Network Working Group D. Ooms
Request for Comments: 3353 Alcatel
Category: Informational B. Sales
Overview of IP Multicast in a
Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) Environment
Status of this Memo
This memo provides information for the Internet community. It does
not specify an Internet standard of any kind. Distribution of this
memo is unlimited.
Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2002). All Rights Reserved.
This document offers a framework for IP multicast deployment in an
MPLS environment. Issues arising when MPLS techniques are applied to
IP multicast are overviewed. The pros and cons of existing IP
multicast routing protocols in the context of MPLS are described and
the relation to the different trigger methods and label distribution
modes are discussed. The consequences of various layer 2 (L2)
technologies are listed. Both point-to-point and multi-access
networks are considered.
Ooms, et al. Informational [Page 1]RFC 3353 IP Multicast in an MPLS Environment August 2002Table of Contents
1. Introduction ............................................. 3
2. Layer 2 Characteristics .................................. 4
3. Taxonomy of IP Multicast Routing Protocols
in the Context of MPLS ................................... 5
3.1. Aggregation .............................................. 5
3.2. Flood & Prune ............................................ 5
3.3. Source/Shared Trees ...................................... 6
3.4. Co-existence of Source and Shared Trees .................. 7
3.5. Uni/Bi-directional Shared Trees .......................... 10
3.6. Encapsulated Multicast Data .............................. 11
3.7. Loop-free-ness ........................................... 11
3.8. Mapping of Characteristics on Existing Protocols ......... 11
4. Mixed L2/L3 Forwarding in a Single Node .................. 12
5. Taxonomy of IP Multicast LSP Triggers .................... 14
5.1. Request Driven ........................................... 14
5.1.1. General .................................................. 14
5.1.2. Multicast Routing Messages ............................... 15
5.1.3. Resource Reservation Messages ............................ 15
5.2. Topology Driven .......................................... 16
5.3. Traffic Driven ........................................... 16
5.3.1. General .................................................. 16
5.3.2. An Implementation Example ................................ 17
5.4. Combinations of Triggers and Label Distribution Modes .... 18
6. Piggy-backing ............................................ 18
7. Explicit Routing ......................................... 20
8. QoS/CoS .................................................. 20
8.1. DiffServ ................................................. 20
8.2. IntServ and RSVP ......................................... 21
9. Multi-access Networks .................................... 21
10. More Issues .............................................. 22
10.1. TTL Field ................................................ 22
10.2. Independent vs. Ordered Label Distribution Control ....... 23
10.3. Conservative vs. Liberal Label Retention Mode ............ 24
10.4. Downstream vs. Upstream Label Allocation ................. 25
10.5. Explicit vs. Implicit Label Distribution ................. 25
11. Security Considerations .................................. 26
12. Acknowledgements ......................................... 26
Informative References........................................... 27
Authors' Addresses .............................................. 28
Full Copyright Statement ........................................ 30
Ooms, et al. Informational [Page 2]RFC 3353 IP Multicast in an MPLS Environment August 2002Table of Abbreviations
ATM Asynchronous Transfer Node
CBT Core Based Tree
CoS Class of Service
DLCI Data Link Connection Identifier
DRrecv Designated Router of the receiver
DRsend Designated Router of the sender
DVMRP Distant Vector Multicast Routing Protocol
FR Frame Relay
IGMP Internet Group Management Protocol
IP Internet Protocol
L2 layer 2 (e.g. ATM, Frame Relay)
L3 layer 3 (e.g. IP)
LSP Label Switched Path
LSR Label Switching Router
LSRd Downstream LSR
LSRu Upstream LSR
MOSPF Multicast OSPF
MRT Multicast Routing Table
PIM-DM Protocol Independent Multicast-Dense Mode
PIM-SM Protocol Independent Multicast-Sparse Mode
QoS Quality of Service
RP Rendezvous Point
RPT-bit RP Tree bit [DEER]
RSVP Resource reSerVation Protocol
SPT-bit Shortest Path Tree [DEER]
SSM Source Specific Multicast
TCP Transmission Control Protocol
UDP User Datagram Protocol
VC Virtual Circuit
VCI Virtual Circuit Identifier
VP Virtual Path
VPI Virtual Path Identifier
In an MPLS cloud the routes are determined by a L3 routing protocol.
These routes can then be mapped onto L2 paths to enhance network
performance. Besides this, MPLS offers a vehicle for enhanced
network services such as QoS/CoS, traffic engineering, etc.
Current unicast routing protocols generate a same (optimal) shortest
path in steady state for a certain (source, destination) pair.
Remark that unicast protocols can behave slightly different with
regard to equal cost paths.
Ooms, et al. Informational [Page 3]RFC 3353 IP Multicast in an MPLS Environment August 2002
For multicast, the optimal solution (minimum cost to interconnect N
nodes) would impose a Steiner tree computation. Unfortunately, no
multicast routing protocol today is able to maintain such an optimal
tree. Different multicast protocols will therefore, in general,
generate different trees.
The discussion is focused on intra-domain multicast routing
protocols. Aspects of inter-domain routing are beyond the scope of
2. Layer 2 Characteristics
Although MPLS is multiprotocol both at L3 and at L2, in practice IP
is the only considered L3 protocol. MPLS can run on top of several
L2 technologies (PPP/Sonet, Ethernet, ATM, FR, ...).
When label switching is mapped on L2 switching capabilities (e.g.
VPI/VCI is used as label), attention is mainly focused on the mapping
to ATM [DAVI]. ATM offers high switching capacities and QoS
awareness, but in the context of MPLS it poses several limitations
which are described in [DAVI]. Similar considerations are made for
Frame Relay on L2 in [CONT]. The limitations can be summarized as:
- Limited Label Space: either the standardized or the implemented
number of bits available for a label can be small (e.g. VPI/VCI
space, DLCI space), limiting the number of LSPs that can be
- Merging: some L2 technologies or implementations of these
technologies do not support multipoint-to-point and/or
multipoint-to-multipoint 'connections', obstructing the merging of
- TTL: L2 technologies do not support a 'TTL-decrement' function.
All three limitations can impact the implementation of multicast in
MPLS as will be described in this document.
When native MPLS is deployed the above limitations vanish. Moreover
on PPP and Ethernet links the same label can be used at the same time
for a unicast and a multicast LSP because different EtherTypes for
MPLS unicast and multicast are defined [ROSE].
Ooms, et al. Informational [Page 4]RFC 3353 IP Multicast in an MPLS Environment August 20023. Taxonomy of IP Multicast Routing Protocols in the Context of MPLS
At the moment, an abundance of IP multicast routing protocols is
being proposed and developed. All these protocols have different
characteristics (scalability, computational complexity, latency,
control message overhead, tree type, etc...). It is not the purpose
of this document to give a complete taxonomy of IP multicast routing
protocols, only their characteristics relevant to the MPLS technology
will be addressed.
The following characteristics are considered:
- Flood & Prune
- Source/Shared trees
- Co-existence of Source and Shared Trees
- Uni/Bi-directional shared trees
- Encapsulated multicast data
The discussion of these characteristics will not lead to the
selection of one superior multicast routing protocol. It is not
impossible that different IP multicast routing protocols will be
deployed in the Internet.
In unicast different destination addresses are aggregated to one
entry in the routing table, yielding one FEC and one LSP.
The granularity of multicast streams is (*, G) for a shared tree and
(S, G) for a source tree, S being the source address and G the
multicast group address. Aggregation of multicast trees with
different multicast 'destination' addresses on one LSP is a subject
for further study.
3.2. Flood & Prune
To establish a multicast tree some IP multicast routing protocols
(e.g. DVMRP, PIM-DM) flood the network with multicast data. The
branches can then be pruned by nodes which do not want to receive the
data of the specific multicast group. This process is repeated
Flood & Prune multicast routing protocols have some characteristics
which significantly differ from unicast routing protocols:
Ooms, et al. Informational [Page 5]RFC 3353 IP Multicast in an MPLS Environment August 2002
a) Volatile. Due to the Flood & Prune nature of the protocol, very
volatile tree structures are generated. Solutions to map a
dynamic L3 p2mp tree to a L2 p2mp LSP need to be efficient in
terms of signaling overhead and LSP setup time. The volatile L2
LSP will consume a lot of labels throughout the network, which is
a disadvantage when label space is limited.
b) Traffic-driven. The router only creates state for a certain group
when data arrives for that group. Routers also independently
decide to remove state when an inactivity timer expires.
- Thus LSPs can not be pre-established as is usually done in
unicast. To minimize the time between traffic arrival and LSP
establishment a fast LSP setup method is favorable.
- Since creation and deletion of a L3 route at each node is
triggered by traffic, this suggests that the LSP associated with
the route be setup and torn down in a traffic-driven manner as
- If an LSR does not support L3 forwarding this traffic-driven
nature even requires that the upstream LSR takes the initiative
to create an LSP (Upstream Unsolicited or Downstream on Demand
3.3. Source/Shared Trees
IP multicast routing protocols create either source trees (S, G),
i.e. a tree per source (S) and per multicast group (G), or shared
trees (*, G), i.e. one tree per multicast group (Figure 1).
R1 R1 R1
S1 / / /
\ / / /
\ / / /
C---R2 S1---R2 S2---R2
/ \ \ \
/ \ \ \
S2 \ \ \
R3 R3 R3
Figure 1. Shared tree and Source trees
The advantage of using shared trees, when label switching is applied,
is that shared trees consume less labels than source trees (1 label
per group versus 1 label per source and per group).
Ooms, et al. Informational [Page 6]RFC 3353 IP Multicast in an MPLS Environment August 2002
However, mapping a shared tree end-to-end on L2 implies setting up
multipoint-to-multipoint (mp2mp) LSPs. The problem of implementing
mp2mp LSPs boils down to the merging problem discussed earlier.
Note that in practice shared trees are often only used to discover
new sources of the group and a switchover to a source tree is made at
very low bitrates.
3.4. Co-existence of Source and Shared Trees
Some protocols support both source and shared trees (e.g. PIM-SM) and
one router can maintain both (*, G) and (S, G) state for the same
group G. Two cases of state co-existence are described below.
Assume topologies with senders Si and receivers Ri. RP is the
Rendezvous Point. Ni are LSRs. The numbers are the interface
numbers, "Reg" is the Register interface. All IGMP and PIM
Join/Prune messages are shown in the figures. It is also indicated
whether the RPT-bit is set for the (S, G) state.
1) Figure 2 shows a switchover from shared to source tree. Assume
that the shortest path from R1 to RP is via N1-N2-N5. N1, the
Designated Router of receiver R1 (DRrecv), decides to initiate a
source tree for source S1. After the arrival of data via the
source tree in N2, N2 will send a prune to N5 for source S1.
State co-existence occurs in the node where the overlap of shared
and source tree starts (N2) and in the node where S1 does not need
forwarding on the shared tree anymore (N5).
IJ PJS PJS
-> 1 2 -> 1 2 -> 1 2
3| |3 IJ=Igmp Join
||PPS | PJ=Pim Join (*,G)
|vPJ | PJS=Pim Join (S1,G)
IJ PJ | PJ | PPS=Pim Prune (S1,G)
-> -> |3 -> |
1 2 1 2 1
Ooms, et al. Informational [Page 7]RFC 3353 IP Multicast in an MPLS Environment August 2002
The multicast routing states created in the Multicast Routing Table
in RP: (*,G):Reg->1 (i.e. incoming itf=Reg; outgoing itf=1)
in N1: (*,G):2->1
in N2: (*,G):3->1
in N3: (S1,G):2->Reg,1
in N4: (*,G):2->1
in N5: (*,G):2->1,3
2) Figure 3 shows that even without a switchover, state co-existence
can occur. Multicast traffic from a sender will create (S, G)
state in the Designated Router of the sender (DRsend; N3 in Figure
3 is the DRsend of S). Each node on a shared-tree has (*, G)
state. Thus an on-tree DRsend has both (*, G) and (S, G) state.
If the DRsend is on-tree it will also send a prune for S towards
the RP, creating (S, G) state in all nodes until the first router
which has a branch (N1 and N2 in Figure 3).
PPS PPS |
PJ PJ PJ |2 PJ IJ
1 <- 1 3<- <- | <- <- PJ=Pim Join
RP------N1----N2----N3----N4----R1 IJ=Igmp Join
^|2 1 2 1 3 1 2 PPS=Pim Prune (S,G)
The multicast routing states created in the MRT are:
in RP: (*,G):Reg->1 (i.e. incoming itf=Reg; outgoing itf=1)
in N1: (*,G):1->2,3
in N2: (*,G):1->2
in N3: (*,G):1->3
in N4: (*,G):1->2
in N5: (*,G):1->2
Ooms, et al. Informational [Page 8]RFC 3353 IP Multicast in an MPLS Environment August 2002
In the examples one can observe that two types of state co-
1) (S, G) with RPT-bit not set (N2 in Figure 2, N3 in Figure 3). The
(*, G) and (S, G) state have different incoming interfaces, but
some common outgoing interfaces. It is possible that the traffic
of S arrives on both the (*, G) and (S, G) interfaces. In normal
L3 forwarding the (S, G)SPT-bit entry prohibits the forwarding of
the traffic from S arriving on the (*, G) incoming interface. The
traffic of S can only temporarily arrive on the incoming
interfaces of both the (*, G) and (S, G) entries (until N5 in
Figure 2 and N1 in Figure 3 have processed the prune messages).
To avoid the temporary forwarding of duplicate packets L3
forwarding can be applied in this type of node. If one does not
mind the temporary duplicate packets L2 forwarding can be applied.
In this case the (*, G) and (S, G) streams have to be merged into
the (*, G) LSP on their common outgoing interfaces.
2) (S, G) with RPT-bit set (N5 in Figure 2, N1 in Figure 3). The
(*, G) and (S, G) state have the same incoming interface. The (S,
G) traffic must be extracted from the (*, G) stream. In MPLS this
state co-existence can be handled in several ways. Four
approaches to this problem will be described:
a) A first method to handle this state co-existence is to
terminate the LSPs and forward all traffic of this group at L3.
However a return to L3 can be avoided in case a (S, G) entry
without an outgoing interface is added to the MRT (N2 in Figure
3). This entry will only receive traffic temporarily. In this
particular case one could ignore the (S, G) state and maintain
the existing (*, G) LSP, the disadvantage being duplicate
traffic for a very short time.
b) A second approach is to assign source specific labels on the
nodes of the shared tree. Multiple labels will be associated
with one (*, G) entry, corresponding to one label per active
source. Since the nodes only know which sources are active
when traffic from these sources arrives, the LSPs cannot be
pre-established and a fast LSP setup method is favorable.
c) A third way is that only source trees are labelswitched and
that traffic on the shared tree is always forwarded at L3.
This assumes that the shared tree is only used as a way for the
receivers to find out who the sources are. By configuring a
low bitrate switchover threshold, one can ensure that the
receivers switchover to source trees very quickly.
Ooms, et al. Informational [Page 9]RFC 3353 IP Multicast in an MPLS Environment August 2002
d) In the fourth approach, an LSR which has (S, G) RPT-bit state
with a non-null oif, advertises a label for (S, G) to the
upstream LSR and this label advertisement is then propagated by
each upstream LSR towards the RP. In this way a dedicated LSP
is created for (S, G) traffic from the RP to the LSR with the
(S, G) RPT-bit state. In the latter LSR, the (S, G) LSP is
merged onto the (*, G) LSP for the appropriate outgoing
interfaces. This ensures that (S, G) packets traveling on the
shared tree do not make it past any LSR which has pruned S.
3.5. Uni/Bi-directional Shared Trees
Bidirectional shared trees (e.g. CBT [BALL]) have the disadvantage of
creating a lot of merging points (M) in the nodes (N) of the shared
tree. Figure 4 shows these merging points resulting from 2 senders
S1 and S2 on a bidirectional tree.
v| <- <- <- <- |v
<- <- | -> -> -> -> | ->
|| || || || || ||
|v |v |v |v |v |v
| | | | | |
Multicast traffic flows from 2 senders on a bidirectional tree
In Figure 5 the same situation for unidirectional shared trees is
depicted. In this case the data of the senders is tunneled towards
the root node R, yielding only a single merging point, namely the
root of the shared tree itself.
tunnel || S2
<----- v| tunnel ||
to R<------------------------- v|
-> -> | -> -> -> -> | ->
|| || || || || ||
|v |v |v |v |v |v
| | | | | |
Multicast traffic flows from 2 senders on a unidirectional tree
Ooms, et al. Informational [Page 10]RFC 3353 IP Multicast in an MPLS Environment August 20023.6. Encapsulated Multicast Data
Sources of unidirectional shared trees and non-member sources of
bidirectional shared trees encapsulate the data towards the root
node. The data is then decapsulated in the root node. The
encapsulation and decapsulation of multicast data are L3 processes.
Thus in case of encapsulation/decapsulation a path can never be
mapped onto an end-to-end LSP: the traffic can not be forwarded on
L2 on the Register interface of the DRsend (encapsulation), nor can
it cross the root (decapsulation) at L2.
1) If the LSR supports mixed L2/L3 forwarding (section 4), the (S, G)
traffic in DRsend can still be forwarded at L2 on all outgoing
interfaces other than the Register interface.
2) The encapsulated traffic can also benefit from MPLS by label
switching the tunnels.
3) If the root node decides to join the source (to avoid
encapsulation/decapsulation), an end-to-end (S, G) LSP can be
Multicast routing protocols which depend on a unicast routing
protocol suffer from the same transient loops as the unicast
protocols do, however the effect of loops will be much worse in the
case of multicast. The reason being, each time a multicast packet
goes around a loop, copies of the packet may be emitted from the loop
if branches exist in the loop.
Currently loop detection is a configurable option in LDP and a
decision on the mechanism for loop prevention is postponed.
3.8. Mapping of Characteristics on Existing Protocols
The above characteristics are summarized in Table 1 for a
non-exhaustive list of existing IP multicast routing protocols:
DVMRP [PUSA], MOSPF [MOY], CBT [BALL], PIM-DM [ADAM], PIM-SM [DEER],
SSM [HOLB], SM [PERL].
Ooms, et al. Informational [Page 11]RFC 3353 IP Multicast in an MPLS Environment August 2002
| |DVMRP |MOSPF |CBT |PIM-DM|PIM-SM|SSM |SM |
|Aggregation |no |no |no |no |no |no |no |
|Flood & Prune |yes |no |no |yes |no |no |option|
|Tree Type |source|source|shared|source|both |source|shared|
|State Co-existence|no |no |no |no |yes |no |no |
|Uni/Bi-directional|N/A |N/A |bi |N/A |uni |uni |bi |
|Encapsulation |no |no |yes |no |yes |no |yes |
|Loop Free |no |no |no |no |no |no |no |
Table 1. Taxonomy of IP Multicast Routing Protocols
From Table 1 one can derive e.g. that DVMRP will consume a lot of
labels when the Flood & Prune L3 tree is mapped onto a L2 tree.
Furthermore since DVMRP uses source trees it experiences no merging
problem when label switching is applied. The table can be
interpreted in the same way for the other protocols.
4. Mixed L2/L3 Forwarding in a Single Node
Since unicast traffic has one incoming and one outgoing interface the
traffic is either forwarded at L2 OR at L3 (Figure 6). Because
multicast traffic can be forwarded to more than one outgoing
interface one can consider the case that traffic to some branches is
forwarded on L2 and to other branches on L3 (Figure 7).
| L3 | | L3 |
| +>>+ | | |
| | | | | |
| | | | | |
->-----+ +-----> ->------>>----->
| L2 | | L2 |
Figure 6. Unicast forwarding on resp. L3 or L2
Ooms, et al. Informational [Page 12]RFC 3353 IP Multicast in an MPLS Environment August 2002
+--------+ +--------+ +--------+
| L3 | | L3 | | L3 |
| +>>++ | | +>>+ | | |
| | || | | | | | | |
+--|--||-+ +--|--|--+ +--------+
| | |+----> | | +-----> | +---->
->-----+ | | | |L2 | ->----->>-+ |
| L2+-----> ->-----+>>------> | L2 +---->
+--------+ +--------+ +--------+
Figure 7. Multicast forwarding on resp. L3, mixed L2/L3 or L2
Nodes that support this 'mixed L2/L3 forwarding' feature allow
splitting of a multicast tree into branches in which some are
forwarded at L3 while others are switched at L2.
The L3 forwarding has to take care that the traffic is not forwarded
on those branches that already get their traffic on L2. This can be
accomplished by e.g. providing an extra bit in the Multicast Routing
Although the mixed L2/L3 forwarding requires processing of the
traffic at L3, the load on the L3 forwarding engine is generally less
than in a pure L3 node.
Supporting this 'mixed L2/L3 forwarding' feature has the following
a) Assume LSR A (Figure 8) is an MPLS edge node for the branch
towards LSR B and an MPLS core node for the branch towards LSR C.
The mixed L2/L3 forwarding allows that the branch towards C is not
disturbed by a return to L3 in LSR A.
| MPLS cloud |
| N |
| / \ |
| / \ |
| / \ |
| A N |
|/ \ \ |
| \ \ |
/| \ |
B | C |
Figure 8. Mixed L2/L3 forwarding in node A
Ooms, et al. Informational [Page 13]RFC 3353 IP Multicast in an MPLS Environment August 2002
b) Enables the use of the traffic driven trigger with the Downstream
Unsolicited or Upstream on Demand label distribution mode, as
explained in section 5.3.1.
5. Taxonomy of IP Multicast LSP Triggers
The creation of an LSP for multicast streams can be triggered by
different events, which can be mapped on the well known categories of
'request driven', 'topology driven' and 'traffic driven'.
a) Request driven: intercept the sending or receiving of control
messages (e.g. multicast routing messages, resource reservation
b) Topology driven: map the L3 tree, which is available in the
Multicast Routing Table, to a L2 tree. The mapping is done even
if there is no traffic.
c) Traffic driven: the L3 tree is mapped onto a L2 tree when data
arrives on the tree.
5.1. Request Driven5.1.1. General
The establishment of LSPs can be triggered by the interception of
outgoing (requiring that the label is requested by the downstream
LSR) or incoming (requiring that the label is requested by the
upstream LSR) control messages. Figure 9 illustrates these two
LSRu LSRd LSRu LSRd
-------+ +--- ---+ +-------
| control | | control |
| | | | | |
trigger| | | | | |trigger
| | bind | | bind | |
| bind-request | | bind-request |
| | | |
| | | |
Figure 9. Request driven trigger
(interception of resp. incoming and outgoing control messages)
Ooms, et al. Informational [Page 14]RFC 3353 IP Multicast in an MPLS Environment August 2002
The downstream LSR (LSRd) sends a control message to the upstream LSR
(LSRu). In the case that incoming control messages are intercepted
and the MPLS module in LSRu decides to establish an LSP, it will send
an LDP bind (Upstream Unsolicited mode) or an LDP bind request
(Downstream on Demand mode) to LSRd.
Currently, for multicast, we can identify two important types of
control messages: the multicast routing messages and the resource
5.1.2. Multicast Routing Messages
In principle, this mechanism can only be used by IP multicast routing
protocols which use explicit signaling: e.g. the Join messages in
PIM-SM or CBT. Remark that DVMRP and PIM-DM can be adapted to
support this type of trigger [FARI], however, at the cost of
modifying the IP multicast routing protocol itself!
IP multicast routing messages can create both hard states (e.g. CBT
Join + CBT Join-Ack) and soft states (e.g. PIM-SM Joins are sent
periodically). The latter generates more control traffic for tree
maintenance and thus requires more processing in the MPLS module.
Triggers based on the multicast routing protocol messages have the
disadvantage that the 'routing calculations' performed by the
multicast routing daemon to determine the Multicast Routing Table are
repeated by the MPLS module. The former determines the tree that
will be used at L3, the latter calculates an identical tree to be
used by L2. Since the same task is performed twice, it is better to
create the multicast LSP on the basis of information extracted from
the Multicast Routing Table itself (see section 5.2 and 5.3). The
routing calculations become more complex for protocols which support
a switch-over from a (*, G) tree to a (S, G) tree because more
messages have to be interpreted.
When a host has a point-to-point connection to the first router one
could create 'LSPs up to the end-user' by intercepting not only the
multicast routing messages but the IGMP Join/Prune messages ([FENN])
5.1.3. Resource Reservation Messages
As is the case for unicast the RSVP Resv message can be used as a
trigger to establish LSPs. A source of a multicast group will send
an RSVP Path message down the tree, the receivers can then reply with
an RSVP Resv message. RSVP scales equally well for multicast as it
does for unicast because:
Ooms, et al. Informational [Page 15]RFC 3353 IP Multicast in an MPLS Environment August 2002
a) RSVP Resv messages can merge.
b) RSVP Resv messages are only sent up to the first branch which made
the required reservation.
5.2. Topology Driven
The Multicast Routing Table (MRT) is maintained by the IP multicast
routing protocol daemon. The MPLS module maps this L3 tree topology
information to L2 p2mp LSPs.
The MPLS module can poll the MRT to extract the tree topologies.
Alternatively, the multicast daemon can be modified to notify the
MPLS module directly of any change to the MRT.
The disadvantage of this method is that labels are consumed even when
no traffic exists.
5.3. Traffic Driven5.3.1. General
A traffic driven trigger method will only construct LSPs for trees
which carry traffic. It consumes less labels than the topology
driven method, as labels are only allocated when there is traffic on
the multicast tree.
If the mixed L2/L3 forwarding capability (see section 4) is not
supported, the traffic driven trigger requires a label distribution
mode in which the label is requested by the LSRu (Downstream on
Demand or Upstream Unsolicited mode). In Figure 10, suppose an LSP
for a certain group exists to LSRd1 and another LSRd2 wants to join
the tree. In order for LSRd2 to initiate a trigger, it must already
receive the traffic from the tree. This can be either at L2 or at
L3. The former case is a chicken and egg problem. The latter case
requires a mixed L2/L3 forwarding capability in LSRu to add the L3
Ooms, et al. Informational [Page 16]RFC 3353 IP Multicast in an MPLS Environment August 2002
| LSRd1 |
+--------+ | L3 |
| LSRu | +--------+
| | | |
| L3 | +-------------------------->
+--------+ / | L2 |
| | / +--------+
| L2 | +--------+
+--------+ | LSRd2 |
| L3 |
| L2 |
Figure 10. The LSRu has to request the label.
5.3.2. An Implementation Example
To illustrate that by choosing an appropriate trigger one can
conclude that MPLS multicast is independent of the deployed multicast
routing protocol, the following implementation example is given.
Current implementations on Unix platforms of IP multicast routing
protocols (DVMRP, PIM) have a Multicast Forwarding Cache (MFC). The
MFC is a cached copy of the Multicast Routing Table. The MFC
requests an entry for a certain multicast group when it experiences a
'cache miss' for an incoming multicast packet. The missing routing
information is provided by the multicast daemon. If at a later point
in time something changes to the route (outgoing interfaces added or
removed), the multicast daemon will update the MFC.
The MFC is implemented as a common component (part of the kernel),
which makes this trigger very attractive because it can be
transparently used for any IP multicast routing protocol.
Entries in the MFC are removed when no traffic is received for this
entry for a certain period of time. When label switching is applied
to a certain MFC-entry, the L3 will not see any packets arriving
anymore. To retain the normal MFC behavior, the L3 counters of the
MFC need to be updated by L2 measurements.
Ooms, et al. Informational [Page 17]RFC 3353 IP Multicast in an MPLS Environment August 20025.4. Combinations of Triggers and Label Distribution Modes
Table 2 shows the valid combinations of label distribution modes and
trigger types that were discussed in the previous sections. The (X)
means that the combination is valid when the mixed L2/L3 forwarding
feature is supported in the LSR.
| | label requested by |
| | LSRu | LSRd |
| | upstream |downstream|downstream |upstream |
| |unsolicited|on demand |unsolicited|on demand |
|Request Driven | | | | |
|(incoming msg) | X | X | | |
|Request Driven | | | | |
|(outgoing msg) | | | X | X |
|Topology Driven | X | X | X | X |
|Traffic Driven | X | X | (X) | (X) |
Table 2. Valid combinations of triggers and label distribution modes
In Figure 9 (outgoing case) one can observe that instead of sending 2
separate messages the label advertisement can be piggy-backed on the
existing control messages. For multicast two piggy-back candidates
a) Multicast routing messages: protocols such as PIM-SM and CBT have
explicit Join messages which could carry the label mappings. This
approach is described in [FARI]. When different multicast routing
protocols are deployed, an extension to each of these protocols
has to be defined.
b) RSVP Resv messages: a label mapping extension object for RSVP,
also applicable to multicast, is proposed in [AWDU].
The pros and cons of piggy-backing on multicast routing messages will
be described now.
Ooms, et al. Informational [Page 18]RFC 3353 IP Multicast in an MPLS Environment August 2002
Piggy-backing has following advantages:
a) If the label advertisement is piggy-backed on multicast routing
messages, then the distribution of routes and the distribution of
labels is tightly synchronized. This eliminates difficult corner
cases such as "what do I do with a label if I don't (yet) have a
routing table entry to attach it to?". It also minimizes the
interval between the establishment of the multicast route and the
mapping of a label to the route.
b) The number of control messages needed to support label
advertisement beyond those needed to support the multicast routing
itself is zero.
Following disadvantages of piggy-backing can be identified:
a) In dense-mode protocols there are no messages on which the label
advertisement can be piggy-backed. [FARI] proposes to add
periodic messages to dense-mode protocols for the purpose of label
advertisement, which is a heavy impact on the multicast routing
protocol and it eliminates the message conserving benefit of
b) The second solution for the state co-existence problem (section
3.4) cannot be applied in combination with piggy-backing.
c) Piggy-backing requires extending the multicast routing protocol,
and hence becomes less attractive if label advertisement needs to
be supported for multiple multicast routing protocols. Especially
when not only the label advertisement but also the other two LDP
functions (discovery and adjacency) are piggy-backed.
d) Piggy-backing assumes the Downstream Unsolicited label
distribution mode, this excludes a number of trigger methods (see
e) LDP normally runs on top of TCP, assuring a reliable communication
between peer nodes. Piggy-backed label advertisement often
replaces the reliable communication with periodic soft-state label
advertisements. Because of this periodic label advertisement the
control traffic (in number of bytes) will increase.
Ooms, et al. Informational [Page 19]RFC 3353 IP Multicast in an MPLS Environment August 2002
f) If a VCID notification mechanism [NAGA] is required, the (in-band)
notification can normally be done by sending the LDP bind through
the newly established VC. This way only one message is
required. This method cannot be combined with piggy-backing
because the routing message is sent before the VC can be
established. An extra handshake message is thus required,
diminishing the benefit of piggy-backing.
So whether piggy-backing makes sense or not depends heavily on which
and how many multicast routing protocols are deployed, whether LDP is
already used for unicast, which trigger mechanism is used, ...
Piggy-backing is just one possible component of an MPLS multicast
7. Explicit Routing
Explicit routing for unicast refers to overriding the unicast routing
table by using LSPs.
A first way to interpret "multicast explicit routing" is overriding
the tree established by the multicast routing protocol by another LSP
tree (e.g. a Steiner tree calculated by an off-line tool). In this
interpretation the current 'shortest path' multicast routing protocol
becomes obsolete and can be replaced by label advertisement messages
that follow an explicit route (e.g. a branch of the Steiner tree).
A second way of interpreting "multicast explicit routing" is that the
known multicast routing protocols are running, but that the messages
generated by these protocols use explicit unicast routes (instead of
the IGP shortest path routes) to construct trees.
8. QoS/CoS8.1. DiffServ
The Differentiated Services approach can be applied to multicast as
well. It introduces finer stream granularities (DiffServ Codepoint
(DSCP) as an extra differentiator). A sender can construct one or
more trees with different DSCPs.
These (S, G, DSCP) or (*, G, DSCP) trees can be mapped very easily
onto LSPs when the traffic driven trigger is used. In this case one
can create LSPs with different attributes for the various DSCPs.
Note however that these LSPs still use the same route as long as the
tree construction mechanism itself does not take the DSCP as an
Ooms, et al. Informational [Page 20]RFC 3353 IP Multicast in an MPLS Environment August 20028.2. IntServ and RSVP
RSVP can be used to setup multicast trees with QoS. An important
multicast issue is the problem of how to map the 'heterogeneous
receivers' paradigm onto L2 (remark that it is not solved in IP
either). This subject is tackled in [CRAW]. Pragmatic approaches
are the 'Limited Heterogeneity Model' which allows a best effort
service and a single alternate QoS (e.g. a QoS proposed by the sender
in a RSVP Path message) and the 'Homogeneous Model' which allows only
a single QoS.
The first approach will construct full trees for each service class.
The sender has to send its traffic twice across the network (e.g. 1
best-effort and 1 QoS tree). Both trees can be label switched.
The second approach constructs one tree and the best-effort users are
connected to the QoS tree. If the branches created for best-effort
users are not to be label switched, (thus carried by a hop-by-hop
default LSP) the QoS multicast traffic has to be merged onto these
default LSPs. This function can be provided by the 'mixed L2/L3
forwarding' feature described in section 4. If this is not
available, merging is necessary to avoid a return to L3 in the QoS
The mapping of the IntServ service categories onto L2 for ATM service
categories is studied in [GARR].
9. Multi-access Networks
Multicast MPLS on multi-access networks poses a special problem. An
LSR that wants to join a group must always be ready to accept the
label that is already assigned to the group LSP (to another
downstream LSR on the link). This can be achieved in three ways:
1) Each LSR on the multi-access link memorizes all the advertised
labels on the link, even if it has not received a join for the
associated group. If an LSR is added to the multi-access link it
has to retrieve this information from another LSR on the link or
in case of soft state label advertisement it can wait a certain
time before it can allocate labels itself. If LSRs allocate a
label 'at the same moment' the LSR with the highest IP address
could keep it, while the other LSRs withdraw the label.
2) Each LSR gets its own label range to allocate labels from. A
mechanism for label partitioning is described in [FARI]. If an
LSR is added to the multi-access link, the label ranges have to be
negotiated again and possibly existing LSPs are torn down and
are reconstructed with other labels.
Ooms, et al. Informational [Page 21]RFC 3353 IP Multicast in an MPLS Environment August 2002
3) Per multi-access link one LSR could be elected to be responsible
for label allocation. When an LSR needs a label, it can request
it from this Label Allocation LSR.
Unlike the unicast case, a multicast stream can have more than one
downstream LSR which all have to use the same label. Two solutions
for label advertisement can be thought of:
1) [FARI] proposes to multicast the label advertisements to all LSRs
on the shared link. Since multicast is not reliable this requires
periodic label advertisements, yielding label advertisement
duplicates in time.
2) Another approach is that an LSR unicasts its label advertisements
in a reliable way (TCP) to all other (or to all interested) LSRs
on the shared link. In this approach the hard-state character of
LDP can be maintained but the label advertisement is duplicated in
Since LSPs are only rewarding if they have a long lifetime and since
the number of LSRs on a shared link is limited the second approach
Another issue with multicast in multi-access networks is whether to
use upstream or downstream label assignment. For multicast traffic,
upstream label allocation is simpler since there can be only one
upstream node per link that belongs to a multicast tree. This
(upstream) node can assign a unique label for the FEC. With
downstream allocation, there may be multiple downstream nodes for a
given tree on a multi-access link; each node may propose a different
label assignment for a FEC that would require some resolution process
in order to come up with a single label per multicast FEC on the
Once a label has been assigned, it is possible that the label
assigner leaves the tree. With downstream label assignment, this
could happen when the label allocator leaves the group. With
upstream assignment this could happen when the upstream LSR changes
due to a unicast topology change.
10. More Issues10.1. TTL Field
The TTL field in the IP header is typically used for loop detection.
In IP multicast it is also used to limit the scope of the multicast
packets by setting an appropriate TTL value.
Ooms, et al. Informational [Page 22]RFC 3353 IP Multicast in an MPLS Environment August 2002
Thus in LSRs that do not support a TTL decrement function (e.g. ATM
LSR), the scope restriction function is affected. Suppose one could
calculate in advance the number of hops an LSP traverses. In a
unicast LSP the TTL value could then be decremented at the ingress or
the egress node. For multicast all the branches of the tree can have
different lengths so the TTL can only be decremented at the egress
node, potentially wasting bandwidth if the TTL turns out to be zero
10.2. Independent vs. Ordered Label Distribution Control
Current Label Distribution Terminology is only defined for unicast.
The following sections explore what this terminology might mean in a
In Independent Control ([ANDE]) each LSR can take the initiative to
do a label mapping. In Ordered Control ([ANDE]) an LSR only maps a
label when it already received a label from its next-hop.
All the previously described trigger methods (section 5) combine with
Independent Control. Note that if the request driven approach is
used with Independent Control the label distribution still behaves as
in Ordered Control: the control messages flow from the egress node
upstream, imposing the same sequence to the label advertisement.
Ordered Control is not applicable for a traffic driven trigger in
case the node does not support mixed L2/L3 forwarding. According to
Table 2, this case implies that labels are requested by the upstream
LSR. Suppose in Figure 11 that an LSP exists from S to R1 and a new
branch must be added to R2. B will only accept a label on the A-B
link if a label is already assigned on the B-C link. However, to
establish a label on the B-C link, B must already receive traffic on
the A-B link.
Ooms, et al. Informational [Page 23]RFC 3353 IP Multicast in an MPLS Environment August 200210.3. Conservative vs. Liberal Label Retention Mode
In the Conservative Mode ([ANDE]) only the labels that are used for
forwarding data (if the next-hop for the FEC is the LSR which
advertised the label) are allocated and maintained. In the Liberal
Mode labels are advertised and maintained to all neighbors. Liberal
Mode does not make sense in multicast. Two reasons can be identified
1) All LSRs have a route for each unicast FEC. This is not true for
2) For multicast an LSR always knows to which neighbor to send the
label request or the label map messages. In e.g. unicast
Downstream Unsolicited mode (see below) the LSR does not know
where to send the label mappings and thus has to send the mapping
to all its neighbors. In this case supporting the Liberal Mode
does not generate extra messages (it still requires extra state
information and label space) and thus the threshold to support
Liberal Mode could be considered lower.
Table 3 shows the cases where it is known by an LSR where to send its
| | label requested by |
| | LSRu | LSRd |
|unicast | Yes | No |
|multicast| Yes | Yes |
Table 3. Does an LSR know where to send its label requests ?
For a unicast flow, an LSR can determine the next hop LSR, which is
the one to send the request to in case of Upstream Unsolicited or
Downstream on Demand mode. The LSR is however not able to find the
previous hop. The previous hop is not necessarily the next hop
towards the source, because the path from A to B is not necessarily
the same as the path from B to A. Such a situation can occur as a
result of asymmetric link measures or in the event that multiple
equal cost paths exist [PAXS].
In the case of multicast, an LSR knows both the next hop(s) and the
previous hop. Because multicast trees are constructed using the
reverse shortest path method, the previous hop is always the next hop
towards the source or towards the root of the tree.
Ooms, et al. Informational [Page 24]RFC 3353 IP Multicast in an MPLS Environment August 200210.4. Downstream vs. Upstream Label Allocation
The label can be allocated by either the downstream LSR (Downstream
on Demand, Downstream Unsolicited) or the upstream LSR (Upstream on
Demand, Upstream Unsolicited, implicit). The advantages of
downstream label allocation are:
a) It is the same mode as for unicast LDP, thus eliminating the need
to develop upstream label distribution procedures.
b) The same label can be kept when the upstream LSR changes due to a
route change, which is an advantage on multi-access networks (see
c) Compatible with piggy-backing (especially the downstream
The advantages of upstream label allocation are:
a) Easier label allocation in multi-access networks (see section 9).
b) The same label can be kept when the downstream LSR (which would
have been the label allocator in downstream mode in a multi-access
network) leaves the group (see section 9).
c) The upstream and implicit distribution mode allow a faster LSP
setup when the LSP is traffic triggered.
Whether to use upstream or downstream label distribution is outside
the scope of this framework. The relative complexity between the
necessary protocol extensions and the resolution mechanism needed, as
well as the relative operational complexity, will influence which way
10.5. Explicit vs. Implicit Label Distribution
Beside the explicit distribution modes (which use a signaling
protocol), [ACHA] proposes an implicit label distribution method by
using unknown labels. This method has all the advantages of the
upstream label allocation method and is probably the fastest label
advertisement method for traffic triggered LSPs.
Implicit label distribution is not applicable if the FEC-to-label
binding has been advertised prior to traffic arrival, e.g. explicit
routing (i.e. if all the information necessary to identify the FEC is
not present in the packet).
Ooms, et al. Informational [Page 25]RFC 3353 IP Multicast in an MPLS Environment August 2002
Explicit distribution allows pre-establishment (before the arrival of
data) of LSPs with topology or request driven triggers.
11. Security Considerations
In general, the use of multicast in an MPLS environment poses no
extra security issues beyond the ones that already exist in multicast
and MPLS protocols as such.
The protocols described in this document are however not suited to
cross administrative boundaries.
When the multicast tree is determined by an existing multicast
routing protocol (this is the assumption made in this document,
except for the Explicit Routing section), clearly no additional
security issues are introduced with respect to the shape of the tree
(e.g. unauthorized joining, tapping, blackholing, injecting traffic,
...). These security issues should have been addressed in the
specifications of the multicast routing protocols.
In the MPLS context it is possible that control messages trigger L2
resource allocations (e.g. LSPs). If security flaws would still be
present in the existing protocols (which possibly are not too harmful
in its original context) the abusive sending of such control messages
can yield more severe DoS attacks.
In case of an "explicit routed" tree that is calculated centrally,
sufficient authentication must be done on the control messages that
set up the tree in the network nodes.
The authors would like to thank Eric Rosen, Piet Van Mieghem, Philip
Dumortier, Hans De Neve, Jan Vanhoutte, Alex Mondrus and Gerard
Gastaud for the fruitful discussions and/or their thorough revision
of this document.
Ooms, et al. Informational [Page 26]RFC 3353 IP Multicast in an MPLS Environment August 2002
[ACHA] A. Acharya, R. Dighe and F. Ansari, "IP Switching Over Fast
ATM Cell Transport (IPSOFACTO) : Switching Multicast flows",
IEEE Globecom '97.
[ADAM] A. Adams, J. Nicholas, W. Siadak, Protocol Independent
Multicast Version 2 Dense Mode Specification", Work In
[ANDE] Andersson, L., Doolan, P., Feldman, N., Fredette, A. and
R. Thomas, "LDP Specification", RFC 3036, January 2001.
[AWDU] Awduche, D., Berger, L., Gan, D., Li, T., Swallow, G. and
V. Srinivasan, "RSVP-TE: Extensions to RSVP for LSP Tunnels",
RFC 3209, December 2001.
[BALL] Ballardie, A., "Core Based Trees (CBT) Multicast Routing
Architecture", RFC 2201, September 1997.
[CONT] Conta, D., Doolan, P. and A. Malis, "Use of Label Switching
on Frame Relay Networks", RFC 3034, January 2001.
[CRAW] Crawley, E., Berger, L., Berson, S., Baker, F., Borden, M.
and J. Krawczyk, "A Framework for Integrated Services and
RSVP over ATM", RFC 2382, August 1998.
[DAVI] Davie, B., Lawrence, J., McCloghrie, K., Rekhter, Y., Rosen,
E., Swallow, G. and P. Doolan, "MPLS using LDP and ATM VC
switching", RFC 3035, January 2001.
[DEER] Deering, S., Estrin, D., Farinacci, D., Helmy, A., Thaler,
D., Handley, M., Jacobson, V., Liu, C., Sharma, P. and L Wei,
"Protocol Independent Multicast-Sparse Mode (PIM-SM):
Protocol Specification", RFC 2362, June 1998.
[FARI] D. Farinacci, Y. Rekhter, E. Rosen and T. Qian, "Using PIM to
Distribute MPLS Labels for Multicast Routes", Work In
[FENN] Fenner, W., "Internet Group Management Protocol, IGMP,
Version 2", RFC 2236, November 1997.
[GARR] Garrett, M. and M. Borden, "Interoperation of Controlled-Load
Service and Guaranteed Service with ATM", RFC 2381, August
Ooms, et al. Informational [Page 27]RFC 3353 IP Multicast in an MPLS Environment August 2002
[HOLB] H. Holbrook, B. Cain, "Source-Specific Multicast for IP",
Work In Progress.
[MOY] Moy, J., "Multicast Extensions to OSPF", RFC 1584, March
[NAGA] Nagami, K., Demizu, N., Esaki, H., Katsube, Y. and P. Doolan,
"VCID Notification over ATM link for LDP", RFC 3038, January
[PERL] R. Perlman, C-Y. Lee, A. Ballardie, J. Crowcroft, Z. Wang, T.
Maufer, "Simple Multicast", Work In Progress.
[PUSA] T. Pusateri, "Distance Vector Multicast Routing Protocol",
Work In Progress.
[PAXS] V. Paxson, "End-to-End Routing Behavior in the Internet",
IEEE/ACM Transactions on Networking 5(5), pp. 601-615.
[ROSE] Rosen, E., Rekhter, Y., Tappan, D., Farinacci, D., Fedorkow,
G., Li, T. and A. Conta, "MPLS Label Stack Encoding",
RFC 3032, January 2001.
Alcatel Corporate Research Center
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Phone : 32 3 2404732
Fax : 32 3 2409879
Alcatel Corporate Research Center
Fr. Wellesplein 1, 2018 Antwerp, Belgium.
Phone : 32 3 2409574
Zweefvliegtuigstraat 10, 1130 Brussels, Belgium
Phone : 32 2 7901705
Fax : 32 2 7901711
Ooms, et al. Informational [Page 28]RFC 3353 IP Multicast in an MPLS Environment August 2002
IBM TJ Watson Research Center
30 Saw Mill River Road, Hawthorne
Phone : 1 914 784 7481
Les Algorithmes, 2000 Route des Lucioles, BP29
06901 Sophia-Antipolis, FRANCE
Bell Labs, Lucent Tech.
101 Crawfords Corner Rd., Holmdel, NJ 07733
Phone : 1 732 949 5249
Fax : 1 732 949 4556
Ooms, et al. Informational [Page 29]RFC 3353 IP Multicast in an MPLS Environment August 2002Full Copyright Statement
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Ooms, et al. Informational [Page 30]