Network Management Research Group                           M. Behringer
Internet-Draft                                             Cisco Systems
Intended status: Informational                              B. Carpenter
Expires: August 18, 2014                               Univ. of Auckland
                                                                S. Jiang
                                            Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd
                                                       February 14, 2014

                 Gap Analysis for Autonomic Networking


   This document summarises a problem statement for an IP-based
   autonomic network that is mainly based on distributed network
   devices.  The document reviews the history and current status of
   autonomic aspects of IP networks.  It then reviews the current
   network management style, which is still heavily depending on human
   administrators.  Finally the document describes the general gaps
   between the ideal autonomic network concept and the current network

Status of This Memo

   This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the
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   This Internet-Draft will expire on August 18, 2014.

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   document authors.  All rights reserved.

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   publication of this document.  Please review these documents
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Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   2.  Terminology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
   3.  Current Status of Autonomic Aspects of IP Networks  . . . . .   3
     3.1.  IP Address Management and DNS . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
     3.2.  Routing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
     3.3.  Configuration of Default Router . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
     3.4.  Hostname Lookup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
     3.5.  User Authentication and Accounting  . . . . . . . . . . .   5
     3.6.  Security  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
     3.7.  Miscellaneous . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
   4.  Current Non-Autonomic Behaviors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
     4.1.  Network Establishment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
     4.2.  Network Maintenance & Management  . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
     4.3.  Troubleshooting and Recovery  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
   5.  Approach toward Autonomy  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
     5.1.  More Coordination among Devices or Network Partitions . .   9
     5.2.  Benefit from Knowledge  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   6.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
   7.  IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
   8.  Acknowledgements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
   9.  Informative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
   Authors' Addresses  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12

1.  Introduction

   The general goals and relevant definitions for autonomic networking
   are discussed in [I-D.irtf-nmrg-autonomic-network-definitions].  In
   summary, the fundamental goal of an autonomic network is self-
   management, including self-configuration, self-optimization, self-
   healing and self-protection.  Whereas interior gateway routing
   protocols such as OSPF and IS-IS largely exhibit these properties,
   most other aspects of networking require top-down configuration often
   involving human administrators and a considerable degree of
   centralisation.  In essence Autonomous Networking is putting all
   network configuration onto the same footing as routing, limiting
   manual or database-driven configuration to an essential minimum.  It
   should be noted that this is highly unlikely to eliminate the need
   for human administrators, because many of their essential tasks will
   remain.  The idea is to eliminate tedious and error-prone tasks, for

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   example manual calculations, cross-checking between two different
   configuration files, or tedious data entry.  Higher level operational
   tasks, and trouble-shooting, will remain to be done in any case.

   Note in draft: This is a preliminary version.  It certainly lacks
   information about current status, and it lacks many external
   references.  Especially the final section (Section 5) is very
   preliminary.  Comments and suggestions are very welcome.

2.  Terminology

   The terminology defined in
   [I-D.irtf-nmrg-autonomic-network-definitions] is used in this
   document.  Additional terms include:

   o  Automatic: A process that occurs without human intervention, with
      step-by-step execution of rules.  However it relies on humans
      defining the sequence of rules, so is not Autonomic in the full
      sense.  For example, a start-up script is automatic but not

3.  Current Status of Autonomic Aspects of IP Networks

   This section discusses the history and current status of autonomy in
   various aspects of network configuration, in order to establish a
   baseline for the gap analysis.  In one particular area, routing
   protocols, autonomic information exchange and decision is a well
   established mechanism.  The question is how to extend autonomy to
   cover all kinds of network management objectives.

3.1.  IP Address Management and DNS

   Originally there was no alternative to completely manual and static
   management of IP addresses.  Once a site had received an IPv4 address
   assignment (usually a Class C /24 or Class B /16, and rarely a Class
   A /8) it was a matter of paper-and-pencil design of the subnet plan
   (if relevant) and the addressing plan itself.  Subnet prefixes were
   manually configured into routers, and /32 addresses were assigned
   administratively to individual host computers, and configured
   manually by system administrators.  Records were typically kept in a
   plain text file or a simple spreadsheet.

   Clearly this method was clumsy and error-prone as soon as a site had
   more than a few tens of hosts, but it had to be used until DHCP
   [RFC2131] became a viable solution during the second half of the
   1990s. DHCP made it possible to avoid manual configuration of
   individual hosts (except, in many deployments, for a small number of
   servers configured with static addresses).

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   In terms of management, it is difficult to separate IP address
   management from DNS management.  At roughly the same time as DHCP
   came into widespread use, it became very laborious to manually
   maintain DNS source files in step with IP address assignments.
   Because of reverse DNS lookup, it also became necessary to synthesise
   DNS names even for hosts that only played the role of clients.
   Therefore, it became necessary to synchronise DHCP server tables with
   forward and reverse DNS.  For this reason, Internet Protocol address
   management tools emerged.  These are, however, a centralised and far
   from autonomic type of solution.

   A related issue is prefix delegation, especially in IPv6 when more
   than one prefix may be delegated to the same physical subnet.  DHCPv6
   Prefix Delegation [RFC3633] is a useful solution, but how this topic
   is to be handled in home networks is still an open question.  Still
   further away is automated assignment and delegation of IPv4 subnet

   Another complication is the possibility of Dynamic DNS Update
   [RFC2136].  With appropriate security, this is an autonomic approach,
   where no human intervention is required to create the DNS records for
   a host.  Also, there are coexistence issues with a traditional DNS

3.2.  Routing

   Since a very early stage, it has been a goal that Internet routing
   should be self-healing when there is a failure of some kind in the
   routing system (i.e. a link or a router goes wrong).  Also, the
   problem of finding optimal routes through a network was identified
   many years ago as a problem in mathematical graph theory, for which
   well known algorithms were discovered (the Dijkstra and Bellman-Ford
   algorithms).  Thus routing protocols became largely autonomic in the
   1980s, as soon as the network was big enough for manual configuration
   of routing tables to become difficult.

   IGP routers do need some initial configuration data to start up the
   autonomic routing protocol.  Also, BGP-4 routers need static
   configuration of routing policy data.  So far, this policy
   configuration has not been made autonomic at all.

3.3.  Configuration of Default Router

   Originally this was a manual operation.  Since the deployment of
   DHCP, this has been automatic as far as most IPv4 end systems are
   concerned, but the DHCP server must be appropriately configured.  In
   simple environments such as a home network, the DHCP server resides
   in the same box as the default router, so this configuration is also

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   automatic.  In more complex environments, where an independent DHCP
   server or a local DHCP relay is used, configuration is more complex
   and not automatic.

   In IPv6 networks, the default router is provided by Router
   Advertisement messages [RFC4861] from the router itself, and all IPv6
   hosts make use of it.  The router may also provide more complex Route
   Information Options.  The process is automatic as far as all IPv6 end
   systems are concerned, and DHCPv6 is not involved.  Howwever there
   are still open issues when more than one prefix is in use on a subnet
   and more than one first-hop router may be available as a result.

3.4.  Hostname Lookup

   Originally host names were looked up in a static table, often
   referred to as /etc/hosts from its traditional file path in Unix
   systems.  When the DNS was deployed during the 1980s, all hosts
   needed DNS resolver code, and needed to be configured with the IP
   addresses (not the names) of suitable DNS servers.  Like the default
   router, these were originally manually configured.  Today, they are
   provided automatically via DHCP or DHCPv6 [RFC3315].  For IPv6 end
   systems, there is also a way for them to be provided automatically
   via a Router Advertisement option.  However, the DHCP or DHCPv6
   server, or the IPv6 router, need to be configured with the
   appropriate DNS server addresses.

3.5.  User Authentication and Accounting

   Originally, user authentication and accounting are mainly based on
   the physical connectivities.  Network operators charged based on the
   set up of dedicated physical links with users.  Autonomic user
   authentication are introduced by Point-to-Point Protocol [RFC1661],
   [RFC1994] and RADIUS protocol [RFC2865], [RFC2866] in early 1990s. As
   long as a user complete online authentication through RADIUS
   protocol, the accounting for that user starts on AAA server
   autonomically.  This mechanism enables charging business model based
   on the usage of users, either traffic based or time based.  However,
   the management for user authentication information remains manual by
   network administrators.

3.6.  Security

   Security has many aspects that need configuration and are therefore
   candidates to become autonomic.  On the other hand, it is essential
   that a network's central policy should be applied strictly for all
   security configuration.  As a result security has largely been based
   on centrally imposed configurations.

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   Many aspects of security depend on policy, for example firewall
   policies.  Policies are by definition human made and will therefore
   also persist in an autonomic environment.  However, policies are
   becoming more high-level, abstracting for example addressing, and
   focusing on the user or application.  The methods to manage,
   distribute and apply policy, and to monitor compliance and violations
   could be autonomic.

   Today, many security mechanisms show some autonomic properties.  For
   example user authentication via 802.1x allows automatic mapping of
   users after authentication into logical contexts (typically VLANs).
   While today configuration is still very important, the overall
   mechanism displays signs of self-adaption to changing situations.

   BGP Flowspec [RFC5575] allows a partially autonomic threat defense
   mechanism, where threats are identified, the flow information is
   automatically distributed, and counter-actions can be applied.  Today
   typically a human operator is still in the loop to check correctness,
   but over time such mechanisms can become more autonomic.

   Negotiation capabilities, present in many security protocols, also
   display simple autonomic behaviours.  In this case a security policy
   about algorithm strength can be configured into servers but will
   propagate automatically to clients.  A proposal has been made
   recently for automatic bootstrapping of trust in a network
   [I-D.behringer-default-secure].  Solutions for opportunistic
   encryption have been defined [RFC4322],
   [I-D.farrelll-mpls-opportunistic-encrypt], but these do not adhere to
   a central policy.

3.7.  Miscellaneous

   There are innumerable other properties of network devices and end
   systems that today need to be configured either manually or using a
   management protocol such as SNMP [RFC1157] or NETCONF [RFC6241].  In
   a truly autonomic network, all of these would need to either have
   satisfactory default values or be configured automatically.  Some
   examples are parameters for tunnels of various kinds, flows (in an
   SDN context), quality of service, service function chaining, energy
   management, system identification, NTP configuration etc.  Even one
   undefined parameter would be sufficient to prevent fully autonomic

4.  Current Non-Autonomic Behaviors

   In the current networks, many operations are still heavily depending
   on human intelligence and decision, or on centralised top-down
   network management systems.  These operations are the targets of

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   Autonomic Network technologies.  The ultimate goal of Autonomic
   Network is to replace tedious human operations by autonomic
   functions, so that the networks can independently run without having
   to ask human support for routine details, while it remains possible
   to restore human intervention when unavoidable.  Of course, there
   would still be the absolute minimum of human input required,
   particularly during the network establishment stage, and during
   difficult trouble-shooting.

   This section analyzes the existing human and central dependencies in
   the current networks.

4.1.  Network Establishment

   Network establishment requires network operators to analyze the
   requirements of the new network, design a network archetecture and
   topology, decide device locations and capacities, set up hardware,
   design network services, choose and enable required protocols,
   configure each device and each protocol, set up user authentication
   and accounting policies and databases, design and deploy security
   mechanisms, etc.

   Overall, these jobs are quite complex work that cannot become fully
   autonomic in the forseeable future.  However, part of these jobs may
   be able to become autonomic, such as device and protocol
   configurations and database population.  The initial network
   management policies/behaviors may also be transplanted from other
   networks and automatically localized.

4.2.  Network Maintenance & Management

   The network maintenance and management are very different for ISP
   networks and enterprise networks.  ISP networks have to change much
   more frequently than enterprise networks, given the fact that ISP
   networks have to serve a large number of customers who have very
   diversified requirements.  The current rigid model is that network
   administrators design a limited number of services for customers to
   order.  New requirements of network services may not be able to be
   met quickly by human management.  Given a real-time request, the
   response must be autonomic, in order to be flexible and quickly
   deployed.  However, behind the interface, describing abstracted
   network information and user authorization management may have to
   depend on human intelligence from network administrators in the
   forseeable future.  User identification integration/consolidation
   among networks or network services are another challenge for
   autonomic network access.  Currently, the end users have to manually
   manage their user accounts and authentication information when they
   switch among networks or network services.

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   Classical network maintenance and management mainly manages the
   configuration of network devices.  Tools have developed to enable
   remote management and make the management easier.  However, the
   decision of each configuration depends either on human intelligence
   or rigid templates.  This is the source of most network configuration
   errors.  It is also the barrier to increase the utility of network
   resources because the human management cannot respond quickly enough
   to network events, such as traffic bursts, etc.  For example,
   currently, a light load is normally assumed in network design because
   there is no mechanism to properly handle a sudden traffic flood.  It
   is actually normal to avoid network crashes caused by traffic
   overload by wasting a huge amount of resources.

   Autonomic decision processes of configuration would enable dynamic
   management of network resources (by managing resource relevant
   configuration).  Self-adapting network configuration would adjust the
   network into the best possible situation, which also prevents
   configuration errors from having lasting impact.

4.3.  Troubleshooting and Recovery

   The current networks are suffering difficulties in locating the cause
   of network failures.  Although the network devices may issue many
   warnings during running, most of them are not sufficiently precise to
   be identified as errors.  Some of them are early warnings that would
   not develop into real errors.  Others are in effect random noise.
   For many scenarios, human experience is vital to identify real issues
   and locate them.  This situation may be improved by associating
   warnings from multiple network devices together.  Also, introducing
   automated learning techniques (comparing current warnings with
   historical relationships between warnings and actual faults) could
   increase the possibility and success rate of autonomic network
   diagnoses and troubleshooting.

   Depending on the network errors, some of them may require human
   interventions, particularly for hardware failures.  Meanwhile, some
   network management behavior may help to reduce the impact from
   errors, such as switching traffic flows around.  Today this is
   usually manual.  Software failures and configuration errors
   (including to roll back software versions and to reboot hardware)
   currently depend on humans.  Such problems could be autonomically
   corrected if there were diagnostics and recovery functions defined in
   advance for them.  This would fulfill the concept of self-healing.

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5.  Approach toward Autonomy

   The task of autonomic networking is to build up individual autonomic
   decision processes that could properly combine to respond to every
   type of network event.  This section (when complete) will outline
   what needs to be developed.

5.1.  More Coordination among Devices or Network Partitions

   Events in networks are normally not independent.  They are associated
   with each other.  But most of current response functions are based on
   independent processes.  The network events that may naturally happen
   distributed should be associated in the autonomic processes.

   In order to make right or good decisions autonomically, the network
   devices need to know more information than just reachability
   (routing) information from the relevant or neighbor devices.  There
   are dependencies between such information and configurations.
   Currently, most of these configurations currently require manual
   coordination by network administrators.

   There are therefore increased requirements for horizontal information
   exchanging in the networks.  Particularly, negotiation among network
   devices are needed for autonomic decision.
   [I-D.jiang-config-negotiation-ps] analyzes such requirements.
   Although there are many existing protocols with negotiation ability,
   each of them are only serve a specifc and narrow purpose.
   [I-D.jiang-config-negotiation-protocol] is one of the attempts to
   create a generic negotiation platform, which would support different
   negotiation objectives.

5.2.  Benefit from Knowledge

   The more knowledge we have, the more intelligent we are.  It is the
   same for networks and network management.  It is when one component
   in the network lacks knowledge that affects what it should do, and
   another component has that knowledge, that we usually rely on a human
   operator or a centralised management tool to convey the knowledge.

   Up to now, most available network knowledge is only the current
   network status, either inside a device or relevant data from other

   However, historic knowledge is very helpful to make correct
   decisions, in particular to reducing network oscillation or to manage
   network resources over time.  Transplantable knowledge from other
   networks can be helpful to initially set up a new network or new
   network devices.  Knowledge of relationship between network events

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   and network configuration may help network to decide the best
   parameters according to real performance feedback.

6.  Security Considerations

   This document is focussed on what is missing to allow autonomic
   network configuration, including of course security settings.
   Therefore, it does not itself create any new security issues.  It is
   worth underlining that autonomic technology must be designed with
   strong security properties from the start, since a network with
   vulnerable autonomic functions would be at great risk.

7.  IANA Considerations

   This memo includes no request to IANA.

8.  Acknowledgements

   This document was produced using the xml2rfc tool [RFC2629].

9.  Informative References

              Behringer, M., Pritikin, M., and S. Bjarnason, "Making The
              Internet Secure By Default", draft-behringer-default-
              secure-00 (work in progress), January 2014.

              Farrel, A. and S. Farrell, "Opportunistic Encryption in
              MPLS Networks", draft-farrelll-mpls-opportunistic-
              encrypt-02 (work in progress), February 2014.

              Behringer, M., Pritikin, M., Bjarnason, S., Clemm, A.,
              Carpenter, B., Jiang, S., and L. Ciavaglia, "Autonomic
              Networking - Definitions and Design Goals", draft-irtf-
              nmrg-autonomic-network-definitions-00 (work in progress),
              December 2013.

              Jiang, S., Carpenter, B., Liu, B., and Y. Yin,
              "Configuration Negotiation Protocol for Network Devices",
              draft-jiang-config-negotiation-protocol-00 (work in
              progress), October 2013.

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              Jiang, S., Yin, Y., and B. Carpenter, "Network
              Configuration Negotiation Problem Statement and
              Requirements", draft-jiang-config-negotiation-ps-02 (work
              in progress), January 2014.

   [RFC1157]  Case, J., Fedor, M., Schoffstall, M., and J. Davin,
              "Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP)", STD 15, RFC
              1157, May 1990.

   [RFC1661]  Simpson, W., "The Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP)", STD 51,
              RFC 1661, July 1994.

   [RFC1994]  Simpson, W., "PPP Challenge Handshake Authentication
              Protocol (CHAP)", RFC 1994, August 1996.

   [RFC2131]  Droms, R., "Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol", RFC
              2131, March 1997.

   [RFC2136]  Vixie, P., Thomson, S., Rekhter, Y., and J. Bound,
              "Dynamic Updates in the Domain Name System (DNS UPDATE)",
              RFC 2136, April 1997.

   [RFC2629]  Rose, M., "Writing I-Ds and RFCs using XML", RFC 2629,
              June 1999.

   [RFC2865]  Rigney, C., Willens, S., Rubens, A., and W. Simpson,
              "Remote Authentication Dial In User Service (RADIUS)", RFC
              2865, June 2000.

   [RFC2866]  Rigney, C., "RADIUS Accounting", RFC 2866, June 2000.

   [RFC3315]  Droms, R., Bound, J., Volz, B., Lemon, T., Perkins, C.,
              and M. Carney, "Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol for
              IPv6 (DHCPv6)", RFC 3315, July 2003.

   [RFC3633]  Troan, O. and R. Droms, "IPv6 Prefix Options for Dynamic
              Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) version 6", RFC 3633,
              December 2003.

   [RFC4322]  Richardson, M. and D. Redelmeier, "Opportunistic
              Encryption using the Internet Key Exchange (IKE)", RFC
              4322, December 2005.

   [RFC4861]  Narten, T., Nordmark, E., Simpson, W., and H. Soliman,
              "Neighbor Discovery for IP version 6 (IPv6)", RFC 4861,
              September 2007.

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   [RFC5575]  Marques, P., Sheth, N., Raszuk, R., Greene, B., Mauch, J.,
              and D. McPherson, "Dissemination of Flow Specification
              Rules", RFC 5575, August 2009.

   [RFC6241]  Enns, R., Bjorklund, M., Schoenwaelder, J., and A.
              Bierman, "Network Configuration Protocol (NETCONF)", RFC
              6241, June 2011.

Authors' Addresses

   Michael H. Behringer
   Cisco Systems


   Brian Carpenter
   Department of Computer Science
   University of Auckland
   PB 92019
   Auckland  1142
   New Zealand


   Sheng Jiang
   Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd
   Q14, Huawei Campus, No.156 Beiqing Road
   Hai-Dian District, Beijing, 100095
   P.R. China


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