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Network Working Group                                            L. Wood
Internet-Draft                                      University of Surrey
Intended status: Experimental                                P. Holliday
Expires: November 13, 2011                                 Cisco Systems
                                                            May 12, 2011

     Using HTTP for delivery in Delay/Disruption-Tolerant Networks


   This document describes how to use the Hypertext Transfer Protocol,
   HTTP, for communication across delay- and disruption-tolerant
   networks, by making every transit node in the network HTTP-capable,
   and doing peer HTTP transfers between nodes to move data hop-by-hop
   or subnet-by-subnet towards its final destination.  HTTP is well-
   known and straightforward to implement in these networks.

Status of this Memo

   This Internet-Draft is submitted to IETF 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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   Drafts is at http://datatracker.ietf.org/drafts/current/.

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

   This Internet-Draft will expire on November 13, 2011.

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
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   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.  Background and Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  3
   2.  Adapting the HTTP delivery mechanism for DTNs  . . . . . . . .  5
   3.  Other useful proposed additional HTTP headers  . . . . . . . .  7
   4.  Other suggestions on using MIME in DTN networks  . . . . . . .  8
   5.  Security Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
   6.  IANA Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
   7.  Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  9
   8.  References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
     8.1.  Normative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
     8.2.  Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
   Authors' Addresses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12

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1.  Background and Introduction

   Delay- and Disruption-Tolerant Networks (DTNs) are networks where
   conditions are such that links between nodes are not always
   permanent, may be of very long delay or exist only during very short
   contact periods where the link is up, and may change over time
   [RFC4838].  Some DTNs can be thought of as sparse ad-hoc networks,
   with nodes communicating intermittently only when they come into
   contact.  Store-and-forward delivery of data is a useful way of
   communicating across these networks.

   A specialised store-and-forward protocol for DTN delivery has been
   proposed in the IRTF DTN research group (DTNRG) - the Bundle Protocol
   [RFC5050].  Criticisms of the Bundle Protocol's lack of reliability
   and its complexity have been made [I-D.irtf-dtnrg-bundle-checksum].
   The Bundle Protocol is itself intended to be a routable data format,
   but the supporting architectures for node and application naming/
   addressing, automated routing, security, QoS, and resource discovery
   have not yet been agreed upon or in some cases even significantly
   worked on.  These things already exist for the Internet Protocol, and
   can in many cases be easily leveraged for DTN networks [Wood09a].

   This document outlines how the well-known Hypertext Transfer Protocol
   (HTTP) [RFC2616] can be used for store-and-forward communication
   across DTNs.  HTTP is not used end-to-end as it is on the web.
   Instead, applications running on each node in the network communicate
   with their neighbours using dedicated hop-by-hop or subnet-by-subnet
   HTTP transfers to effect local data delivery.  Additional HTTP header
   information adds context for onward forwarding and delivery to
   destination endpoints, and provides the reliability and support for
   error-detection currently missing from the alternative Bundle

   It must be stressed that this proposed use is distinct from proxy
   caching methods prevalent in the traditional web.  Caching commands
   are not used; end-to-end HTTP requests are not intercepted by
   intermediate caches that attempt to fulfil them in the traditional
   web caching sense.

   Although HTTP-DTN use as as a hop-by-hop message carrier between
   caches implementing some form of routing protocol between them, the
   distinction between client, server and proxy is replaced by peer
   intermediate caches using HTTP to communicate in separate sessions
   that together combine over time to make the full path between
   original source and final destination for the data.

   HTTP is a session layer, running over a transport layer providing
   reliable delivery of the HTTP stream between hops.  This transport

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   layer is commonly (and almost universally) TCP in the terrestrial
   Internet, although alternative transport layers, such as SCTP, can
   also be used under HTTP [I-D.natarajan-http-over-sctp].  For long-
   delay networks, or for network conditions where TCP or an equivalent
   is not suitable, an alternative transport layer such as Saratoga
   [I-D.wood-tsvwg-saratoga] can be used under HTTP instead in hop-by-
   hop communications between nodes.  HTTP requires only reliable
   streaming that can be used to provide ordered delivery; how that
   reliable streaming is provided is up to the local transport layer in
   the local subnet, and multiple different transport layers can be used
   across the multiple hops between nodes to transfer data from source
   to final destination.

   Steve Deering has often described IP as 'the waist in the hourglass'
   [Deering98] - what is above and touching on IP can be changed, what
   is below and touching on IP can be changed, but provided the new
   elements continue to interface to and work with IP, the hourglass
   remains complete and the network stack remains functional.  Here,
   HTTP is the waist in this particular hourglass; applications can use
   HTTP to communicate, provided HTTP runs over a reliable transport
   stream.  The applications can vary.  The transport stream can be
   changed; HTTP does not have to run over TCP/IP, but could even be
   made to run directly over e.g.  HDLC or a CCSDS reliable bitstream.
   Given the prevalence of IP in many networks, it is likely that two
   waists exist; IP and HTTP are likely choices, but the transport
   protocol and physical enviroment will vary more.  An expansion of
   this argument is given in [Wood09b]

   Separation of HTTP from the underlying transport layer to make HTTP a
   layer in its own right is increasingly likely to happen; this is
   analogous to the use of different "convergence layers" under the
   Bundle Protocol.  Being able to set what transport layer to use
   depending on conditions is useful, and one simple configuration
   approach to this, able to support HTTP-DTN, was outlined in

   HTTP use here relies on the three P's - Persistence, Pipelining and
   the PUT directive.  These are all present in the HTTP/1.1

   This document contains an overview of how HTTP can be simply adapted
   to the DTN environment by the use of HTTP/1.1 with persistence and
   pipelining, the PUT and GET directives, and some trivial extra HTTP
   headers needed to indicate e.g. a destination in the DTN network.

   The remainder of this specification uses 'file' as a shorthand for
   'binary object', which may be an HTTP 'object', file with an
   associated MIMEtype, or other type of contiguous binary data.

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   A significant benefit to use of HTTP is that the well-known MIMEtype
   mechanism, integral to HTTP, provides hints on what received files
   are, and what applications should do with them [RFC2045].  The Bundle
   Protocol does not support MIMEtypes, or any similar mechanism.  HTTP/
   1.1's use of MIME is specified in [RFC2616] rather than in the
   separate MIME documents.

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119.  [RFC2119]

2.  Adapting the HTTP delivery mechanism for DTNs

   Here, HTTP is used as a peer-to-peer protocol in the sense that
   multiple files may be transferred in both directions simultaneously
   between two communicating nodes using HTTP for DTN use.  There is not
   intended to be a strict client/user-agent to server relationship as
   there is in the web.  Instead, sending data across a path of six
   nodes, four nodes between source and destination, will require a
   minimum of five separate per-hop HTTP transactions between each pair
   of nodes to move the data onwards to the next node.  This breaks the
   traditional end-to-end control loop and transfer into separate
   control loops and transfers suitable for the DTN environment.

   When two nodes come into contact across a local hop or a subnet, a
   request for files to be copied, stored, and carried onwards can be
   made by the receiving node issuing an HTTP GET request.
   Alternatively, the sending node can simply issue a series of HTTP PUT
   requests once a connection is established, if it believes that
   putting the data to the receiving node moves it closer to its
   eventual destination.  The receiving node can always reject transfers
   with error codes.

   HTTP-DTN is a superset of HTTP/1.1.  HTTP/1.1 pipelining and
   persistence permits multiple PUTs to be made in sequence.  Support
   for these in implementations is crucial to the mechanisms outlined
   here.  (Note that [I-D.natarajan-http-over-sctp] also takes advantage
   of HTTP pipelining and persistence.)

   The key to enabling HTTP use for DTN networking is an added Content-
   Destination: header, which specifies the final destination of the
   file, and can be used by routing in the HTTP-using applications to
   decide over which available links the file should be sent.  Content-*
   headers are special, in that they may not be ignored (section 9.6 of
   [RFC2616]).  Recipients not understanding Content-Destination: will
   generate a "501 (Not Implemented)" error code.  This separates HTTP
   use in DTNs described here from normal end-to-end HTTP web use.  HTTP

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   DTN nodes MUST support the Content-Destination: header.  Files that
   are PUT are cached and then relayed onwards by intermediate peers to
   the final destination that is indicated by the Content-Destination:
   header.  GET requests for files can be forwarded by intermediate
   peers to that final destination that is indicated by the Content-
   Destination: header.

   The information provided in Content-Destination: identifying the
   destination may be an IP address, DNS name, Bundle Endpoint
   Identifier (EID) or other text-string identifier useful to the local
   DTN routing mechanisms being used.

   Similarly, a Content-Source: header provides a textual identification
   of the original source of the data.  HTTP-DTN nodes MUST support the
   Content-Source: header.

   For DTN use, DTN HTTP nodes MUST also implement and use Content-
   Length: and Content-Range: headers.  These permit partial delivery of
   files and resends of missing pieces of files.  The Content-MD5:
   header must be supported.  This provides a simple end-to-end
   reliability check.  The Content-MD5: header is intended to be
   generated by the source node first sending the data, and is not
   recomputed at other nodes.

   DTN HTTP nodes MUST implement the Host: header, in line with current
   HTTP specifications.  This header field MAY be left blank to request
   available files from the peer node, rather than identifying a desired
   file from a distant source by hostname matching the advertised
   Content-Source: header.  A sender placing a new file into the DTN
   network for onward transmission MUST have the Content-Source: field
   of the data being sent match its Host: field.

   Hop-by-hop HTTP headers MAY be implemented between peer nodes talking
   directly.  The headers described in section 13.5.1 of [RFC2616] are
   available.  New hop-by-hop headers MUST use the Connection: header
   approach described in section 14.10 of [RFC2616].

   DTN HTTP nodes may optionally GET from and PUT to link-local IP
   multicast addresses when used over IP subnets.  This permits
   efficient sharing of files on shared LANs, with recipients requesting
   resends via Content-Range: and checking assembly of file pieces using
   the Content-MD5: header.  A GET to multicast can request a specific
   file from any available node that has it.  The response to a
   multicast GET SHOULD be unicast, but a multicast HEAD MAY also be
   sent to inform other nodes that the sender has the file of interest.
   If other nodes also express interest in the file with GET requests to
   the sender, that file may later be PUT to a multicast address.

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   (Note that in the alternative Bundle Protocol, the Bundle Endpoint
   Identifier (EID) can identify a group of endpoints, rather than just
   one; mapping the Bundle EID onto multicast IP adddresses on IP
   subnets is possible.  Placing textual EIDs directly in HTTP-DTN's
   Content-Source: and Content-Destination: headers, or in a Host:
   field, would be possible to interwork HTTP-DTN and bundling.)

   The utility of HTTP with multicast has been recognised previously as
   a method of simple service discovery later adopted for the universal
   plug and play (UPnP) protocol [I-D.draft-goland-http-udp]
   [I-D.draft-cai-ssdp-v1].  Rather than call out multicast and unicast
   separately as different protocols to be used by HTTP, recognising
   that a given destination or address indicates multicast or broadcast
   use should suffice.

   Many existing HTTP/1.1 headers are directly useful with HTTP-DTN.
   For example, ETag: headers are useful for identifying unique copies
   of files in the network, and can be used to provide globally unique
   identifiers (GUIDs) for each version of a file.  Age: headers are
   useful for estimating the amount of time a MIME object has been in
   the network - indicating both transmission and storage times.  Last-
   Modified: times refer to the times on the origin server - that is,
   the Content-Source: - and should be preserved during onward
   forwarding.  Max-Forwards: provides a TTL hop count and propagation
   limitation mechanism.

3.  Other useful proposed additional HTTP headers

   A number of other additional HTTP headers are proposed here, as
   likely to be useful.  These SHOULD be implemented.  These would
   benefit from being specified more completely, in line with the
   suggestions in [RFC2774].

   An HTTP object is just one binary file; the ability to group objects
   together is useful (and is done in bundles by the Bundle Protocol).
   If we call a group of related objects sent from the same source to
   the same destination a 'package' (a name chosen to avoid any
   confusion with the Bundle Protocol specification), we can then define
   simple headers to be sent before each object:

   Package-ID: - provides a unique textual identifier for the package

   Package-Item: n of m (e.g. 1 of 7) - order of this HTTP file in the

   Package-MD5: - MD5 hash across all Content-MD5: headers added
   together in order of Package-Item: precedence.

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   A way to request missing Package-Items (from the previous node or
   from the source) is likely to be very useful.

   Precedence: headers could set importance of objects - very-high,
   high, normal low, very-low - to give simple quality of service and

   Some sort of header protection may be a good idea; Content-MD5:
   covers the message body (entity-body), but not the headers.  Header-
   MD5: could cover some important HTTP headers.  Header-MD5 could be
   preserved across hops if possible, avoiding unnecessary header
   reordering.  Changing timestamps would invalidate the Header-MD5:
   end-to-end, however - this needs more thought, particularly on where
   timestamps are placed in HTTP headers.

   For larger files, stronger mechanisms than MD5 should be examined.

   There may be a need to send HTTP-DTN transfers across paths that
   include hops with unidirectional one-way links with no return path,
   e.g. when a wireless sender knows that a receiver is available, but
   cannot hear it.  Using: Connection: cannot-hear-response could be
   used across that hop to indicate that the sender cannot hear

   Timestamps and how they are handled needs to be examined here in
   greater detail.  HTTP has the same basic assumption as the Bundle
   Protocol - that all nodes are expected to know the current UTC time.

4.  Other suggestions on using MIME in DTN networks

   x-application-dtn has previously been proposed as a MIMEtype
   identifying Bundle Protocol bundles delivered by HTTP.  This provides
   a way to support Bundle Protocol implementations in an HTTP

   Moving HTTP transfers over DTN networks using the Bundle Protocol has
   already been proposed [Ott06].  By changing how HTTP is used - hop-
   by-hop rather than end-to-end - HTTP can be used directly in DTN
   networks without using the Bundle Protocol at all.

   HTTP is a popular way to carry MIME, but support for MIME exists in
   other protocols, including email, SIP and BEEP.  BEEP can be thought
   of as a more formalised and exactly-specified replacement for HTTP
   for machine-machine interaction - and this detailed formal
   specification makes BEEP complex [RFC3080].  BEEP provides an
   alternative to HTTP to support XML-RPC and SOAP.  BEEP's
   specification is formally intended to support multiple different

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   transports, but only TCP transport of BEEP has been agreed [RFC3081].
   HTTP's simplicity of use and popularity appear to be compelling
   advantages over BEEP.

5.  Security Considerations

   Better-Than-Nothing Security [RFC5386][RFC5387] is likely to be
   useful here for ad-hoc communications without the availability of an
   existing authentication infrastructure.

   Security considerations and detailed examination of HTTP over TLS
   (HTTPS) [RFC2817][RFC2818] and secure HTTP [RFC2660] are required

   Many existing security mechanism for HTTP could be used unchanged for
   HTTP-DTN, if local conditions permit and the supporting
   infrastructure, e.g.  DNS, is available.  However, reusing these
   directly protects a single-hop transfer between peer nodes.  To
   protect an end-to-end transfer, the security mechanisms would need to
   be applied using the information used in the Content-Source: and
   Content-Destination: headers, before applying the local security
   mechanism for the first peer-peer HTTP transfer.

6.  IANA Considerations

   Despite the Content-* rule for rejecting unfamiliar headers that
   separates HTTP-DTN peers from traditional HTTP servers, it may be
   desirable to use a non-standard port for DTN HTTP use over IP, rather
   than the well-known port 80.  If so, such a port should be requested
   from IANA.

   It may be necessary to request a dedicated IPv4 all-hosts multicast
   address and a dedicated IPv6 link-local multicast addresses for local
   HTTP DTN use, if local HTTP multicast is considered a desirable

7.  Acknowledgements

   We thank Wes Eddy and Kevin Fall for their review comments.

   Work on the Saratoga protocol inspired some of the concepts that are
   reused here, and we thank everyone involved in Saratoga's development
   and implementation.

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8.  References

8.1.  Normative References

   [RFC2119]  Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
              Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, March 1997.

   [RFC2616]  Fielding, R., Gettys, J., Mogul, J., Frystyk, H.,
              Masinter, L., Leach, P., and T. Berners-Lee, "Hypertext
              Transfer Protocol -- HTTP/1.1", RFC 2616, June 1999.

   [RFC2774]  Nielsen, H., Leach, P., and S. Lawrence, "An HTTP
              Extension Framework", RFC 2774, February 2000.

8.2.  Informative References

              Deering, S., "Watching the Waist of the Protocol
              Hourglass", keynote, IEEE International Conference on
              Network Protocols (ICNP), Austin Texas, October 1998.

              Goland, Y., Cai, T., Leach, P., Gu, Y., and S. Albright,
              "Simple Service Discovery Protocol/1.0 Operating without
              an Arbiter", draft-cai-ssdp-v1-03 (expired) ,
              October 1999.

              Goland, Y., "Multicast and Unicast UDP HTTP Messages",
              draft-goland-http-udp-01 (expired) , November 1999.

              Eddy, W., Wood, L., and W. Ivancic, "Reliability-only
              Ciphersuites for the Bundle Protocol",
              draft-irtf-dtnrg-bundle-checksum-09 (work in progress),
              May 2011.

              Natarajan, P., Amer, P., Leighton, J., and F. Baker,
              "Using SCTP as a Transport Layer Protocol for HTTP",
              draft-natarajan-http-over-sctp-02 (work in progress),
              July 2009.

              Wood, L., "Specifying transport mechanisms in Uniform
              Resource Identifiers",
              draft-wood-tae-specifying-uri-transports-08 (work in
              progress), May 2010.

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              Wood, L., Eddy, W., Smith, C., Ivancic, W., and C.
              Jackson, "Saratoga: A Scalable File Transfer Protocol",
              draft-wood-tsvwg-saratoga-08 (work in progress),
              December 2010.

   [Ott06]    Ott, J. and D. Kutscher, "Bundling the Web: HTTP over
              DTN", WNEPT 2006 Workshop on Networking in Public
              Transport, QShine Conference, Ontario, August 2006.

   [RFC2045]  Freed, N. and N. Borenstein, "Multipurpose Internet Mail
              Extensions (MIME) Part One: Format of Internet Message
              Bodies", RFC 2045, November 1996.

   [RFC2660]  Rescorla, E. and A. Schiffman, "The Secure HyperText
              Transfer Protocol", RFC 2660, August 1999.

   [RFC2817]  Khare, R. and S. Lawrence, "Upgrading to TLS Within
              HTTP/1.1", RFC 2817, May 2000.

   [RFC2818]  Rescorla, E., "HTTP Over TLS", RFC 2818, May 2000.

   [RFC3080]  Rose, M., "The Blocks Extensible Exchange Protocol Core",
              RFC 3080, March 2001.

   [RFC3081]  Rose, M., "Mapping the BEEP Core onto TCP", RFC 3081,
              March 2001.

   [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.

   [RFC5050]  Scott, K. and S. Burleigh, "Bundle Protocol
              Specification", RFC 5050, November 2007.

   [RFC5386]  Williams, N. and M. Richardson, "Better-Than-Nothing
              Security: An Unauthenticated Mode of IPsec", RFC 5386,
              November 2008.

   [RFC5387]  Touch, J., Black, D., and Y. Wang, "Problem and
              Applicability Statement for Better-Than-Nothing Security
              (BTNS)", RFC 5387, November 2008.

   [Wood09a]  Wood, L., Eddy, W., and P. Holliday, "A Bundle of
              Problems", IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, Montana,
              March 2009.

   [Wood09b]  Wood, L., Holliday, P., Floreani, D., and I. Psaras,

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              "Moving data in DTNs with HTTP and MIME: Making use of
              HTTP for delay- and disruption-tolerant networks with
              convergence layers", Workshop on the Emergence of Delay-/
              Disruption-Tolerant Networks (e-DTN 2009), St Petersburg,
              Russia, October 2009.

Authors' Addresses

   Lloyd Wood
   Centre for Communication Systems Research, University of Surrey
   Guildford, Surrey  GU2 7XH
   United Kingdom

   Phone: +44-1483-689123
   Email: L.Wood@surrey.ac.uk

   Peter Holliday
   Cisco Systems
   Level 12
   300 Adelaide Street
   Brisbane, Queensland  4000

   Phone: +61-2-6216-0604
   Email: phollida@cisco.com

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