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DHCPv6 Failover Requirements

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 7031.
Authors Tomek Mrugalski , Kim Kinnear
Last updated 2013-05-09
Replaces draft-mrugalski-dhc-dhcpv6-failover-requirements
RFC stream Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
Stream WG state WG Consensus: Waiting for Write-Up
Revised I-D Needed - Issue raised by WGLC
Document shepherd Bernie Volz
IESG IESG state I-D Exists
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Dynamic Host Configuration (DHC)                            T. Mrugalski
Internet-Draft                                                       ISC
Intended status: Informational                                K. Kinnear
Expires: November 10, 2013                                         Cisco
                                                            May 09, 2013

                      DHCPv6 Failover Requirements


   The DHCPv6 protocol, defined in [RFC3315] allows for multiple servers
   to operate on a single network, however it does not define any way
   the servers could share information about currently active clients
   and their leases.  Some sites are interested in running multiple
   servers in such a way as to provide increased availability in case of
   server failure.  In order for this to work reliably, the cooperating
   primary and secondary servers must maintain a consistent database of
   the lease information.  [RFC3315] allows for but does not define any
   redundancy or failover mechanisms.  This document outlines
   requirements for DHCPv6 failover, enumerates related problems, and
   discusses the proposed scope of work to be conducted.  This document
   does not define a DHCPv6 failover protocol.

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 November 10, 2013.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2013 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

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   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
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   include Simplified BSD License text as described in Section 4.e of
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   described in the Simplified BSD License.

Table of Contents

   1.  Requirements Language . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   2.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   3.  Definitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   4.  Scope of work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
     4.1.  Alternatives to Failover  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
       4.1.1.  Short-lived addresses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
       4.1.2.  Redundant servers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
       4.1.3.  Distributed databases . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
       4.1.4.  Load Balancing  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
   5.  Failover Scenarios  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
     5.1.  Hot Standby Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
     5.2.  Geographically Distributed Failover . . . . . . . . . . .   7
     5.3.  Load balancing  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
     5.4.  1-to-1, m-to-1 and m-to-m models  . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
     5.5.  Split prefixes  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
     5.6.  Long lived connections  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
     5.7.  Partial server communication loss . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
   6.  Principles of DHCPv6 Failover . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
     6.1.  Failure modes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
       6.1.1.  Server Failure  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
       6.1.2.  Network partition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
     6.2.  Synchronization mechanisms  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
       6.2.1.  Lockstep  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
       6.2.2.  Lazy updates  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
   7.  DHCPv4 and DHCPv6 Failover Comparison . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
   8.  DHCPv6 Failover Requirements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
     8.1.  Features out of scope . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  13
   9.  Related work  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  14
     9.1.  DHCPv4 failover concepts  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  14
       9.1.1.  Goals of DHCPv4 Failover  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  14
       9.1.2.  Goals lead to Concepts  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
       9.1.3.  Use of the MCLT in practice . . . . . . . . . . . . .  16
       9.1.4.  Network Partition Events  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  17
       9.1.5.  Conflict Resolution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  17
       9.1.6.  Load Balancing  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  18
     9.2.  DHCPv6 Redundancy Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . .  18

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   10. Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  18
   11. IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  18
   12. Acknowledgements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  18
   13. References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  19
     13.1.  Normative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  19
     13.2.  Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  19
   Authors' Addresses  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  20

1.  Requirements Language

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

2.  Introduction

   The DHCPv6 protocol, defined in [RFC3315] allows for multiple servers
   to be operating on a single network, however it does not define how
   the servers can share the same address and prefix delegation pools
   and allow a client to seamlessly extend its existing leases when the
   original server is down.  [RFC3315] provides for these capabilities,
   but does not document how the servers cooperate and communicate to
   provide this capability.  Some sites are interested in running
   multiple servers in such a way as to provide redundancy in case of
   server failure.  In order for this to work reliably, the cooperating
   primary and secondary servers must maintain a consistent database of
   the lease information.

   This document discusses failover implementations scenarios, failure
   modes, and synchronization approaches to provide background to the
   list of requirements for a DHCPv6 failover protocol.  It then defines
   a minimum set of requirements that failover must provide to be
   useful, while acknowledging that additional features may be specified
   as extensions.  This document does not define a DHCPv6 failover

3.  Definitions

   This section defines terms that are relevant to DHCPv6 failover.

   Definitions from [RFC3315] are included by reference.  In particular,
   client means any device (e.g., end user host, CPE or other router)
   that implements client functionality of the DHCPv6 protocol.  A
   server means a DHCPv6 server, unless explicitly noted otherwise.  A
   relay is a DHCPv6 relay.

      A binding (or client binding) is a group of server data records
      containing the information the server has about the addresses in

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      an IA or configuration information explicitly assigned to the
      client.  Configuration information that has been returned to a
      client through a policy - for example, the information returned to
      all clients on the same link - does not require a binding.

      DDNS - an abbreviation for "Dynamic DNS", which refers to the
      capability to update a DNS server's name database using the on-
      the-wire protocol defined in [RFC2136].  Clients and servers can
      negotiate the scope of such updates as defined in [RFC4704].

      Failover - an ability of one partner to continue offering services
      provided by another partner, with minimal or no impact on clients.

      FQDN - a fully qualified domain name.  A fully qualified domain
      name generally is a host name with at least one zone name.  For
      example "" is a fully qualified domain name.

      High Availability - a desired property of DHCPv6 servers to
      continue providing services despite experiencing unwanted events
      such as server crashes, link failures, or network partitions.

      Load Balancing - the ability for two or more servers to each
      process some portion of the client request traffic in a conflict-
      free fashion.

      Lease - an IPv6 address, an IPv6 prefix or other resource that was
      assigned ("leased") by a server to a specific client.  A lease may
      include additional information, like associated fully qualified
      domain name (FQDN) and/or information about associated DNS

      Partner - A "partner", for the purpose of this document, refers to
      a failover server, typically the other failover server in a
      failover relationship.

      Stable Storage - each DHCP server is required to keep its lease
      database in some form of storage (known as "stable storage") that
      will be consistent throughout reboots, crashes and power failures.

      Partner Failure - A power outage, unexpected shutdown, crash or
      other type of failure that renders a partner unable to continue
      its operation.

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4.  Scope of work

   In order to fit within the IETF process effectively and efficiently,
   the standardization effort for DHCPv6 failover is expected to proceed
   with the creation of documents of increasing specificity.  It begins
   with this document specifying the requirements for DHCPv6 failover
   ("requirements document").  Later documents are expected to address
   the design of the DHCPv6 failover protocol ("design document"), and
   if sufficient interest exists, the protocol details required to
   implement the DHCPv6 failover protocol itself ("protocol document").
   The goal of this partitioning is, in part, to ease the validation,
   review, and approval of the DHCPv6 failover protocol by presenting it
   in comprehensible parts to the larger community.

   Additional documents describing extensions may also be defined.

   DHCPv6 Failover requirements are presented in Section 8.

4.1.  Alternatives to Failover

   There are many scenarios when it seems that a failover capability
   would be useful.  However, there are often much simpler approaches
   that will meet the required goals.  This section documents examples
   where failover is not really needed.

4.1.1.  Short-lived addresses

   There are cases when IPv6 addresses are used only for a short time,
   but there is a need to have high degree of confidence that those
   addresses will be served.  A notable example is a PXE scenario where
   hosts require an address during boot.  Address and possibly other
   configuration parameters are used during boot process and are
   discarded afterwards.  Any lack of available DHCPv6 service at this
   time may render the devices unbootable.

   Instead of deploying failover, it is better to use the much simpler
   preference mechanism, defined in [RFC3315].  For example, consider
   two or more servers with each having distinct preference set (e.g.
   10 and 20).  Both will answer to a client's request.  The client
   should choose the one with larger preference value.  In case of
   failure of the most preferred server, the next server will keep
   responding to clients' queries.  This approach is simple to deploy,
   but does not offer lease stability, i.e.  in case of server failure,
   clients' addresses and prefixes will change.

4.1.2.  Redundant servers

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   In some cases the desire to deploy failover is motivated by high
   availability, i.e.  to continue providing services despite server
   failure.  If there are no additional requirements, that goal may be
   fulfilled with simply deploying two or more independent servers on
   the same link.

   There are several well documented approaches how such deployment
   works.  They are discussed in detail in [RFC6853].  Each of those
   approaches is simpler to deploy and maintain than full failover.

4.1.3.  Distributed databases

   Some servers may allow their lease database to be stored in external
   databases.  Another possible alternative to failover is to configure
   two servers to connect to the same distributed database.

   Care should be taken to understand how inconsistencies are solved in
   such database backends and how such conflict resolutions affect
   DHCPv6 server operation.

   It is also essential to use only databases that are really
   distributed and do not have single point of failure themselves.
   Otherwise the single point of failure is only moved to a different
   location (database rather than DHCPv6 server).  Such a configuation
   does not improve redundancy, but significantly complicates

4.1.4.  Load Balancing

   Sometimes the desire to deploy more than one server is based on the
   assumption that they will will share the client traffic.
   Administrators that are interested in such a capability are advised
   to deploy a load balancing mechanism, defined in

5.  Failover Scenarios

   The following section provides several examples of deployment
   scenarios and use cases that may be associated with capabilities
   commonly referred to as failover.  These scenarios may be inside or
   outside of scope for DHCPv6 failover protocol as defined by this
   document.  They are enumerated here to provide a common basis for

5.1.  Hot Standby Model

   In the simplest case, there are two partners that are connected to
   the same network.  Only one of partners ("primary") provides services

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   to clients.  In case of its failure, the second partner ("secondary")
   continues handling services previously handled by first partner.  As
   both servers are connected to the same network, a partner that fails
   to communicate with its partner while also receiving requests from
   clients may assume with high probability that its partner is down and
   the network is functional.  This assumption may affect its operation.

5.2.  Geographically Distributed Failover

   Servers may be physically located in separate locations.  A common
   example of such a topology is where a service provider has at least a
   regional high performance network between geographically distributed
   datacenters.  In such a scenario, one server is located in one
   datacenter and its failover partner is located in another remote
   datacenter.  In this scenario, when one partner finds that it cannot
   communicate with the other partner, it does not necessarily mean that
   the other partner is down.

5.3.  Load balancing

   A desire to have more than one server in a network may also be
   created by the desire to have incoming traffic be handled by several
   servers.  This decreases the load each server must endure when all
   servers are operational.  Although such a capability does not,
   strictly, require failover - it is clear that failover makes such an
   architecture more straightforward.

   Note that in a load balancing situation which includes failover, each
   individual server MUST be able to handle the full load normally
   handled by both servers working together, or there is not a true
   increase in availability.

5.4.  1-to-1, m-to-1 and m-to-m models

   A failover relationship for a specific network is provided by two
   failover partners.  Those partners communicate with each other and
   back up all pools.  This scenario is sometimes referred to as the
   1-to-1 model and is considered relatively simple.  In larger networks
   one server may be participating in several failover relationships,
   i.e.  it provides failover for several address or prefix pools, each
   served by separate partners.  Such a scenario can be referred to as
   m-to-1.  The most complex scenario - m-to-m - assumes that each
   partner participates in multiple failover relationships.

5.5.  Split prefixes

   Due to the extensive IPv6 address space, it is possible to provide
   semi-redundant service by splitting the available pool of addressees

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   into two or more non-overlapping pools, with each server handling its
   own smaller pool.  Several versions of such a scenario are discussed
   in [RFC6853].

5.6.  Long lived connections

   Certain nodes may maintain long lived connections.  Since the IPv6
   address space is large, techniques exist (e.g.  [RFC6853]) that use
   the easy availability of IPv6 addresses in order to provide increased
   DHCPv6 availability.  However, these approaches do not generally
   provide for stable IPv6 addresses for DHCPv6 clients should the
   server with which the client is interacting become unavailable.

   The obvious benefit of stable addresses is the ability to update DNS
   infrequently.  While the DNS can be updated every time IPv6 address
   changes, it introduces delays and (depending on DNS configuration)
   old entries may be cached for prolonged periods of time.

   The other benefit of having stable address is that many monitoring
   solutions provide statistics on a per IP basis, so IP changes make
   measuring characteristics of a given box more difficut.

   It should be noted that lease stability is an explicit non-goal in
   some deployments.  One notable example is an ISP who wants to provide
   addresses that change frequently to prevent his customers from
   running servers (without paying extra for more enterprise oriented

5.7.  Partial server communication loss

   There is a scenario where the DHCPv6 server may be configured to
   serve clients on one network adapter and communicate with a partner
   server (server to server traffic) on a different network adapter.  In
   this scenario, if the server loses connectivity on the network
   adapter used to communicate with the clients because of network
   adapter (hardware) failure, there is no intimation of the loss of
   service to the partner in the DHCPv6 failover protocol.  Since the
   servers are able to communicate with each other, the partner remains
   ignorant of the loss of service to clients.

6.  Principles of DHCPv6 Failover

   This section describes important issues that will affect any DHCPv6
   failover protocol.  This section is not intended to define
   implementation details, but rather high level concepts and issues
   that are important to DHCPv6 failover.  These issues form a basis for
   later documents which deal with the solutions to these issues.

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6.1.  Failure modes

   This section documents failure modes.  Each failure mode is listed as
   either an in-scope or out-of-scope requirement for the failover

6.1.1.  Server Failure

   Servers may become unresponsive due to a software crash, hardware
   failure, power outage or any number of other reasons.  The failover
   partner will detect such event due to lack of responses from the down
   partner.  In this failure mode, the assumption is that the server is
   the only equipment that is off-line and all other network equipment
   is operating normally.  In particular, communication between other
   nodes is not interrupted.

   When working under the assumption that this is the only type of
   failure that can happen, the server may safely assume that its
   partner unreachability means that it is down, so other nodes (clients
   in particular) are not able to reach it either and no services are

   It should be noted that recovery after the failed server is brought
   back on-line is straightforward, due to the fact that it just needs
   to download current information from the lease database of the
   healthy partner and there is no conflict resolution required.

   This is by far the most common failure mode between two failover

   When the two servers are located physically close to each other,
   possibly in the same room, the probability that a failure to
   communicate between failover partners is due to server failure is

6.1.2.  Network partition

   Another possible cause of partner unreachability is a failure in the
   network that connects the two servers.  This may be caused by failure
   of any kind of network equipment: router, switch, physical cables, or
   optic fibers.  As a result of such a failure the network is split
   into two or more disjoint sections (partitions) that are not able to
   communicate with each other.  Such an event is called network
   partition.  If failover partners are located in different partitions,
   they won't be able to communicate with each other.  Nevertheless,
   each partner may still be able to serve clients that happen to be
   part of the same partition.

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   If this failure mode is taken into consideration, a server can't
   assume that partner unreachability automatically means that its
   partner is down.  They must consider the fact that the partner may
   continue operating and interacting with a subset of the clients.  The
   only valid assumption is that partner also detected the network
   partition event and follows procedures specified for such a

   It should be noted that recovery after a partitioned network is
   rejoined is significantly more complicated than recovery from a
   server failure event.  As both servers may have kept serving clients,
   they have two separate lease databases, and they need to agree on the
   state of each lease (or follow any other algorithm to bring their
   lease databases into agreement).

   This failure mode is more likely (though still rare) in the situation
   where two servers are in physically distant locations with multiple
   network elements between them.  This is the case in geographically
   distributed failover (see Section 5.2).

6.2.  Synchronization mechanisms

   Partners must exchange information about changes made to the lease
   database.  There are at least two types of sychronization methods
   that may be used.  These concepts are related to distributed
   databases, so some familiarity with distributed database is useful to
   better understand this topic.

6.2.1.  Lockstep

   When a server receives a REQUEST message from a client it consults
   its lease database and assigns requested addresses and/or prefixes.
   To make sure that its partner maintains a consistent database, it
   then sends information about a new or just updated lease to the
   partner and waits for the partner's response.  After the response
   from partner is received the REPLY message is transmitted to the

   This approach has the benefit of having a completely consistent lease
   database between partners at all times.  Unfortunately, there is a
   large performance penalty for this approach as each response sent to
   a client is delayed by the total sum of the delays caused by two
   transmissions between partners and the processing by the second
   partner.  The second partner is expected to update its own copy of
   the lease database in permanent storage, so this delay is not
   negligible, even in fast networks.

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   Due to advent of SSD disks or battery backed ram disks technology,
   this write performance penalty can be limited to some degree.

6.2.2.  Lazy updates

   Another approach to synchronizing the lease databases is to transmit
   the REPLY message to the client before completing the update to the
   partner.  The server sends the REPLY to the client immediately after
   assigning appropriate addresses and/or prefixes and initiates the
   partner update at a later time, depending on the algorithm chosen.
   Another varation of this approach is to initiate transmission to the
   partner, but not wait for its response before sending the REPLY to
   the client.

   This approach has benefit of a minimal impact on server response
   times, thus it is much better from a performance perspective.
   However, it makes the lease databases loosely synchronized between
   partners.  This makes the synchronization more complex (and
   particularly the re-integration after a network partition event), as
   there may be cases where one client has been given a lease on an
   address or prefix of which the partner is not aware (e.g.  if server
   crashes after sending REPLY to the client, but before sending update
   information to its partner).

7.  DHCPv4 and DHCPv6 Failover Comparison

   There are significant similarities between existing DHCPv4 and
   envisaged DHCPv6 failovers.  In particular both serve IP addresses to
   clients, require maintaining consistent databases among partners,
   need to perform consistent DNS Updates, must be able take over
   bindings offered by failed partner, must be able to resume operation
   after partner is recovered.  DNS conflict resolution works on the
   same principles in both DHCPv4 and DHCPv6.

   Nevertheless, there are significant differences.  IPv6 introduced
   prefix delegation [RFC3633] that is a crucial element of the DHCPv6
   protocol.  IPv6 also introduced the concept of deprecated addresses
   with separate prefered and valid lifetimes, both being configured via
   DHCPv6.  Negative response (NACK) in DHCPv4 has been replaced with
   the ability in DHCPv6 to provide corrected response in a REPLY
   message that differs from a REQUEST.

   Also, the typical large address space (close to 2^64 addresses on /64
   prefixes expected to be available on most networks) may make managing
   address assignment significantly different from DHCPv4 failover.  In
   DHCPv4 it was not possible to use a hash or calculated technique to
   divide the significantly more limited address space and therefore
   much of the protocol that deals with pool balancing and rebalancing

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   might not be necessary and can be done mathematically.  And, it may
   also be possible and reasonable to use a much longer MCLT (see
   Section 9.1.2) value -- as reusing an address for a different client
   is generally not a requirement (at least over the near term) as close
   to 2^64 addresses may be available.

   However, DHCPv6 Prefix Delegation is similar to IPv4 addressing
   regarding number of available leases and therefore techniques for
   pool balancing and rebalancing and shorter MCLT times will be needed.

8.  DHCPv6 Failover Requirements

   This section summarizes the requirements for DHCPv6 failover.

   Certain capabilities may be useful in some, but not all scenarios.
   Such additional features will be considered optional parts of
   failover, and will be split and defined in separate documents.  As
   such, this document can be considered an attempt to define
   requirements for the DHCPv6 failover "core" protocol.

   The core of the DHCPv6 failover protocol is expected to provide the
   following properties:

   1.   The number of supported partners MUST be exactly two, i.e.
        there are at most two servers that are aware of a specific

   2.   For each prefix or address pool, a server MUST NOT participate
        in more than one failover relationship.

   3.   The defined protocol MUST support the m-to-1 model (i.e.  one
        server may form more than one relationship), but an
        implementation MAY choose to implement only the 1-to-1 model
        (i.e.  everything from one server is backed on another).

   4.   One partner MUST be able to continue serving leases offered by
        the other partner.  This property is also sometimes called
        "lease stability".  The failure of either failover partner
        SHOULD pose minimal or no impact on client connectivity.  In
        particular, it MUST NOT force the client to change addresses and
        /or change prefixes delegated to it.  Long-lived connections
        MUST NOT be disturbed.

   5.   Prefix delegation MUST be supported.

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   6.   Use of the failover protocol MUST NOT introduce significant
        performance impact on server response times.  Therefore
        synchronization between partners MUST be done using some form of
        lazy updates (see Section 6.2.2).

   7.   The pair of failover servers MUST be able to recover from a
        server down failure (see Section 6.1.1).

   8.   The pair of failover servers MUST be able to recover from a
        network partition event (see Section 6.1.2).

   9.   The design MUST allow secure communication between the failover

   10.  The definition of extensions to this core protocol SHOULD be
        allowed, when possible.

   Depending on the specific nature of the failure, the recovery
   procedures mentioned in points 7 and 8 may require manual

   High Availability is a property of the protocol that allows clients
   to receive DHCPv6 services despite the failure of individual DHCPv6
   servers.  In particular, it means the server that takes over
   providing service to clients from its failed partner, will continue
   serving the same addresses and/or prefixes.  This property is also
   called "lease stability".

   Despite the lack of standardization of DHCPv4 failover, the
   coexistence of DHCPv4 and DHCPv6 failover MAY be taken into
   consideration.  In particular, certain features that are common for
   both IPv4 and IPv6, like DNS Update mechanism SHOULD be taken into

8.1.  Features out of scope

   The following features are explictly out of scope.

   1.  Load Balancing - a capability is considered an extension and MAY
       be defined in a separate document.  It MUST NOT be part of the
       core protocol, but rather defined as an extension.  The primary
       reason for this the desire to limit core protocol complexity.
       Load Balancing is likely to be defined as an extension.  See

   2.  Configuration synchronization - two failover partners are
       expected to maintain the same configuration.  Mismatched
       configuration between partners is a frequent problem in failover

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       solutions.  Unfortunately, that is an open-ended problem, since
       different servers have very different config data models.

   3.  m-to-m model (see section Section 5.4)

   4.  servers participating in multiple failover relationships for any
       given pool.

9.  Related work

   This section describes related work.  Readers may benefit from
   familiarizing themselves with these approaches, their advantages and

9.1.  DHCPv4 failover concepts

9.1.1.  Goals of DHCPv4 Failover

   1.  Provide a high availability DHCP service by leveraging the hooks
       built into DHCPv4 [RFC2131] and its usual implementation to
       support multiple servers able to respond to client requests.
       These hooks are:

       1.  The broadcast of DHCPDISCOVER requests.

       2.  The transition from unicast for DHCPREQUEST/RENEW to
           broadcast for DHCPREQUEST/REBIND.

       3.  The usual implementation of DHCPv4 relay agents to allow
           forwarding of DHCPv4 requests to multiple different DHCPv4

   2.  Produce a minimal impact on performance of the DHCPv4 server.

   3.  Prevent duplicate IP address allocation even in the event of a
       network partition.

   4.  Allow multiple failover relationships per server.

   5.  Standardize only the minimum necessary to provide a high
       availability DHCP service.  In particular, avoid standardizing
       the interchange of configuration information.

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9.1.2.  Goals lead to Concepts

   The goal to have a minimal performance impact on the operation of the
   DHCPv4 servers participating in failover is the driving force behind
   the design of the DHCPv4 failover protocol.

   The steps in this chain of reasoning are as follows:

   1.  To avoid the major performance impact that a lockstep update of a
       failover partner would inflict, use a lazy update approach (see
       Section 6.2.2).

   2.  When using lazy update, there is always the problem that the
       failover server could crash after it has responded to some number
       of DHCPv4 clients and before it has updated its partner with the
       lease information it provided to those clients.

   3.  Thus, when one failover server cannot communicate with another
       failover server, it cannot know what that other failover server
       has told any of its DHCPv4 clients.

   This creates an obvious problem.

   The central concept in the DHCPv4 failover design is to place a limit
   on the uncertainty described in point #3, above.  The DHCPv4 failover
   protocol is designed to ensure that every failover server knows at
   all times, not exactly what its failover partner has told to the
   DHCPv4 clients with which it is communicating, but rather the limits
   of what its failover partner could have told any DHCPv4 clients with
   which it was communicating.

   This is done by ensuring that no DHCPv4 server participating in a
   failover relationship will ever offer a lease time to any DHCPv4
   client that is more than an agreed-upon value beyond that known by
   its failover partner.

   This agreed-upon value is called the "Maximum Client Lead Time", and
   abbreviated MCLT.

   Thus, every DHCPv4 failover partner needs to know what its partner
   knows about every lease in the server, and it needs to ensure that it
   will never provide a lease time to any DHCPv4 client that is beyond
   what its partner believes the current lease time to be plus the MCLT.

   Given this fundamental guarantee, if one failover server cannot
   communicate with its failover partner, then it knows the limits of
   what any DHCPv4 client of that missing partner might have for a lease
   time.  If this failover server waits until it believes a lease has

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   expired and then also waits until the MCLT has passed, it knows that
   the lease is sure to have expired (or the DHCPv4 client will have
   tried to renew the lease and communicated with the remaining DHCPv4
   server).  (We will deal with network partition events below.)

   In order to allow a remaining failover server to provide service to
   newly arrived DHCPv4 clients, while waiting out the MCLT beyond the
   lease expiration (if any), the protocol provides for allocation of
   some percentage of the available leases to each failover partner.

   A failover server which cannot communicate with its partner must
   therefore wait out the MCLT beyond the lease expiration (if any) of
   IP addresses before it can allocate them to DHCPv4 clients.  This
   could impact the server's ability to provide available IP addresses
   to newly arrived DHCPv4 clients.  To prevent this impact the DHCPv4
   failover protocol divides the allocation of the available leases
   between each failover partner.  The protocol supports periodic
   rebalancing of the allocation of these available leases.

9.1.3.  Use of the MCLT in practice

   From the above discussion, it should be clear how to avoid re-using
   an IP address before it has expired.  The MCLT is central to the
   operation of the protocol.  One server cannot offer a lease to a
   DHCPv4 client that is more than the MCLT beyond the current lease
   time for this client that is known by the failover partner.  From
   this standpoint, it would be good for the MCLT to be as long as
   possible.  However, in a failure situation, waiting the MCLT beyond
   the current lease time in order to reuse a leased lease would suggest
   that the MCLT should be as short as possible.

   This tension is resolved by anticipating the need to extend lease
   times when communicating with the failover partner.  The first lease
   offered to a DHCPv4 client can be only as long as the MCLT.  However,
   when the failover server updates its partner, it updates the partner
   with the desired lease time plus the 1/2 of MCLT (assuming the T1
   time is 50% of the lease time.  Thus, when the client returns with a
   renewal request at halfway through the MCLT, the failover server can
   extend its lease for only the lease time known by the partner plus
   the MCLT.  But the partner now knows the desired lease time, so that
   the server can extend the lease for as long as it was configured
   since it had pre-updated the failover partner with this time.

   Using this approach, one can keep the MCLT relatively short, say 1
   hour, and still offer leases of any desired extent to clients -- once
   the failover partner has been updated with the desired lease time.

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9.1.4.  Network Partition Events

   It is clear that when one failover server finds that it is unable to
   communicate with its failover partner, it is impossible for that
   server to tell if its failover partner is down or if the
   communication path to that failover partner is broken, a situation
   known as "network partition" (see Section 6.1.2).  The DHCPv4
   failover protocol distinguishes between these different situations by
   having different failover states to represent "communications-
   interrupted" situations and "partner-down" situations.  The
   expectation is that (at least in some situations) it requires an
   operator action to distinguish between a communications-interrupted
   and partner-down event.  In particular, the DHCPv4 failover protocol
   does not conflate these two situations.

   Correct handling of network partition events requires that a failover
   server unable to communicate with its failover partner (but not yet
   informed that its failover partner is down), must not re-allocate an
   IP address from one DHCPv4 client to another.  Available addresses
   may be allocated to any DHCPv4 client.

   After a failover server has been informed that its partner is down,
   it can reallocate an IP address from one DHCPv4 client to another
   once it has waited the MCLT beyond the lease expiration of that IP
   address.  This need to be informed by an external entity that the
   failover partner is down is the only impact of correctly handling
   network partition events.  Of course, specific implementations can
   assume that an unreachable failover partner is down after a shorter
   or longer time, thus limiting the support for a network partition

9.1.5.  Conflict Resolution

   Whenever one failover server receives an update from its failover
   partner, it needs to decide if the update it has received is "better"
   than the information it has in its own database concerning the DHCPv4
   client or the lease on the IPv4 address.  The DHCPv4 failover
   protocol does not mandate the details of this decision, but this
   activity must be part of any DHCPv4 implementation.  In most cases,
   comparing the times associated with the failover update with the
   times held in the server's own database will allow this decision to
   be made.

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9.1.6.  Load Balancing

   The DHCPv4 Load Balancing protocol [RFC3074] integrates with the
   DHCPv4 failover protocol by defining the way that each server decides
   which DHCPv4 clients to process.  Use of load balancing with the
   DHCPv4 failover protocol is an optional extension to the failover
   protocol.  Both a simple active -- passive relationship without load
   balancing is defined as well as a more complex active -- active

9.2.  DHCPv6 Redundancy Considerations

   [RFC6853] specifies an interim architecture to provide a semi-
   redundant DHCPv6 solution before the availability of vendor or
   standard based solutions.  The proposed architecture may be used in
   wide range of networks.  Two notable deployment models are discussed:
   service provider and enterprise network environments.  The described
   architecture leverages only existing and implemented DHCPv6

10.  Security Considerations

   The design MUST allow secure communication between the failover
   partners.  This requirement applies to the specification only, i.e.
   the design must include a way to secure communication.  It does not
   mandate such security be employed, just that it be available.

   The design of a security protection MUST take into consideration the
   fact that the protocol MUST operate despite network failures.  In
   particular, relying on any external infrastructure (e.g.  any form of
   Certificate Authority) is discouraged (or at least must be optional).

   The security considerations for the design itself will be discussed
   in the design document.

11.  IANA Considerations

   IANA is not requested to perform any actions at this time.

12.  Acknowledgements

   This document extensively uses concepts, definitions and other parts
   of [dhcpv4-failover] document.  Thanks to Bernie Volz and Shawn
   Routhier for their frequent reviews and substantial contributions.
   Authors would also like to thank Qin Wu, Jean-Francois Tremblay,
   Frank Sweetser, Jiang Sheng, Yu Fu, Greg Rabil, Vithalprasad
   Gaitonde, Krzysztof Nowicki and Steinar Haug for their comments and

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   This work has been partially supported by Gdansk University of
   Technology and the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education
   under the European Regional Development Fund, Grant No.
   POIG.01.01.02-00-045/09-00 (Future Internet Engineering Project).

13.  References

13.1.  Normative References

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

   [RFC2131]  Droms, R., "Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol", RFC
              2131, March 1997.

   [RFC3074]  Volz, B., Gonczi, S., Lemon, T., and R. Stevens, "DHC Load
              Balancing Algorithm", RFC 3074, February 2001.

   [RFC3315]  Droms, R., Bound, J., Volz, B., Lemon, T., Perkins, C.,
              and M. Carney, "Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol for
              IPv6 (DHCPv6)", RFC 3315, July 2003.

   [RFC3633]  Troan, O. and R. Droms, "IPv6 Prefix Options for Dynamic
              Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) version 6", RFC 3633,
              December 2003.

   [RFC4704]  Volz, B., "The Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol for
              IPv6 (DHCPv6) Client Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN)
              Option", RFC 4704, October 2006.

13.2.  Informative References

              Kostur, A., "DHC Load Balancing Algorithm for DHCPv6",
              draft-ietf-dhc-dhcpv6-load-balancing-00 (work in
              progress), December 2012.

   [RFC2136]  Vixie, P., Thomson, S., Rekhter, Y., and J. Bound,
              "Dynamic Updates in the Domain Name System (DNS UPDATE)",
              RFC 2136, April 1997.

   [RFC6853]  Brzozowski, J., Tremblay, J., Chen, J., and T. Mrugalski,
              "DHCPv6 Redundancy Deployment Considerations", BCP 180,
              RFC 6853, February 2013.

              Droms, R., Kinnear, K., Stapp, M., Volz, B., Gonczi, S.,
              Rabil, G., Dooley, M., and A. Kapur, "DHCP Failover

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              Protocol", draft-ietf-dhc-failover-12 (work in progress),
              March 2003.

Authors' Addresses

   Tomek Mrugalski
   Internet Systems Consortium, Inc.
   950 Charter Street
   Redwood City, CA  94063

   Phone: +1 650 423 1345

   Kim Kinnear
   Cisco Systems, Inc.
   1414 Massachusetts Ave.
   Boxborough, Massachusetts  01719

   Phone: +1 (978) 936-0000

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