Network Working Group                                            J. Dong
Internet-Draft                                                 S. Bryant
Intended status: Informational                       Huawei Technologies
Expires: May 4, 2017                                    October 31, 2016

        Problem Statement of Network Slicing in IP/MPLS Networks


   The research and standardization of IMT-2020 (a.k.a. 5G) are in
   progress in several industry communities and standard organizations.
   The goal of 5G is to integrate various services, each of which has a
   set of unique requirements, into a single network, such that each
   service has a customized network suited to its needs.  The concept
   "Network Slicing" is widely discussed and considered as the key
   mechanism to meet the diverse service requirements concurrently with
   the same physical network infrastructure.  This document provides an
   overview of the concept "network slicing" in the current IMT-2020
   (a.k.a. 5G) related works, and discusses the corresponding
   requirements on IP/MPLS network, which will be used as the mobile
   transport network for 5G.

Requirements Language

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

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
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   This Internet-Draft will expire on May 4, 2017.

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Copyright Notice

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Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   2.  Network Slicing Problem Statement . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
     2.1.  Isolation and Separation  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
     2.2.  Customization of the Topology . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
     2.3.  Flexibility of the Topology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
     2.4.  Guaranteed Quality of Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
     2.5.  Management Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
   3.  IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
   4.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
   5.  Acknowledgements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   6.  Informative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   Authors' Addresses  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10

1.  Introduction

   The research and standardization of IMT-2020 (a.k.a. 5G) are in
   progress in several industry communities and standard organizations.
   The goal of 5G is to integrate various services, each of which has a
   set of unique requirements, into a single network, such that each
   service has a customized network suited to its needs.  The concept
   "Network Slicing" is widely discussed and considered as the key
   mechanism to meet diverse service requirements concurrently with the
   same physical network infrastructure.

   The Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) gives the definition of
   network slice in [Network-Slicing-Concept]:

   "Network Slice Instance: a set of network functions, and resources to
   run these network functions, forming a complete instantiated logical
   network to meet certain network characteristics required by the
   Service Instance(s)."

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   [TR23.799] of 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) identifies
   the support of network slicing as one of the key issues to be
   resolved in the NextGen system:

   "Network slicing enables the operator to create networks customised
   to provide optimized solutions for different market scenarios which
   demands diverse requirements, e.g. in the areas of functionality,
   performance and isolation."

   In Focus Group (FG) IMT-2020, which is the Focus Group in ITU-T
   working on 5G transport network, network slicing is discussed in the
   Network Softwarization work item.  [FG-IMT2020-Gaps] gives the
   definition of slicing: Slicing allows logically isolated network
   partitions (LINP) with a slice being considered as a unit of
   programmable resources such as network, computation and storage.

   In order to meet the diverse service requirements, end-to-end network
   slicing is required in 5G, which includes the slicing of the User
   Equipment (UE), Radio Access Network (RAN), mobile Core network and
   also the mobile transport network.  As one of the widely deployed
   mobile transport networks, IP/MPLS networks need to provide the
   functionality and capability required by network slicing.

2.  Network Slicing Problem Statement

   This section analyzes the requirements of network slicing on IP/MPLS
   networks, and identifies the potential gaps between the existing
   mechanisms and the network slicing requirements.

   In IP/MPLS networks, Virtual Private Network (VPN) has been widely
   deployed to provide many different virtual networks on the same
   physical operator network.  It would be beneficial to reuse the
   existing VPN technologies when possible, with some enhancements from
   the newly developed technologies such as SDN, NFV, SFC etc., to meet
   the network slicing requirements.  However, the method used to share
   the resources of the underlying network with the VPNs results in
   competition for resources between the VPNs, which can make it
   difficult to provide the degree of isolation and performance needed
   by some services.  These issues are explored in greater detail in the
   following sections.

2.1.  Isolation and Separation

   Network slicing provides a method that allows services with diverse
   requirements to be provided on the same physical network with greater
   independence than is usually provided in a packet switching network.
   Each network slice appears to its users as an independent, dedicated
   private network which is impervious to anything that is happening on

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   any of the other network slices.  This requires a higher degree of
   isolation than is found in a conventional VPN where traffic patterns
   in one VPN can increase the latency and jitter in another VPN, and
   where the shared control plane means that a high workload servicing
   one VPN can result in less responsiveness to another VPN.  The
   isolation and other service requirements of each user service are
   likely to be different,and it is important that this is represented
   in the slices that carry these services to provide an efficient and
   economic network design.

   Where 5G is used as the bearer service for real time traffic in
   applications such as Autonomous Driving, Virtual Reality or
   industrial control, there is a requirement for ultra-low transport
   latency and guaranteed bandwidth.  In such cases, dedicated data-
   plane resources may be needed to guarantee the performance of the
   network slices carrying these services.  This allows a high degree of
   isolation between the network slices so that the required performance
   is always met even when there is congestion or some other type of
   degradation occurs in other network slices sharing the same
   underlying packet network.

   In addition to the data plane isolation requirement described above,
   we need to consider the control plane isolation requirements of the
   various network slices.  As with the data plane isolation, the
   required degree of isolation in control plane will also depend on the
   application requirements.  There are essentially three degrees of
   control plane isolation that need to be considered: dedicated control
   plane, hybrid control plane and shared control plane.  A dedicated
   control plane can provide control plane performance guarantees, and
   allows customization of the control functions, which may be required
   for the provisioning and optimization of some critical services.
   With a hybrid control plane, some of the control functions are
   dedicated to each network slice, while others are shared amongst a
   number of network slices.  The hybrid approach provides a flexible
   way of achieving the balance between performance and efficiency.
   With shared control plane, the network slices use the same control
   plane functions and resources, regardless of whether their data plane
   are isolated or not.  This results in competition between network
   slices for resources and thus less isolation.  In this case, a high
   computation or high bandwidth event in one slice will result in less
   responsivity in another slice.

   It is anticipated that many third-party or vertical industrial
   networks will be created or migrated onto the 5G network.  These
   third-party or industrial services will be provided with different
   network slices, and will typically have different requirements on the
   operation and management of their own network slice.  For some of the
   services, the operation and management of the network slices can be

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   simply delegated to the network operator, as long as the performance
   requirements and relative isolation of the network slices can be
   guaranteed.  This is much as happens with today's VPN networks.
   However, for some other services, it is expected that the owner of
   the service will require more control of the network slice, such as
   the placement of the network functions, the establishment and
   selection of the transport path, network resource allocation, etc.
   In order to meet these requirements, network needs to provide
   mechanisms to allow the third parties to configure, deploy and manage
   their own network slice, with minimal intervention from the network

   The different services will each have their own level of security
   requirements and will probably deploy different security mechanisms.
   For many applications the network slice must provide protection
   against interception of traffic or interruption of service, by
   unauthorised users.  However security is always a balance between the
   performance, complexity and resources needed, and the economics of
   the service, including in the case of some Internet of Things (IoT)
   the energy consumption requirements.  The security requirements of
   the service carried of the network slices may be markedly different
   and the design needs to accommodate this.  What is of critical
   importance is that each slice is impervious to an attack on any or
   all of the other network slices.  Thus for example if there is a DDoS
   attack on the elements of one slice, there MUST NOT be any impact on
   the data plane or control plane of the other network slices.

   The IP/MPLS network that is the bearer of these network slices needs
   to provide the mechanisms required to meet the diverse isolation
   requirements in data plane, control plane, network operation and
   security.  Existing VPN technologies use a mixture of logical
   separation, and rely on network traffic engineering, either through
   metric tuning, RSVP, or Segment Routing to provide a degree of
   traffic isolation.  However the isolation is only partial since the
   VPNs compete for the same resources.  Thus to provide the enhanced
   degree of isolation needed to support more demanding service
   requirements, a greater degree of isolation needs to be provided by
   the packet network than is currently.

2.2.  Customization of the Topology

   In order to provide the bespoke network structure needed by each of
   the network service domains, it is necessary to provide each of the
   network slices with its own customized topology.  There are a number
   of well known methods of providing a virtual topology that can be
   used to customize the topology:

   o  Multi-topology Routing

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   o  Virtual Private Networks

   o  Overlay Networks

   o  Segment Routing

   Multi-topology Routing (MTR) [RFC4915], [RFC5120], [RFC7307] is a way
   of causing the underlying routing layer to concurrently form multiple
   topologies over the physical network either applying a path metric to
   a link that is specified per topology and computing a shortest path
   tree that is customised to that topology.  Another technique is to
   use a different ships in the night routing protocol such as Maximally
   Redundant Trees [RFC7812].  MRT relies on a common routing protocol
   and a common compute engine to maintain the topology.  MRT has only
   limited application to specialist problems.  In neither case is there
   integration with the data-plane to maintain isolation between the
   slices.  Furthermore it can be difficult to set up and maintain the
   metrics to get the degree of topology control needs by the various
   services.  In both cases a characteristic of the user packet needs to
   be used to mark the packet into the correct topology.

   VPNs are often used to create virtual topologies which separate and
   isolate the traffic of different users or services.  In some VPNs
   [RFC4364] , [RFC4761], [RFC7432] a common control plane is used to
   run the topology of the VPN and the topology of the bearer or
   transport network.  Where a separate protocol instance is used, for
   example as a separate instance of BGP, the control plane of each
   instance is isolated, but the control traffic and the user traffic of
   all the instances normally fate shares.  If the control plane engages
   with a resource reservation protocol such as RSVP a further degree of
   isolation is possible, but this may not be sufficient for the most
   sensitive applications.

   A overlay network is normally completely independent of the underlay
   that provides it with transport services, and normally with no
   coupling of the routing/signalling protocols and no way to reserve
   the resources in the underlying data plane, the required degree of
   isolation is not achieved for the most sensitive applications.
   Furthermore with this approach the applications have no control over
   the paths that their packets take across the network.

   Segment routing (SR) [I-D.ietf-spring-segment-routing] is a technique
   that bares further consideration in this application space.  With the
   strict source routing approach it is possible for an edge node to
   precisely specify the network path for its traffic.  With loose
   source routing less control is available and it is a matter of
   further study whether this provides the degree of isolation needed in
   the network slicing environment.  It is possible to have in effect a

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   control plane and topology per service with the SR approach.  However
   there would need to be co-ordination between the entity creating the
   topologies and some entity managing the resources in the network.
   The use of this approach needs further study.

2.3.  Flexibility of the Topology

   As described by NGMN, a network slice is formed by a set of network
   functions, and resources to run these network functions.  With the
   introduction of Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) and Mobile Edge
   Computing (MEC), the network functions can be dynamically created at
   different locations, and can migrate from one place to another
   dynamically.  The flexible and dynamic positioning of network
   functions in a network slice requires that the IP/MPLS networks be
   enhanced to have the capability of dynamically provisioning the
   customized network slice topology with on demand connectivity
   instantiated between the network functions.

   The requirements is for existing topologies to be modified and new
   topologies added without any disruption to the other operating
   topologies.  This will require particular attention to the impact on
   the data plane since reconfiguration of a topology of a network slice
   may lead to detectable changes, possibly transient, possibly
   permanent in the forwarding behaviour of other network slices.

2.4.  Guaranteed Quality of Service

   5G aims to provide diversified services on the same physical network.
   One important type of 5G service is mission critical communication.
   The typical use cases for this are autonomous driving, remote surgery
   and industrial control systems, etc, which currently require direct
   point to point communication, or a dedicated network over fixed
   infrastructure.  These services have stringent requirements on
   latency, jitter, bandwidth, availability and reliability, etc.  It is
   thus necessary that network slices used to carry mission critical
   services provide end-to-end guaranteed performance.  In addition,
   some enhanced Mobile BroadBand (eMBB) services such as Virtual
   Reality (VR) which are also the target of 5G operators require
   transport latency to be at the millisecond (ms) level, and the
   bandwidth requirement will be several hundreds of Mbps.

   With the exception of service carried over traffic engineered label
   switched paths (LSPs) using resource reservation for that LSP,
   existing VPN technologies share the resources of the underlying
   network with other VPNs results in competition for resources between
   them, which makes it difficult to provide the degree of performance
   needed by the mission critical services.  Even when traffic
   engineering solutions are deployed, there is short term contention

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   for bandwidth making it difficult to achieve the very low latencies
   some of these proposed new services demand.

   [DETNET-WG] is working on the deterministic data paths over layer 2
   and layer 3 network segments, such deterministic paths can provide
   the bounds on latency, loss, and packet delay variation (jitter), and
   high reliability that are required.  Network slices of an IP/MPLS
   network may take advantage of the mechanisms defined in Detnet to
   meet the performance requirement of 5G services.

2.5.  Management Considerations

   As the sliced network evolves it will be necessary to provision, de-
   provision and modify network slices.  Great care needs to exercised
   in this so as to avoid disrupting other slices.  This is a more
   difficult problem than we have historically addressed, except perhaps
   in the case of specialist time transfer services, because changes in
   topology can impact the latency of traffic running in the network.
   The temptation is to avoid this by freezing the paths of existing
   services.  However the danger is that as the network ages, it will
   become stale with resources stranded because the running services are
   unable to be modified for fear of disrupting them, whilst new
   services cannot be provisioned because it is not possible to glean
   the resources they need from the fragments of discontinued services.
   Some form of dynamic garbage collection may therefore be needed that
   operates in such a way as not to introduce a transient into running
   network slices.

3.  IANA Considerations

   This document makes no request of IANA.

   Note to RFC Editor: this section may be removed on publication as an

4.  Security Considerations

   The security of traffic into and over an network slice needs to be
   addressed by the owner of the network slice, and it is expected that
   this would use state of the art methods.  Because of the diversity of
   requirements these are outside the scope of this document.

   The security of the slices themselves is an important consideration
   in the design and operation of the network slicing technology.  It is
   important that an attack on the network slicing system is not used as
   a method of disrupting, a targeted network slice, which may be of
   high value, or of a critical nature, possibly with safety of life

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   The nature of the vulnerability of a network slice may be more subtle
   that we are ordinarily concerned with.  Given the delay sensitive
   nature of the traffic being carried over some network slices a
   relatively minor congestion or modulated congestion may be sufficient
   to cause disruption to the slice.  It is therefore important to
   police the ingress traffic of all services, and to take precautions
   to protect any traffic metering technology deployed.

5.  Acknowledgements


6.  Informative References

              "IETF Detnet Working Group", 2016,

              "FG IMT-2020: Report on Standards Gap Analysis", 2015,

              Filsfils, C., Previdi, S., Decraene, B., Litkowski, S.,
              and R. Shakir, "Segment Routing Architecture", draft-ietf-
              spring-segment-routing-09 (work in progress), July 2016.

              "Description of Network Slicing Concept", 2016,

   [RFC2119]  Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
              Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, March 1997,

   [RFC4364]  Rosen, E. and Y. Rekhter, "BGP/MPLS IP Virtual Private
              Networks (VPNs)", RFC 4364, DOI 10.17487/RFC4364, February
              2006, <>.

   [RFC4761]  Kompella, K., Ed. and Y. Rekhter, Ed., "Virtual Private
              LAN Service (VPLS) Using BGP for Auto-Discovery and
              Signaling", RFC 4761, DOI 10.17487/RFC4761, January 2007,

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   [RFC4915]  Psenak, P., Mirtorabi, S., Roy, A., Nguyen, L., and P.
              Pillay-Esnault, "Multi-Topology (MT) Routing in OSPF",
              RFC 4915, DOI 10.17487/RFC4915, June 2007,

   [RFC5120]  Przygienda, T., Shen, N., and N. Sheth, "M-ISIS: Multi
              Topology (MT) Routing in Intermediate System to
              Intermediate Systems (IS-ISs)", RFC 5120,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC5120, February 2008,

   [RFC7307]  Zhao, Q., Raza, K., Zhou, C., Fang, L., Li, L., and D.
              King, "LDP Extensions for Multi-Topology", RFC 7307,
              DOI 10.17487/RFC7307, July 2014,

   [RFC7432]  Sajassi, A., Ed., Aggarwal, R., Bitar, N., Isaac, A.,
              Uttaro, J., Drake, J., and W. Henderickx, "BGP MPLS-Based
              Ethernet VPN", RFC 7432, DOI 10.17487/RFC7432, February
              2015, <>.

   [RFC7812]  Atlas, A., Bowers, C., and G. Enyedi, "An Architecture for
              IP/LDP Fast Reroute Using Maximally Redundant Trees (MRT-
              FRR)", RFC 7812, DOI 10.17487/RFC7812, June 2016,

              "Study on Architecture for Next Generation System", 2012,

Authors' Addresses

   Jie Dong
   Huawei Technologies


   Stewart Bryant
   Huawei Technologies


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