LWIG R. Jadhav, Ed.
Internet-Draft R. Sahoo
Intended status: Informational Huawei
Expires: January 24, 2018 S. Duquennoy
J. Eriksson
Yanzi Networks
July 23, 2017

Neighbor Management Policy for 6LoWPAN


This document describes the problems associated with neighbor cache management in constrained multihop networks and a sample neighbor management policy to deal with it.

Status of This Memo

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

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This Internet-Draft will expire on January 24, 2018.

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction

In a wireless multihop network, the node densities (maximum number of devices connected on a single hop) may vary significantly depending upon deployments/scenarios. While there is some policy control possible with regards to the network size in terms of maximum number of devices connected, it is especially difficult to set a figure on what will be the maximum node density given a deployment. For e.g. A network can put an upper limit on max 1000 devices but it is impossible to state what the node density will be in this 1000 node network.

A neighbor cache is used for populating neighboring one-hop connected nodes information such as MAC address, link local IP address and other reachability state information. Node density has direct implications on the neighbor cache and in constrained network scenario the size of the neighbor cache will be limited. Thus there are chances that a node may not be able to fit all the neighboring nodes in its cache in which case it has to prioritize entries and thus needs a neighbor management policy.

This draft presents problems related to neighbor management policies by considering a security-enabled multi-hop 6lo network. This document considers RPL [RFC6550] as a routing protocol and PANA (EAP-PANA) [RFC5191] as a network access protocol. For RPL, both the storing and non-storing mode of operations are considered. We also provide a sample neighbor management policy which can be used in such networks and its limitations. The aim of such a policy is to retain set of neighbor cache entries with high quality links such that routing adjacencies are stablized.

The problem statement and the proposed solution described is also relevant to other multihop constrained scenarios such as 6TiSCH [I-D.ietf-6tisch-architecture]. [I-D.ietf-6tisch-minimal-security] talks about a pledge (new joinee) node authenticating via a Join Proxy. The considerations mentioned in this document are applicable for such networks as well.

                    | PAA/   |
             +------| Auth   |
             |      | Server |
             |      +--------+
|            |             |
|          (BR)            | 
|          / \             |
|         /   \            |
|        /     \           |
|      (N1)   (N2)         |
|      / :     / \         |
|     /   :   /   \        |
|    /     : /     \       |
|  (N8)    (N3)   (N4)     |
|    :     / \     :       |
|     :   /   \   :        |
|      : /     \ :         |
|      (N5)   (New)        |
|      / \                 |
|     /   \                |
|    /     \               |
|  (N6)   (N7)             |
|                          |
|        6Lo Network       |

Figure 1: Sample Topology

1.1. Requirements Language and Terminology

The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119.

PaC (PANA Client): New joining node which is yet to be authenticated.

PRE (PANA Relay Element): An already authenticated and network joined node which is willing to act as a relay element for PaCs to complete their authentication procedure on multi-hop networks. [RFC6345] describes the details of PRE.

PAA (PANA Auth Agent): Auth server which hosts the credentials database. PaC will handshake with PAA to complete authentication procedure.

Routing Child: A downstream node who is part of the routing table of the parent. For e.g. in the sample topology above N5 is the directly connected routing child for N3. N6 and N7 are also part of N3 routing table, they are routing child nodes but not directly connected. For N6 and N7 the document might alternatively use a term grand-child.

Routing Parent: In Figure 1, N1 and N2 are possible routing parents for N3.

Neighbor Cache Entry (NCE): A neighbor entry managed on behalf of directly connected peer.

This document also uses terminology described in [RFC6550] and [RFC6775].

2. Neighbor Management

2.1. Significance of Neighbor management policy

Multihop mesh networks present unique challenges to neighbor management especially with resource constrained nodes. In cases where the node density is higher that the neighbor cache size, the entries have to be prioritized. [Woo_et_al] and [Dawans_et_al] talk about prioritization of neighbor entries by using link quality estimation techniques. But prioritization alone may not necessarily be optimal in all cases. The reason or function why neighbor entry was added also needs to be taken in consideration. For example, evicting a routing direct child might have a ripple effect in turn impacting all the sub-childs as well.

In case of key management protocols deployed above MAC layer in multihop network, the neighbor management kicks in early even before the routing adjacencies are established. Since a new joining node needs to discover/attach to a relay element for completing its authentication procedure, the neighbor cache entries have to be appropriately populated both on a PaC and on the PRE. If a neighbor entry whose authentication is in progress is evicted, it will negatively impact the authentication procedure.

Another important consideration is that with increased node density, the prioritization based on link estimation parameters might not help since there might be more well connected peers. In dense deployments the number of directly attached neighbors with good quality links might still be higher than the max entries in neighbor cache size.

2.2. Trivial neighbor management policies

This section investigates policies which are used by most of the current operating systems for constrained nodes. While such policies are trivial to implement they may not be able to deal with the constrained network scenario. Note that such policies can still be used if it is known apriori that the neighbor cache can hold entries for maximum node density.

  1. First Come First Serve (FCFS) policy
  2. Least Recently Used (LRU) policy

The primary distinction between these policies is how it treats a new entry when the neighbor cache is full. In case of FCFS policy, the new entry is simply rejected while with LRU, the new entry replaces the least recently used entry.

RPL works by initiating a downstream multicast DIO to establish upstream network path. Subsequently DAO messages might be sent by the nodes to establish downstream paths to the nodes. Thus the network is flooded with multicast DIO messages initially and similarly there are chances that the same node is ended up been selected as a preferred parent by most of the child nodes and thus receives a DAO message from all these child nodes. Note that once a node establishes a parent entry or a routing entry on behalf of a directly connected node then it has to also provision a neighbor cache entry for it for subsequent unicast traffic.

In case of FCFS policy, a node might end up hosting all the neighbor entries based on DIO or DAO messages. Once the cache is full all the subsequent attempts to add an NCE will fail.

In case of LRU policy, a node might end up churning lot of neighbor entries because once the cache gets full and there is a request for new entry, it would result in evicting the least recently used (but active) entry. If at later point of time, there is a traffic for the evicted entry then the old entry has to be reinstated using IPv6 NDP procedure. This would mean reinstating the entry by evicting another least recently used entry. If the node density is very high, then this churn would be substantially high to extent that it would disrupt any routing adjacencies to be established in the network in a stable way.

2.3. Lifecycle of a NCE

2.3.1. NCE Insertion

IPv6 NDP [RFC6775] defines signaling involved in resolving the IPv6 addresses to its corresponding MAC addresses which gets populated in the neighbor cache. In case of constrained network, it is desired that such control traffic is minimized and thus the neighbor cache entries are populated as part of existing messaging. One example would be when the node receives a DAO message from its immediate child node, it not only makes an addition to the routing table but also creates a neighbor cache entry for the node. Thus it eliminates need for additional IPv6 NDP NS/NA messaging involved to resolve MAC address. Similar hueristic is used to add neighbor entries in other cases as well. Section 10.3.2 of [RFC6775] describes update and addition of such NCEs based on roting information packets.

Following are the possible signaling scenarios in which case a neighbor entry may get added.

Node Joining procedure: A new joinee node discovers a relay element to initiate its auth procedure. At the end of the discovery phase the new joinee node would have known the link local IP address of the relay element. The joinee node will send an unsecured-NS to the relay element to solicit its NA. The PRE may send a NA with the suitable status code as defined in section 6.5.3 of [RFC6775].

       New           PRE         Parent        PAA
        |             |            |            |
        |  PRE Disc   |            |            |
        |<----------->|            |            |
        |             |            |            |
        |   UNSEC-NS  |            |            |
        |------------>|            |            |
        |             |            |            |
        |   addNCE(new,reason=PANA)|            |
        |             |            |            |
        | UNSEC-NA(status)         |            |
        |<------------|            |            |
        |             |            |            |
addNCE(PRE,reason=PANA)            |            |
        |             |            |            |
        |    PCI      |            |            |
        |------------>|            |            |
        |             |            |            |
        |             |  AUTHPROC  |            |
        |             |            |            |

Figure 2: NCE creation between PaC and PRE during relay discovery process

Relay element does not hold any state information on behalf of the new joinee node except for its neighbor cache entry. Thus in the Figure 1 the new joinee node may select node N3 as its PRE, in which case N3 has to add a neighbor entry on behalf of the new joinee node.

Post authentication the node enters into network discovery phase. The node selects one or more of its neighboring peer as its preferred parent based on the DIO received from these peers. Note that the node's selected relay element and its preferred parent may not be same. The preferred parent serves as a default router node to which all its upstream traffic is directed. Thus an NCE on behalf of preferred parent needs to be added. In Figure 1 node N5 selects N3 as its preferred parent. N5 needs to add neighbor entry on behalf of N3 which is its directly connected RPL preferred parent.

In case of RPL storing MOP (mode of operation), the node may send a DAO message containing its reachability information to its preferred parent. The parent node in turn may pass this information upstream to its parent by generating a DAO retaining the child node's reachability information, establishing a downstream routing path towards the node who originated the DAO. The preferred parent has to maintain a neighbor entry on behalf of the directly connected child node. For example, in the Figure 1, node N3 needs to maintain a neighbor entry on behalf of N5 which is its directly connected child node. Nodes N6 and N7 are grand-child nodes for node N3 for whom no neighbor entry is required.

As mentioned in Section 10.3.2 of [RFC6775], the NCEs on parent and child can be added directly as a result of RPL DIO/DAO signalling without any explicit NS/NA messaging.

       New           PRE         Parent        PAA
        |             |            |            |
        |             |  AuthProc  |            |
        |             |            |            |
        |             |  RPL-DIO   |            |
        |<-------------------------|            |
        |             |            |            |
addNCE(parent,reason=PARENT)       |            |
        |             |            |            |
        |             |  RPL-DAO   |            |
        |------------------------->|            |
        |             |            |            |
        |             |   addNCE(new,reason=CHILD)
        |             |            |            |

Figure 3: NCE creation call Flow for RPL storing MOP

In case of non-storing MOP, the parent node needs to know the global IPv6 address of the immediate child nodes. This is needed since the source routing header carries the global addresses and thus the NCE of the child node should contain the global address. Secondly, the RPL DAO is addressed directly to the root node in case of non-storing mode. Thus RPL messaging cannot be used for creating NCE entries on parent and child, unlike storing MOP. The child node may send a secure unicast NS with ARO option containing its global address to be registered on the parent node. The child node can still use RPL DIO to create an NCE on behalf of the parent node.

       New           PRE         Parent        Root
        |             |            |            |
        |             |  AuthProc  |            |
        |             |            |            |
        |             |  RPL-DIO   |            |
        |<-------------------------|            |
        |             |            |            |
addNCE(parent,reason=PARENT)       |            |
        |             |            |            |
        | sec-NS(ARO=GlobalIPv6)   |            |
        |------------------------->|            |
        |             |            |            |
        |             |       addNCE(new,reason=CHILD)
        |         sec-NA(status)   |            |
        |<-------------------------|            |
        |             |            |            |
        |             |  RPL-DAO   |            |
        |             |            |            |

Figure 4: NCE creation call Flow for non-storing MOP

This document expects the neighbor management policy to remember the reason why the neighbor entry is inserted. Secondly, the router may remember whether the NS received was secured or unsecured and accordingly use it to prioritize eviction entries. As described in the next sections, this reason will help the policy to prioritize the entries in case an eviction is required.

2.3.2. NCE Deletion

It is imperative that an unwanted neighbor entry be removed as soon as possible. This section talks about different cases in which neighbor entry can be deleted.

Route Invalidation: In case of storing MOP, when the child node decides to switch its preferred parent, the RPL specifications allows the node to send a no-path DAO message to invalidate the route along the previous path(s). A directly connected parent node can use this message to clear the NCE. While the entry can be immediately cleared, usually the implementations choose to wait a small amount of time before clearing the entry. This is to avoid any impact on the in-transit traffic. Thus this also establishes the importance of route invalidation to achieve optimized neighbor cache utilization.

In case of non-storing mode, the no-path DAO cannot be not employed since the previous parent does not having any routing information to be invalidated. But the previous parent may still contain the NCE on behalf of the child node. This document recommends use of [RFC6775] section 6.5.3. which allows sending a zero lifetime ARO option in NS for deregistering the corresponding neighbor entry.

[RFC6775], ND optimizations for 6LoWPANs, section 5.5.3. talks about deleting the entries in case the NUD (neighbor unreachability detection) fails either due to no response to NS messages or due to failure response. NCEs in such cases should be deleted. An example where NUD NS would fail because of no response is the case where the child node switches its parent due to link unavailability. The parent in such a case would not receive the no-path DAO message or any other traffic from the child node. Thus on NCE lifetime expiry, the parent node would send NS which would fail with no response, thus triggering entry deletion.

2.3.3. NCE Eviction

The eviction rules have a major impact on the neighbor management policy. Eviction rules are used when the policy has to forcibly remove an active neighbor entry from the cache to make space for the new (hopefully higher priority) entry. The eviction policy may take into account several considerations such as the reason why the entry was made, is the entry in active use currently, how good (for e.g., based on link estimation) the entry currently is. Eviction for directly connected routing entries

This section talks about implications of an eviction in which a parent node decides of evicting a directly connected routing child NCE. In the sample topology Figure 1, lets assume N3 needs to evict N5 from its neighbor cache. In case of RPL's storing MOP, eviction of directly connected routing child NCE also has impact on all the sub-children. Thus not only will it result in impacting N5 but also nodes N6 and N7. It is important to note that such an eviction has less impact on RPL's non-storing MOP i.e. in case of non-storing mode N5 might end up selecting alternate parent N8 and does not result in any additional control overhead for node N6 and N7.

Thus RPL's non-storing MOP provides additional eviction flexibility for a neighbor management policy in terms evicting directly connected child entries.

2.3.4. NCE Reinforcement

It is expected that the latest reachability state and metric information be maintained in context to the NCE. With wireless networks, the neighbor cache entries prioritization may change over a period of time especially the link quality estimation parameters or the routing metrics. Reinforcement refers to updating the parameters in context to the NCEs which helps in prioritizing the entries when it comes to handling eviction. In wireless networks, on reception of incoming packet, the receiver node's physical and MAC layer may derive certain signal reception parameters (such as RSSI, LQI) which can be considered for reinforcement purpose if the corresponding transmitter/source entry in neighbor cache is found. It should be noted that the signal quality parameters may have high variance in 6lo networks and thus statistical techniques (such as weighted averaging) are usually employed for deciding about a link quality over a period of time. Reinforcement can be achieved using one or more of the following techniques:

Passive Monitoring:
Reinforcing the quality parameters using packets received from the source. Trickled DIO, periodic beacons, application traffic etc can be used for such monitoring.
Active Probing:
A node may select subset of entries for active probing wherein it sends a message to the neighbor entry's target and can expect a response message back. An example of such probing is [CONTIKI] where unicast DIS is sent to solicit a unicast DIO without impacting the trickle timers. Though it adds a control overhead on the link, periodic probing can help to ascertain connectivity in the absence of any other traffic from the neighboring node.

2.4. Requirements of a good neighbor management policy

Route Stability:
Stable NCEs will result in stable routing adjacencies. Thus it is important to avoid unnecessary NCE churn for routing path stability.
Control overhead:
A neighbor management policy may have to use signalling messages for policy handling (such as rejection of NCE). It is required that such overhead be kept as low as possible.

2.5. Approaches to neighbor management policy

Neighbor management policy depends upon the neighbor cache space availability and the same can be advertised proactively or can be handled reactively.

2.5.1. Reactive Approach

In this approach, the nodes select their RPL parent or the relay element purely based on link metrics and subsequently when they try to allocate their NCE in the target node, it may fail due to unavailability of the cache space. The failure can be communicated depending upon the signaling involved:

NS failure:
Section 6.5.3 of [RFC6775] defines a procedure for NS failure handling in case the router's neighbor cache is full. It results in a unicast NA with ARO status field set to two.
Section 9.3 of RPL [RFC6550] specifies on how can the parent node react to DAOs from child. In case the parent could not make a NCE on behalf of the child node, a negative ACK with status (between 127-255) should be sent to the child node. The natural reaction of the child node would be to switch to an alternate parent.
PANA Failure:
PaC's auth session starts with a PaC discovering a PRE. The discovery procedure is not standardized and can be based upon various factors including signal strength of discovery messages from PRE. Post discovery, the PaC needs to send an unsecured unicast NS message with an ARO containings its link-local IPv6 address. NS helps to determine whether the PRE can allocate an NCE for the PaC. PRE accordingly sends a NA response with appropriate status field.

2.5.2. Proactive Approach

Neighbor cache availability could be proactively advertised by the parent nodes in the DIO messages and in the PRE discovery messages. A child RPL node may additionally use this information from DIO as part of parent selection process. In case of new joinee node, the node may use PRE discovery messages with space availability information to select an appropriate PRE. Proactive signaling of neighbor cache space availability will help the nodes to select the parent node or relay node such that the failure signaling due to cache full event can be reduced.

Currently there is no standard way of signaling such neighbor cache space availability information. RPL's DIO messages carry metric information and can be augmented with neighbor cache space as an additional metric. In case of PRE discovery however there is no standard way of defining this information since the PRE discovery procedure itself is not standardized.

In a wireless or shared bus network, a multicast DIO metric advertisement may reach several child nodes eventually everyone responding by selecting the same parent node causing neighbor cache to be exhausted. Thus the failure handling approaches defined in the Reactive Approach section applies here as well. But importantly the failure signaling will be significantly reduced because of proactive advertisement.

3. Reservation based Neighbor Management Policy

This section defines a sample neighbor management policy, with the primary objective to reduce NCE churn and to ensure stability of routing adjacencies. The scheme uses a reservation based policy to reserve NCEs for:

Neighbor Cache Entry reservation
NCE Entry for MAX count Reason
Others such as pre-auth sessions MAX_OTHER_NCE_NUM OTHER

Note that reservation policy depends upon identification of the reason behind making an NCE . In case of pre-auth sessions, the corresponding NCE is created based on the unsecured NS/NA. In case of storing MOP, CHILD_ENT NCEs are created either based on DAO (as shown in Figure 3) or based on secured NS/NA messaging (as shown in Figure 4). In case of non-storing MOP, a secured NS/NA messaging as shown in Figure 4 needs to be used.

<- - - - - - - - - - - Routing Parents - - - - - - - - - - - - ->
|                                 |                   |         |
  Routing Child                    Routing Parents     Other

Figure 5: Reservation of NCEs in neighbor table

As shown in the figure, the neighbor cache is partitioned into different entry types. The routing parents can possibly occupy any entry type if found vacant since in case an eviction is sought the non-preferred routing parent could be evicted without much impact on the functioning or on the control traffic. The eviction could be done based on reasons specified in Section 2.3.3.

Routing Child entries are made in context to directly connected peers and these entries are not deleted unless they are unreacable or there is any reason for the parent node to believe that it is no longer the preferred parent for the child node. Deletion may happen based on reasons mentioned in Section 2.3.2.

Other entries (OTHER) may be made in response to temporary requirement of making an NCE. One such case is the pre authentication phase where in the relay node makes an entry of the PaC temporarily till the time the authentication phase is completed. The NCE made thus is garbage collected at the end of the lifetime. Also an implementation may choose to keep a lower lifetime for such NCEs depending upon the time taken to complete the authentication process.

3.1. Limitations of such a policy

The reservation based policy mentioned in this section may result in sub-optimal path selection due to lack of NCE resource on the parent nodes. Also the restriction of maximum pre-auth sessions in the form of MAX_OTHER_NCE_NUM limits the maximum relay sessions that can be supported on the relay node.

The reservation policy allows the parent node to reject the child node's DAO or NS. But the child node cannot remember this rejection and may reattempt the same parent after some time depending upon triggers such as reception of DIO from the same parent who rejected it previously. One of the only way to stop the child node from reattempting such parent selection would be to also include a proactive approach wherein the parent node signals its resource availability in the DIO message as mentioned in Section 2.5.2. Such a scheme of signalling parent node's resource availability is currently not standardized.

RPL's storing MOP imposes additional restrictions. One such case is where a child node may have a given parent node as its only parent and that parent node's NCE are all used up. In such a case, the child node would keep on retrying and failing to send a DAO through the parent node. Ideally the parent node could have evicted a least used child node or a child node who has an alternate parent available. Evicting such a child node is a complex process and may increase the control overhead as described in Section Thus the reservation based policy requires that the minimum node density is sufficiently high so that every child finds a parent node in its vicinity with enough resources.

4. Acknowledgements

This template was derived from an initial version written by Pekka Savola and contributed by him to the xml2rfc project.

5. IANA Considerations

This memo includes no request to IANA.

6. Security Considerations

Add DoS attacks possibility on NBR table on PRE and what are the mechanisms already defined by standards (such as use of Enforcement Point)

All drafts are required to have a security considerations section. See RFC 3552 for a guide.

7. References

7.1. Normative References

[RFC2119] Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, March 1997.
[RFC6550] Winter, T., Thubert, P., Brandt, A., Hui, J., Kelsey, R., Levis, P., Pister, K., Struik, R., Vasseur, JP. and R. Alexander, "RPL: IPv6 Routing Protocol for Low-Power and Lossy Networks", RFC 6550, DOI 10.17487/RFC6550, March 2012.
[RFC6775] Shelby, Z., Chakrabarti, S., Nordmark, E. and C. Bormann, "Neighbor Discovery Optimization for IPv6 over Low-Power Wireless Personal Area Networks (6LoWPANs)", RFC 6775, DOI 10.17487/RFC6775, November 2012.

7.2. Informative References

[CONTIKI] Thingsquare, "Contiki: The Open Source OS for IoT", 2012.
[Dawans_et_al] Dawans, S., Duquennoy, S. and O. Bonaventure, "On Link Estimation in Dense RPL Deployments", 2012.
[I-D.ietf-6tisch-architecture] Thubert, P., "An Architecture for IPv6 over the TSCH mode of IEEE 802.15.4", Internet-Draft draft-ietf-6tisch-architecture-11, January 2017.
[I-D.ietf-6tisch-minimal-security] Vucinic, M., Simon, J., Pister, K. and M. Richardson, "Minimal Security Framework for 6TiSCH", Internet-Draft draft-ietf-6tisch-minimal-security-03, June 2017.
[RFC3552] Rescorla, E. and B. Korver, "Guidelines for Writing RFC Text on Security Considerations", BCP 72, RFC 3552, DOI 10.17487/RFC3552, July 2003.
[RFC5191] Forsberg, D., Ohba, Y., Patil, B., Tschofenig, H. and A. Yegin, "Protocol for Carrying Authentication for Network Access (PANA)", RFC 5191, DOI 10.17487/RFC5191, May 2008.
[RFC6345] Duffy, P., Chakrabarti, S., Cragie, R., Ohba, Y. and A. Yegin, "Protocol for Carrying Authentication for Network Access (PANA) Relay Element", RFC 6345, DOI 10.17487/RFC6345, August 2011.
[Woo_et_al] Woo, A., Tong, T. and D. Culler, "Taming the Underlying Challenges of Reliable Multihop Routing in Sensor Networks", 2003.

Appendix A. Additional Stuff

This becomes an Appendix.

Authors' Addresses

Rahul Arvind Jadhav (editor) Huawei Kundalahalli Village, Whitefield, Bangalore, Karnataka 560037 India Phone: +91-080-49160700 EMail: rahul.ietf@gmail.com
Rabi Narayan Sahoo Huawei Kundalahalli Village, Whitefield, Bangalore, Karnataka 560037 India Phone: +91-080-49160700 EMail: rabinarayans@huawei.com
Simon Duquennoy Inria 40 Avenue Halley Building A Villeneuve d'Ascq, France Phone: +33 768227731 EMail: simon.duquennoy@inria.fr
Joakim Eriksson Yanzi Networks EMail: joakime@sics.se