available from https://tools.ietf.org/tools/rfcmarkup/