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Versions: 00 02 03                                                      
PPP Working Group                                             J. Carlson
Internet Draft                                       IronBridge Networks
expires in six months                                         April 1998

                   PPP Link Balancing Detection (LBD)

Status of this Memo

   This document is the product of the Point-to-Point Protocol
   Extensions Working Group of the Internet Engineering Task Force
   (IETF).  Comments should be submitted to the ietf-ppp@merit.edu
   mailing list.

   Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

   This document is an Internet-Draft.  Internet-Drafts are working
   documents of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), its areas,
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   The Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP) [1] provides a standard method for
   transporting multi-protocol datagrams over point-to-point links.

   PPP also defines an extensible Link Control Protocol, which allows
   the detection of optional link handling procedures, as well as a
   Multilink procedure (MP) [2] which allows operation over multiple
   physical links.  This document defines an extension to MP called Link
   Balancing Detection (LBD).

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Table of Contents

   1.      Introduction ...........................................    2
   1.1.    Conventions ............................................    3
   2.      MRRU Configuration Option Modification .................    3
   3.      Bundle Establishment ...................................    3
   4.      Bundle Tear-Down .......................................    4
   5.      Message Distribution ...................................    4
   6.      Security Issues ........................................    5
   7.      References .............................................    5
   8.      Authors' Addresses .....................................    5

1.  Introduction

   Standard PPP negotiation allows for two types of links with regard to
   multiple link layer entities.  The standard type of PPP link is nego-
   tiated without the Maximum-Receive-Reconstructed-Unit (MRRU) option
   and appears as a separate network interface to the network layer and
   to routing protocols.  The Multilink PPP (MP) [2] type of link uses
   the MRRU option and allows multiple PPP links to be bundled into one
   network interface.  An MP link appears as a single network interface
   to the network layer and to routing protocols.

   There are many advantages having multiple links between two nodes
   appear at the network layer to be a single link.  While equal-cost
   multi-path balancing is certainly possible with modern interior gate-
   way protocols, less stress is placed on scarce routing system
   resources when link-layer detection is employed, allowing current
   routing protocols to scale farther.  Also, routing system stability
   in the face of link failures is usually higher when individual links
   are not visible to the routing protocols.

   The main disadvantage to the current MP technique is that it does not
   constrain the fragmentation which may be done by the peer.  For sys-
   tems employing general purpose CPUs in the data path and with
   scatter-gather direct memory access (DMA) capability, this is often
   not a problem.  For systems with very high bandwidth capabilities,
   these features are often infeasible, and this problem makes MP unus-

   This draft describes a method similar to (and compatible with) MP for
   detecting multiple links to the same node, but without the fragmenta-
   tion or reordering protection of MP.  Instead, datagrams are distri-
   buted intact among the links in any convenient manner, including
   based on an IP [3] address hash or simple round-robbin service.

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1.1.  Conventions

   The following language conventions are used in the items of specifi-
   cation in this document:

      o  MUST, SHALL, or MANDATORY -- This item is an absolute require-
         ment of the specification.

      o  SHOULD or RECOMMEND -- This item should generally be followed
         for all but exceptional circumstances.

      o  MAY or OPTIONAL -- This item is truly optional and may be fol-
         lowed or ignored according to the needs of the implementor.

2.  MRRU Configuration Option Modification

   The MRRU option from MP is modified to allow a new distinguished
   value.  This value is zero, and indicates that the Configure-Request
   sender wishes to bundle multiple links but refuses to reconstruct
   received fragmented datagrams or to use the header as defined in MP.

   The receiver of Configure-Request with MRRU set to zero MAY
   Configure-Reject it to disable all MP support, including LBD, or MAY
   send Configure-Nak with a hint set non-zero to request standard MP
   support, or MAY send Configure-Ack to indicate its willingness to run

   Both peers MUST agree that MRRU is not in effect, or that it is zero,
   or that it has a non-zero value.  If MRRU has a non-zero value, how-
   ever, it need not be identical in each direction.  If LCP goes to
   Open state with the MRRUs set to an illegal set of values (id est,
   one zero and the other non-zero), then an implementation SHOULD ter-
   minate the link or MAY choose to renegotiate LCP.

3.  Bundle Establishment

   As with MP, bundle establishment is based on a combination of the
   peer's supplied endpoint discriminator (ED) and the peer's identity
   as determined via link authentication.  The algorithm used for LBD is
   identical to the MP algorithm, and is documented here only for con-

   When authentication (if any was negotiated via LCP) is complete, a
   check is made before attempting to negotiate any Network Control Pro-
   tocols (NCPs).  If an MRRU (either zero or non-zero) is agreed to by

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   both peers and if there is an existing LBD bundle where the ED (or
   lack thereof) matches the new link's ED (or lack), and the authenti-
   cated peer name (or lack thereof) match the new link's peer name (or
   lack), then this new link should be made part of the bundle and no
   new NCPs are created.  Otherwise, this is a separate link, and NCPs
   should be started.

   If the local and remote MRRU values do not agree with the bundle,
   then the link SHOULD be terminated.  An implementation MAY choose
   instead to renegotiate LCP to repair the error.  If the MRRU values
   are zero, then the MRU values MUST also be checked in the same

   When LBD is in effect, in contrast with standard MP, the value adver-
   tised to the network layer as the MTU MUST be the peer's requested
   MRU (or any smaller value), rather than the negotiated MRRU.

4.  Bundle Tear-Down

   Tear-down is identical to standard MP and is thus not covered here.

5.  Message Distribution

   To distribute messages among the links, a few simple rules must be

   First, since PPP negotiation does not withstand reordering, all PPP
   negotiation messages MUST be sent over a single link to avoid possi-
   ble reordering.  The first link in a bundle MUST be used to transmit
   PPP messages until this link is terminated.  If the first link is
   terminated, then one remaining link in the bundle MUST be chosen for
   subsequent messages.  Once that link is chosen, an implementation
   MUST continue sending all PPP negotiation messages over that single
   link.  Any remaining link in the bundle MAY be chosen, and it is
   entirely possible that each peer may choose a different link without
   harm to the PPP protocol.

   Second, PPP negotiation messages MUST be handled when received on any
   link.  An implementation MAY choose to terminate the last link over
   which negotiation was received if negotiation is received over a dif-
   ferent link, since this transition implies that the peer has already
   terminated the prior link.

   Third, network datagrams SHOULD be distributed over all links as

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   evenly as possible.  There are no requirements that any particular
   distribution algorithm be used.  Note, however, that some network
   protocols behave poorly when subjected to message reordering, so
   techniques which prevent reordering (such as deterministic hashes of
   network layer addresses) are encouraged.

   Fourth, the common but technically non-standard practice of using LCP
   Terminate-Request to gracefully terminate a link without data loss is
   encouraged in LBD implementations.  To do this, an implementation
   leaves Open state on sending LCP Terminate-Request, but, contrary to
   RFC 1661 [1], continues processing received datagrams until the peer
   replies with LCP Terminate-Ack.

6.  Security Issues

   The authentication and bundling techniques are identical to standard
   MP and the security issues are the same as with RFC 1990.

7.  References

   [1] W. Simpson, "The Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP)", RFC 1661,

   [2] K. Sklower, et al, "The PPP Multilink Protocol (MP)", RFC 1990,

   [3] J. Postel, "Internet Protocol", RFC 791, 09/01/1981

8.  Author's Address

   James Carlson
   IronBridge Networks
   55 Hayden Avenue
   Lexington MA  02173-7999

   Phone:  +1 781 402 8032
   Fax:    +1 781 402 8092
   Email:  carlson@ironbridgenetworks.com

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