Network Working Group                                       P. Bottorff
Internet Draft                                                 D. Fedyk
Intended status: Informational                            HP Enterprise
Expires: January 2017                                      H. Assarpour
                                                           July 21,2016

                           Ethernet MAC Chaining


   This document introduces and describes a simple and highly scalable
   service function chaining mechanism called MAC chaining which is
   built largely on existing Ethernet frame and forwarding capabilities.
   MAC chaining uses IEEE 802 Media Access Control (MAC) addresses to
   provide flexible and complete service function chains.  It is largely
   transparent to layers above Ethernet and designed to augment and
   coexist with existing virtual and physical network forwarding. MAC
   chaining is achievable in some devices and virtual switches today
   using existing protocols.

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), its areas, and its working groups.  Note that
   other groups may also distribute working documents as Internet-

   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."

   The list of current Internet-Drafts can be accessed at

   The list of Internet-Draft Shadow Directories can be accessed at

   This Internet-Draft will expire on January 2017.

Fedyk                  Expires January 22, 2017                [Page 1]

Internet-Draft          Ethernet MAC Chaining                 July 2016

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2016 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
   2. Conventions used in this document..............................4
   3. Terminology....................................................5
   4. MAC Chaining...................................................6
      4.1. MAC Chaining Packet and Address Formats...................7
      4.2. Meta-Data Encoding Consideration for NSH.................10
      4.3. Forwarding...............................................11
         4.3.1. Destination Address MAC Chaining Operation..........13
         4.3.2. Destination and Source Address MAC Chaining.........14
         4.3.3. Forwarding by Service Functions.....................14
         4.3.4. Reverse Path Forwarding by Service Functions........15
         4.3.5. Proxy Forwarders....................................16
         4.3.6. Example MAC Chaining Walk Through using DA/SA Chaining
         4.3.7. Forwarding by Chain Termination Functions...........19
   5. Programming a Service Chain...................................19
   6. Considerations for Operation over NVO3 Tunnel Transports......19
   7. Domain of operation...........................................20
   8. Security Considerations.......................................20
   9. IANA Considerations...........................................20
   10. References...................................................21
      10.1. Normative References....................................21
      10.2. Informative References..................................21
   11. Acknowledgments..............................................21

Fedyk                  Expires January 22, 2017                [Page 2]

Internet-Draft          Ethernet MAC Chaining                 July 2016

1. Introduction

   Service Function Chaining (SFC) enables the creation of composite
   (network) services that consist of a directed graph of Service
   Functions (SF) which must be applied to packets selected as a result
   of classification. SFC is described in detail in the SFC architecture
   document [RFC7665], and is not repeated here.

   This document describes a new highly scalable, low resource, service
   function chain (SFC) mechanism called MAC chaining that is based on
   the current IEEE 802 [802-2001] Ethernet header for physical and
   virtualized environments. Service function chaining is an active area
   in the standards and various proposals for how to do SFCs are being
   put forward. The basic mechanism used for MAC chaining is the use of
   MAC addresses in the Ethernet header as a mechanism both for
   identifying chains and for forwarding packets along a MAC chain. The
   forwarding mechanism used in MAC chaining is independent from virtual
   or overlay networks used to form subnets. MAC chaining addresses are
   terminated at each Service Function Forwarder (SFF) and replaced by a
   new set of MAC chaining addresses used to forward through the next
   Service Function in the chain.

            /            E2E Network                  /
           /                                         /
      O     /|    /     MAC Function Chaining        /
      R    / |   /                                  /
      C   /  |  +----------------------------------+
      H  /   |     +----------------------------------+
      E |    |    /       Virtual Networks           /
      S |    |   /        Overlay/Underlay          /
      T |    |  +----------------------------------+
      R |    |     +---------------+  +---------------+
      A |    |    /   Physical    /  /    Physical   /
      T |    |   /   Networks    /  /    Networks   /
      I |    |  +---------------+  +---------------+
      O |   /
      N |  /
        | /

                     Figure 1 Service Forwarding Plane

Fedyk                  Expires January 22, 2017                [Page 3]

Internet-Draft          Ethernet MAC Chaining                 July 2016

   MAC chaining can be viewed as a network service plane as shown in
   Figure 1. The SFC architecture document [RFC7665] describes chain
   forwarding in terms of 3 main architecture components which are the
   Service Classification Function (SCF), Service Function Forwarder
   (SFF) and the Service Function (SF). When managed with MAC chaining,
   Service Functions (SF) are simple links in the service chain and
   require little context of the overall chain.  MAC chaining Service
   Function Forwarders (SFF) enable the chain and control the path to
   and from the SFs. Logically the SFF forms a switching layer above the
   existing virtual networking layers. In MAC chaining, a Chain
   Termination Function (CTF) is added to the architecture to separate
   the operation of de-encapsulating the packet and sending it toward
   the final destination from the operations of service function
   classification and service function forwarding described in the I-

   MAC Chain forwarding is performed by a MAC Chaining Service Function
   Forwarder (SFF) using DA and SA address swapping. The operation of a
   MAC Chaining SFF has characteristics of a router in that it uses
   information in the packet to determine a new link destination,
   however unlike a router the new link decision is based on the
   previous MAC address rather than the IP address. This arrangement has
   the advantage that the IP addresses retains the end-to-end address
   eliminating the need for NAT addresses on entry and exit of the
   chain. A MAC Chain Service Function Forwarder also has
   characteristics of a Bridge in that it uses a promiscuous receiver
   with exact matching of every frame presented on its links to a MAC DA
   and VLAN entry in the filtering database. This matching prevents
   forwarding frames which don't contain allocated Chain MAC addresses.
   The exact matching performed by a MAC Chaining SFF provides orders of
   magnitude higher table scaling than longest match forwarding
   characteristic of routers.

   MAC chaining can interwork with other chaining mechanisms when used
   in hybrid chains. In Hybrid chains the SFFs or proxies are
   responsible for converting the packet formats for the appropriate

2. Conventions used in this document

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

   In this document, these words will appear with that interpretation
   only when in ALL CAPS. Lower case uses of these words are not to be
   interpreted as carrying RFC-2119 significance.

Fedyk                  Expires January 22, 2017                [Page 4]

Internet-Draft          Ethernet MAC Chaining                 July 2016

3. Terminology

   Chain Termination Function (CTF): See [RFC7665]. The chain
                termination function terminates a Service Function Path
                performing any de-encapsulation and operations required
                to continue forwarding to the final destination. The
                CTF may also be the final destination of the chain.

   CS-MAC:      A MAC address which identifies a MAC Chain Segment

   CS-MAC Authority:  CS-MAC Authority refers to the purely
                administrative mechanism to ensure CS-MACs are unique
                but allows the optional reuse of MACs in different VNs.
                Each VN port has a single CS-MAC Authority. Multiple
                ports may share the same Authority. A MAC Chain may be
                under a single CS-MAC Authority or it may be split
                among multiple CS-MAC Authorities.

   DA:          MAC destination address

   I/G          The Individual/Group (I/G) address bit (LSB of octet

   MAC Address: IEEE 802 Media Access Control Address a 48 bit address.

   MAC Chain Segment (CS): A hop between either Service Forwarding
                Functions, a Service Classification Function and a
                Service Forwarding Function, or a Service Forwarding
                Function and a Chain Termination Function

   MTU:          Maximum Transmission Unit.  Layer 2 has a maximum frame
                size and Layer 3 has a Maximum Packet Unit. This
                documents uses the term Layer 2 MTU to identify that
                MAC chaining does not affect L3 or IP MTU.

   VN Port:     In this document a port is the logical interface
                context for a MAC address in a virtual network (VN). A
                VN port may be implemented on any type of physical port
                or logical supporting Ethernet.

   SA:          MAC source address

   Service Function (SF):  See [RFC7665].

   Service Classification Function (SCF):
                See [RFC7665].

Fedyk                  Expires January 22, 2017                [Page 5]

Internet-Draft          Ethernet MAC Chaining                 July 2016

   Service Function Chain (SFC): See [RFC7665].

   Service Function Forwarder (SFF): See [RFC7665].

   Service Function Path (SFP): See [RFC7665].

   U/L:         The Universally or Locally administered (U/L) address
                bit is the bit of octet 0 adjacent to the I/G bit.

   Virtual Network (VN):    A Virtual network is used to identify a
                network segment controlled by a CS-MAC Authority.

4. MAC Chaining

   MAC chaining uses controlled assignment of Ethernet 48 bit MAC
   addresses to form the chain. Ethernet MAC addresses are selected to
   uniquely identify both the chain and the particular chain segment (or
   hop) within the identified chain. These assigned Ethernet addresses
   are called Chain Segment MAC (CS-MAC) addresses in this document.
   These CS-MACs allow MAC chaining to be implemented on existing
   Ethernet infrastructure making it broadly interoperable with the
   majority of installed base including existing Ethernet, Carrier
   Ethernet and IP equipment.

   Each MAC chain is composed of a series of Chain Segments (CS) which
   are hops between Classifiers, Service Function Forwarders and Chain
   Terminating Functions (see figure 2). Some of the chain segments
   include Service Functions while others perform forwarding between the
   SCF, SFF and CTF. For each chain segment, a Destination MAC address
   (DA), and optionally a Source MAC address (SA) are selected, from a
   locally administered MAC address space, to uniquely identify the
   chain segment within the SFC domain. MAC chaining uses these CS-MACs,
   in the Ethernet header, as an identifier to enable forwarding packets
   in a MAC chain.

   +-----+  +-----+ +------+ +-----+ +-----+ +------+ +-----| +-----+
   |     |  |     |  \ SF2/  |     | |     |  \ SF4/  |     | |     |
   | SCF +--+ SFF1+---+B +---+ SFF1+-+ SFF2+---+D +---+ SFF2+-+ CTF |
   |    X| 1|A   C|2   \/   2|C    | |    E|3   \/   4|E   Y| |F    |
   +-----+  +-----+          +-----+ +-----+          +-----+ +-----+
       \...../   \............/   \.../   \............/   \..../
        CS 1          CS 2         CS 5        CS 3         CS 4
      CS-MAC=A       CS-MAC=C    CS-MAC=G    CS-MAC=E     CS-MAC=F

                  Figure 2 MAC Chain Segments Addressing

Fedyk                  Expires January 22, 2017                [Page 6]

Internet-Draft          Ethernet MAC Chaining                 July 2016

   In Figure 2 five chain segments are illustrated. The first chain
   segment is between the classifier and service function forwarder
   identified as SFF1. This chain segment, designated CS1, has been
   assigned CS-MAC A. (For brevity the 48 bit MAC addresses are
   identified by letters). The next chain segment is from SFF1 VN port 2
   through service function 2 and back to SFF1 VN port 2. This chain
   segment designated CS2 has been assigned CS-MAC C. SF2 on CS2 is a
   single armed SF with MAC address B attached to SFF VN port 2. (See
   section 4.3.3 for a description of the types of armed SF). Chain
   segment CS5 is between SFF1 and SFF2. It has an assigned CS-MAC G.
   Chain segment CS3 from SFF2 VN port 3 to SFF2 VN port 4 is identified
   by CS-MAC E. SF4, lying on CS3, is a dual armed SF with MAC address D
   on the side connecting to SFF2 VN port 3. The final chain segment,
   CS4, of the path is between SFF2 and the CTF and is identified by CS-
   MAC F.

   As described here, MAC chaining operates in the context of Virtual
   Networks (VN). To fully describe each MAC chaining address the tuple
   (CS-MAC Authority, CS-MAC) is used which uniquely identifies each
   chain segment as well as the entire chain. Each chain segment and
   each VN MUST belong to a single CS-MAC Authority which is a
   management construct that assigns unique CS-MACs for that segment and
   VN.  If a chain segment crosses between two independent VNs, then
   both the VNs must have the same CS-MAC Authority.

4.1. MAC Chaining Packet and Address Formats

   The IEEE 802.3 [802-2001] frame header consists of a Destination MAC
   Address (DA) (6 bytes) followed by a Source MAC Address (SA)(6 Bytes)
   followed by a number of possible fields which are identified by an
   Ethertype (2 Bytes) following the SA. A VLAN tag (4 bytes) is a
   common TAG that also carries Priority Code Points and Discard
   Eligible Information for traffic classification.   For the purpose of
   this document the DA and SA are the primary fields used for MAC
   chaining however the frame may optionally have VLAN Tags. The MAC
   chaining frame can also be carried inside other encapsulations (i.e.
   within an overlay) like VxLAN, Geneve, GUE, L2VPN or Provider
   Backbone Bridging (PBB).

   Figure 3 illustrates the formats MAC chaining uses to carry the
   original IPv4 or L2 packets when entering the classifier. Since MAC
   chaining encodes a SFC path solely in the MAC addresses of the
   Ethernet header the SPI and SI fields of the Network Service Header
   (NSH) [I-D.ietf-quinn-sfc-nsh] are not necessary and therefore NSH is
   an optional addition when using a MAC segment chain.

Fedyk                  Expires January 22, 2017                [Page 7]

Internet-Draft          Ethernet MAC Chaining                 July 2016

   Format 1: Original IPv4, MAC Chaining without NSH:
   | Outer Ethernet, ET=0x0800                 | original IP Packet |

   Format 2: Original IPv4, MAC Chaining with NSH
   | Outer Ethernet, ET=0x894F | NSH, NP = 0x1 | original IP Packet |

   Format 3: Original L2, MAC Chaining without NSH
   | Outer Ethernet, ET=0x****                 | original L2 frame  |

   Format 4: Original L2, MAC Chaining with NSH
   | Outer Ethernet, ET=0x894F | NSH, NP = 0x3 | original L2 frame  |
       Figure 3 MAC Chaining Formats for IPv4 and L2 Service Packets

   For original L3 packets MAC Chaining can forward a standard L3 frame
   without any further encapsulation. In addition if the SFs or Proxy
   functions are NSH aware, the format 2 for original L3 packets allows
   adding the NSH header to pass meta-data between SFs.

   Figure 3 provides two alternate encapsulations for original L2
   packets. The simple format 3 encoding without NSH uses an Ethertype
   to designate an L2 frame follows. This encoding provides an L2
   encapsulated in an L2 frame. The format 4 encoding uses the NSH
   header with the Next Protocol set to 0x3 designating an L2 frame
   encapsulation. The NSH encapsulation provides all the functions of
   the simple L2 encapsulation and therefore can be used whenever the
   SFs or Proxy functions are NSH aware.

   In addition to meta-data carried in the NSH it is also possible to
   encode a small amount of meta-data in the Chain Segment MAC
   addresses. The branch taken bit (figure 4) is a small piece of meta-
   data that can be used in the MAC chaining header. For more elaborate
   meta-data, the Network Service Header draft [I-D.ietf-quinn-sfc-nsh]
   header is compatible with MAC chaining. Section 11.3 of [I-D.ietf-
   quinn-sfc-nsh] illustrates that the Ether type following a MAC
   chaining outer header has a registered type of 0x894F (TBC) with an
   NSH that subsequently defines the payload. SFs can use the NSH within
   the chain. Any SCF, SF or CTF can remove or modify the NSH as

Fedyk                  Expires January 22, 2017                [Page 8]

Internet-Draft          Ethernet MAC Chaining                 July 2016

   specified in the NSH draft. When using the IETF NSH draft each SF
   must either be capable of receiving an Ethernet frame with the NSH or
   must be supported by a proxy which removes the NSH before the SF.

   The format of the MAC address used by MAC chaining is the standard
   IEEE MAC address format of 48 bits as illustrated in figure 4.

   Every MAC address is identified as either a global or a local MAC
   address. Global MAC addresses are intended to be worldwide unique
   while local address are intended for the use of local administrations
   domains and are not worldwide unique. Each global address uses a 22
   bit Organizational Unique Identifier (OUI) prefix which is assigned
   by the IEEE Registration Authority Committee to support worldwide
   uniqueness.  Recently, in response the needs of virtualization
   environments, the IEEE Registration Authority Committee has started
   assigning 22 bit Company IDs (CID) to allow independent vendors to
   share the local MAC addresses space within a domain where multiple
   un-coordinated authorities are assigning addresses. MAC chaining MAY
   make use of the new administered local MAC addresses.

       I U
       / /                                                           B
       G L                                                           T
      |X|n|CID1[42:47]|  CID2[32:39]  |  CID3[24:31]  |CS-ID[16:22] |X|
      | CS-ID [8:15]  |  CS-ID [0:7]  |
             Figure 4 MAC Chaining Ethernet MAC address Format


   I/G      IEEE 802 Ethernet Individual/ Group address bit.

   U/L     IEEE 802 Ethernet Universal / Local Bit. Bit MAY be set
           indicating local.

   CID     Company ID - 22 Bits (Not Mandatory example only). Company
           Ids are assigned by IEEE registration to vendors who use
           Local addresses for MAC chaining or other purposes. The CIDs
           are unique and ensure that there are no collisions with
           other protocols that use local addresses. However the local
           addresses can be reused in other networks.

Fedyk                  Expires January 22, 2017                [Page 9]

Internet-Draft          Ethernet MAC Chaining                 July 2016

   BT      Branch Taken Chain indicator. Required. This bit may be set
           or reset in context of a chain.

   CS-ID    Chain Segment ID 23 bits. (Example only).

   CS-MAC addresses, which identify chain segments, SHOULD be allocated
   by the CS-MAC Authority from the local space using a Company ID
   assigned to the CS-MAC Authority. MAC addresses also have an
   Individual (unicast) or Group (Multicast) bit I/G. MAC chaining MAY
   use individual or group addresses for the CS-MACs though restriction
   on the use of group CS-MACs may apply depending on the type of
   forwarding performed by the SFF for the particular segment.

   MAC chaining may also use global or local MAC addresses. The MAC
   address assigned to a Service Function MAY be Global or Local and can
   be assigned by any authority, not necessarily the CS-MAC Authority.

   As with other types of Service chaining, a packet or a frame travels
   through a network until it encounters an initial classifier.
   Forwarding before the classifier is out of the scope of this
   specification. The native packet format (L2 or L3 or tunneled, etc.)
   arriving at the classifier does not matter but the classifier (or set
   of classifiers) need to inspect the packet and determine that the
   packet is part of a service chain.

   In all cases of MAC chaining after a frame (L2, L3, etc.) has been
   classified the MAC chain begins by prepending the packet with an
   Ethernet L2 Frame header. The frame will also have a valid 4 byte CRC

   One advantage of MAC chaining is the MAC frame has an overhead of
   bytes that can leave the L2 MTU unaffected.  As with all Ethernet II
   frames payload must be a minimum of 64 bytes or must be padded to 64

4.2. Meta-Data Encoding Consideration for NSH

   A Network Service Header (NSH) is required on NSH aware chain
   segments where meta-data is being carried. A NSH may be inserted and
   deleted from the chain depending on the requirements of the specific
   SFs by the MAC Chaining SFFs as discussed in 4.1.

   The current NSH draft [I-D.ietf-quinn-sfc-nsh] has a mandatory 32
   byte service path header. MAC Chaining doesn't require the Service
   path and Service index, of the NSH for forwarding, and when used for
   MAC Chaining and utilizing NSH these fields are simply transparent
   metadata. When used in hybrid chains of MAC chaining and other chain

Fedyk                  Expires January 22, 2017               [Page 10]

Internet-Draft          Ethernet MAC Chaining                 July 2016

   types the service path header SHOULD carry Service path and Service
   index values that are relevant to the particular chain segments. MAC
   chaining can also be used with service functions that understand the
   NSH header and in this case a proxy operation MUST ensure the service
   path header has the appropriate values for the service function. A
   proxy operation may be a district function or part of an SFF that
   Maps or sets the service header appropriately for an SF.

   There are several drafts that are proposing context based headers
   [I-D.meng-sfc-nsh-broadband-allocation], [I-D.guichard-sfc-nsh-dc-
   allocation], and [I-D.napper-sfc-nsh-mobility-allocation]. In a
   hybrid SFC chain environment that supports different SFC forwarding
   on different chain segments, SFFs SHOULD map MAC chainIDs to Service
   paths or vice versa where required.

4.3. Forwarding

   Forwarding of a packet proceeds from a classifier (SCF) to the
   Service Function Forwarder (SFF) to the service function (SF) to the
   next SFF to the next SF and so on until the chain is finished. MAC
   chaining makes the distinction that the forwarding operations
   performed by a SFF and a SF are distinct and independent. However
   implementations may place SFF and SF functions as combined or
   separate entities. This makes MAC chaining particularly useful for
   deployment in virtualization environments where a virtual machine may
   implement one or more SFs and SFFs. Forwarding is a table driven
   operation. Note that all active chains are normally preprogrammed.

   Figure 5 illustrates the table driven forwarding operation of a MAC
   chaining SFF. Every frame arriving on the ingress VN port is matched
   to the MAC chaining filtering database. On arrival at the SFF the DA
   always contains a CS-MAC for the chain segment just crossed. The DA
   is looked up in the context of its ingress Port (a VN port). A
   subsequent DA prime (DA' a CS-MAC used as the new frame DA if this
   segment is DA forwarding) and SA' (a CS-MAC used as the new frame SA
   if this segment is DA/SA forwarding) and egress Port prime (1') are
   determined by the lookup.

Fedyk                  Expires January 22, 2017               [Page 11]

Internet-Draft          Ethernet MAC Chaining                 July 2016

   Ingress Port                                    Egress Port
   +------+------+-----------+     +------+------+-----------+
   |CS_DA | SA   |           | ->  | DA'  | SA'  |           |
   +--+---+------+-----------+     +------+------+-----------+
      |                             \............/
      |                                   ^
      |                                   |
      |                MATCH              |  ACTION
      |          .............   .....................
      |         /             \ /                     \
      |        +-------+-------+-----+---------+-------+
       `------>|Port1  |CS_DA1 |DA1' | SA1'    |Port1' |
               |Port2  |CS_DA2 |DA2' | SA2'    |Port2' |
               |Port3  |CS_DA3 |DA3' | SA3'    |Port3' |
               |       |       |     |         |       |
               |       |       |     |         |       |
                     MAC Chaining Filtering Database

              Figure 5 MAC Chain Destination Match Forwarding

   Any frame that arrives at an SFF and doesn't exactly match an entry
   in the MAC chaining filtering database MUST be discarded. The
   filtering database itself is configured by network controller (see
   section 6) which creates the chain by programming the MAC chaining
   filtering database. The MAC chaining filtering database is an exact
   match database which may use existing Bridge match logic. The exact
   match filtering with a hash implementation allows the filtering
   database to easily scale to a large number of chains. Devices in the
   forwarding path that are not MAC service chaining aware are free to
   bridge the frame normally or to route using any underlay Layer 3 or
   2.5 VN encapsulation.

   The Branch Taken (BT) Operation bit (Figure 4) allows an SF to branch
   the chain by changing the BT bit. Not all service chains are branch
   capable. If a simple branch chain is desired it must be programmed in
   the SFF filtering database. A branch operation is indicated by
   setting a reserved bit in the CS-MAC address. This bit is not read as
   a bit but as a paired address to the forward direction. The context
   of the BT bit may be maintained in both the SA and the DA once the
   bit has been set. An SFF receiving a frame with the BT bit set will

Fedyk                  Expires January 22, 2017               [Page 12]

Internet-Draft          Ethernet MAC Chaining                 July 2016

   look up the exact match address and forward the frame in the context
   of the received VN.

   More complicated branching requires SF chain awareness. The next hop
   addresses may be overridden by chain aware SFs to perform more
   advance branching. A SF must be provided with the allocated addresses
   for larger branches.

   MAC Chaining supports two different types of forwarding methods for
   SFs which are called DA forwarding and DA/SA forwarding. These two
   types of forwarding are used for coupling different types of SFs into
   a chain. The DA forwarding method is suited to operating on existing
   SFs (such as Firewalls) which provide transparent or Bridge
   forwarding modes. The DA/SA forwarding method is suited for use with
   Virtualized SFs that are operating in Virtual Machines or Containers.
   The main difference between the two methods is when using DA
   forwarding the SFF encodes the Chain Segment MAC in the DA field. The
   DA therefore contains an address for the next SFF hop rather than an
   explicit address for the SF. In DA/SA forwarding the SFF encodes the
   Chain Segment MAC in the SA rather than the DA. For DA/SA forwarding
   the SFF uses the DA to directly address the SF. This allows any SF to
   receive on a single unique address which may be shared by all chains
   passing through the SF. The choice of DA or DA/SA forwarding is made
   for each SF of the chain depending on the requirements of the
   specific SF.

   A MAC chain aware SF can determine if the packet is using DA or DA/SA
   forwarding by determining if the received DA addresses the SF itself
   and if the SA contains an address allocated by the CS-MAC authority.

4.3.1. Destination Address MAC Chaining Operation

   Destination MAC address chaining uses only the Destination MAC
   address to key on and implement a chain. Destination Address MAC
   chaining is used to operate with a MAC chaining un-aware SF which
   operates in a transparent Bridge mode. A Classifier/Service Function
   Forwarder (SFF), composing a DA MAC chaining hop, encodes the Chain
   Segment MAC in the frame DA and an address for the SFF in the frame
   SA. This encoding will address the next SFF or CTF in the chain. DA
   MAC chaining may only be used with dual-arm or multi-arm SFs since an
   unmodified frame can't be returned to the same network where it was
   received. Any SF along a DA MAC chaining segment must be operating in

Fedyk                  Expires January 22, 2017               [Page 13]

Internet-Draft          Ethernet MAC Chaining                 July 2016

   Transparent or in Bridging mode so it behaves as a "bump in the

   For a Service Function to participates in a DA MAC chaining it must
   operate in promiscuous receiver, like an Ethernet Bridge, rather than
   explicit receiver used by Ethernet stations. In promiscuous receiver
   the SF receives and inspects every frame presented to it independent
   of the addressing on the frame.

   DA MAC chaining is determined by the configuration of the forwarding
   table in the SFF. After the initial classification the packet is
   passed to the first SFF (this may be a virtual operation completely
   within a single chaining switch). The SFF formats the Ethernet frame
   with a DA of the next hop in the Chain. At each hop the MAC address
   is looked up in a table similar to figure 5.

4.3.2. Destination and Source Address MAC Chaining

   DA and SA MAC chaining is a variation of MAC chaining that allows MAC
   chaining aware SFs to use an explicit receiver mode and to support
   single armed as well as dual and multi-armed SFs. When using DA/SA
   MAC chaining the SF is individually addressed by a MAC DA and
   therefore does not need to operate as a promiscuous receiver. This
   type of SF does not need a MAC lookup table and may be provisioned
   with a single global or local address under any administration
   authority (not necessarily the MAC chaining address authority).
   Service Functions using DA/SA MAC chaining require only a single MAC
   address regardless of the number of chains passing through them.
   DA/SA MAC chaining is particularly advantageous for virtual service
   functions (VNFs) since it reduces the need to flood frames into the
   virtual NIC supporting the SFs virtual machines and server I/O

   DA/SA MAC chaining uses both addresses in the Ethernet L2 Header. The
   DA is used for the next hop device and the SA is used for the
   subsequent next hop device of the chain. A SF receives a frame;
   processes the frame; replaces the DA with the received SA and uses
   resulting DA (received SA) to forward the frame. By specifying 2 hops
   in a chain the SF can be a very generic operation. The original SA of
   the received frame does not have to be the address at the SFF that
   created the header, allowing forwarding flexibility.

4.3.3. Forwarding by Service Functions

   MAC chaining Service Functions (SFs) must be able to pass Ethernet
   DA/SA addresses through the SF unless the SF is supported by a Proxy

Fedyk                  Expires January 22, 2017               [Page 14]

Internet-Draft          Ethernet MAC Chaining                 July 2016

   Forwarder (see Proxy Forwarders section below). SFs are not required
   to pass VLAN Tags. Service Functions supported by MAC chaining can be
   classified by how they attach to the network as single armed, dual
   armed or multi-armed. Single arm SFs receive and send all packets on
   the same VN port. Single armed SFs are typically used when the
   direction of travel is unimportant to the SF. Dual arm SFs have two
   VN ports and pass packets between the two VN ports. Dual arm SFs are
   typically used when the SF needs to know the direction of travel.
   Multi-arm SFs have more than two VN ports. In a multi-arm (two or
   more) the SF selects the egress VN port based on its' re-
   classification of the packet. Each VN port of a multi-arm SF must
   attach to a different VN or the SF must be MAC Chaining aware. These
   SFs allow the SFs to branch the chain based on re-classification or
   to replicate in the chain.

4.3.4. Reverse Path Forwarding by Service Functions

   The BT bit SHOULD be used for the special case where a SF reverses
   the chain direction. An example of this type of SF is one which
   proxies TCP. Another example is a loopback function.

   An SF uses the BT bit for reverse chain forwarding by setting the BT
   bit in the destination MAC for frames directed in the reverse
   direction and leaves the BT bit clear for frames following normal

   To enable reverse path forwarding, for a particular SF by using the
   BT bit, the SFF must be configured with a separate match rules for
   the reverse paths. To support an SF that is reverse path capable the
   SFF can have up to 4 table match entries (see Figure 5), one for the
   right direction (e.g. proceeding from left to right), one for the
   left direction, one for the reverse (BT set to 1) of the right
   direction, and one for the reverse (BT set to 1) of the left
   direction. The right and right reverse, or the left and left reverse
   paths can be independently programmed to allow the reverse paths to
   be symmetric or asymmetric with the right or left paths.

Fedyk                  Expires January 22, 2017               [Page 15]

Internet-Draft          Ethernet MAC Chaining                 July 2016

                            Service Function
        right path        +----------------+
     > --------------------+---+----------+----------------- >
        reverse right path  \  |         /
     < ----------------------+-+        /
                              \        /       left path
     < ------------------------+---+--+--------------------- <
                                \  | /   reverse left path
                                 \ +------------------------ >

        Figure 6: Reversing Paths at a Service Function

   In addition to reversing the Service Function Path some chains will
   need to have re-arranged or re-constructed meta-data for the reverse
   path. In general this may require re-classification of the packet. If
   re-construction of meta-data is required this can be handled using
   exception processing at the SFF initiated on the reverse path match.

4.3.5. Proxy Forwarders

   Proxy forwarding is typically for legacy devices or other devices
   that do not have an ability to support MAC chaining by passing
   through L2 headers.

   Some service functions may reside on devices that do not understand
   MAC chaining. Legacy functions on middle boxes are one example and
   service functions that use the NSH header are another example. In
   these cases a proxy forwarding function is used. Proxies may be
   integrated with the SFF or located in the switches attaching to the
   SF. The proxy removes the MAC chaining header and forwards the packet
   in an appropriate format to the SF. The SF then returns the packet to
   the proxy upon completion of its operation. The Specific formats of
   frames between the proxy and the SF, when using a proxy, is out of
   the scope of this document.

   The most basic proxy is a transparent proxy, which must be located
   between the SF and any underlay entity. A transparent proxy provides
   a provisioned Ethernet destination which is used for forwarding all
   frames egressed by the SF at a specific VN port. The use of a
   transparent proxy constrains the service chain in which it is

Fedyk                  Expires January 22, 2017               [Page 16]

Internet-Draft          Ethernet MAC Chaining                 July 2016

   inserted since no explicit chain state is passed through the SF by
   the proxy, however can be highly useful for supporting existing SFs.
   The combination of a transparent proxy with extended match SFFs can
   allow simple support for existing high layer SF.

   A NSH proxy function converting a packet to a NSH aware SF sets the
   service path header of the NSH header while leaving other meta data
   in the NSH untouched.

   A more specific proxy technique for chain unaware SFs is to store the
   CS-MAC by reading the SA on ingress to the SF and then inserting the
   stored CS-MAC in the DA on egress from the SF.

4.3.6. Example MAC Chaining Walk Through using DA/SA Chaining

   Figure 7 outlines the general path and operations of a MAC chaining.

   The Service Classification Function (SCF) determines if a packet
   matches a predetermined policy for the chain by inspecting the packet
   then selecting the chain by encoding the frame with next destination
   equal to the chain segment 1 MAC Address A and itself as the Source
   Address (SA) designated as H in figure 7.

   SFF1 receives a frame from the SCF with Destination Address (DA)
   equal (exact match) to A and finds the next chain segment by looking
   up A to find the next DA equal to SF2 MAC Address B and sets the SA
   equal to chain segment 2 MAC Address C.

   SF2 is a single armed Service Function which receives and sends all
   data on a single network interface. The single SF2 network interface
   normally connects to a single virtual or physical network. SF2
   receives a frame from SFF1 performs its function and then returns the
   frame to C. This process requires the SF to forward back to the
   frame's SA, by swapping DA and SA, on the same VN port.

Fedyk                  Expires January 22, 2017               [Page 17]

Internet-Draft          Ethernet MAC Chaining                 July 2016

                         One Arm            Two Arm
     +-----+   +-----+  +------+  +-----+  +------+  +-----| +-----+
     |     |   |     |   \ SF2/   |     |   \ SF4/   |     | |     |
     | SCF +---+ SFF1+----+B +----+ SFF1+----+D +----+ SFF2+-+ CTF |
     |    H|   |A   C|     \/     |C    |     \/x    |E   T| |F    |
     +-----+   +-----+            +-----+            +-----+ +-----+
          \...../   \............../   \............../   \..../
           CS 1         CS2                 CS3            CS4

          +----+    +----+   +----+     +----+   +----+   +----+
          |A,H |    |B,C |   |C,B |     |D,E |   |E,x |   |F,T |
          +----+    +----+   +----+     +----+   +----+   +----+
          Frames showing MAC DA, SA

                    Figure 7 MAC Service Chain Example

   SCF:     Service Classification Function
   CTF:     Chain Termination Function
   SF:      Service Function
   SFF:     Service Function Forwarder
   CSx:     Chain Segment x.

   SFF1 receives a frame from SF2 with DA equal to chain segment 2 MAC
   Address C, finds the next chain segment by looking up C to find the
   next destination equal to SF4 MAC Address D and the SA equals chain
   segment 3 MAC Address E.

   SF4 is a dual armed Service Function which receives and sends data on
   two network interfaces. SF4 always forwards frames between its two
   interfaces. The two interfaces of SF4 are normally connected to
   separate virtual or physical networks. SF4 receives the frame from
   SFF1 with DA equals D and SA equals E performs its function then
   forwards to E by swapping DA with SA and sends out the packet to the
   other VN port (A VN port that supports address E as a destination).

   SFF2 receives a frame from SF4 with DA equals chain segment 3 MAC
   Address E, finds the next chain segment by looking up E to find the
   next destination equals chain segment 4 MAC Address F and SA equals
   SFF2 MAC Address T.

   The CTF receives a frame from SFF2 with destination equals F. The CTF
   must perform any required packet header adjustment and egress VN port

Fedyk                  Expires January 22, 2017               [Page 18]

Internet-Draft          Ethernet MAC Chaining                 July 2016

   determination based on the destination equals F and the frame payload
   (i.e. uses the IP address to route the packet).

4.3.7. Forwarding by Chain Termination Functions

   The forwarding to the final destination by the CTF typically does not
   use MAC chaining. The CTF is responsible for receiving frames
   addresses to the termination CS-MAC for each chain, de-encapsulating
   the packets, and forwarding the packets toward their final
   destination. One common method which may be used by the CTF for
   forwarding to the final destination is to route the packets using the
   IP address of the service packet.

   If the service packet (data payload) is an L2 packet then the CTF may
   use either the IP network addresses or the L2 addresses to forward
   the packet. The choice between these two CTF forwarding models will
   depend on the application. Other CTF forwarding models are possible
   using by using the CS-MAC or meta-data for forwarding.

5. Programming a Service Chain

   The capability exists today with open flow enabled switches to
   specify MAC match criteria and actions that match MAC forwarding all
   operations. However not all switches are Openflow enabled.

   A Yang model could be specified to enable the MAC Chaining operations
   using an I2RS agent.

   Chains must be preprogrammed. Care must be taken to ensure that
   service chain loops are not programmed (this can easily be verified
   before a chain is active) however MAC chains that are programmed
   correctly are inherently loop free in the data plane. The policy is
   to drop a frame that is not an exact match on any MAC chaining aware

   MAC chaining may be programmed be allowed to pass through bridges
   that are not MAC chaining aware. It is recommended that this
   operation be explicitly controlled by setting up port based VLANs
   designed for this purpose. Ports can add a VLAN tag as part of their
   forwarding operation. This can be usually be achieved with existing
   Ethernet controls that allow ports to have service tags added.  The
   VLAN tagging is independent of MAC chaining in this regard.

6. Considerations for Operation over NVO3 Tunnel Transports

   MAC Chaining can be used with the L3 encapsulation transport tunnels
   being specified in NVO3 ([I-D.ietf-nvo3-vxlan-gpe], etc.). When using

Fedyk                  Expires January 22, 2017               [Page 19]

Internet-Draft          Ethernet MAC Chaining                 July 2016

   an NVO3 encapsulation it is preferable to use an encapsulation which
   supports encapsulation of an L2 packet such as [I-D.ietf-nvo3-vxlan-
   gpe], since this allows encoding the MAC addresses used for chain
   forwarding at the natural layer boundary used to address Virtual
   Machines or containers.

   It is desirable to encode any meta-data header, such as the NSH
   within an NVO3 transport tunnel following an encapsulated L2 MAC
   header as an Ethernet tag since this will allow a natural protocol
   layering for delivery of the meta-data to an addressed Virtual
   Machine or container. Since Virtual Machines and containers are
   addressed by MAC addresses at the hypervisor vSwitch or system level,
   the meta-data will be carried as part of the frame layer into the
   guest OS or container environments along with the MAC addresses used
   for chaining.

7. Domain of operation

   MAC chaining requires connectivity of L2 virtual networks over the
   service chain path.  (This may include multiple VNs that are
   interconnected.) In many networks this is readily available. Data
   centers for example can use MAC chain within a physical site that has
   L2 connectivity.

   If Virtualization of the L2 domain is enabled MAC chaining could
   operate over L2 networks such as NVO3 or Ethernet EVPN and an
   existing L2 Overlay.

8. Security Considerations

   MAC chaining is an Ethernet based forwarding operation that follows
   standard Ethernet rules.  VN ports should be qualified with VLANs
   that limit the scope of MAC chaining frames.  This prevents MAC
   chaining messages from being flooded to external parts of the network
   or injected into a network from external sources.  Programming the
   VLAN that support MAC chaining is controlled and access to those
   VLANs is allowed only by trusted devices.

   MAC chaining is IP agnostic but like any tunneling protocol it will
   deliver IP frames to other parts of a network.

9. IANA Considerations

   There are no IANA considerations for this document.

Fedyk                  Expires January 22, 2017               [Page 20]

Internet-Draft          Ethernet MAC Chaining                 July 2016

10. References

10.1. Normative References

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

   [802-2001] "Standard for Local and Metropolitan Area Networks:
             Overview and Architecture", IEEE 802, Standard 2014.

10.2. Informative References

   [RFC7665] Halpern, J., Pignataro, C. Editors, "Service Function
             Chaining (SFC) Architecture", RFC 7665, June 2015.

             P.Quinn et al., "Network Service Header", draft-ietf-sfc-
             nsh-05 work in progress), May 26, 2016.

             W. Meng et al., "NSH Context Header - Broadband", draft-
             meng-sfc-nsh-broadband-allocation-01, May 10, 2016

             J. Guichard et al., "Network Service Header (NSH) Context
             Header Allocation (Data Center)", draft-guichard-sfc-nsh-
             dc-allocation-04, February 15, 2016

             J. Napper et al., "NSH Context Header Allocation -
             Broadband", draft-napper-sfc-nsh-broadband-allocation-00,
             March 21, 2016

             P. Quinn et al., "Generic Protocol Extension for VxLAN",
             draft-ietf-nvo3-vxlan-gpe-02, April 21, 2016

11. Acknowledgments

   This document was prepared using

   Copyright (c) 2016 IETF Trust and the persons identified as authors
   of the code. All rights reserved.

   Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without
   modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions
   are met:

Fedyk                  Expires January 22, 2017               [Page 21]

Internet-Draft          Ethernet MAC Chaining                 July 2016

   o  Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright
      notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.

   o  Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright
      notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in
      the documentation and/or other materials provided with the

   o  Neither the name of Internet Society, IETF or IETF Trust, nor the
      names of specific contributors, may be used to endorse or promote
      products derived from this software without specific prior written


Fedyk                  Expires January 22, 2017               [Page 22]

Internet-Draft          Ethernet MAC Chaining                 July 2016

   Authors' Addresses

   Don Fedyk
   Hewlett Packard Enterprise
   153 Taylor Street
   Littleton, MA

   Paul Bottorff
   Hewlett Packard Enterprise
   8000 Foothills Blvd.
   Roseville, CA

   Hamid Assarpour
   Broadcom Corporation
   600 Federal Street
   Andover, MA

Fedyk                  Expires January 22, 2017               [Page 23]