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Versions: 00 01                                                         
Internet Draft                                    Henk Uijterwaal
Document: draft-ietf-ippm-owmetric-as-01.txt      Merike Kaeo
Expires: June 2003                                November 2002

                   One-Way Metric Applicability Statement

Status of this Memo

This document is an Internet-Draft and is in full conformance with all
provisions of Section 10 of RFC2026. 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-Drafts.

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


Active traffic measurements are starting to become more widely used to
ascertain network performance characteristics.  All active measurement
systems have the capability to measure one-way delay and one-way loss
metrics, as defined in RFC2679 [1] A One- way Delay Metric for IPPM and
RFC 2680 [2] A One-way Packet Loss Metric for IPPM, respectively.  To
ensure that the resulting numbers have some meaning, we attempt to
characterize how the measurements are taken and what would ensure that
the end numbers are indeed meaningful.  This document describes an
applicability statement (formerly known as best current practices) for
measuring the one-way delay and one-way loss metrics in operational


As more people start measuring one-way delay and one-way loss parameters
it results in a large set of numbers.  To ensure that these numbers have
some meaning, we attempt to characterize how the measurements are taken
and what would ensure that the end numbers are indeed meaningful.  Much
of the work relates to RFC2679 [1] A One-way Delay Metric for IPPM and

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RFC2680[2] A One- way Packet Loss Metric for IPPM.  It is assumed that
the reader is familiar with both of these documents, as well as the
related framework document RFC2330[3].

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 [4].

1. Introduction and Terminology

Active traffic measurements are starting to become more widely used to
ascertain network performance characteristics.  All active measurement
systems have the capability to measure one-way delay and one-way loss
metrics, as defined in RFC2679 [1] and RFC 2680 [2], respectively.
However, while these standards define how to measure quantities, there
are a large number of parameters that have to be set by the operator of
a measurement device. To ensure that the resulting numbers have some
meaning, we attempt to characterize how the measurements are taken and
what would ensure that the end numbers are indeed meaningful.  This
document describes best current practices for measuring the one-way
delay and one-way loss metrics in operational networks.

2. Ambiguities in one-way measurement metrics

RFC2679[1] and RFC2680[2] define metrics for one-way delay and one-way
loss, respectively. In practice, a large number of instances of these
metrics are measured and when comparing results from different
measurement entities, the numbers sometimes vary.  This is partly due to
ambiguities in the current documents for variables such as frequency of
measurement samples, packet size, timing issues, test duration and data
volumes.  This draft will give recommendations for these variables for
both inter-provider networks and internal networks.  Inter-provider
networks are those where the measurement end-points cross administrative
domain boundaries, such as from one ISP to another ISP.  Internal
networks are those where the measurement end- points are contained
within one administrative domain. This draft also discusses ambiguity
issues related to reporting the metrics, such as when is a result
different, alarms and sigma, average percentiles.

3. Recommendations for one way delay and loss measurements.

3.1 Measurement samples

The number of measurement samples need to be clearly defined.
Specifically, we need to specify how many packets are needed to say

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something about a connection.   The frequency of packets should be such
that one has a reasonable chance to see effects on the link but low
enough that the regular traffic on the link is not affected by the
measurement.  In addition, it is important to ascertain what a
reasonable number of packets to send, before the probability of a
statistical fluke becomes small, is.

[Question: Can we benefit from packet sampling BOF work here?  Ideally,
math to calculate that if an effect occurs with a rate of N Hz and we
send traffic with M Hz, there is a probability >X that one packet will
see this effect.]

3.2 Packet size

The size of the packets is important as some devices tend to give
preferential treatment to smaller packets, thus causing the delay for
small packets to appear lower than for large packets, as well as
overtaking or reordering.  In all cases, packet sizes should be smaller
than the MTU to avoid effects due to fragmentation and reassembly.

Before running any actual measurements, one should perform tests to see
if delay depends on packet size other than scaling with the packet size.
If this appears to be the case, one should try to estimate packet sizes
for "user" data using passive measurements and adjust the packet size
accordingly, or use a variable packet size according to the distribution
seen in user data. These tests should be repeated when the path between
source and destination changes.

Also note that some line card designs have buffer pools of different
sizes.  This can lead to loss being different for different packet

When packets are sent larger than the minimum size required by the
measurement device, the remainder of the packet should be padded with
random bits in order to avoid compression being applied to any
measurement packets.  The algorithm to generate these random bits as
well as any seed values have to be known, in order to be able to fully
understand any remaining issues with compression.

3.3 Timing issues

The measured metric should report experimental errors on the accuracy of
the clocks. This has been seen to only be an issue during measurement
test start-up.  In the case of using NTP, it starts with an estimate and
as the clock starts to stabilize it corrects the internal clock of the

When the IPDV metric is being measured, one use 4 time-stamps: send and

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arrival time of the first packet and, send and arrival time of the
second packet.   The difference between these time-stamps will be small.
One should take care that sufficient accuracy for the calculation is
available and check that the experimental error on the overall result is
still small compared to the result.

The clock should be checked for correct performance at regular intervals
and measurements should be discarded when there is a problem.

One should check if the overall experimental error is small compared to
the delay before further processing of the data. The errors should be
recorded so they are available when calculating derived metrics such as

3.4 Test duration

The test duration can be infinitely long depending on the metric and
application.  In order to easily see traffic variations, measurements
should run for a long time but have a limited life-time.  The former
requirement makes it easier to use the data for traffic engineering or
load balancing.

The latter requirement allows for a easy failure detection: suppose one
is measuring between A and B. At some point in time, B stops receiving
packets. Until the measurement session times out, there is no way to
tell if this is due to full connectivity loss between A and B, or due to
a failure of the device A.  When the measurement session ends, one can
attempt to restart it.  If one can contact the host at A, one can
conservatively assume that A crashed.

How to report intermediate results while the test is in progress?

3.5. Data volumes

It is important to ensure that any measurement traffic does not
interfere with normal network operations.  Initially, one should check
if outgoing/incoming data volume for a box is small with respect to link
capacity of the first few hops to avoid measurements being affected by
loaded links. Also, one should check that the machine sending/receiving
the data can cope with the expected offered load. Lastly, make sure that
the total test traffic volume sent or received by a machine is small
compared to total link capacity, a number of 3% of the total available
capacity seems reasonable for routine monitoring of the performance of a
link without affecting the performance of that link.

Capacity and reordering measurements that fill a link at (almost) its
maximum line rate should not be used on production networks except
during scheduled maintenance or test periods.

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4. Reporting metrics

4.1. When is a result different?

Given 2 sets of measurements, when is set 1 statistically different from
set 2?

When do you have reasonable probability that things have not changed or
are OK with your network?  This might vary from application to
application of the data.

4.2. Alarms

From the previous paragraph, it follows when 2 results are different.
This can be used to define thresholds for delay alarms.

4.3. Average/Sigma versus 2.5/median/97.5%

Since Average/Sigma for a one-way delay distribution is not well
defined, and percentiles are, we should use the latter.

If it necessary to use Average/Sigma, then it should be specified how
losses are treated in the calculation.

Question: what about the loss metrics: average/sigma or percentiles.

Question: Larry Dunn suggest filtering theory to get a feeling for
          the shape of a curve.  Anybody who wants to elaborate?

5.0 Reporting the IPDV metric.

Using average/sigma for reporting the IPDV metric does not work: first
of all, the average will almost always be close to zero.  Then, the
distribution generally is not Gaussian and the sigma is not well defined
for the distributions that are being seen.

Using percentiles suffers from the same problem: the median will almost
always be 0, and the 2.5 and 97.5% will be the same.

What appears to be working is 2 percentiles, for example 5 and 25%, this
gives a reasonable description of the shape of the distribution.

Question: Stas: do you have some better wording?

6.0 Access to the data

Measurement results comprise of both raw data and derived results.  The
raw data should be kept accessible to allow for historical trend

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A minimum set of informative fields to be stored is:
*    IP address of source
*    IP address of destination
*    Time the packet was sent (or arrived)
*    Delay
*    Experimental error on sending and receiving clock
*    Packet Size
*    ...

7.0. Control/Configuration

Define maximal acceptable time to set up a measurement, latency between
configuration changes and effect on measurement. No idea what the answer
is, this might depend from operator to operator.

8. IANA Considerations

NONE at the moment.

9. Security Considerations

One-way delay packets can be used as a DDOS.  Even if each sending box
carefully checks that the outgoing rate to a destination is small, a
large number of sending boxes can still be used to overflow a link. To
protect against this, send configuration to receiving device before the
measurements start.

Other Sanity checks? what are they?

10. References

[1] RFC2679
[2] RFC2680
[3] RFC2330
[4] RFC2119

11. Acknowledgments

Victor Reijs (HEANET) July 9's comments incorporated.  Stanislav
Shalunov's comments from July 26 added, Aug 8 added.

12. Authors' Addresses

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Henk Uijterwaal
RIPE Network Coordination Centre
Singel 258
1016 AB Amsterdam
The Netherlands

Phone: +31.20.5354414
Fax: +31.20.5354445
Email: henk.uijterwaal@ripe.net

Merike Kaeo
Merike, Inc.
123 Ross Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Phone: +1 831 818 4864
Fax:   +1 831 457 2654
Email: kaeo@merike.com

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