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Framework for DC Network Virtualization

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This is an older version of an Internet-Draft that was ultimately published as RFC 7365.
Authors Marc Lasserre , Florin Balus , Thomas Morin , Dr. Nabil N. Bitar , Yakov Rekhter
Last updated 2014-06-12 (Latest revision 2014-06-05)
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Internet Engineering Task Force                          Marc Lasserre  
    Internet Draft                                            Florin Balus 
    Intended status: Informational                          Alcatel-Lucent 
    Expires: Dec 2014                                                     
                                                              Thomas Morin 
                                                     France Telecom Orange 
                                                               Nabil Bitar 
                                                             Yakov Rekhter  
                                                              June 5, 2014 

                      Framework for DC Network Virtualization 



       This document provides a framework for Data Center (DC) Network 
       Virtualization Overlays (NVO3) and it defines a reference model 
       along with logical components required to design a solution. 

    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 Dec 5, 2014. 

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    Copyright Notice 

       Copyright (c) 2014 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. General terminology.....................................3 
          1.2. DC network architecture.................................6 
       2. Reference Models.............................................8 
          2.1. Generic Reference Model.................................8 
          2.2. NVE Reference Model....................................10 
          2.3. NVE Service Types......................................10 
             2.3.1. L2 NVE providing Ethernet LAN-like service........11 
             2.3.2. L3 NVE providing IP/VRF-like service..............11 
          2.4. Operational Management Considerations..................11 
       3. Functional components.......................................12 
          3.1. Service Virtualization Components......................12 
             3.1.1. Virtual Access Points (VAPs)......................12 
             3.1.2. Virtual Network Instance (VNI)....................12 
             3.1.3. Overlay Modules and VN Context....................12 
             3.1.4. Tunnel Overlays and Encapsulation options.........13 
             3.1.5. Control Plane Components..........................14 
    Distributed vs Centralized Control Plane........14 
    Auto-provisioning/Service discovery.............14 
    Address advertisement and tunnel mapping........15 
    Overlay Tunneling...............................15 
          3.2. Multi-homing...........................................16 
          3.3. VM Mobility............................................17 
       4. Key aspects of overlay networks.............................17 
          4.1. Pros & Cons............................................17 
          4.2. Overlay issues to consider.............................19 
             4.2.1. Data plane vs Control plane driven................19 
             4.2.2. Coordination between data plane and control plane.19 

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             4.2.3. Handling Broadcast, Unknown Unicast and Multicast (BUM) 
             4.2.4. Path MTU..........................................20 
             4.2.5. NVE location trade-offs...........................21 
             4.2.6. Interaction between network overlays and underlays.22 
       5. Security Considerations.....................................22 
       6. IANA Considerations.........................................23 
       7. References..................................................23 
          7.1. Informative References.................................23 
       8. Acknowledgments.............................................24 
    1. Introduction 

       This document provides a framework for Data Center (DC) Network 
       Virtualization over Layer3 (L3) tunnels. This framework is intended 
       to aid in standardizing protocols and mechanisms to support large-
       scale network virtualization for data centers.  

       [NVOPS] defines the rationale for using overlay networks in order to 
       build large multi-tenant data center networks. Compute, storage and 
       network virtualization are often used in these large data centers to 
       support a large number of communication domains and end systems.  

       This document provides reference models and functional components of 
       data center overlay networks as well as a discussion of technical 
       issues that have to be addressed. 

    1.1. General terminology  

       This document uses the following terminology: 

       NVO3 Network: An overlay network that provides a Layer2 (L2) or 
       Layer3 (L3) service to Tenant Systems over an L3 underlay network 
       using the architecture and protocols as defined by the NVO3 Working 

       Network Virtualization Edge (NVE). An NVE is the network entity that 
       sits at the edge of an underlay network and implements L2 and/or L3 
       network virtualization functions. The network-facing side of the NVE 
       uses the underlying L3 network to tunnel tenant frames to and from 
       other NVEs. The tenant-facing side of the NVE sends and receives 
       Ethernet frames to and from individual Tenant Systems.  An NVE could 
       be implemented as part of a virtual switch within a hypervisor, a 
       physical switch or router, a Network Service Appliance, or be split 
       across multiple devices. 

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       Virtual Network (VN): A VN is a logical abstraction of a physical 
       network that provides L2 or L3 network services to a set of Tenant 
       Systems. A VN is also known as a Closed User Group (CUG). 

       Virtual Network Instance (VNI): A specific instance of a VN from the 
       perspective of an NVE. 

       Virtual Network Context (VN Context) Identifier: Field in overlay 
       encapsulation header that identifies the specific VN the packet 
       belongs to. The egress NVE uses the VN Context identifier to deliver 
       the packet to the correct Tenant System. The VN Context identifier 
       can be a locally significant identifier or a globally unique 

       Underlay or Underlying Network: The network that provides the 
       connectivity among NVEs and over which NVO3 packets are tunneled, 
       where an NVO3 packet carries an NVO3 overlay header followed by a 
       tenant packet. The Underlay Network does not need to be aware that 
       it is carrying NVO3 packets. Addresses on the Underlay Network 
       appear as "outer addresses" in encapsulated NVO3 packets. In 
       general, the Underlay Network can use a completely different 
       protocol (and address family) from that of the overlay. In the case 
       of NVO3, the underlay network is IP. 

       Data Center (DC): A physical complex housing physical servers, 
       network switches and routers, network service appliances and 
       networked storage. The purpose of a Data Center is to provide 
       application, compute and/or storage services. One such service is 
       virtualized infrastructure data center services, also known as 
       Infrastructure as a Service. 

       Virtual Data Center (Virtual DC): A container for virtualized 
       compute, storage and network services. A Virtual DC is associated 
       with a single tenant, and can contain multiple VNs and Tenant 
       Systems connected to one or more of these VNs. 

       Virtual machine (VM): A software implementation of a physical 
       machine that runs programs as if they were executing on a physical, 
       non-virtualized machine.  Applications (generally) do not know they 
       are running on a VM as opposed to running on a "bare metal" host or 
       server, though some systems provide a para-virtualization 
       environment that allows an operating system or application to be 
       aware of the presence of virtualization for optimization purposes. 

       Hypervisor: Software running on a server that allows multiple VMs to 
       run on the same physical server. The hypervisor manages and provides 

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       shared compute/memory/storage and network connectivity to the VMs 
       that it hosts. Hypervisors often embed a Virtual Switch (see below). 

       Server: A physical end host machine that runs user applications. A 
       standalone (or "bare metal") server runs a conventional operating 
       system hosting a single-tenant application. A virtualized server 
       runs a hypervisor supporting one or more VMs. 

       Virtual Switch (vSwitch): A function within a Hypervisor (typically 
       implemented in software) that provides similar forwarding services 
       to a physical Ethernet switch. A vSwitch forwards Ethernet frames 
       between VMs running on the same server, or between a VM and a 
       physical NIC card connecting the server to a physical Ethernet 
       switch or router. A vSwitch also enforces network isolation between 
       VMs that by policy are not permitted to communicate with each other 
       (e.g., by honoring VLANs). A vSwitch may be bypassed when an NVE is 
       enabled on the host server. 

       Tenant: The customer using a virtual network and any associated 
       resources (e.g., compute, storage and network).  A tenant could be 
       an enterprise, or a department/organization within an enterprise. 

       Tenant System: A physical or virtual system that can play the role 
       of a host, or a forwarding element such as a router, switch, 
       firewall, etc. It belongs to a single tenant and connects to one or 
       more VNs of that tenant.  

       Tenant Separation: Tenant Separation refers to isolating traffic of 
       different tenants such that traffic from one tenant is not visible 
       to or delivered to another tenant, except when allowed by policy. 
       Tenant Separation also refers to address space separation, whereby 
       different tenants can use the same address space without conflict. 

       Virtual Access Points (VAPs): A logical connection point on the NVE 
       for connecting a Tenant System to a virtual network. Tenant Systems 
       connect to VNIs at an NVE through VAPs. VAPs can be physical ports 
       or virtual ports identified through logical interface identifiers 
       (e.g., VLAN ID, internal vSwitch Interface ID connected to a VM). 

       End Device: A physical device that connects directly to the DC 
       Underlay Network. This is in contrast to a Tenant System, which 
       connects to a corresponding tenant VN. An End Device is administered 
       by the DC operator rather than a tenant, and is part of the DC 
       infrastructure. An End Device may implement NVO3 technology in 
       support of NVO3 functions. Examples of an End Device include hosts 
       (e.g., server or server blade), storage systems (e.g., file servers, 

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       iSCSI storage systems), and network devices (e.g., firewall, load-
       balancer, IPSec gateway). 

       Network Virtualization Authority (NVA): Entity that provides 
       reachability and forwarding information to NVEs.  

    1.2. DC network architecture 

       A generic architecture for Data Centers is depicted in Figure 1:  

                                  ,'           `. 
                                 (  IP/MPLS WAN ) 
                                  `.           ,' 
                                     \      / 
                              +--------+   +--------+ 
                              |   DC   |+-+|   DC   | 
                              |gateway |+-+|gateway | 
                              +--------+   +--------+ 
                                    |       / 
                                    .--. .--. 
                                  (    '    '.--. 
                                .-.' Intra-DC     ' 
                               (     network      ) 
                                (             .'-' 
                                 '--'._.'.    )\ \ 
                                 / /     '--'  \ \ 
                                / /      | |    \ \ 
                       +--------+   +--------+   +--------+ 
                       | access |   | access |   | access | 
                       | switch |   | switch |   | switch | 
                       +--------+   +--------+   +--------+ 
                          /     \    /    \     /      \  
                       __/_      \  /      \   /_      _\__ 
                 '--------'   '--------'   '--------'   '--------' 
                 :  End   :   :  End   :   :  End   :   :  End   : 
                 : Device :   : Device :   : Device :   : Device : 
                 '--------'   '--------'   '--------'   '--------' 
                 Figure 1 : A Generic Architecture for Data Centers 

       An example of multi-tier DC network architecture is presented in 
       Figure 1. It provides a view of physical components inside a DC.  

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       A DC network is usually composed of intra-DC networks and network 
       services, and inter-DC network and network connectivity services. 

       DC networking elements can act as strict L2 switches and/or provide 
       IP routing capabilities, including network service virtualization.  

       In some DC architectures, some tier layers could provide L2 and/or 
       L3 services. In addition, some tier layers may be collapsed, and 
       Internet connectivity, inter-DC connectivity and VPN support may be 
       handled by a smaller number of nodes. Nevertheless, one can assume 
       that the network functional blocks in a DC fit in the architecture 
       depicted in Figure 1.  

       The following components can be present in a DC: 

       - Access switch: Hardware-based Ethernet switch aggregating all 
          Ethernet links from the End Devices in a rack representing the 
          entry point in the physical DC network for the hosts. It may also 
          provide routing functionality, virtual IP network connectivity, or 
          Layer2 tunneling over IP for instance. Access switches are usually 
          multi-homed to aggregation switches in the Intra-DC network. A 
          typical example of an access switch is a Top of Rack (ToR) switch. 
          Other deployment scenarios may use an intermediate Blade Switch 
          before the ToR, or an EoR (End of Row) switch, to provide similar 
          functions to a ToR.  

       - Intra-DC Network: Network composed of high capacity core nodes 
          (Ethernet switches/routers). Core nodes may provide virtual 
          Ethernet bridging and/or IP routing services. 

       - DC Gateway (DC GW): Gateway to the outside world providing DC 
          Interconnect and connectivity to Internet and VPN customers. In 
          the current DC network model, this may be simply a router 
          connected to the Internet and/or an IP Virtual Private Network 
          (VPN)/L2VPN PE. Some network implementations may dedicate DC GWs 
          for different connectivity types (e.g., a DC GW for Internet, and 
          another for VPN). 

       Note that End Devices may be single or multi-homed to access 

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    2. Reference Models 

    2.1. Generic Reference Model 

       Figure 2 depicts a DC reference model for network virtualization 
       overlay where NVEs provide a logical interconnect between Tenant 
       Systems that belong to a specific VN. 


             +--------+                                    +--------+ 
             | Tenant +--+                            +----| Tenant | 
             | System |  |                           (')   | System | 
             +--------+  |    .................     (   )  +--------+ 
                         |  +---+           +---+    (_)     
                         +--|NVE|---+   +---|NVE|-----+ 
                            +---+   |   |   +---+ 
                            / .    +-----+      . 
                           /  . +--| NVA |--+   . 
                          /   . |  +-----+   \  . 
                         |    . |             \ .  
                         |    . |   Overlay   +--+--++--------+ 
             +--------+  |    . |   Network   | NVE || Tenant | 
             | Tenant +--+    . |             |     || System | 
             | System |       .  \ +---+      +--+--++--------+ 
             +--------+       .....|NVE|.........    
                             |               | 
                         +--------+      +--------+ 
                         | Tenant |      | Tenant | 
                         | System |      | System | 
                         +--------+      +--------+ 
          Figure 2 : Generic reference model for DC network virtualization 


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       In order to obtain reachability information, NVEs may exchange 
       information directly between themselves via a control plane 
       protocol. In this case, a control plane module resides in every NVE. 

       It is also possible for NVEs to communicate with an external Network 
       Virtualization Authority (NVA) to obtain reachability and forwarding 
       information. In this case, a protocol is used between NVEs and 
       NVA(s) to exchange information. 

       It should be noted that NVAs may be organized in clusters for 
       redundancy and scalability and can appear as one logically 
       centralized controller. In this case, inter-NVA communication is 
       necessary to synchronize state among nodes within a cluster or share 
       information across clusters. The information exchanged between NVAs 
       of the same cluster could be different from the information 
       exchanged across clusters. 

       A Tenant System can be attached to an NVE in several ways: 

       - locally, by being co-located in the same End Device 

       - remotely, via a point-to-point connection or a switched network  

       When an NVE is co-located with a Tenant System, the state of the 
       Tenant System can be determined without protocol assistance. For 
       instance, the operational status of a VM can be communicated via a 
       local API. When an NVE is remotely connected to a Tenant System, the 
       state of the Tenant System or NVE needs to be exchanged directly or 
       via a management entity, using a control plane protocol or API, or 
       directly via a dataplane protocol. 

       The functional components in Figure 2 do not necessarily map 
       directly to the physical components described in Figure 1. For 
       example, an End Device can be a server blade with VMs and a virtual 
       switch. A VM can be a Tenant System and the NVE functions may be 
       performed by the host server. In this case, the Tenant System and 
       NVE function are co-located. Another example is the case where the 
       End Device is the Tenant System, and the NVE function can be 
       implemented by the connected ToR. In this case, the Tenant System 
       and NVE function are not co-located. 

       Underlay nodes utilize L3 technologies to interconnect NVE nodes. 
       These nodes perform forwarding based on outer L3 header information, 
       and generally do not maintain per tenant-service state albeit some 
       applications (e.g., multicast) may require control plane or 
       forwarding plane information that pertain to a tenant, group of 

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       tenants, tenant service or a set of services that belong to one or 
       more tenants. Mechanisms to control the amount of state maintained 
       in the underlay may be needed. 

    2.2. NVE Reference Model 

       Figure 3 depicts the NVE reference model. One or more VNIs can be 
       instantiated on an NVE. A Tenant System interfaces with a 
       corresponding VNI via a VAP. An overlay module provides tunneling 
       overlay functions (e.g., encapsulation and decapsulation of tenant 
       traffic, tenant identification and mapping, etc.). 


                         +-------- L3 Network -------+ 
                         |                           | 
                         |        Tunnel Overlay     | 
             +------------+---------+       +---------+------------+ 
             | +----------+-------+ |       | +---------+--------+ | 
             | |  Overlay Module  | |       | |  Overlay Module  | | 
             | +---------+--------+ |       | +---------+--------+ | 
             |           |VN context|       | VN context|          | 
             |           |          |       |           |          | 
             |  +--------+-------+  |       |  +--------+-------+  | 
             |  | |VNI|   .  |VNI|  |       |  | |VNI|   .  |VNI|  | 
        NVE1 |  +-+------------+-+  |       |  +-+-----------+--+  | NVE2 
             |    |   VAPs     |    |       |    |    VAPs   |     | 
             +----+------------+----+       +----+-----------+-----+ 
                  |            |                 |           | 
                  |            |                 |           | 
                 Tenant Systems                 Tenant Systems 
                      Figure 3 : Generic NVE reference model 

       Note that some NVE functions (e.g., data plane and control plane 
       functions) may reside in one device or may be implemented separately 
       in different devices.  

    2.3. NVE Service Types 

       An NVE provides different types of virtualized network services to 
       multiple tenants, i.e. an L2 service or an L3 service. Note that an 
       NVE may be capable of providing both L2 and L3 services for a 
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       tenant. This section defines the service types and associated 

    2.3.1. L2 NVE providing Ethernet LAN-like service 

       An L2 NVE implements Ethernet LAN emulation, an Ethernet based 
       multipoint service similar to an IETF VPLS [RFC4761][RFC4762] or 
       EVPN [EVPN] service, where the Tenant Systems appear to be 
       interconnected by a LAN environment over an L3 overlay. As such, an 
       L2 NVE provides per-tenant virtual switching instance (L2 VNI), and 
       L3 (IP/MPLS) tunneling encapsulation of tenant MAC frames across the 
       underlay. Note that the control plane for an L2 NVE could be 
       implemented locally on the NVE or in a separate control entity.  

    2.3.2. L3 NVE providing IP/VRF-like service 

       An L3 NVE provides Virtualized IP forwarding service, similar to 
       IETF IP VPN (e.g., BGP/MPLS IPVPN [RFC4364]) from a service 
       definition perspective. That is, an L3 NVE provides per-tenant 
       forwarding and routing instance (L3 VNI), and L3 (IP/MPLS) tunneling 
       encapsulation of tenant IP packets across the underlay. Note that 
       routing could be performed locally on the NVE or in a separate 
       control entity. 

    2.4. Operational Management Considerations 

       NVO3 services are overlay services over an IP underlay. 

       As far as the IP underlay is concerned, existing IP OAM facilities 
       are used.  

       With regards to the NVO3 overlay, both L2 and L3 services can be 
       offered. it is expected that existing fault and performance OAM 
       facilities will be used. Sections 4.1. and 4.2.6.  below provide 
       further discussion of additional fault and performance management 
       issues to consider. 

       As far as configuration is concerned, the DC environment is driven 
       by the need to bring new services up rapidly and is typically very 
       dynamic specifically in the context of virtualized services. It is 
       therefore critical to automate the configuration of NVO3 services. 



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    3. Functional components 

       This section decomposes the Network Virtualization architecture into 
       functional components described in Figure 3 to make it easier to 
       discuss solution options for these components. 

    3.1. Service Virtualization Components 

    3.1.1. Virtual Access Points (VAPs) 

       Tenant Systems are connected to VNIs through Virtual Access Points 

       VAPs can be physical ports or virtual ports identified through 
       logical interface identifiers (e.g., VLAN ID, internal vSwitch 
       Interface ID connected to a VM).  

    3.1.2. Virtual Network Instance (VNI) 

       A VNI is a specific VN instance on an NVE. Each VNI defines a 
       forwarding context that contains reachability information and 

    3.1.3. Overlay Modules and VN Context 

       Mechanisms for identifying each tenant service are required to allow 
       the simultaneous overlay of multiple tenant services over the same 
       underlay L3 network topology. In the data plane, each NVE, upon 
       sending a tenant packet, must be able to encode the VN Context for 
       the destination NVE in addition to the L3 tunneling information 
       (e.g., source IP address identifying the source NVE and the 
       destination IP address identifying the destination NVE, or MPLS 
       label). This allows the destination NVE to identify the tenant 
       service instance and therefore appropriately process and forward the 
       tenant packet.  

       The Overlay module provides tunneling overlay functions: tunnel 
       initiation/termination as in the case of stateful tunnels (see 
       Section 3.1.4), and/or simply encapsulation/decapsulation of frames 
       from VAPs/L3 underlay.  

       In a multi-tenant context, tunneling aggregates frames from/to 
       different VNIs. Tenant identification and traffic demultiplexing are 
       based on the VN Context identifier.  

       The following approaches can be considered: 

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       - VN Context identifier per Tenant: Globally unique (on a per-DC 
          administrative domain) VN identifier used to identify the 
          corresponding VNI. Examples of such identifiers in existing 
          technologies are IEEE VLAN IDs and ISID tags that identify virtual 
          L2 domains when using IEEE 802.1aq and IEEE 802.1ah, respectively. 
          Note that multiple VN identifiers can belong to a tenant. 

       - One VN Context identifier per VNI: Each VNI value is automatically 
          generated by the egress NVE, or a control plane associated with 
          that NVE, and usually distributed by a control plane protocol to 
          all the related NVEs. An example of this approach is the use of 
          per VRF MPLS labels in IP VPN [RFC4364]. The VNI value is 
          therefore locally significant to the egress NVE. 

       - One VN Context identifier per VAP: A value locally significant to 
          an NVE is assigned and usually distributed by a control plane 
          protocol to identify a VAP. An example of this approach is the use 
          of per CE-PE MPLS labels in IP VPN [RFC4364].  

       Note that when using one VN Context per VNI or per VAP, an 
       additional global identifier (e.g., a VN identifier or name) may be 
       used by the control plane to identify the Tenant context. 

    3.1.4. Tunnel Overlays and Encapsulation options 

       Once the VN context identifier is added to the frame, an L3 Tunnel 
       encapsulation is used to transport the frame to the destination NVE.  

       Different IP tunneling options (e.g., GRE, L2TP, IPSec) and MPLS 
       tunneling can be used. Tunneling could be stateless or stateful. 
       Stateless tunneling simply entails the encapsulation of a tenant 
       packet with another header necessary for forwarding the packet 
       across the underlay (e.g., IP tunneling over an IP underlay). 
       Stateful tunneling on the other hand entails maintaining tunneling 
       state at the tunnel endpoints (i.e., NVEs). Tenant packets on an 
       ingress NVE can then be transmitted over such tunnels to a 
       destination (egress) NVE by encapsulating the packets with a 
       corresponding tunneling header. The tunneling state at the endpoints 
       may be configured or dynamically established. Solutions should 
       specify the tunneling technology used, whether it is stateful or 
       stateless. In this document, however, tunneling and tunneling 
       encapsulation are used interchangeably to simply mean the 
       encapsulation of a tenant packet with a tunneling header necessary 
       to carry the packet between an ingress NVE and an egress NVE across 
       the underlay. It should be noted that stateful tunneling, especially 
       when configuration is involved, does impose management overhead and 

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       scale constraints. When confidentiality is required, the use of 
       opportunistic encryption can be used as a stateless tunneling 

    3.1.5. Control Plane Components Distributed vs Centralized Control Plane 

       A control/management plane entity can be centralized or distributed. 
       Both approaches have been used extensively in the past. The routing 
       model of the Internet is a good example of a distributed approach. 
       Transport networks have usually used a centralized approach to 
       manage transport paths. 

       It is also possible to combine the two approaches, i.e., using a 
       hybrid model. A global view of network state can have many benefits 
       but it does not preclude the use of distributed protocols within the 
       network. Centralized models provide a facility to maintain global 
       state, and distribute that state to the network. When used in 
       combination with distributed protocols, greater network 
       efficiencies, improved reliability and robustness can be achieved. 
       Domain and/or deployment specific constraints define the balance 
       between centralized and distributed approaches. Auto-provisioning/Service discovery 

       NVEs must be able to identify the appropriate VNI for each Tenant 
       System. This is based on state information that is often provided by 
       external entities. For example, in an environment where a VM is a 
       Tenant System, this information is provided by VM orchestration 
       systems, since these are the only entities that have visibility of 
       which VM belongs to which tenant.  

       A mechanism for communicating this information to the NVE is 
       required. VAPs have to be created and mapped to the appropriate VNI. 
       Depending upon the implementation, this control interface can be 
       implemented using an auto-discovery protocol between Tenant Systems 
       and their local NVE or through management entities. In either case, 
       appropriate security and authentication mechanisms to verify that 
       Tenant System information is not spoofed or altered are required. 
       This is one critical aspect for providing integrity and tenant 
       isolation in the system. 

       NVEs may learn reachability information to VNIs on other NVEs via a 
       control protocol that exchanges such information among NVEs, or via 
       a management control entity. 

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  Address advertisement and tunnel mapping 

       As traffic reaches an ingress NVE on a VAP, a lookup is performed to 
       determine which NVE or local VAP the packet needs to be sent to. If 
       the packet is to be sent to another NVE, the packet is encapsulated 
       with a tunnel header containing the destination information 
       (destination IP address or MPLS label) of the egress NVE. 
       Intermediate nodes (between the ingress and egress NVEs) switch or 
       route traffic based upon the tunnel destination information. 

       A key step in the above process consists of identifying the 
       destination NVE the packet is to be tunneled to. NVEs are 
       responsible for maintaining a set of forwarding or mapping tables 
       that hold the bindings between destination VM and egress NVE 
       addresses. Several ways of populating these tables are possible: 
       control plane driven, management plane driven, or data plane driven. 

       When a control plane protocol is used to distribute address 
       reachability and tunneling information, the auto-
       provisioning/Service discovery could be accomplished by the same 
       protocol. In this scenario, the auto-provisioning/Service discovery 
       could be combined with (be inferred from) the address advertisement 
       and associated tunnel mapping. Furthermore, a control plane protocol 
       that carries both MAC and IP addresses eliminates the need for ARP, 
       and hence addresses one of the issues with explosive ARP handling as 
       discussed in [RFC6820]. Overlay Tunneling 

       For overlay tunneling, and dependent upon the tunneling technology 
       used for encapsulating the Tenant System packets, it may be 
       sufficient to have one or more local NVE addresses assigned and used 
       in the source and destination fields of a tunneling encapsulation 
       header. Other information that is part of the 
       tunneling encapsulation header may also need to be configured. In 
       certain cases, local NVE configuration may be sufficient while in 
       other cases, some tunneling related information may need to 
       be shared among NVEs. The information that needs to be shared will 
       be technology dependent. For instance, potential information could 
       include tunnel identity, encapsulation type, and/or tunnel 
       resources. In certain cases, such as when using IP multicast in the 
       underlay, tunnels which interconnect NVEs may need to be 
       established. When tunneling information needs to be exchanged or 
       shared among NVEs, a control plane protocol may be required. For 
       instance, it may be necessary to provide active/standby status 

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       information between NVEs, up/down status information, 
       pruning/grafting information for multicast tunnels, etc. 

       In addition, a control plane may be required to setup the tunnel 
       path for some tunneling technologies. This applies to both unicast 
       and multicast tunneling. 

    3.2. Multi-homing 

       Multi-homing techniques can be used to increase the reliability of 
       an NVO3 network. It is also important to ensure that physical 
       diversity in an NVO3 network is taken into account to avoid single 
       points of failure. 

       Multi-homing can be enabled in various nodes, from Tenant Systems 
       into ToRs, ToRs into core switches/routers, and core nodes into DC 

       The NVO3 underlay nodes (i.e. from NVEs to DC GWs) rely on IP 
       routing as the means to re-route traffic upon failures techniques or 
       on MPLS re-rerouting capabilities. 

       When a Tenant System is co-located with the NVE, the Tenant System 
       is effectively single homed to the NVE via a virtual port. When the 
       Tenant System and the NVE are separated, the Tenant System is 
       connected to the NVE via a logical Layer2 (L2) construct such as a 
       VLAN and it can be multi-homed to various NVEs. An NVE may provide 
       an L2 service to the end system or an l3 service. An NVE may be 
       multi-homed to a next layer in the DC at Layer2 (L2) or Layer3 
       (L3). When an NVE provides an L2 service and is not co-located with 
       the end system, loop avoidance techniques must be used. Similarly, 
       when the NVE provides L3 service, similar dual-homing techniques can 
       be used. When the NVE provides a L3 service to the end system, it is 
       possible that no dynamic routing protocol is enabled between the end 
       system and the NVE. The end system can be multi-homed to 
       multiple physically-separated L3 NVEs over multiple interfaces. When 
       one of the links connected to an NVE fails, the other interfaces can 
       be used to reach the end system.  

       External connectivity from a DC can be handled by two or more DC 
       gateways. Each gateway provides access to external networks such as 
       VPNs or the Internet. A gateway may be connected to two or more edge 
       nodes in the external network for redundancy. When a connection to 
       an upstream node is lost, the alternative connection is used and the 
       failed route withdrawn. 

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    3.3. VM Mobility 

       In DC environments utilizing VM technologies, an important feature 
       is that VMs can move from one server to another server in the same 
       or different L2 physical domains (within or across DCs) in a 
       seamless manner. 

       A VM can be moved from one server to another in stopped or suspended 
       state ("cold" VM mobility) or in running/active state ("hot" VM 
       mobility). With "hot" mobility, VM L2 and L3 addresses need to be 
       preserved. With "cold" mobility, it may be desired to preserve at 
       least VM L3 addresses. 

       Solutions to maintain connectivity while a VM is moved are necessary 
       in the case of "hot" mobility. This implies that connectivity among 
       VMs is preserved. For instance, for L2 VNs, ARP caches are updated 

       Upon VM mobility, NVE policies that define connectivity among VMs 
       must be maintained. 

       During VM mobility, it is expected that the path to the VM's default 
       gateway assures adequate QoS to VM applications, i.e. QoS that 
       matches the expected service level agreement for these applications. 

    4. Key aspects of overlay networks 

       The intent of this section is to highlight specific issues that 
       proposed overlay solutions need to address. 

    4.1. Pros & Cons 

       An overlay network is a layer of virtual network topology on top of 
       the physical network.  

       Overlay networks offer the following key advantages: 

          - Unicast tunneling state management and association of Tenant 
            Systems reachability are handled at the edge of the network (at 
            the NVE). Intermediate transport nodes are unaware of such 
            state. Note that when multicast is enabled in the underlay 
            network to build multicast trees for tenant VNs, there would be 
            more state related to tenants in the underlay core network.   

          - Tunneling is used to aggregate traffic and hide tenant 
            addresses from the underlay network, and hence offer the 

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            advantage of minimizing the amount of forwarding state required 
            within the underlay network 

          - Decoupling of the overlay addresses (MAC and IP) used by VMs 
            from the underlay network for tenant separation and separation 
            of the tenant address spaces from the underlay address space. 

          - Support of a large number of virtual network identifiers 

       Overlay networks also create several challenges: 

          - Overlay networks have typically no control of underlay networks 
            and lack underlay network information (e.g. underlay 

            - Overlay networks and/or their associated management entities 
               typically probe the network to measure link or path 
               properties, such as available bandwidth or packet loss rate. 
               It is difficult to accurately evaluate network properties. It 
               might be preferable for the underlay network to expose usage 
               and performance information. 
            - Miscommunication or lack of coordination between overlay and 
               underlay networks can lead to an inefficient usage of network 
            - When multiple overlays co-exist on top of a common underlay 
               network, the lack of coordination between overlays can lead 
               to performance issues and/or resource usage inefficiencies. 

          - Traffic carried over an overlay might fail to traverse 
            firewalls and NAT devices.  

          - Multicast service scalability: Multicast support may be 
            required in the underlay network to address tenant flood 
            containment or efficient multicast handling. The underlay may 
            also be required to maintain multicast state on a per-tenant 
            basis, or even on a per-individual multicast flow of a given 
            tenant. Ingress replication at the NVE eliminates that 
            additional multicast state in the underlay core, but depending 
            on the multicast traffic volume, it may cause inefficient use 
            of bandwidth. 

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    4.2. Overlay issues to consider 

    4.2.1. Data plane vs Control plane driven 

       In the case of an L2 NVE, it is possible to dynamically learn MAC 
       addresses against VAPs. It is also possible that such addresses be 
       known and controlled via management or a control protocol for both 
       L2 NVEs and L3 NVEs. Dynamic data plane learning implies that 
       flooding of unknown destinations be supported and hence implies that 
       broadcast and/or multicast be supported or that ingress replication 
       be used as described in section 4.2.3. Multicasting in the underlay 
       network for dynamic learning may lead to significant scalability 
       limitations. Specific forwarding rules must be enforced to prevent 
       loops from happening. This can be achieved using a spanning tree, a 
       shortest path tree, or a split-horizon mesh. 

       It should be noted that the amount of state to be distributed is 
       dependent upon network topology and the number of virtual machines. 
       Different forms of caching can also be utilized to minimize state 
       distribution between the various elements. The control plane should 
       not require an NVE to maintain the locations of all the Tenant 
       Systems whose VNs are not present on the NVE. The use of a control 
       plane does not imply that the data plane on NVEs has to maintain all 
       the forwarding state in the control plane. 

    4.2.2. Coordination between data plane and control plane 

       For an L2 NVE, the NVE needs to be able to determine MAC addresses 
       of the Tenant Systems connected via a VAP. This can be achieved via 
       dataplane learning or a control plane. For an L3 NVE, the NVE needs 
       to be able to determine IP addresses of the Tenant Systems connected 
       via a VAP. 

       In both cases, coordination with the NVE control protocol is needed 
       such that when the NVE determines that the set of addresses behind a 
       VAP has changed, it triggers the NVE control plane to distribute 
       this information to its peers. 


    4.2.3. Handling Broadcast, Unknown Unicast and Multicast (BUM) traffic 

       There are several options to support packet replication needed for 
       broadcast, unknown unicast and multicast. Typical methods include: 

       - Ingress replication 

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       - Use of underlay multicast trees 

       There is a bandwidth vs state trade-off between the two approaches. 
       Depending upon the degree of replication required (i.e. the number 
       of hosts per group) and the amount of multicast state to maintain, 
       trading bandwidth for state should be considered. 

       When the number of hosts per group is large, the use of underlay 
       multicast trees may be more appropriate. When the number of hosts is 
       small (e.g. 2-3) and/or the amount of multicast traffic is small, 
       ingress replication may not be an issue. 

       Depending upon the size of the data center network and hence the 
       number of (S,G) entries, and also the duration of multicast flows, 
       the use of underlay multicast trees can be a challenge. 

       When flows are well known, it is possible to pre-provision such 
       multicast trees. However, it is often difficult to predict 
       application flows ahead of time, and hence programming of (S,G) 
       entries for short-lived flows could be impractical. 

       A possible trade-off is to use in the underlay shared multicast 
       trees as opposed to dedicated multicast trees. 

    4.2.4. Path MTU 

       When using overlay tunneling, an outer header is added to the 
       original frame. This can cause the MTU of the path to the egress 
       tunnel endpoint to be exceeded.  

       It is usually not desirable to rely on IP fragmentation for 
       performance reasons. Ideally, the interface MTU as seen by a Tenant 
       System is adjusted such that no fragmentation is needed.  

       It is possible for the MTU to be configured manually or to be 
       discovered dynamically. Various Path MTU discovery techniques exist 
       in order to determine the proper MTU size to use: 

       - Classical ICMP-based MTU Path Discovery [RFC1191] [RFC1981] 

         - Tenant Systems rely on ICMP messages to discover the MTU of the 
            end-to-end path to its destination. This method is not always 
            possible, such as when traversing middle boxes (e.g. firewalls) 
            which disable ICMP for security reasons 

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       - Extended MTU Path Discovery techniques such as defined in 

         - Tenant Systems send probe packets of different sizes, and rely 
            on confirmation of receipt or lack thereof from receivers to 
            allow a sender to discover the MTU of the end-to-end paths. 

       While it could also be possible to rely on the NVE to perform 
       segmentation and reassembly operations without relying on the Tenant 
       Systems to know about the end-to-end MTU, this would lead to 
       undesired performance and congestion issues as well as significantly 
       increase the complexity of hardware NVEs required for buffering and 
       reassembly logic. 

       Preferably, the underlay network should be designed in such a way 
       that the MTU can accommodate the extra tunneling and possibly 
       additional NVO3 header encapsulation overhead. 

    4.2.5. NVE location trade-offs  

       In the case of DC traffic, traffic originated from a VM is native 
       Ethernet traffic. This traffic can be switched by a local virtual 
       switch or ToR switch and then by a DC gateway. The NVE function can 
       be embedded within any of these elements. 

       There are several criteria to consider when deciding where the NVE 
       function should happen: 

       - Processing and memory requirements 

         - Datapath (e.g. lookups, filtering, encapsulation/decapsulation) 

         - Control plane processing (e.g. routing, signaling, OAM) and 
            where specific control plane functions should be enabled 

       - FIB/RIB size 

       - Multicast support 

         - Routing/signaling protocols 

         - Packet replication capability 

         - Multicast FIB 

       - Fragmentation support 

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       - QoS support (e.g. marking, policing, queuing)  

       - Resiliency 

    4.2.6. Interaction between network overlays and underlays 

       When multiple overlays co-exist on top of a common underlay network, 
       resources (e.g., bandwidth) should be provisioned to ensure that 
       traffic from overlays can be accommodated and QoS objectives can be 
       met. Overlays can have partially overlapping paths (nodes and 

       Each overlay is selfish by nature. It sends traffic so as to 
       optimize its own performance without considering the impact on other 
       overlays, unless the underlay paths are traffic engineered on a per 
       overlay basis to avoid congestion of underlay resources. 

       Better visibility between overlays and underlays, or generally 
       coordination in placing overlay demand on an underlay network, may 
       be achieved by providing mechanisms to exchange performance and 
       liveliness information between the underlay and overlay(s) or the 
       use of such information by a coordination system. Such information 
       may include: 

       - Performance metrics (throughput, delay, loss, jitter) 

       - Cost metrics 

       such as defined in [RFC2330]. 

    5. Security Considerations 

       Since NVEs and NVAs play a central role in NVO3, it is critical that 
       a secure access to NVEs and NVAs be ensured such that no 
       unauthorized access is possible. 

       As discussed in section , Tenant Systems identification is 
       based upon state that is often provided by management systems (e.g. 
       a VM orchestration system in a virtualized environment). Secure 
       access to such management systems must also be ensured. 

       When an NVE receives data from a Tenant System, the tenant identity 
       needs to be verified in order to guarantee that it is authorized to 
       access the corresponding VN. This can be achieved by identifying 
       incoming packets against specific VAPs in some cases. In other 
       circumstances, authentication may be necessary. 

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       Data integrity can be assured if authorized access to NVEs, NVAs, 
       and intermediate underlay nodes is ensured. Otherwise, encryption 
       must be used. 

       NVO3 provides data confidentiality through data separation. The use 
       of both VNIs and tunneling of tenant traffic by NVEs ensures that 
       NVO3 data is kept in a separate context and thus separated from 
       other tenant traffic. When NVO3 data traverses untrusted networks, 
       data encryption may be needed. 

       Not only tenant data but also NVO3 control data must be secured 
       (e.g. control traffic between NVAs and NVEs, between NVAs and 
       between NVEs).  

       It may also be desirable to restrict the types of information that 
       can be exchanged between overlays and underlays (e.g. topology 

    6. IANA Considerations 

       IANA does not need to take any action for this draft. 

    7. References 

    7.1. Informative References 

       [NVOPS]  Narten, T. et al, "Problem Statement : Overlays for 
                 Network Virtualization", draft-ietf-nvo3-overlay-problem-
                 statement (work in progress) 

       [RFC4364] Rosen, E. and Y. Rekhter, "BGP/MPLS IP Virtual Private 
                 Networks (VPNs)", RFC 4364, February 2006. 

       [RFC4761] Kompella, K. et al, "Virtual Private LAN Service (VPLS) 
                 Using BGP for auto-discovery and Signaling", RFC4761, 
                 January 2007 

       [RFC4762] Lasserre, M. et al, "Virtual Private LAN Service (VPLS) 
                 Using Label Distribution Protocol (LDP) Signaling", 
                 RFC4762, January 2007 

       [EVPN]  Sajassi, A. et al, "BGP MPLS Based Ethernet VPN", draft-
                 ietf-l2vpn-evpn (work in progress) 

       [RFC1191] Mogul, J. "Path MTU Discovery", RFC1191, November 1990 

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       [RFC1981] McCann, J. et al, "Path MTU Discovery for IPv6", RFC1981, 
                 August 1996 

       [RFC4821] Mathis, M. et al, "Packetization Layer Path MTU 
                 Discovery", RFC4821, March 2007 

       [RFC6820] Narten, T. et al, "Address Resolution Problems in Large 
                 Data Center Networks", RFC6820, January 2013 

       [RFC2330] Paxson, V. et al, "Framework for IP Performance Metrics", 
                 RFC2330, May 1998 


    8. Acknowledgments 

       In addition to the authors the following people have contributed to 
       this document: 

       Dimitrios Stiliadis, Rotem Salomonovitch, Lucy Yong, Thomas Narten, 
       Larry Kreeger, David Black. 

       This document was prepared using 

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    Authors' Addresses 

       Marc Lasserre 
       Florin Balus 
       777 E. Middlefield Road 
       Mountain View, CA, USA 94043  
       Thomas Morin 
       France Telecom Orange 
       Nabil Bitar 
       40 Sylvan Road 
       Waltham, MA 02145 
       Yakov Rekhter  

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