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Tethering A BIER Router To A BIER incapable Router

Document Type Active Internet-Draft (bier WG)
Authors Zhaohui (Jeffrey) Zhang , Nils Warnke , IJsbrand Wijnands , Daniel O. Awduche
Last updated 2024-04-18 (Latest revision 2024-02-16)
Replaces draft-zzhang-bier-tether
RFC stream Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
Intended RFC status Proposed Standard
Additional resources Mailing list discussion
Stream WG state WG Document
Revised I-D Needed - Issue raised by AD
Document shepherd Ran Chen
Shepherd write-up Show Last changed 2023-01-13
IESG IESG state I-D Exists
Consensus boilerplate Yes
Telechat date (None)
Responsible AD Gunter Van de Velde
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IANA IANA review state IANA OK - Actions Needed
IANA expert review state Expert Reviews OK
BIER                                                            Z. Zhang
Internet-Draft                                          Juniper Networks
Intended status: Standards Track                               N. Warnke
Expires: 19 August 2024                                 Deutsche Telekom
                                                             I. Wijnands
                                                              D. Awduche
                                                        16 February 2024

           Tethering A BIER Router To A BIER incapable Router


   This document specifies optional procedures to optimize the handling
   of Bit Index Explicit Replication (BIER) incapable routers, by
   attaching (tethering) a BIER router to a BIER incapable router.

Requirements Language

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in BCP
   14 [RFC2119] [RFC8174] when, and only when, they appear in all
   capitals, as shown here.

Status of This Memo

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

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
   Task Force (IETF).  Note that other groups may also distribute
   working documents as Internet-Drafts.  The list of current Internet-
   Drafts is at

   Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
   and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any
   time.  It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference
   material or to cite them other than as "work in progress."

   This Internet-Draft will expire on 19 August 2024.

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Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2024 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
   Provisions Relating to IETF Documents (
   license-info) in effect on the date of publication of this document.
   Please review these documents carefully, as they describe your rights
   and restrictions with respect to this document.  Code Components
   extracted from this document must include Revised BSD License text as
   described in Section 4.e of the Trust Legal Provisions and are
   provided without warranty as described in the Revised BSD License.

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   2.  Additional Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   3.  Specification . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
     3.1.  IGP Signaling and Calculation . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
     3.2.  BGP Signaling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
   4.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
   5.  IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
   6.  Contributors  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
   7.  Acknowledgements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
   8.  Normative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
   Authors' Addresses  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9

1.  Introduction

   Consider the scenario in Figure 1 where router X does not support

                              ------ BFR2 ------- BFER2
      BFER1 ---  BFR1 ---- X ------- BFR3 ------- BFER3
                              ------ BFRn ------- BFERn

              Figure 1: Deployment with BIER incapable routers

   For BFR1 to forward BIER traffic towards BFR2...BFRn, it needs to
   tunnel individual copies through X.  This degrades to "ingress"
   replication to those BFRs.  If X's connections to BFRs are long
   distance or bandwidth limited, and n is large, it becomes very

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   A solution to the inefficient tunneling from BFRs is to attach
   (tether) a BFRx to X as depicted in Figure 2:

                              ------ BFR2 ------- BFER2
      BFER1 ---  BFR1 ---- X ------- BFR3 ------- BFER3
                          / \  .........
                         /   \
                      BFRx    ------ BFRn ------- BFERn

                          Figure 2: Tethered BFRx

   Instead of BFR1 tunneling to BFR2, ..., BFRn directly, BFR1 will get
   BIER packets to BFRx, who will then tunnel to BFR2, ..., BFRn.  There
   could be fat and local pipes between the tethered BFRx and X, so
   ingress replication from BFRx is acceptable.

   For BFR1 to tunnel BIER packets to BFRx, the BFR1-BFRx tunnel need to
   be announced in Interior Gateway Protocol (IGP) as a forwarding
   adjacency so that BFRx will appear on the Shortest Path First (SPF)
   tree.  This needs to happen in a BIER specific topology so that
   unicast traffic would not be tunneled to BFRx.  Obviously this is
   operationally cumbersome.

   Section 6.9 of BIER architecture specification [RFC8279] describes a
   method that tunnels BIER packets through incapable routers without
   the need to announce tunnels.  However that does not work here,
   because BFRx will not appear on the SPF tree of BFR1.

   There is a simple solution to the problem though.  BFRx could
   advertise that it is X's helper and other BFRs will use BFRx (instead
   of X's children on the SPF tree) to replace X during its post-SPF
   processing as described in section 6.9 of BIER architecture
   specification [RFC8279].

2.  Additional Considerations

   While the example shows a local connection between BFRx and X, it
   does not have to be like that.  As long as packets can arrive at BFRx
   without requiring X to do BIER forwarding, it should work.

   Additionally, the helper BRFx can be a transit helper, i.e., it has
   other connections (instead of being a stub helper that is only
   connected to X), as long as BFRx won't send BIER packets tunneled to
   it back towards the tunnel ingress.  Figure 3 below is a simple case:

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                                 ------ BFR2 ------- BFER2
         BFER1 ---  BFR1 ---- X ------- BFR3 ------- BFER3
                            BFRx ------ BFR4 ------- BFER4
                                 ------ BFR5 ------- BFER5

                      Figure 3: A Safe Transit Helper

   In the example of Figure 4, there is a connection between BFR1 and
   BFRx.  If the link metrics are all 1 on the three sides of
   BFR1-X-BFRx triangle, loop won't happen but if the BFRx-X metric is 3
   while other two sides of the triangle has metric 1 then BFRx will
   send BIER packets tunneled to it from BFR1 back to BFR1, causing a

                              ------ BFR2 ------- BFER2
      BFER1 ---  BFR1 ---- X ------- BFR3 ------- BFER3
                   \      / \  .........
                    \    /   \
                      BFRx    ------ BFRn ------- BFERn

                   Figure 4: Potential looping situation

   This can easily be prevented if BFR1 does an SPF calculation with the
   helper BFRx as the root.  For any BFERn reached via X from BFR1, if
   BFRx's SPF path to BFERn includes BFR1 then BFR1 must not use the
   helper.  Instead, BFR1 must directly tunnel packets for BFERn to X's
   BFR (grand-)child on BFR1's SPF path to BFERn, per section 6.9 of

   Notice that this SPF calculation on BFR1 with BFRx as the root is not
   different from the SPF done for a neighbor as part of Loop-Free
   Alternate (LFA) calculation.  In fact, BFR1 tunneling packets to X's
   helper is not different from sending packets to a LFA backup.

   Also notice that, instead of a dedicated helper BFRx, any one or
   multiple ones of BFR2..N can also be the helper (as long as the
   connection between that BFR and X has enough bandwidth for
   replication to multiple helpers through X).  To allow multiple
   helpers to help the same non-BFR, the "I am X's helper" advertisement
   carries a priority.  BFR1 will choose the helper advertising the
   highest priority among those satisfying the loop-free condition
   described above.  When there are multiple helpers advertising the

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   same priority and satisfying the loop-free condition, any one or
   multiple ones could be used solely at the discretion of BFR1.
   However, if multiple ones are used, it means that multiple copies may
   be tunneled through X.

   The situation in Figure 5 where a helper BFRxy helps two different
   non-BFRs X and Y also works.  It's just a special situation of a
   transit helper.

                              ----- BFR2 ------- BFER2
                          X ------- BFR3 ------- BFER3
                        / | \
                      /    \  ----- BFR4 ------- BFER4
                    /       \
          BFER1 -- BFR1      BFRxy ------------- BFERxy
                    \       /
                      \    /  ----- BFR5 ------- BFER5
                        \ | /
                          Y ------- BFR6 ------- BFER6
                              ----- BFRn ------- BFERn

                  Figure 5: One Helper for multiple helped

3.  Specification

   The procedures in this document apply when a BFRx is tethered to a
   BIER incapable router X as X's helper for BIER forwarding.

3.1.  IGP Signaling and Calculation

   Suppose that the BIER domain uses BIER signaling extensions to ISIS
   [RFC8401] or OSPF [RFC8444].  The helper node (BFRx) MUST advertise
   one or more BIER Helped Node sub-sub-TLVs in the BIER Info sub-TLV in
   the case of ISIS or BIER Helped Node sub-TLVs in the BIER sub-TLV in
   the case of OSPF, one for each helped node:

        0                   1                   2                   3
        0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
       |    Type       |   Length      |    Priority   |   Reserved    |
       |              Address of the Helped Node                       |

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   The Type is TBD1 (in the case of ISIS), TBD2 (in the case of OSPFv2),
   or TBD3 (in the case of OSPFv3).  The Value field starts with a one-
   octet Priority field, followed by a one-octet Reserved field, and
   then the Address of the Helped Node (X).  The Length is 6 for IPv4
   and 18 for IPv6 respectively.

   The post-SPF processing procedures in Section 6.9 of the BIER
   architecture specification [RFC8279] are modified as following for
   BIER tethering purpose.

   At step 2, the removed node is added to an ordered list maintained
   with each child that replaces the node.  If the removed node already
   has a non-empty list maintained with itself, add the removed node to
   the tail of the list and copy the list to each child.

   At the end, the calculating node BFR-B would use a unicast tunnel to
   reach next hop BFRs for some BFERs.  The next hop BFR has an ordered
   list created at step 2 above, recording each BIER incapable node
   replaced by their children along the way.  For a particular BFER to
   be reached via a tunnel to the next hop BFR, additional procedures
   are performed as following.

   *  Starting with the first node in the ordered list of incapable
      nodes, say N1, check if there is one or more helper nodes for N1.
      If not, go the next node in the list.

   *  Order all the helper nodes of N1 based descending (priority, BIER
      prefix).  Starting with the first one, say H1, check if BFR-B
      could use H1 as LFA next hop to reach the BFER.  If yes, H1 is
      used as the next hop BFR for the BFER and the procedure stops.  If
      not, go to the next helper in order.

   *  If none of the helper nodes of N1 can be used, go to the next node
      in the list of incapable nodes.

   If the above procedure finishes without finding any helper, then the
   original BFR next hop via a tunnel is used to reach the BFER.

3.2.  BGP Signaling

   Suppose that the BIER domain uses BGP signaling
   [I-D.ietf-bier-idr-extensions] instead of IGP.  BFR1..N advertises
   BIER prefixes that are reachable through them, with BIER Path
   Attributes (BPA) attached.  There are three situations regarding X's

   (1)  X does not participate in BGP peering at all

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   (2)  X re-advertises the BIER prefixes but it does not update the
        BPA, as specified in [I-D.ietf-bier-idr-extensions].

   In either case, the BFR1..N will tunnel BIER packets directly to each
   other.  It works but not efficiently as explained earlier.

   To make tethering work well with BGP signaling, the following can be

   *  Configure BGP sessions between X and BFR1..N and BFRx.

   *  When X re-advertises BIER prefixes to BFRx, it does not change
      BIER Nexthop [I-D.ietf-bier-idr-extensions] in the BPA.  When X
      re-advertises BIER prefixes to BFR1..N, it does change the BIER
      Nexthop to BFRx.

   *  BFRx advertises its own BIER prefix with BPA to X, and sets the
      BIER Nexthop to itself.  X then re-advertises BFRx's BIER prefix
      to BFR1..N.

   With the above, BFR1..N will tunnel BIER packets to BFRx (following
   the BIER Nexthop), who will then tunnel packets to other BFRs (again
   following the BIER Nexthop).

4.  Security Considerations

   This specification does not introduce additional security concerns
   beyond those already discussed in BIER architecture and OSPF/ISIS/BGP
   extensions for BIER signaling.

5.  IANA Considerations

   This document requests a new sub-sub-TLV type value from the "Sub-
   sub-TLVs for BIER Info Sub-TLV" registry in the "IS-IS TLV
   Codepoints" registry:

        Type    Name
        ----    ----
        TBD1    BIER Helped Node

   This document requests a new sub-TLV type value from the OSPFv2
   Extended Prefix TLV Sub-TLV registry:

        Type    Name
        ----    ----
        TBD2    BIER Helped Node

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   This document also requests a new sub-TLV type value from the OSPFv3
   Extended-LSA Sub-TLVs registry:

        Type    Name
        ----    ----
        TBD3    BIER Helped Node

6.  Contributors

   The following also contributed to this document.

      Zheng(Sandy) Zhang
      ZTE Corporation


      Hooman Bidgoli

7.  Acknowledgements

   The author wants to thank Eric Rosen and Antonie Przygienda for their
   review, comments and suggestions.

8.  Normative References

              Xu, X., Chen, M., Patel, K., Wijnands, I., Przygienda, T.,
              and Z. J. Zhang, "BGP Extensions for BIER", Work in
              Progress, Internet-Draft, draft-ietf-bier-idr-extensions-
              10, 13 June 2023, <

   [RFC2119]  Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
              Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, March 1997,

   [RFC8174]  Leiba, B., "Ambiguity of Uppercase vs Lowercase in RFC
              2119 Key Words", BCP 14, RFC 8174, DOI 10.17487/RFC8174,
              May 2017, <>.

   [RFC8279]  Wijnands, IJ., Ed., Rosen, E., Ed., Dolganow, A.,
              Przygienda, T., and S. Aldrin, "Multicast Using Bit Index
              Explicit Replication (BIER)", RFC 8279,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC8279, November 2017,

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   [RFC8401]  Ginsberg, L., Ed., Przygienda, T., Aldrin, S., and Z.
              Zhang, "Bit Index Explicit Replication (BIER) Support via
              IS-IS", RFC 8401, DOI 10.17487/RFC8401, June 2018,

   [RFC8444]  Psenak, P., Ed., Kumar, N., Wijnands, IJ., Dolganow, A.,
              Przygienda, T., Zhang, J., and S. Aldrin, "OSPFv2
              Extensions for Bit Index Explicit Replication (BIER)",
              RFC 8444, DOI 10.17487/RFC8444, November 2018,

Authors' Addresses

   Zhaohui Zhang
   Juniper Networks

   Nils Warnke
   Deutsche Telekom

   IJsbrand Wijnands

   Daniel Awduche

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