Middlebox Communications (midcom) Protocol Requirements
RFC 3304

Document Type RFC - Informational (August 2002; Errata)
Authors Richard Swale  , Melinda Shore  , Scott Brim  , Philip Mart  , Paul Sijben 
Last updated 2020-01-21
Stream IETF
Formats plain text html pdf htmlized with errata bibtex
Stream WG state (None)
Document shepherd No shepherd assigned
IESG IESG state RFC 3304 (Informational)
Action Holders
Consensus Boilerplate Unknown
Telechat date
Responsible AD Scott Bradner
IESG note Responsible: RFC Editor
Send notices to (None)
Network Working Group                                        R. P. Swale
Request for Comments: 3304                          BTexact Technologies
Category: Informational                                       P. A. Mart
                                                  Marconi Communications
                                                               P. Sijben
                                                     Lucent Technologies
                                                                 S. Brim
                                                                M. Shore
                                                           Cisco Systems
                                                             August 2002

        Middlebox Communications (midcom) Protocol Requirements

Status of this Memo

   This memo provides information for the Internet community.  It does
   not specify an Internet standard of any kind.  Distribution of this
   memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2002).  All Rights Reserved.


   This document specifies the requirements that the Middlebox
   Communication (midcom) protocol must satisfy in order to meet the
   needs of applications wishing to influence the middlebox function.
   These requirements were developed with a specific focus on network
   address translation and firewall middleboxes.

1.  Introduction

   This document is one of two developed by the Middlebox Communication
   (midcom) working group to address the requirements and framework for
   a protocol between middleboxes and "midcom agents."  This document
   presents midcom requirements; [MCFW] presents the context and
   framework.  [MCFW] also presents terminology and definitions and
   should be read in tandem with this one.

   These requirements were developed by examining the midcom framework
   and extracting requirements, both explicit and implicit, that
   appeared there.

Swale, et al.                Informational                      [Page 1]
RFC 3304                  Midcom Requirements                August 2002

2.  Requirements

   Each requirement is presented as a statement, followed by brief
   explanatory material as appropriate.  Terminology is defined in
   [MCFW].  There may be overlap between requirements.

2.1.  Protocol machinery


   The Midcom protocol must enable a Midcom agent requiring the services
   of a middlebox to establish an authorized association between itself
   and the middlebox.

   This states that the protocol must allow the middlebox to identify an
   agent requesting services and make a determination as to whether or
   not the agent will be permitted to do so.


   The Midcom protocol must allow a Midcom agent to communicate with
   more than one middlebox simultaneously.

   In any but the most simple network, an agent is likely to want to
   influence the behavior of more than one middlebox.  The protocol
   design must not preclude the ability to do this.


   The Midcom protocol must allow a middlebox to communicate with more
   than one Midcom agent simultaneously.

   There may be multiple instances of a single application or multiple
   applications desiring service from a single middlebox, and different
   agents may represent them.  The protocol design must not preclude the
   ability to do so.


   Where a multiplicity of Midcom Agents are interacting with a given
   middlebox, the Midcom protocol must provide mechanisms ensuring that
   the overall behavior is deterministic.

   This states that the protocol must include mechanisms for avoiding
   race conditions or other situations in which the requests of one
   agent may influence the results of the requests of other agents in an
   unpredictable manner.

Swale, et al.                Informational                      [Page 2]
RFC 3304                  Midcom Requirements                August 2002


   The Midcom protocol must enable the middlebox and any associated
   Midcom agents to establish a known and stable state.  This must
   include the case of power failure, or other failure, where the
   protocol must ensure that any resources used by a failed element can
   be released.

   This states that the protocol must provide clear identification for
   requests and results and that protocol operations must be atomic with
   respect to the midcom protocol.


   The middlebox must be able to report its status to a Midcom agent
   with which it is associated.


   The protocol must support unsolicited messages from middlebox to
   agent, for reporting conditions detected asynchronously at the

   It may be the case that exceptional conditions or other events at the
   middlebox (resource shortages, intrusion mitigation) will cause the
   middlebox to close pinholes or release resources without consulting
   the associated Midcom agent.  In that event, the protocol must allow
Show full document text