Internet Engineering Task Force                              B. Campbell
Internet-Draft                                                    Oracle
Intended status: Informational                          October 25, 2014
Expires: April 28, 2015

       Architectural Considerations for Diameter Load Information


   RFC 7068 describes requirements for Overload Control in Diameter.
   This includes a requirement to allow Diameter nodes to send "load"
   information, even when the node is not overloaded.  The Diameter
   Overload Information Conveyance (DOIC) solution describes a mechanism
   meeting most of the requirements, but does not currently include the
   ability to send load.  This document explores some architectural
   considerations for a mechanism to send load information.

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   the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as
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Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   2.  Differences between Load and Overload information . . . . . .   3
   3.  How is Load Information Used? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
   4.  Piggy-Backing vs a Dedicated Application. . . . . . . . . . .   4
   5.  Which Nodes Exchange Load Information?  . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   6.  Scope of Load Information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
   7.  Load Information Semantics  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
   8.  Is Negotiation of Support Needed? . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
   9.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
   10. IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
   11. References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
     11.1.  Normative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
     11.2.  Informative References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
   Author's Address  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9

1.  Introduction

   [RFC7068] describes requirements for Overload Control in Diameter
   [RFC6733].  At the time of this writing, the DIME working group is
   working on the Diameter Overload Information Conveyance (DOIC)
   mechanism.  As currently specified, DOIC fulfills some, but not all,
   of the requirements.

   In particular, DOIC does not fulfill Req 24, which requires a
   mechanism where Diameter nodes can indicate their current load, even
   if they are not currently overloaded.  DOIC also does not fulfill Req
   23, which requires that nodes that diverts traffic away from
   overloaded nodes be provided with sufficient information to select
   targets that are most likely to have sufficient capacity.

   There are several other requirements in RFC 7068 that mention both
   overload and load information that are only partially fulfilled by

   The DIME working group explicitly chose not to fulfill these
   requirements in DOIC due to several reasons.  A principal reason was
   that the working group did not agree on a general approach for
   conveying load information.  It chose to progress the rest of DOIC,
   and defer load information conveyance to a DOIC extension or a
   separate mechanism.

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   This document describes some high level architectural decisions that
   the working group will need to consider in order to solve the load-
   related requirements from RFC 7068.

   At the time of this writing, there have been several attempts to
   create mechanisms for conveyance of both load and overload control
   information that were not adopted by the DIME working group.  While
   these drafts are not expected to progress, they may be instructive
   when considering these decisions.

   o  [I-D.tschofenig-dime-dlba] proposed a dedicated Diameter
      application for exchanging load balancing information.

   o  [I-D.roach-dime-overload-ctrl] described a strictly peer-to-peer
      exchange of both load and overload information in new AVPs piggy-
      backed on existing Diameter messages.

   o  [I-D.korhonen-dime-ovl] described a dedicated Diameter application
      for exchanging both load and overload information.

2.  Differences between Load and Overload information

   Previous discussions of how to solve the load-related requirements in
   [RFC7068] have shown that people do not have an agreed-upon concept
   of how "load" information differs from "overload" information.  The
   two concepts are highly interrelated, and so far the working group
   has not defined a bright line between what constitutes load
   information and what constitutes overload information.

   In the author's opinion, there are two primary differences.  First, a
   Diameter node always has a load.  At any given time that load maybe
   effectively zero, effectively fully loaded, or somewhere in between.
   In contrast, overload is an exceptional condition.  A node only has
   overload information when it in an overloaded state.  Furthermore,
   the relationship between a node's load level and overload state at
   any given time may be vague.  For example, a node may normally
   operate at a "fully loaded" level, but still not be considered
   overloaded.  Another node may declare itself to be "overloaded" even
   though it might not be fully "loaded".

   Second, Overload information, in the form of a DOIC Overload Report
   (OLR) [I-D.ietf-dime-ovli] indicates an explicit request for action
   on the part of the reacting node.  That is, the OLR requests that the
   reacting node reduce the offered load by an indicated amount or to an
   indicated level.  Effectively, DOIC provides a contract between the
   reporting node and the reacting node.

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   In contrast, load is informational.  That is, load information can be
   considered a hint to the recipient node.  That node may use the load
   information for load balancing purposes, as an input to certain
   overload abatement techniques, to make inferences about the
   likelihood that the sending node becomes overloaded in the immediate
   future, or for other purposes.

   None of this prevents a Diameter node from deciding to reduce the
   offered load based on load information.  The fundamental difference
   is that an overload report requires that reduction.

3.  How is Load Information Used?

   [RFC7068] contemplates two primary uses for load information.  Req 23
   discusses how load information might be used when performing
   diversion as an overload abatement technique, as described in
   [I-D.ietf-dime-ovli].  When a reacting node diverts traffic away from
   an overloaded node, it needs load information for the other
   candidates for that traffic in order to effectively load balance the
   diverted load between potential candidates.  Otherwise, diversion has
   a greater potential to drive other nodes into overload.

   Req 24 discusses how a Diameter information might be used when no
   overload condition currently exists.  Diameter nodes can use the load
   information to make decisions to try to avoid overload conditions in
   the first place.  Normal load-balancing falls into this category.  A
   node might also take other proactive steps to reduce offered load
   based on load information, so that the loaded node never goes into
   overload in the first place.

   If the loaded nodes are Diameter servers (or clients in the case of
   server-to-client transactions), both of these uses are most
   effectively accomplished by a Diameter node that performs server
   selection.  Typically, server selection is performed by a node (a
   client or an agent) that is an immediate peer of the server.  However
   a client or proxy that is not an immediate peer to the selected
   server can enforce server selection by inserting a Destination-Host

4.  Piggy-Backing vs a Dedicated Application.

   [I-D.roach-dime-overload-ctrl] imbeds load and overload information
   onto messages of existing applications.  This is known as a "piggy-
   back" approach.  Such an approach has the advantage of not requiring
   new messages to carry load information.  It has an additional
   advantage of scaling with load; that is, the more the transaction
   load, the more opportunities to send load information.

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   DOIC [I-D.ietf-dime-ovli] also uses a piggy-backed approach to send
   OLRs.  Given the potentially tight connection between load and
   overload information, there may be advantages to maintaining
   consistency with DOIC.

   [I-D.tschofenig-dime-dlba] used a dedicated application to carry load
   information.  This application has quasi-subscription semantics,
   where a client requests updates according to a cadence.  The server
   can send unsolicited updates if the load level changes between
   updates in the cadence.

   [I-D.korhonen-dime-ovl] also used a dedicated application, but
   allowed nodes to send unsolicited reports containing load and
   overload information.  The mechanism has an issue that the sender of
   load information may not know which other nodes need it.  It may be
   possible to infer that information from the primary Diameter

   Another potential approach is that of a dedicated Diameter
   application with a slightly different subscription semantic than that
   of [I-D.tschofenig-dime-dlba].  In such an application, a node that
   consumes load information sends a Diameter request to the source of
   the load information.  This request indicates that the consumer
   wishes to receive load information for some period of time.  The load
   source would send periodic Diameter requests indicating the current
   load level, until such time that the subscription period expired, or
   the subscribe explicitly unsubscribed.  After the initial
   notification, the sender would only send updates when the load level

5.  Which Nodes Exchange Load Information?

   Previous load related efforts have made different assumptions about
   which Diameter nodes exchange load information.

   [I-D.roach-dime-overload-ctrl] operated in a strictly peer-to-peer
   mode.  Each node would only learn the load (and overload) information
   from its immediate peers.

   [I-D.korhonen-dime-ovl] and [I-D.tschofenig-dime-dlba] are each
   effectively any-to-any.  That is, they each allowed any node to send
   load information to any other node that supported the dedicated
   overload or load application, respectively.

   In the latter case, load is effectively sent between clients and
   servers of the dedicated application, but those roles may not match
   the client and server roles for the "main" Diameter applications in
   use.  For example, a pair of adjacent diameter agents might be

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   "client" and "server" for the dedicated "load" application,
   effectively creating a peer-to-peer relationship similar to that of

   Each approach has advantages.  Since server selection is typically
   done by immediate peers to the servers, peer-to-peer transmission
   covers most cases.  Additionally, selection of non-terminal nodes is
   exclusively done on a peer-to-peer basis.  If the loaded node is an
   agent, for example, the load information is only useful to immediate
   peers.  Peer-to-peer transmission is the easiest to negotiation.
   (See Section 8)

   Any-to-Any transmission offers more flexibility, and could
   potentially cover the case where server selection is done by nodes
   that are not peers to the candidate servers.

6.  Scope of Load Information

   The "scope" of load information defines what the load indication
   applies to.  For example, load could apply to a whole Diameter node,
   or a node could report different load for different application.  It
   might be possible to have a load value for a whole realm, or a group
   of nodes.

   [I-D.roach-dime-overload-ctrl] has a very expressive concept of
   scope, which applies both to load and overload information.  It
   defines the scopes of "Destination-Realm", "Application-ID",
   "Destination-Host", "Host", "Connection", "Session", and "Session-
   Group".  Scopes can be combined.

   [I-D.tschofenig-dime-dlba] does not have an explicit concept of
   scope.  Load information describes the load of a server for all
   Diameter purposes.

   [I-D.korhonen-dime-ovl] defines several scopes for overload
   information.  However, load information applies to the a whole node.

   The author's opinion is that the load level of a Diameter node will
   usually apply to the whole node.  Thus, the working group should
   consider a single "whole node" scope for load information.
   Alternatively, a "per-connection" scope could simulate "whole node"
   scope without requiring the recipient to pay attention to whether
   multiple transport connections terminate at the same peer.

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7.  Load Information Semantics

   Both [I-D.tschofenig-dime-dlba] and [I-D.korhonen-dime-ovl] define
   load level to be a range between zero and some maximum value, where
   zero means no load at all and the max value means fully loaded.  The
   former uses a range of 0-10, while the later uses 0-100

   [I-D.roach-dime-overload-ctrl] treats load information as a strictly
   relative weighting factor.  The weight is only meaningful when load-
   balancing across multiple destinations.  That is, a maximum load
   value does not necessarily imply that the node is cannot handle more
   traffic.  The load level scale is zero to 65535.  That scale was
   chosen to match the resolution of the weight field from a DNS SRV
   record, [RFC2782]

8.  Is Negotiation of Support Needed?

   The working group should discuss whether a load conveyance mechanism
   requires negotiation or declaration of support.  Several
   considerations apply to this discussion.

   If load information is treated as a hint, it can be safely ignored by
   nodes that don't understand it.  However, security considerations may
   apply if load information is accidentally leaked across a non-
   supporting node to a node that is not authorized to receive it.

   If load information is conveyed using a dedicated Diameter
   application, the normal mechanisms for negotiation support for
   Diameter applications apply.  However, the Diameter Capabilities
   Exchange [RFC6733] mechanism is inherently peer-to-peer.  If there is
   an need to convey load information across a node that does not
   understand the mechanism, the standard Diameter mechanism would
   involve probing by support by sending load requests and watching for
   error answers with a result code of DIAMETER_APPLICATION_UNSUPPORTED.
   If the probe request also includes load information, there is again a
   potential for leaking load information to unauthorized parties.

   If load information was treated in a strictly peer-to-peer fashion,
   there would be no need to probe to see if non-adjacent nodes support
   the mechanism.  However, there would still be a need to control
   whether a non-supporting node would leak load information.  Such a
   leak could be prevented if adjacent peers declared support, and never
   sent load information to a peer that did not declare support.

   A peer-to-peer mechanism would also need a way to make sure that, if
   load information leaked across a non-supporting node, the receiving
   node would not mistakenly think the information came from the non-
   supporting node.  This could be mitigated with a mechanism to declare

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   support as in the previous paragraph, or with a mechanism to identify
   the origin of the load information.  In the latter case, the
   receiving node would treat any load information as invalid if the
   origin of that information did not match the identity of the peer

9.  Security Considerations

   Load information may be sensitive information in some cases.
   Depending on the mechanism. an unauthorized recipient might be able
   to infer the topology of a Diameter network from load information.
   Load information might be useful in identifying targets for Denial of
   Service (DoS) attacks, where a node known to be already heavily
   loaded might be a tempting target.  Load information might also be
   useful as feedback about the success of an ongoing DoS attack.

   Any load information conveyance mechanism will need to allow
   operators to avoid sending load information to nodes that are not
   authorized to receive it.  Since Diameter currently only offers
   authentication of nodes at the transport level, any solution that
   sends load information to non-peer nodes might require a transitive-
   trust model.

10.  IANA Considerations

   This document makes no requests of IANA.

11.  References

11.1.  Normative References

              Korhonen, J., Donovan, S., Campbell, B., and L. Morand,
              "Diameter Overload Indication Conveyance", draft-ietf-
              dime-ovli-03 (work in progress), July 2014.

   [RFC6733]  Fajardo, V., Arkko, J., Loughney, J., and G. Zorn,
              "Diameter Base Protocol", RFC 6733, October 2012.

   [RFC7068]  McMurry, E. and B. Campbell, "Diameter Overload Control
              Requirements", RFC 7068, November 2013.

11.2.  Informative References

              Korhonen, J. and H. Tschofenig, "The Diameter Overload
              Control Application (DOCA)", draft-korhonen-dime-ovl-01
              (work in progress), February 2013.

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              Roach, A. and E. McMurry, "A Mechanism for Diameter
              Overload Control", draft-roach-dime-overload-ctrl-03 (work
              in progress), May 2013.

              Tschofenig, H., "The Diameter Load Balancing Application
              (DLBA)", draft-tschofenig-dime-dlba-00 (work in progress),
              July 2013.

   [RFC2782]  Gulbrandsen, A., Vixie, P., and L. Esibov, "A DNS RR for
              specifying the location of services (DNS SRV)", RFC 2782,
              February 2000.

Author's Address

   Ben Campbell
   7460 Warren Parkway # 300
   Frisco, Texas  75034


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