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RFC 2544 Applicability Statement: Use on Production Networks Considered Harmful

The information below is for an old version of the document.
Document Type
This is an older version of an Internet-Draft that was ultimately published as RFC 6815.
Authors Scott O. Bradner , Kevin Dubray , Jim McQuaid , Al Morton
Last updated 2012-09-04
Replaces draft-chairs-bmwg-2544-as
RFC stream Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
Additional resources Mailing list discussion
Stream WG state WG Document
Document shepherd Bill Cerveny
IESG IESG state Became RFC 6815 (Informational)
Consensus boilerplate Unknown
Telechat date (None)
Needs a YES.
Responsible AD Ron Bonica
IESG note
Send notices to,,
Network Working Group                                         S. Bradner
Internet-Draft                                        Harvard University
Updates: 2544 (if approved)                                    K. Dubray
Intended status: Informational                          Juniper Networks
Expires: March 8, 2013                                        J. McQuaid
                                                            Turnip Video
                                                               A. Morton
                                                               AT&T Labs
                                                       September 4, 2012

                   RFC 2544 Applicability Statement: 
             Use on Production Networks Considered Harmful


   Benchmarking Methodology Working Group (BMWG) has been developing key
   performance metrics and laboratory test methods since 1990, and
   continues this work at present.  The methods described in RFC 2544
   are intended to generate traffic that overloads network device
   resources in order to assess their capacity.  Overload of shared
   resources would likely be harmful to user traffic performance on a
   production network, and there are further negative consequences
   identified with production application of the methods.  This memo
   clarifies the scope of RFC 2544 and other IETF BMWG benchmarking work
   for isolated test environments only, and encourages new standards
   activity for measurement methods applicable outside that scope.

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 March 8, 2013.

Copyright Notice

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   Copyright (c) 2012 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
   ( 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 Simplified BSD License text as described in Section 4.e of
   the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as
   described in the Simplified BSD License.

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
     1.1.  Requirements Language . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
   2.  Scope and Goals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
   3.  The Concept of an Isolated Test Environment . . . . . . . . . . 4
   4.  Why RFC 2544 Methods are intended only for ITE  . . . . . . . . 4
     4.1.  Experimental Control and Accuracy . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
     4.2.  Containing Damage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
   5.  Advisory on RFC 2544 Methods in Production Networks . . . . . . 5
   6.  Considering Performance Testing in Production Networks  . . . . 6
   7.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
   8.  IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
   9.  Acknowledgements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
   10. References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
     10.1. Normative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
     10.2. Informative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
   Authors' Addresses  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

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1.  Introduction

   This memo clarifies the scope and use of IETF Benchmarking
   Methodology Working Group (BMWG) tests including [RFC2544], which
   discusses and defines several tests that may be used to characterize
   the performance of a network interconnecting device.

   Benchmarking methodologies (beginning with [RFC2544]) have always
   relied on test conditions that can only be produced and replicated
   reliably in the laboratory.  These methodologies are not appropriate
   for inclusion in wider specifications such as:

   1.  Validation of telecommunication service configuration, such as
       the Committed Information Rate (CIR).

   2.  Validation of performance metrics in a telecommunication Service
       Level Agreement (SLA), such as frame loss and latency.

   3.  Telecommunication service activation testing, where traffic that
       shares network resources with the test might be adversely

   Above, we distinguish "telecommunication service" (where a network
   service provider contracts with a customer to transfer information
   between specified interfaces at different geographic locations) from
   the generic term "service".  Below, we use the adjective "production"
   to refer to networks carrying live user traffic.  [RFC2544] used the
   term "real-world" to refer to production networks and to
   differentiate them from test networks.

   Although RFC 2544 has been held up as the standard reference for such
   testing, we believe that the actual methods used vary from [RFC2544]
   in significant ways.  Since the only citation is to [RFC2544], the
   modifications are opaque to the standards community and to users in

   Since applying the test traffic and methods described in [RFC2544] on
   a production network risks causing overload in shared resources there
   is direct risk of harming user traffic if the methods are misused in
   this way.  Therefore, IETF BMWG developed this Applicability
   Statement for [RFC2544] to directly address the situation.

1.1.  Requirements Language

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

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2.  Scope and Goals

   This memo clarifies the scope of [RFC2544] with the goal to provide
   guidance to the industry on its applicability, which is limited to
   laboratory testing.

3.  The Concept of an Isolated Test Environment

   An Isolated Test Environment (ITE) used with [RFC2544] methods (as
   illustrated in Figures 1 through 3 of [RFC2544]) has the ability to:

   o  contain the test streams to paths within the desired set-up

   o  prevent non-test traffic from traversing the test set-up

   These features allow unfettered experimentation, while at the same
   time protecting lab equipment management/control LANs and other
   production networks from the unwanted effects of the test traffic.

4.  Why RFC 2544 Methods are intended only for ITE

   The following sections discuss some of the reasons why [RFC2544]
   methods are applicable only for isolated laboratory use, and the
   consequences of applying these methods outside the lab environment.

4.1.  Experimental Control and Accuracy

   All of the tests described in RFC 2544 require that the tester and
   device under test are the only devices on the networks that are
   transmitting data.  The presence of other traffic (unwanted on the
   ITE network) would mean that the specified test conditions have not
   been achieved and flawed results are a likely consequence.

   If any other traffic appears and the amount varies over time, the
   repeatability of any test result will likely depend to some degree on
   the amount and variation of the other traffic.

   The presence of other traffic makes accurate, repeatable, and
   consistent measurements of the performance of the device under test
   very unlikely, since the complete details of test conditions will not
   be reported.

   For example, the RFC 2544 Throughput Test attempts to characterize a
   maximum reliable load, thus there will be testing above the maximum
   that causes packet/frame loss.  Any other sources of traffic on the
   network will cause packet loss to occur at a tester data rate lower

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   than the rate that would be achieved without the extra traffic.

4.2.  Containing Damage

   [RFC2544] methods, specifically to determine Throughput as defined in
   [RFC1242] and other benchmarks, may overload the resources of the
   device under test, and may cause failure modes in the device under
   test.  Since failures can become the root cause of more wide-spread
   failure, it is clearly desirable to contain all test traffic within
   the ITE.

   In addition, such testing can have a negative effect on any traffic
   that shares resources with the test stream(s) since, in most cases,
   the traffic load will be close to the capacity of the network links.

   Appendix C.2.2 of [RFC2544] (as adjusted by errata) gives the private
   IPv4 address range for testing:

   "...The network addresses through have been
   assigned to the BMWG by the IANA for this purpose.  This assignment
   was made to minimize the chance of conflict in case a testing device
   were to be accidentally connected to part of the Internet.  The
   specific use of the addresses is detailed below."

   In other words, devices operating on the Internet may be configured
   to discard any traffic they observe in this address range, as it is
   intended for laboratory ITE use only.  Thus, testers using the
   assigned testing address ranges are connected to the Internet and
   test packets are forwarded across the Internet, it is likely that the
   packets will be discarded and the test will not work.

   We note that a range of IPv6 addresses has been assigned to BMWG for
   laboratory test purposes, in [RFC5180] (as amended by errata).

   See the Security Considerations Section below for further
   considerations on containing damage.

5.  Advisory on RFC 2544 Methods in Production Networks

   The tests in [RFC2544] were designed to measure the performance of
   network devices, not of networks, and certainly not production
   networks carrying user traffic on shared resources.  There will be
   undesirable consequences when applying these methods outside the
   isolated test environment.

   One negative consequence stems from reliance on frame loss as an
   indicator of resource exhaustion in [RFC2544] methods.  In practice,

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   link-layer and physical-layer errors prevent production networks from
   operating loss-free.  The [RFC2544] methods will not correctly assess
   Throughput when loss from uncontrolled sources is present.  Frame
   loss occurring at the SLA levels of some networks could affect every
   iteration of Throughput testing (when each step includes sufficient
   packets to experience facility-related loss).  Flawed results waste
   the time and resources of the testing service user and of the service
   provider when called to dispute the measurement.  These are
   additional examples of harm that compliance with this advisory should
   help to avoid.

   The methods described in [RFC2544] are intended to generate traffic
   that overloads network device resources in order to assess their
   capacity.  Overload of shared resources would likely be harmful to
   user traffic performance on a production network.  These tests MUST
   NOT be used on production networks and as discussed above.  The tests
   will not produce a reliable or accurate benchmarking result on a
   production network.

   [RFC2544] methods have never been validated on a network path, even
   when that path is not part of a production network and carrying no
   other traffic.  It is unknown whether the tests can be used to
   measure valid and reliable performance of a multi-device, multi-
   network path.  It is possible that some of the tests may prove valid
   in some path scenarios, but that work has not been done or has not
   been shared with the IETF community.  Thus, such testing is contra-
   indicated by the BMWG.

6.  Considering Performance Testing in Production Networks

   The IETF has addressed the problem of production network performance
   measurement by chartering a different working group: IP Performance
   Metrics (IPPM).  This working group has developed a set of standard
   metrics to assess the quality, performance, and reliability of
   Internet packet transfer services.  These metrics can be measured by
   network operators, end users, or independent testing groups.  We note
   that some IPPM metrics differ from RFC 2544 metrics with similar
   names, and there is likely to be confusion if the details are

   IPPM has not yet standardized methods for raw capacity measurement of
   Internet paths.  Such testing needs to adequately consider the strong
   possibility for degradation to any other traffic that may be present
   due to congestion.  There are no specific methods proposed for
   activation of a packet transfer service in IPPM at this time.  Thus,
   individuals who need to conduct capacity tests on production networks
   should actively participate in standards development to ensure their

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   methods receive appropriate industry review and agreement, in the
   IETF or in alternate standards development organizations.

   Other standards may help to fill gaps in telecommunication service
   testing.  For example, the IETF has many standards intended to assist
   with network operation, administration and maintenance (OAM), and
   ITU-T Study Group 12 has a Recommendation on service activation test
   methodology [Y.1564].

   The world will not spin off axis while waiting for appropriate and
   standardized methods to emerge from the consensus process.

7.  Security Considerations

   This Applicability Statement intends to help preserve the security of
   the Internet by clarifying that the scope of [RFC2544] and other BMWG
   memos are all limited to testing in a laboratory ITE, thus avoiding
   accidental Denial of Service attacks or congestion due to high
   traffic volume test streams.

   All Benchmarking activities are limited to technology
   characterization using controlled stimuli in a laboratory
   environment, with dedicated address space and the other constraints

   The benchmarking network topology will be an independent test setup
   and MUST NOT be connected to devices that may forward the test
   traffic into a production network, or misroute traffic to the test
   management network.

   Further, benchmarking is performed on a "black-box" basis, relying
   solely on measurements observable external to the device under test/
   system under test (DUT/SUT).

   Special capabilities SHOULD NOT exist in the DUT/SUT specifically for
   benchmarking purposes.  Any implications for network security arising
   from the DUT/SUT SHOULD be identical in the lab and in production

8.  IANA Considerations

   This memo makes no requests of IANA.

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9.  Acknowledgements

   Thanks to Matt Zekauskas, Bill Cerveny, Barry Constantine, Curtis
   Villamizar, David Newman, and Adrian Farrel for suggesting
   improvements to this memo.

   Specifically, Al Morton would like to thank his co-authors, who
   constitute the complete set of Chairmen-Emeritus of the BMWG, for
   returning from other pursuits to develop this statement and see it
   through to approval.  This has been a rare privilege; one that likely
   will not be matched in the IETF again:

      Scott Bradner   served as Chairman from 1990 to 1993
      Jim McQuaid     served as Chairman from 1993 to 1995
      Kevin Dubray    served as Chairman from 1995 to 2006

   It's all about the band.

10.  References

10.1.  Normative References

   [RFC1242]  Bradner, S., "Benchmarking terminology for network
              interconnection devices", RFC 1242, July 1991.

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

   [RFC2544]  Bradner, S. and J. McQuaid, "Benchmarking Methodology for
              Network Interconnect Devices", RFC 2544, March 1999.

   [RFC5180]  Popoviciu, C., Hamza, A., Van de Velde, G., and D.
              Dugatkin, "IPv6 Benchmarking Methodology for Network
              Interconnect Devices", RFC 5180, May 2008.

10.2.  Informative References

   [Y.1564]   ITU-T Recommendation Y.1564, "Ethernet Service Activation
              Test Methodology", March 2011.

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Authors' Addresses

   Scott Bradner
   Harvard University
   29 Oxford St.
   Cambridge, MA  02138

   Phone: +1 617 495 3864

   Kevin Dubray
   Juniper Networks


   Jim McQuaid
   Turnip Video
   6 Cobbleridge Court
   Durham, North Carolina  27713

   Phone: +1 919-619-3220

   Al Morton
   AT&T Labs
   200 Laurel Avenue South
   Middletown,, NJ  07748

   Phone: +1 732 420 1571
   Fax:   +1 732 368 1192

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