An Inventory of Transport-Centric Functions Provided by Middleboxes: An Operator Perspective
RFC 8517

Document Type RFC - Informational (February 2019; No errata)
Last updated 2019-02-05
Replaces draft-dolson-plus-middlebox-benefits
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Independent Submission                                    D. Dolson, Ed.
Request for Comments: 8517
Category: Informational                                      J. Snellman
ISSN: 2070-1721
                                                       M. Boucadair, Ed.
                                                            C. Jacquenet
                                                                  Orange
                                                           February 2019

  An Inventory of Transport-Centric Functions Provided by Middleboxes:
                        An Operator Perspective

Abstract

   This document summarizes an operator's perception of the benefits
   that may be provided by intermediary devices that execute functions
   beyond normal IP forwarding.  Such intermediary devices are often
   called "middleboxes".

   RFC 3234 defines a taxonomy of middleboxes and issues in the
   Internet.  Most of those middleboxes utilize or modify application-
   layer data.  This document primarily focuses on devices that observe
   and act on information carried in the transport layer, and especially
   information carried in TCP packets.

Status of This Memo

   This document is not an Internet Standards Track specification; it is
   published for informational purposes.

   This is a contribution to the RFC Series, independently of any other
   RFC stream.  The RFC Editor has chosen to publish this document at
   its discretion and makes no statement about its value for
   implementation or deployment.  Documents approved for publication by
   the RFC Editor are not candidates for any level of Internet Standard;
   see Section 2 of RFC 7841.

   Information about the current status of this document, any errata,
   and how to provide feedback on it may be obtained at
   https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc8517.

Dolson, et al.                Informational                     [Page 1]
RFC 8517          Transport-Centric Middlebox Functions    February 2019

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2019 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
   Provisions Relating to IETF Documents
   (https://trustee.ietf.org/license-info) in effect on the date of
   publication of this document.  Please review these documents
   carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect
   to this document.

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
     1.1.  Operator Perspective  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
     1.2.  Scope . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
   2.  Measurements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
     2.1.  Packet Loss . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
     2.2.  Round-Trip Times  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
     2.3.  Measuring Packet Reordering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
     2.4.  Throughput and Bottleneck Identification  . . . . . . . .   7
     2.5.  Congestion Responsiveness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
     2.6.  Attack Detection  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
     2.7.  Packet Corruption . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   8
     2.8.  Application-Layer Measurements  . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
   3.  Functions beyond Measurement: A Few Examples  . . . . . . . .   9
     3.1.  NAT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9
     3.2.  Firewall  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
     3.3.  DDoS Scrubbing  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
     3.4.  Implicit Identification . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
     3.5.  Performance-Enhancing Proxies . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
     3.6.  Network Coding  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
     3.7.  Network-Assisted Bandwidth Aggregation  . . . . . . . . .  13
     3.8.  Prioritization and Differentiated Services  . . . . . . .  13
     3.9.  Measurement-Based Shaping . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  14
     3.10. Fairness to End-User Quota  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  14
   4.  IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  14
   5.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  14
     5.1.  Confidentiality and Privacy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  14
     5.2.  Active On-Path Attacks  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
     5.3.  Improved Security . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
   6.  Informative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  16
   Acknowledgements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  21
   Authors' Addresses  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  21

Dolson, et al.                Informational                     [Page 2]
RFC 8517          Transport-Centric Middlebox Functions    February 2019

1.  Introduction

   From [RFC3234], "A middlebox is defined as any intermediary device
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