[Search] [txt|pdfized|bibtex] [Tracker] [WG] [Email] [Diff1] [Diff2] [Nits]
Versions: 00 01                                                         
Network Working Group                                         Alex Zinin
Internet Draft                                             Cisco Systems
Expiration Date: January 2001                                  July 2000
File name: draft-ietf-ospf-refresh-guide-01.txt

            Guidelines for Efficient LSA Refreshment in OSPF

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. Internet Drafts may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by
   other documents at any time. It is not appropriate to use Internet
   Drafts as reference material or to cite them other than as a "working
   draft" or "work in progress".

   The list of current Internet-Drafts can be accessed at

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


   OSPF, an IGP widely deployed in IP networks today, requires each LSA
   to be refreshed by the originating router every 30 minutes.  This
   method increases the protocol's robustness and solves potential
   problems that may be caused by software bugs, as well as some
   properties of the protocol itself. Though OSPF expects each LSA to be
   refreshed independently, ABRs and ASBRs tend to originate Type 3/4/5
   LSAs within a short period of time, thus causing periodical network
   resource exhaustion by LSA refreshments.  This document discusses the
   techniques that can be used to remedy this problem and provide smooth
   protocol operation. It must be noted that discussed methods can be
   applied to other link-state routing protocols, such as IS-IS.

Zinin                                                           [Page 1]

INTERNET DRAFT       Guidelines for LSA Refreshment            July 2000

1 Introduction

   The requirement for each LSA to be refreshed every 30 minutes is
   really important for OSPF [Ref1]. Not only because OSPF allows LSAs
   to live no longer than one hour, but also because LSA refreshment
   provides an automatic method for problem correction.

   Possible problems solved by periodical LSA refreshments include those
   caused by the software bugs and those caused by the features of OSPF
   itself. This document does not describe the first type of problems,
   the reader could easily think them out. Examples include lost LSAs,
   not installed routes, etc. The description of a protocol feature that
   can potentially cause problems follows.

   OSPF uses the Fletcher checksum (see Section 12.1.7 of [Ref1]) to
   insure that the information transferred and stored in LSAs is not
   corrupted. But this is not the only function of the LS checksum.  It
   is also used during the LSDB synchronization and LSA flooding
   processes to understand whether the newly received LSA and an LSA
   with the same Link State ID and Advertising Router already installed
   in the LSDB are the same when other parameters (LS Sequence Number
   and LS Age) do not allow to make the right decision (see Section 13.1
   of [Ref1]).  Equal values of the LS checksum indicate that LSAs
   contain identical information, so the received LSA is not processed
   any further.  In the overwhelming majority of cases this really
   indicates that LSAs are the same and that another copy of already
   installed LSA is received due to the redundancy of the flooding
   protocol.  However, in some situations, for example when the
   originating router was reloaded, it is possible that the new LSA
   (with the same values of the LS ID and Advertising Router fields)
   will contain different information, but will still have the same
   checksum as the old one. This is because of the nature of the
   checksumming process---a small number of bits is used to characterize
   the contents of a big informational block. The probability of having
   the same checksum for two different data blocks depends on the mean
   size of the data blocks, the number of bits used to calculate and
   store the checksum, and (the last, but definitely not least) the
   algorithm used to calculate it. Since the probability of this event
   for OSPF Link State checksum is sufficiently low, the protocol itself
   relies on the periodical LSA refreshments to solve potential LSDB
   inconsistency. So, the periodical LSA refreshments insure that the
   protocol converges within a finite period of time.

   The most straightforward approach to refresh LSAs could be to have a
   single timer firing every 30 minutes and causing reorigination of all
   self-originated LSAs. This method proved itself as a non-scalable
   solution causing periodical CPU and link bandwidth exhaustion in the
   networks. Having a separate timer for each LSA does not mean solving

Zinin                                                           [Page 2]

INTERNET DRAFT       Guidelines for LSA Refreshment            July 2000

   all problems.

   First of all, a router may have a lot of self-originated LSAs in its
   LSDB, so it may very often be not efficient to keep one timer per
   each LSA in terms of memory and CPU resources. Second, ABRs tend to
   originate Type-3 and 4 LSAs within a short period of time. This is
   caused by the fact that in some implementations Dijkstra is not
   scheduled every time a change in the LSDB is observed, but only after
   the LSDB has been quiet for some period of time, preventing excessive
   CPU load. This may very likely lead to the situation when all intra-
   area routes are announced in summary-LSAs at once. Even though these
   originated LSAs have separate timers, these timers fire approximately
   simultaneously.  The same effect can be seen when external routing
   information is injected into an OSPF domain by an ASBR. If the
   external routes are available at the moment the ASBR is instructed to
   advertise them, LSAs will be originated almost at once, causing
   periodical refreshments to be grouped into big chunks and leading to
   periodical congestion. Similar logic can be applied to the NSSA
   ASBRs, NSSA translating ABRs, as well as OSPF routers originating

   The graph show in Figure 1 depicts the number of self-originated LSAs
   as a function of time. This graph is greatly simplified assuming that
   the originating router is an ASBR and injects static routing
   information with stable topology.

Zinin                                                           [Page 3]

INTERNET DRAFT       Guidelines for LSA Refreshment            July 2000

     |                                                    |
     |                                                    |
     |- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ________..._________|
     |  ^                            |
     |  | # of ASE-LSAs              |
     |  |                            |                    |
     |  V                            |
     |- - - - _________...___________|                    |
     |       |
     |       |                       |                    |
     |       |
     |       |                       |                    |
     |    ___|
     |  /                            |                    |
     |__|    |
     +------- ---------...-----------|--------...---------|----> t
        |    |
        |         LSRefreshTime      |    LSRefreshTime   |
        |    |<--------------------->|<------------------>|

        t1   t2                      t3                   t4

               Figure 1. Graph of SelfLSAs(t) --- number of
                           self-originated LSAs

   At moment t1, the router originates its router-LSA. Then, at t2, the
   router is instructed to inject external routing information into the
   OSPF domain. At t3 (t3 - t2 == LSRefreshTime) the router reoriginates
   the AS-external-LSAs and floods them to its neighbors (reorigination
   of the router-LSAs is not illustrated).  It can be seen that the
   router introduces periodical traffic bursts into the network, also
   causing excessive CPU utilization in other OSPF routers.

   The customers of such a network can suffer from this behavior,
   experiencing periodical network congestion and increased response

   The following sections of this document discuss the methods of
   implementing OSPF LSA refreshment feature so that it does not disrupt
   network operation.

Zinin                                                           [Page 4]

INTERNET DRAFT       Guidelines for LSA Refreshment            July 2000

2 Consideration of possible approaches

   2.1 Dispersing LSA origination

   One of the most obvious techniques to avoid LSA refresh grouping
   could be dispersion of LSA originations. If LSAs were originated with
   some interval, their refreshes wouldn't group. Though this method
   seems to be a very easy solution, it has several disadvantages. The
   most important one is that the time of routing information
   propagation is increased, i.e., it may take a lot of time (protocol-
   wise) until the last LSA in the origination queue gets served.
   However, introducing a minor dispersion in the initial origination
   process is encouraged.

   2.2 Increasing LSA refresh period

   Another "easy" way to solve the problem is to increase the refresh
   interval up to some value near the MaxAge value. This would, on the
   one hand, decrease the frequency of the updates and, on the other
   hand, would let the protocol function properly without changes in the
   aging mechanism. This solution is not ideal, because it does not
   eliminate periodical LSA refresh bursts, though making them less
   frequent. This method also increases the time of protocol self-
   correction in case of problems described in Section 1.

   2.3 Avoiding periodical refreshes

   Another proposal is to avoid periodic LSA refreshes at all by making
   all or some subset of LSAs be DoNotAge as in [Ref2]. This approach
   does solve the refresh burst problem (there are no refreshments at
   all), but it also decreases the protocol robustness by removing one
   of the automatic survival features, thus making the protocol less
   bullet-proof and attractive.

   2.4 Further increasing the refresh period using DNA LSAs

   The DNA method mentioned above could be used to increase the LSA
   refresh interval beyond the MaxAge value. This is possible because
   DNA LSAs are not aged by the routers, so the originating router can
   refresh its LSAs at whatever rate it chooses. This seems to be a
   potentially advantageous possibility. However, neither DNA LSAs, nor
   the refresh interval increase per se can be considered as a
   sufficient method to prevent the periodical LSA burst problem. More
   than that, as it was already mentioned, increasing the refresh
   interval may lead to potentially longer nonoperational periods.

   A wide range of methods can be used to implement LSA refreshments
   efficiently.  The following section describes an approach, called

Zinin                                                           [Page 5]

INTERNET DRAFT       Guidelines for LSA Refreshment            July 2000

   "LSA Refreshment Dispersion", implemented in Zebra routing software,
   as an example of such a technique.

3 LSA Refreshment Dispersion

   Optimization of the LSA refreshment process described here is based
   on the observation that if the first refreshment interval is
   randomized rather than set exactly to LSRefreshTime, subsequent LSA
   refreshes will also be dispersed. If LSAs are refreshed using
   individual timers, randomization of the first interval for self-
   originated LSAs prevents LSA refreshment events from grouping and
   causing network congestion.  Individual LSA refreshments are
   distributed within the LSRefreshTime period evenly.

   The described method results in distribution of LSA origination
   events shown in Figure 2.

            |                               __
            |                            __|
            |                         __|   |
            |                      __|
            |                   __|         |
            |                __|
            |             __|               |
            |          __|
            |        _|                     |
            |       |
            |       |                       |
            |       |
            |       |                       |
            |    ___|
            |  /                            |
            |__|    |
            +------- ---------...-----------|-----> t
               |    |
               |          LSRefreshTime     |
               |    |<--------------------->|

               t1   t2                      t3

    Figure 1. Graph of SelfLSAs(t) when Refreshment Dispersion is used

   The effect of the LSA refreshment dispersion is that OSPF does not
   put high load on the networks, but instead uses network resources
   evenly, allowing routers to adapt to its traffic and network

Zinin                                                           [Page 6]

INTERNET DRAFT       Guidelines for LSA Refreshment            July 2000

   administrators to predict necessary resources in more effective

   In order to use this technique, the implementation should schedule
   the LSA refreshment as shown in pseudocode in Figure 3.

           (LSA_AGE (lsa) == 0))

          delay = OSPF_LS_REFRESH_SHIFT +
                  (random () % OSPF_LS_REFRESH_TIME);

       else {

        delay = OSPF_LS_REFRESH_TIME - LSA_AGE(lsa);

        if (delay < 0) delay = 0;

        /* Add jitter to avoid syncing */

        delay = delay + (random () % OSPF_LS_REFRESH_JITTER) +1;


       schedule_lsa_refresh (lsa, delay);

          Figure 3. Pseudocode for refreshment delay calculation

   The constants used in the algorithm are defined as follows:

          is the InitialSequenceNumber constant as defined in [Ref1]

          is the LSRefreshTime constant as defined in [Ref1]

          is the length of the silent period, i.e., the minimum time
          that must elapse after LSA origination before the first LSA

          is the limit for the pseudo-random number added to the LSA
          refresh interval to avoid synchronization, i.e., to introduce
          additional minor dispersion.

Zinin                                                           [Page 7]

INTERNET DRAFT       Guidelines for LSA Refreshment            July 2000

    As it was mentioned before, maintaining a separate timer for each
    LSA can be costly. A simple way of solving this problem is to group
    LSAs that must be refreshed approximately at the same time and
    maintain a single timer for them. This may be implemented by having
    an LSA accumulation group and a periodic timer. The LSA group is
    used to list all LSAs originated (or reoriginated) between two
    consecutive timer expirations (within OSPF_REFRESH_GROUP_TIME
    seconds). The group is flushed either on the timer expiration or
    when the size of the group reaches a predefined limit
    (OSPF_REFRESH_GROUP_LIMIT). When a group is flushed, a refresh event
    is scheduled as shown in the pseudocode in Figure 3. The event
    handling routine is supposed to submit the LSAs in the group for
    reorigination.  Note that this is really necessary to limit the
    maximum number of LSAs in the LSA group and flush the group when
    this limit is reached in order to achieve acceptable results in the
    refresh event dispersion.

    Even when refresh events are dispersed using the method described
    above, there can still happen some situations where a big number of
    LSAs must be refreshed within a short period of time. This may lead
    to high CPU load in the originating router and protocol traffic
    bursts in the network.  It is possible to avoid these problems if
    the OSPF implementation maintains an LSA refresh queue, which is
    served not faster than some predefined number of LSAs per second
    (OSPF_REFRESH_QUEUE_RATE).  Note that the value of the
    OSPF_REFRESH_QUEUE_RATE should not be very low, because this may
    lead to the reorigination queue being never served completely and
    some LSAs remaining unrefreshed for a long period.  This may also
    affect the initial dispersion in the refresh events introduced by
    randomizing the first refresh interval. The recommended value for
    the OSPF_REFRESH_QUEUE_RATE constant is several times the

    The described algorithm provides desired results in situations when
    a router receives self-originated LSAs during adjacency
    establishment after a reload and decides to accept them as correct
    (and consequently does not originate the new instances). In this
    case after the received LSAs are identified as self-originated and
    approved for future use, they are registered in the refreshment
    module as if they were originated.  Such LSAs are also supposed to
    be bundled into refreshment groups, but in addition to the periodic
    timer and maximum group size the implementation should care about
    the ages of the LSAs being grouped. Generally, if the absolute
    difference between the age of an LSA being added to the group and
    the first LSA in the group is larger than a certain acceptable value
    (OSPF_REFRESH_GROUP_AGE_DIF), the group should be unconditionally
    flushed and the new LSA must start the new group.  Note that it is
    perfectly possible for the received self-originated LSAs to be not

Zinin                                                           [Page 8]

INTERNET DRAFT       Guidelines for LSA Refreshment            July 2000

    grouped by their age at all when they are transmitted in the
    database description and link-state update packets. In the worst
    case each refreshment group will contain a single LSA. However, even
    in this worst case, LSAs will be grouped by the age again after the
    first refreshment cycle, so the grouping algorithm presented above
    is self-optimizing.

    Below goes the functional specification of the refreshment

    1.   Each originated (reoriginated) or received self-originated LSA
         is passed for registration to the LSA refreshment module

    2.   The LSA refreshment module bundles the LSAs submitted for
         registration into refresh groups. The LSAs in one group share
         the same timer. A group is flushed (see item 3) whenever one of
         the following three events happens:

          a)   the periodical timer expires (every
               OSPF_REFRESH_GROUP_TIME seconds)

          b)   after an LSA has been added to the group, the size of the
               group reaches OSPF_REFRESH_GROUP_LIMIT

          c)   the age of the LSA to be added to the group differs from
               the age of the first LSA in the group more than

    3.   when a group is flushed, perform the following action:

          a)   calculate the delay for the refreshment event as
               presented in Figure 3

          b)   schedule the refreshment event with the delay calculated
               in the previous step, passing the LSA refresh group as
               the parameter to the event handling routine

          c)   create a new LSA refresh group

    4.   When a refresh event is processed, put the LSAs in the refresh
         group associated with the event to the reorigination queue.

    5    The reorigination queue is served not faster than
         OSPF_REFRESH_QUEUE_RATE LSAs per second

    The following table gives recommended values for the constants used
    in the algorithm description:

Zinin                                                           [Page 9]

INTERNET DRAFT       Guidelines for LSA Refreshment            July 2000

          Constant                       Recommended Value

          OSPF_LS_REFRESH_SHIFT                  60
          OSPF_LS_REFRESH_JITTER                 10
          OSPF_REFRESH_GROUP_TIME                1
          OSPF_REFRESH_GROUP_LIMIT               10
          OSPF_REFRESH_GROUP_AGE_DIF             3
          OSPF_REFRESH_QUEUE_RATE                70

           Table 1. Recommended values for constants used in algorithm

    Note that the constants shown above can be implemented as configur-
    able variables. However, the default values should be taken from the
    above table.

    It is also worth noting that presented algorithm can be used along
    with the extended LSA refresh period described in subsection 2.4 of
    this document. However, this would require all routers in the net-
    work to support DoNotAge LSAs, which may not be the case for some
    already deployed networks.  LSA Refreshment Dispersion per se, in
    contrast, will possibly require software upgrade only on ASBRS and
    other routers originating a lot of LSAs.

    For more information on the described algorithm, please refer to the
    source code of Zebra routing software (governed by GNU GPL), avail-
    able at http://www.zebra.org.

4 Security Considerations

   The algorithm specified in this document does not raise any security
   issues that are not already covered in [Ref1].

5 References

[Ref1] J. Moy. OSPF version 2. Technical Report RFC 2328,
       Internet Engineering Task Force, 1998.

[Ref2] J. Moy. Extending OSPF to Support Demand Circuits,
       Standards Track RFC 1793, Internet Engineering Task Force, 1998.

Zinin                                                          [Page 10]

INTERNET DRAFT       Guidelines for LSA Refreshment            July 2000

6 Author's Address

   Alex D. Zinin
   Cisco Systems
   150 West Tasman Dr.
   San Jose,CA
   E-mail: azinin@cisco.com

Zinin                                                          [Page 11]