Lessons Learned from the Robustness Principle

29 July 2019 | Comments Off on Lessons Learned from the Robustness Principle

The Internet, and networking protocols more broadly, were grounded in a few simple principles. For instance, there is the end-to-end principle, which argues the network should be a simple fat pipe that does not modify data in transit. Many of these principles have tradeoffs—if you haven’t found the tradeoffs, you haven’t looked hard enough—and not looking for them can result in massive failures at the network and protocol level.

Another principle networking is grounded in is the Robustness Principle, which states: “Be liberal in what you accept, and conservative in what you send.” In protocol design and implementation, this means you should accept the widest range of inputs possible without negative consequences. A recent draft, however, challenges the robustness principle—draft-iab-protocol-maintenance.

According to the authors, the basic premise of the robustness principle lies in the problem of updating older software for new features or fixes at the scale of an Internet sized network. The general idea is a protocol designer can set aside some “reserved bits,” using them in a later version of the protocol, and not worry about older implementations misinterpreting them—new meanings of old reserved bits will be silently ignored. In a world where even a very old operating system, such as Windows XP, is still widely used, and people complain endlessly about forced updates, it seems like the robustness principle is on solid ground in this regard.

Disaggregation and Business Value

18 July 2019 | Comments Off on Disaggregation and Business Value

I recently spoke at CHINOG on the business value of disaggregation, and participated in a panel on getting involved in the IETF.

BIER Basics

8 April 2019 |

Multicast is, at best, difficult to deploy in large scale networks—PIM sparse and BIDIR are both complex, adding large amounts of state to intermediate devices. In the worst case, there is no apparent way to deploy any existing version of PIM, such as large-scale spine and leaf networks (variations on the venerable Clos fabric). BEIR,…

Recent Changes in LSR

11 December 2018 | Comments Off on Recent Changes in LSR

Research: BGP Routers and Parrots

5 December 2018 | Comments Off on Research: BGP Routers and Parrots

The BGP specification suggests implementations should have three tables: the adj-rib-in, the loc-rib, and the adj-rib-out. The first of these three tables should contain the routes (NLRIs and attributes) transmitted by each of the speaker’s peers. The second table should contain the calculated best paths; these are the routes that will be (or are) installed…

IPv6 Security Considerations

1 October 2018 | Comments Off on IPv6 Security Considerations

When rolling out a new protocol such as IPv6, it is useful to consider the changes to security posture, particularly the network’s attack surface. While protocol security discussions are widely available, there is often not “one place” where you can go to get information about potential attacks, references to research about those attacks, potential counters,…

On the ‘net: A Riff on RIFT

8 August 2018 | Comments Off on On the ‘net: A Riff on RIFT

Today, an update on some compelling projects at IETF 102. Ours guest are Jeff Tantsura and Russ White. We review the following projects to see what’s new and understand what problems they’re solving: RIFT (Routing In Fat Trees), BIER (Bit Indexed Explicit Replication), PPR (Preferred Path Routing), and YANG data modeling. We also look at…

Recent BGP Peering Enhancements

9 July 2018 | Comments Off on Recent BGP Peering Enhancements

BGP is one of the foundational protocols that make the Internet “go;” as such, it is a complex intertwined system of different kinds of functionality bundled into a single set of TLVs, attributes, and other functionality. Because it is so widely used, however, BGP tends to gain new capabilities on a regular basis, making the…

Whatever is vOLT-HA?

23 April 2018 | Comments Off on Whatever is vOLT-HA?

Many network engineers find the entire world of telecom to be confusing—especially as papers are peppered with a lot of acronyms. If any part of the networking world is more obsessed with acronyms than any other, the telecom world, where the traditional phone line, subscriber access, and network engineering collide, reigns as the “king of…

OSPF Topology Transparent Zones

17 April 2018 | Comments Off on OSPF Topology Transparent Zones

Anyone who has worked with OSPF for any length of time has at least heard of areas—but perhaps before diving into Topology Transparent Zones (TTZs), a short review is in order. In this diagram, routers A and B are in area 0, routers C and D are Area Border Routers (ABRs), and routers E, F,…