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Versions: 00 01 02 03 rfc4116                                           
Site Multihoming in IPv6 (multi6)                               J. Abley
Internet-Draft                         Internet Systems Consortium, Inc.
Expires: April 17, 2005                                         B. Black
                                                         Layer8 Networks
                                                                 V. Gill
                                                            K. Lindqvist
                                                Netnod Internet Exchange
                                                        October 17, 2004

         IPv4 Multihoming Motivation, Practices and Limitations

Status of this Memo

   This document is an Internet-Draft and is subject to all provisions
   of section 3 of RFC 3667.  By submitting this Internet-Draft, each
   author represents that any applicable patent or other IPR claims of
   which he or she is aware have been or will be disclosed, and any of
   which he or she become aware will be disclosed, in accordance with
   RFC 3668.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
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   The list of current Internet-Drafts can be accessed at

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   This Internet-Draft will expire on April 17, 2005.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2004).


   Multihoming is an essential component of service for sites which are
   part of the Internet.  This draft describes some of the motivations,

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   practices and limitations of multihoming as it is achieved in the
   IPv4 world today.  The analysis is done in order to serve as
   underlaying documentation to the discussions in the "Site multihoming
   for IPv6" working group of the IETF, who are working to a longer term
   solution to some of the issues that arise from doing multihoming in
   the ways as are described here.

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1.  Introduction

   Multihoming is an important component of service for many sites which
   are part of the Internet.  Current IPv4 multihoming practices have
   been added on to the CIDR architecture [1], which assumes that
   routing table entries can be aggregated based upon a hierarchy of
   customers and service providers.

   Multihoming is a mechanism by which sites can currently satisfy a
   number of high-level requirements, and is widely used in the IPv4
   network today.  There are some practical limitations, however,
   including concerns of how well (or, if) the current practice will
   scale as the network continues to grow.

   The preferred way to multihome in IPv4 is to announce an independent
   block of address space over two or more ISPs using BGP.  Until the
   mid-1990s this was relatively easy to accomplish, as the maximum
   generally accepted prefix length in the global routing table was a
   /24, and little justification was needed to receive a /24.  However,
   RIR policies today do not generally support the assignment of
   netblocks to small multi-homed end-users (e.g.  those who might only
   be able to justify a /24 assignment), and as a consequence
   provider-independent (PI) space is not available to many sites who
   wish to multi-home.

   An alternative way to multihome in IPv4 is to get address space
   allocated to the site from a upstream service provider.  The site can
   then subscribe to a second Internet connection from a second service
   provider, and ask that the second service provider either announce or
   accept the announcement over BGP of the address block allocated to
   the site from the first service provider.

   This second practice has two advantages and two disadvantages for the
   multihomed site, as well for the Internet at large.  The first
   advantage is that this practice is applicable to sites whose
   addressing requirements are not sufficient to meet the requirements
   for PI assignments by RIRs.  The second advantage is that even if the
   more specific announcement is filtered,  they are still reachable
   over the primary ISP by virtue of the aggregate announced by this
   ISP.  Even when the circuit to the primary ISP is down, this often
   works because the primary ISP will generally accept the announcement
   over the secondary ISP, so traffic flows from the filtering network
   to the primary ISP and then to the secondary ISP in order to arrive
   at the multihomed network.  While this is common, it is also not
   universally true.

   The first disadvantage with this approach is that the multihomed
   network must depend on the primary ISP for the aggregate.  If the

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   primary ISP goes down, this will impact reachability to networks that
   filter.  Most ISPs will cooperate with this "punching holes in an
   aggregate" solution to multihoming, but some are reluctant.  And when
   the multihomed network leaves the primary ISP, they are generally
   expected to return the address space because otherwise this ISP would
   have to route traffic for a non-customer.  The second disadvantage
   with the approach of announcing more specific routes out of a PA
   block, is that if the site were to change service provider away from
   the provider that has allocated the PA block, they will have to
   renumber.  It is worth noting that the site can change all the other
   service providers without having to renumber.

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2.  Terminology

   A "site" is an entity autonomously operating a network using IP, and
   in particular, determining the addressing plan and routing policy for
   that network.  This definition is intended to be equivalent to
   "enterprise" as defined in [2].

   A "transit provider" operates a site that directly provides
   connectivity to the Internet to one or more external sites.  The
   connectivity provided extends beyond the transit provider's own site.
   A transit provider's site is directly connected to the sites for
   which it provides transit.

   A "multihomed" site is one with more than one transit provider.
   "Site-multihoming" is the practice of arranging a site to be

   The term "re-homing" denotes a transition of a site between two
   states of connectedness due to a change in the connectivity between
   the site and its transit providers' sites.

   A "multi-attached" site is one with more than one point of layer-3
   interconnection to a single transit provider.

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3.  Motivations for Multihoming

   There exists a great wealth of reasons why any single person or
   entity would like to multihome their network, in one way or the
   other.  The reasons for doing this, are to achieve one or more of the
   goals as outlined in [5].  A more detailed analysis of the reasoning
   behind multihoming configurations are considered out-of-scope for
   this document.

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4.  Current methods used for IPv4 multihoming

   There are a number of ways that a site which wishes to become
   multihomed can achieve its objectives today using IPv4.  These
   methods can broadly be split into five categories as described below.

4.1  Multihoming with PI addresses and AS

   The site uses provider-independent (PI) addresses assigned by an RIR.
   The routes corresponding to the PI addresses are announced with      an
   origin AS associated with the multi-homed site to two or more transit

4.2  Multihoming with your own AS, but PA addresses

   The site uses provider-aggregatable (PA) addresses assigned by one
   transit provider.  The routes corresponding to those PA addresses are
   announced with an origin AS associated with the multi-homed site to
   two or more transit providers.  One of those transit providers
   originates a covering supernet for the site's routes.

4.3  Multihoming with your own addresses, and private AS

   Another  possible way of multihoming is with addresses owned by the
   site wishing to multihome, but advertising them without having a
   public AS, or with no AS at all.  This is done with the site either
   sourcing the prefixes in a private AS [3], and having their upstreams
   remove those on announcement to the rest of the world, or the
   upstreams simply sourcing the prefixes in their AS and then routing
   to the organization.

4.4  Multiple attachments to the same ISP

   Fourth option is to have multiple connection to the same ISP.  This
   is fairly popular, but will not have an impact on the global routing
   table as both paths are covered by the ISPs aggregate route.  A site
   that have solved their multihoming needs in this way is commonly
   referred to as "multi-attached".

4.5  NAT or RFC2260 based multihoming

   This last method might very well be the most commonly used method in
   terms of volume.  Simply because this is what most residential users
   are normally referred to.  However, this method is also in use by
   very large enterprises, as this is an easy way for large enterprise
   networks to avoid advertising multiple prefixes when they connect at
   multiple locations.

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   This method uses addresses from each of the upstream that an
   organization is connected to.  Either the addresses are allocated to
   nodes inside the network according to the proposal in [4], or the
   site uses NAT to translate into private addresses inside the site.

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5.  Features of IPv4 Multihoming

   The following section analyzes some of the features driving the
   choices for various multihoming approaches in todays IPv4 Internet.
   As the "Site multihoming for IPv6" working group progresses, they
   will have to take similar considerations into account, learning from
   IPv4.  These considerations are listed in [5], and some of the
   operational considerations that needs to be thought of for new
   multihoming mechanisms can be found in [6].  Not all approaches
   described in this document will support all the features listed
   below.  Particularly solutions based on RFC2260/NAT [4] based designs
   will support a significantly smaller subset of these features.

5.1  Simplicity

   The current methods used as multihoming solutions are not all without
   complexity, but in practice it is quite straightforward to deploy and
   maintain by virtue of the fact that they are well-known, tried and

5.2  Transport-Layer Survivability

   The current multihoming solution provides session survivability for
   transport-layer protocols in most cases; i.e.  exchange of data
   between devices on the multi-homed site network and devices elsewhere
   on the Internet may proceed with no greater interruption than that
   associated with the transient packet loss during a re-homing event.
   However, there are cases where the current multihoming solutions does
   not provide transport-layer survivability.  One example is that due
   to the large number of ASes in the current Internet routing table,
   BGP convergence take longer and longer and the transport-layer might
   time-out while waiting for BGP to converge.  There are also BGP
   implementations in wide use that will take a long time for failure
   detection and that might cause TCP timeouts.

   In the case a re-homing event occurs, new transport-layer sessions
   are able to be created.

5.3  Inter-Provider Traffic Engineering

   A multi-homed site may influence routing decisions beyond its
   immediate transit providers by advertising a strategic mixture of
   carefully-aimed long prefixes and covering shorter-prefix routes.
   This precise effects of such egress policy are often difficult to
   predict, but an approximation of the desired objective is often easy
   to accomplish.

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5.4  Load Control

   The current multihoming solution places control of traffic flow in
   the hands of the site responsible for the multi-homed
   interconnections with transit providers.  A single-homed client a
   multi-homed site may vary the demand for traffic that they impose on
   the site, and may influence differential traffic load between transit
   providers; however, the basic mechanisms for congestion  control and
   route propagation are in the hands of the site, not the client.

5.5  Impact on Routers

   The routers at the boundary of a multi-homed site are usually
   required to participate in BGP sessions with the interconnected
   routers of transit providers.  Other routers within the site have no
   special requirements beyond those of single-homed site routers.

5.6  Impact on Hosts

   There are no requirements of hosts beyond those of single-homed sites

5.7  Interactions between Hosts and the Routing System

   There are no requirements for interaction between routers and hosts
   beyond those of single-homed site routers and hosts.

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6.  Limitations of IPv4 Multihoming

6.1  Scalability

   Current IPv4 multihoming practices contribute to the significant
   growth currently observed in the state held in the global
   inter-provider routing system; this is a concern both because of the
   hardware requirements it imposes and also because of the impact on
   the stability of the routing system.

   The only method described in this document that doesn't add to the
   growth of state in the global inter-provider routing system is the
   RFC2260/NAT based method.  The use of this method might explains the
   relatively higher growth in multihomed sites, compared to the growth
   of the state in the global inter-provider routing system.

   These mechanisms also add to the consumption of public AS number
   resources, when small site wishing to multihome obtain an AS number
   specifically for only that purpose.  Using a different mechanism
   would help to conserve the 16-bit AS number space, and avoid the move
   to 32-bit AS numbers.

   This issue is discussed in great detail in [7].

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7.  Security Considerations

   This memo analyzes the IPv4 multihoming practices.  This analysis
   only includes the description of the mechanisms and partially how
   they affect the availability of the site deploying the IPv4
   multihoming mechanism.  Other security properties of the IPv4
   multihoming mechanisms are not analyzed.

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8.  IANA Considerations

   This document requests no action by IANA.

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9.  Acknowledgements

   Thanks goes to Pekka Savola and Iljitsch van Beijnum for providing
   feedback and suggestions on the text as well as text.

10  Informative references

   [1]  Fuller, V., Li, T., Yu, J. and K. Varadhan, "Classless
        Inter-Domain Routing (CIDR): an Address Assignment and
        Aggregation Strategy", RFC 1519, September 1993.

   [2]  Rekhter, Y., Moskowitz, B., Karrenberg, D., de Groot, G. and E.
        Lear, "Address Allocation for Private Internets", RFC 1918,
        February 1996.

   [3]  Hawkinson, J. and T. Bates, "Guidelines for creation, selection,
        and registration of an Autonomous System (AS)", RFC 1930, March

   [4]  Bates, T. and Y. Rekhter, "Scalable Support for Multi-homed
        Multi-provider Connectivity", RFC 2260, January 1998.

   [5]  Black, B., Gill, V. and J. Abley, "Goals for IP Multihoming
        Architectures", RFC 3582, August 2003.

   [6]  Lear, E., "Things MULTI6 Developers should think about",
        Internet-Drafts draft-ietf-multi6-things-to-think-about-00, June

   [7]  Huston, G., "Analyzing the Internet's BGP Routing Table",
        January 2001.

Authors' Addresses

   Joe Abley
   Internet Systems Consortium, Inc.
   950 Charter Street
   Redwood City, CA  94063

   Phone: +1 650 423 1317
   EMail: jabley@isc.org

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   Benjamin Black
   Layer8 Networks

   EMail: ben@layer8.net

   Vijay Gill
   12100 Sunrise Valley Dr
   Reston, VA  20191

   Phone: +1 410 336 4796
   EMail: vgill@vijaygill.com

   Kurt Erik Lindqvist
   Netnod Internet Exchange
   Bellmansgatan 30
   Stockholm  S-118 47

   Phone: +46 8 615 85 70
   EMail: kurtis@kurtis.pp.se

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