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Parallel NFS (pNFS) Block Disk Protection

The information below is for an old version of the document that is already published as an RFC.
Document Type
This is an older version of an Internet-Draft that was ultimately published as RFC 6688.
Authors Jason Glasgow , Sorin Faibish
Last updated 2015-10-14 (Latest revision 2012-06-22)
Replaces draft-faibish-nfsv4-pnfs-block-disk-protection
RFC stream Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
Additional resources Mailing list discussion
Stream WG state Submitted to IESG for Publication
Document shepherd Spencer Shepler
Shepherd write-up Show Last changed 2012-01-11
IESG IESG state RFC 6688 (Proposed Standard)
Consensus boilerplate Unknown
Telechat date (None)
Responsible AD Martin Stiemerling
IESG note
Send notices to (None)
NFSv4 Working Group                                      D. Black (ed.) 
Internet-Draft                                          EMC Corporation 
Intended status: Proposed Standard                           J. Glasgow 
Expires: December YY, 2012                                       Google 
Updates: 5663                                                S. Faibish 
                                                        EMC Corporation
                                                          June 22, 2012 
                         pNFS block disk protection  

Status of this Memo 

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

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   This Internet-Draft will expire on December 23, 2012. 

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   Copyright (c) 2012 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the 
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   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal 
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   Section 4.e of the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without 
   warranty as described in the Simplified BSD License. 


   Parallel NFS (pNFS) extends Network File System version 4 (NFSv4) to 
   enable direct client access to file data on storage, bypassing the 
   NFSv4 server.  This can increase both performance and parallelism, 
   but requires additional client functionality, some of which depends 
   upon the type of storage used.  The pNFS specification for block 
   storage (RFC 5663) describes how clients can identify the volumes 
   used for pNFS, but this mechanism requires communication with the 
   NFSv4 server.  This document updates RFC 5663 to add a mechanism that 
   enables identification of block storage devices used by pNFS file 
   systems without communicating with the server.  This enables clients 
   to control access to pNFS block devices when the client initially 
   boots, as opposed to waiting until the client can communicate with 
   the NFSv4 server. 

Table of Contents 

   1. Introduction...................................................3 
   2. Conventions used in this document..............................4 
   3. GPT Partition Table Entry......................................4 
   4. Security Considerations........................................5 
   5. IANA Considerations............................................5 
   6. References.....................................................6 
      6.1. Normative References......................................6 
      6.2. Informative References....................................6 
   Authors' Addresses................................................7 

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1. Introduction 

   Figure 1 shows the overall architecture of a Parallel NFS (pNFS) 
          |+-----------+                                 +-----------+  
          ||+-----------+                                |           |  
          |||           |       NFSv4.1 + pNFS           |           |  
          +||  Clients  |<------------------------------>|    MDS    |  
           +|           |                                |           |  
            +-----------+                                |           |  
                 |||                                     +-----------+  
                 |||                                           |  
                 |||                                           |  
                 ||| Storage        +-----------+              |  
                 ||| Protocol       |+-----------+             |  
                 ||+----------------||+-----------+  Control   |  
                 |+-----------------|||           |  Protocol  |  
                 +------------------+||  Storage  |------------+  
                                     +|  Devices  |  
                           Figure 1 pNFS Architecture  

   In this document, "storage device" is used as a general term for a 
   data server and/or storage server for any pNFS layout type.  The 
   MetaData Server (MDS) is the NFSv4 server that provides pNFS layouts 
   to clients and handles operations on file metadata (e.g., names, 

   For the pNFS block protocol as specified in [RFC5663], client 
   identification of pNFS storage devices requires contacting the MDS to 
   obtain device signature information. It is not possible for a pNFS 
   client to reliably identify pNFS block storage devices without 
   contacting the MDS because the device signature location and contents 
   may vary among devices and servers; both device signature location 
   and contents are determined by the MDS, not the client. 

   Typical operating system (OS) boot functionality scans and activates 
   block devices (e.g., SCSI) before activating the NFS client 
   (including pNFS functionality).  That sequence of operations creates 
   a window of time during which the client OS may modify a pNFS block 
   device without contacting the server (e.g., by attempting to mount or 
   initialize a local physical filesystem).  This document specifies an 

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   identification mechanism for pNFS block storage devices that can be 
   used by an OS implementation to remove this window of vulnerability. 

   Many storage area network (SAN) storage systems provide quasi-static 
   access control mechanisms (e.g., Logical Unit Number (LUN) mapping 
   and/or masking) that operate at the granularity of individual hosts.  
   While it is feasible to use such mechanisms to remove this window 
   (e.g., by only enabling a client to access pNFS block storage devices 
   after the client has contacted the responsible MDS), that usage is 
   undesirable and potentially problematic.  This is because the storage 
   access control mechanisms are quasi-static; they are typically 
   configured once to allow client access to the block pNFS storage 
   devices and not reconfigured dynamically (e.g., based on crashes and 
   reboots). Block storage access controls can be changed to respond to 
   unusual circumstances (e.g., to fence [remove access from] an 
   uncooperative pNFS client), but should not be used as part of routine 
   client operations (e.g., reboot).  A different mechanism is needed. 

   This document specifies an entry in the GUID partition table (GPT) 
   that can be used by a pNFS server to label pNFS storage devices. This 
   GPT entry is intended for shared pNFS storage devices that are 
   accessible to pNFS clients and servers, and that may be accessible to 
   other hosts or systems.  This entry enables pNFS clients as well as 
   other hosts and systems to avoid accessing pNFS storage devices via 
   means other than pNFS. 

2.  Conventions used in this document 

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

3. GPT Partition Table Entry 

   The following mechanism enables pNFS clients to identify pNFS block 
   storage devices without contacting the server:  

     - Each block storage device dedicated to pNFS includes a GUID 
        partition table (GPT) [GPT]. 

     - The pNFS Block Storage partitions are identified in the GPT with 
        GUID e5b72a69-23e5-4b4d-b176-16532674fc34 which has been        
        generated for this purpose.  GPT GUID usage is well understood 
        and implemented.  This document provides a definition for this 
        GUID and its usage.  A central registration mechanism does not 
        exist for GPT GUIDs, or GUIDs in general by design, see 
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   This mechanism enables an operating system to prevent non-pNFS access 
   to pNFS block storage immediately upon boot.  Servers that support 
   pNFS block layouts SHOULD use the GPT and this GUID for all pNFS 
   block storage devices. 

   A pNFS client operating system that supports block layouts SHOULD 
   recognize this GUID and SHOULD use its presence to prevent data 
   access to pNFS block devices until a layout that includes the device 
   is received from the MDS. 

   Data stored on pNFS block layout storage devices can be better 
   protected by incorporating checks for this GUID into other hosts and 
   systems that do not support pNFS block layouts.  If pNFS block 
   storage devices are presented to such hosts or systems by mistake, 
   the check for presence of this GUID can be used to prevent writes 
   that could otherwise corrupt stored pNFS data. 

   Many current operating system versions support the GPT [GPT-W]. 

4. Security Considerations 

   The pNFS block layout security considerations in [RFC5663] apply to 
   this document. 

   The security considerations in [RFC4122] apply to the GUID specified 
   in this document. 

5. IANA Considerations 

   There are no IANA considerations in this document. 

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6. References 

6.1. Normative References 

   [GPT]     Unified EFI Forum, "Unified Extensible Firmware Interface 
             Specification", Version 2.3.1, Errata A, Section 5.3, 
             September 2011, available from . 

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

   [RFC5663] Black, D., Glasgow, J., Fridella, S., "Parallel NFS (pNFS) 
             Block/Volume Layout", RFC 5663, January 2010. 

6.2. Informative References 


   [RFC4122] Leach, P., Mealling, M., Salz, R., "A Universally Unique 
             IDentifier (UUID) URN Namespace", RFC 4122, July 2005. 


   This document was produced by the IETF NFSv4 Working Group.  Review 
   comments from members of the working group improved this document and 
   are gratefully acknowledged.  The authors would like to thank Tom 
   Talpey, and members of the IESG for helpful comments on this 
   document, and also Alex Burlyga for providing an appropriate 
   reference for the format of the GPT. 

   This document was prepared using 

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Authors' Addresses 

   David L. Black (editor) 
   EMC Corporation 
   176 South Street 
   Hopkinton, MA 01748 

   Phone: +1 (508) 293-7953 

   Jason Glasgow 
   5 Cambridge Center, Floors 3-6 
   Cambridge, MA  02142 

   Phone: +1 (617) 575-1599 

   Sorin Faibish 
   EMC Corporation 
   228 South Street 
   Hopkinton, MA 01748 

   Phone: +1 (508) 305-8545 


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