Network Working Group J. Alvarez-Hamelin
Internet-Draft Universidad de Buenos Aires
Updates: 2330 (if approved) A. Morton
Intended status: Standards Track AT&T Labs
Expires: December 30, 2017 J. Fabini
TU Wien
June 28, 2017

Advanced Unidirectional Route Assessment


This memo introduces an advanced unidirectional route assessment metric and associated measurement methodology, based on the IP Performance Metrics (IPPM) Framework RFC 2330. This memo updates RFC 2330 in the areas of path-related terminology and path description, primarily to include the possibility of parallel subpaths.

Requirements Language

The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119.

Status of This Memo

This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). Note that other groups may also distribute working documents as Internet-Drafts. The list of current Internet-Drafts is at

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This Internet-Draft will expire on December 30, 2017.

Copyright Notice

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction

The IETF IP Performance Metrics (IPPM) working group first created a framework for metric development in [RFC2330]. This framework has stood the test of time and enabled development of many fundamental metrics. It has been updated in the area of metric composition [RFC5835], and in several areas related to active stream measurement of modern networks with reactive properties [RFC7312].

The [RFC2330] framework motivated the development of "performance and reliability metrics for paths through the Internet," and Section 5 of [RFC2330] defines terms that support description of a path under test. However, metrics for assessment of path components and related performance aspects had not been attempted in IPPM when this memo was written.

This memo takes-up the route measurement challenge and specifies a new route metric, two practical frameworks for methods of measurement (using either active or hybrid active-passive methods [RFC7799]), and round-trip delay and link information discovery using the results of measurements.

2. Scope

The purpose of this memo is to add new route metrics and methods of measurement to the existing set of IPPM metrics.

The scope is to define route metrics that can identify the path taken by a packet traversing the Internet between any two hosts. Also, to specify a framework for active methods of measurement which use the techniques described in [PT] at a minimum, and a framework for hybrid active-passive methods of measurement, such as the Hybrid Type I method [RFC7799] described in [I-D.brockners-inband-oam-data] (currently intended only for single administrative domains). Combinations of active methods and hybrid active-passive methods are also in-scope.

Further, this memo provides additional analysis of the round-trip delay measurements made possible by the methods, in an effort to discover more details about the path, such as the link technology in use.

This memo updates Section 5 of [RFC2330] in the areas of path-related terminology and path description, primarily to include the possibility of parallel subpaths.

There are several simple non-goals of this memo. There is no attempt to assess the reverse path from any host on the path to the host attempting the path measurement. The reverse path contribution to delay will be that experienced by ICMP packets (in active methods), and may be different from UDP or TCP packets. Also, the round trip delay will include an unknown contribution of processing time at the host that generates the ICMP response. Therefore, the active methods are not supposed to yield accurate, reproducible estimations of the round-trip delay that UDP or TCP packets will experience.

3. Route Metric Definitions

Section 7 of [RFC2330] presented a simple example of a "route" metric along with several other examples. The example is reproduced below (where the reference is to Section 5 of [RFC2330]):

"route The path, as defined in Section 5, from A to B at a given time."

This example provides a starting point to develop a more complete definition of route. Areas needing clarification include:

In practice, this will be a time interval, because active path detection methods like [PT] rely on TTL limits for their operation and cannot accomplish discovery of all hosts using a single packet.
Parallel Paths:
This a reality of Internet paths and a strength of advanced route assessment methods, so the metric must acknowledge this possibility.
Cloud Subpath:
May contain hosts that do not decrement TTL or Hop Count, but have two or more exchange links connecting "discoverable" hosts or routers. Parallel subpaths contained within clouds cannot be discovered. The assessment methods only discover hosts or routers on the path that decrement TTL or Hop Count.

The refined definition of Route metrics begins with the sections that follow.

3.1. Formal Name

Type-P-Route-Ensemble-Method-Variant, abbreviated as Route Ensemble.

Note that Type-P varies and depends heavily on the chosen method and variant.

3.2. Parameters

3.3. Metric Definitions

Define the following measured components of the Route metrics:

M, the total number of packets sent between T0 and Tf.

N, the smallest value of i needed for a packet to be received at Dst (sent between T0 and Tf).

Nmax, the largest value of i needed for a packet to be received at Dst (sent between T0 and Tf). Nmax may be equal to N.

Next, define a *singleton* definition for a discoverable host, with sufficient indexes to identify all hosts discovered in a measurement interval.

h(i,j), the IP address and/or identity of one of j discoverable hosts that are i hops away from the host with IP address = Src during the measurement interval, T0 to Tf.

Now that host identities can be positioned according to their distance from the host with address Src in hops, we introduce two forms of Routes:

A Route Ensemble is the combination of all routes traversed by different flows from the host at Src address to the host at Dst address. The route traversed by each flow (with Src and Dst addresses) is a member of the ensemble and called a Member Route.

Using h(i,j) and components and parameters, further define:

A Member Route is an ordered graph {h(1,j), ... h(Nj, j)} in the context of a single flow, where h(i-1, j) and h(i, j) are by 1 hop away from each other and Nj=Dst is the minimum TTL value needed by the packet on Member Route j to reach Dst. Member Routes must be unique. This uniqueness requires that any two Member routes j and k that are part of the same Route Ensemble differ either in terms of minimum hop count Nj and Nk to reach the destination Dst, or, in the case of identical hop count Nj=Nk, they have at least one distinct hop: h(i,j) != h(i, k) for at least one i (i=1..Nj).

The Route Ensemble from Src to Dst, during the measurement interval T0 to Tf, is the aggregate of all m distinct Member Routes discovered between the two hosts with Src and Dst addresses. More formally, with the host having address Src omitted:

Route Ensemble = {
{h(1,1), h(2,1), h(3,1), ... h(N1,1)=Dst},
{h(1,2), h(2,2), h(3,2),..., h(N2,2)=Dst},
{h(1,m), h(2,m), h(3,m), ....h(Nm,m)=Dst}

Note that some h(i,j) may be empty (null) in the case that systems do not reply (not discoverable).

h(i-1,j) and h(i,j) are the hosts on the same Member Route one hop away from each other.

h(i,j) may be identical with h(k,l) for i!=k and j!=l ; which means there may be portions shared among different Member Routes (parts of various routes may overlap).

3.4. Related Round-Trip Delay and Loss Definitions

RTD(i,j,T) is defined as a singleton of the [RFC2681] Round-trip Delay between the host with IP address = Src and h(i,j) at time T.

RTL(i,j,T) is defined as a singleton of the [RFC6673] Round-trip Loss between the host with IP address = Src and h(i,j) at time T.

3.5. Discussion

to be provided

3.6. Reporting the Metric

to be provided

4. Route Assessment Methodologies

4.1. Active Methodologies

We have chosen to describe the method based on that employed in current open source tools, thereby providing a practical framework for further advanced techniques to be included as method variants.

Paris-traceroute [PT] provides some measure of protection from path variation generated by ECMP load balancing, and it ensures traceroute packets will follow the same path in 98% of cases according to [SCAMPER]. If it is necessary to find every path possible between two hosts, Paris-traceroute provides “exhaustive” mode while scamper provides “tracelb” (stands for traceroute load balance).

The Type-P of packets used could be ICMP (as ones in the original traceroute), UDP and TCP. The later are used when a particular characteristic is needed to verify, such as filtering or traffic shaping on specific ports (i.e., services).

The advanced route assessment method used by Paris-traceroute keeps these fields constant for every packet that it sends to maintain the appearance of the same flow in routers. Since route assessment can be conducted using TCP, UDP or ICMP packets, this method keeps the ToS, the protocol, IP source and destination addresses, and the port settings for TCP or UDP intact. For ICMP probes, the method requires to keep the type, code, and ICMP checksum constant; which take the same position in the header of an IP packet, e.g., bytes 20 to 23 when the header IP has no options.

The checksum is most challenging because the ICMP sequence number is part of the checksum calculation. The advanced traceroute method requires calculation of the IP identification field, yielding in a constant ICMP checksum.

For TCP and UDP packets, the checksum must also be kept constant. Therefore, the first four bytes of UDP data field are modified to compensate for fields that change from packet to packet. This variant of the advanced traceroute method is called Paris traceroute [PT]. Note: other variants of advanced traceroute are planned be described.

Finally, the return path is also important to check. Taking into account that it is an ICMP time exceeded (during transit) packet, the source and destination IP are constant for every reply. Then, we should consider the fields in the first 32 bits of the protocol on the top of IP: the type and code of ICMP packet, and its checksum. Again, to maintain the ICMP checksum constant for the returning packets, we need to consider the whole ICMP message. It contains the IP header of the discarded packet plus the first 8 bytes of the IP payload; that is some of the fields of TCP header, the UDP header plus four data bytes, the ICMP header plus four bytes. Therefore, for UDP case the data field is used to maintain the ICMP checksum constant in the returning packet. For the ICMP case, the identifier and sequence fields of the sent ICMP probe are manipulated to be constant. The TCP case presents no problem because its first eight bytes will be the same for every packet probe.

Formally, to maintain the same flow in the measurements to a certain hop, the Type-P-Route-Ensemble-Method-Variant packets should be[PT]:

Then, the way to identify different hops and attempts of the same flow is:

4.2. Hybrid Methodologies

The Hybrid Type I methods provide an alternative method for Route Member assessment. As mentioned in the Scope section, [I-D.brockners-inband-oam-data] provides a possible set of data fields that would support route identification.

In general, nodes in the measured domain would be equipped with specific abilities:

  1. The ingress node adds one or more fields to the measurement packets, and identifies to other nodes in the domain that a route assessment will be conducted using one or more specific packets. The packets typically originate from a host outside the domain, and constitute normal traffic on the domain.
  2. Each node visited by the specific packet within in the domain identifies itself in a data field of the packet (the field has been added for this purpose).
  3. When a measurement packet reaches the edge node of the domain, the edge node adds its identity to the list, removes all the identities from the packet, forwards the packet onward, and communicates the ordered list of node identities to the intended receiver.

5. Background on Round-Trip Delay Measurement Goals

The aim of this method is to use packet probes to unveil the paths between any two end-hosts of the network. Moreover, information derived from RTD measurements might be meaningful to identify:

  1. Intercontinental submarine links
  2. Satellite communications
  3. Congestion
  4. Interdomain paths

This categorization is widely accepted in the literature and among operators alike, and it can be trusted with empirical data and several sources as ground of truth (e.g., [RTTSub] [bdrmap][IDCong]).

The first two categories correspond to the physical distance dependency on Round Trip Delay (RTD) while the last one binds RTD with queueing delay on routers. Due to the significant contribution of propagation delay in long distance hops, RTD will be at least 100ms on transatlantic hops, depending on the geolocation of the vantage points. Moreover, RTD is typically greater than 480ms when two hops are connected using geostationary satellite technology (i.e., their orbit is at 36000km). Detecting congestion with latency implies deeper mathematical understanding since network traffic load is not stationary. Nonetheless, as the first approach, a link seems to be congested if after sending several traceroute probes, it is possible to detect congestion observing different statistics parameters (e.g., see [IDCong]).

6. Tools to Measure Delays in the Internet

Internet routing is complex because it depends on the policies of thousands Autonomous Systems (AS). While most of the routers perform load balancing on flows using Equal Cost Multiple Path (ECMP), a few still divide the workload through packet-based techniques. The former scenario is defined according to [RFC2991] while the latter generates a round-robin scheme to deliver every new outgoing packet. ECMP keeps flow state in the router to ensure every packet of a flow is delivered by the same path, and this avoids increasing the packet delay variation and possibly producing overwhelming packet reordering in TCP flows.

Taking into account that Internet protocol was designed under the “end-to-end” principle, the IP payload and its header do not provide any information about the routes or path necessary to reach some destination. For this reason, the well-known tool traceroute was developed to gather the IP addresses of each hop along a path using the ICMP protocol [RFC0792]. Besides, traceroute adds the measured RTD from each hop. However, the growing complexity of the Internet makes it more challenging to develop accurate traceroute implementation. For instance, the early traceroute tools would be inaccurate in the current network, mainly because they were not designed to retain flow state. However, evolved traceroute tools, such as Paris-traceroute [PT] [MLB] and Scamper [SCAMPER], expect to encounter ECMP and achieve more accurate results when they do.

Paris-traceroute-like tools operate in the following way: every packet should follow the same path because the sensitive fields of the header are controlled to appear as the same flow. This means that source and destination IP addresses, source and destination port numbers are the same in every packet. Additionally, Differentiated Services Code Point (DSCP), checksum and ICMP code should remain constant since they may affect the path selection.

Today’s traceroute tools can send either UDP, TCP or ICMP packet probes. Since ICMP header does not include transport layer information, there are no fields for source and destination port numbers. For this reason, these tools keep constant ICMP type, code, and checksum fields to generate a kind of flow. However, the checksum may vary in every packet, therefore when probes use ICMP packets, ICMP Identifier and Sequence Number are manipulated to maintain constant checksum in every packet. On the other hand, when UDP probes are generated, the expected variation in the checksum of each packet is again compensated by manipulating the payload.

Paris-traceroute allows its users to measure RTD in every hop of the path for a particular flow. Furthermore, either Paris-traceroute or Scamper is capable of unveiling the many available paths between a source and destination (which are visible to this method). This task is accomplished by repeating complete traceroute measurements with different flow parameters for each measurement. The Framework for IP Performance Metrics (IPPM) ([RFC2330] updated by[RFC7312]) has the flexibility to require that the round-trip delay measurement [RFC2681] uses packets with the constraints to assure that all packets in a single measurement appear as the same flow. This flexibility covers ICMP, UDP, and TCP. The accompanying methodology of [RFC2681] needs to be expanded to report the sequential hop identifiers along with RTD measurements, but no new metric definition is needed.

7. RTD Measurements Statistics

Several articles have shown that network traffic presents a self-similar nature [SSNT] [MLRM] which is accountable for filling the queues of the routers. Moreover, router queues are designed to handle traffic bursts, which is one of the most remarkable features of self-similarity. Naturally, while queue length increases, the delay to traverse the queue increases as well and leads to an increase on RTD. Due to traffic bursts generate short-term overflow on buffers (spiky patterns), every RTD only depicts the queueing status on the instant when that packet probe was in transit. For this reason, several RTD measurements during a time window could begin to describe the random behavior of latency. Loss must also be accounted for in the methodology.

To understand the ongoing process, examining the quartiles provides a non-parametric way of analysis. Quartiles are defined by five values: minimum RTD (m), RTD value of the 25% of the Empirical Cumulative Distribution Function (ECDF) (Q1), the median value (Q2), the RTD value of the 75% of the ECDF (Q3) and the maximum RTD (M). Congestion can be inferred when RTD measurements are spread apart, and consequently, the InterQuartile Range (IQR), the distance between Q3 and Q1, increases its value.

This procedure requires to compute quartile values “on the fly” using the algorithm presented in [P2].

This procedure allow us to update the quartiles value whenever a new measurement arrives, which is radically different from classic methods of computing quartiles because they need to use the whole dataset to compute the values. This way of calculus provides savings in memory and computing time.

To sum up, the proposed measurement procedure consists in performing traceroutes several times to obtain samples of the RTD in every hop from a path, during a time window (W) and compute the quantiles for every hop. This could be done for a single path flow or for every detected path flow.

Even though a particular hop may be understood as the amount of hops away from the source, a more detailed classification could be used. For example, a possible classification may be identify ICMP Time Exceeded packets coming from the same routers to those who have the same hop distance, IP address of the router which is replying and TTL value of the received ICMP packet.

Thus, the proposed methodology is based on this algorithm:

 1  input:   W (window time of the measurement)
 2           i_t (time between two measurements)
 3           E (True: exhaustive, False: a single path)
 4           Dst (destination IP address)   
 5  output:  Qs (quartiles for every hop and alt in the path(s) to Dst)
 6  T <? start_timer(W)
 7  while T is not finished do: 
 8  |       start_timer(i_t)
 9  |       RTD(hop,alt) = advanced-traceroute(Dst,E)
10  |       for each hop and alt in RTD do:  
11  |       |     Qs[Dst,hop,alt] <? ComputeQs(RTD(hop,alt))
12  |       done
13  |       wait until i_t timer is expired 
14  done 
15  return (Qs)

In line 9 the advance-traceroute could be either Paris-traceroute or Scamper, which will use “exhaustive” mode or “tracelb” option if E is set True, respectively. The procedure returns a list of tuples (m,Q1,Q2,Q3,M) for each intermediate hop in the path towards the Dst. Additionally, it could also return path variations using “alt” variable.

8. Conclusions

Combining the method proposed in Section 4 and statistics in Section 7, we can measure the performance of paths interconnecting two endpoints in Internet, and attempt the categorization of link types and congestion presence based on RTD.

9. Security Considerations

The security considerations that apply to any active measurement of live paths are relevant here as well. See [RFC4656] and [RFC5357].

When considering privacy of those involved in measurement or those whose traffic is measured, the sensitive information available to potential observers is greatly reduced when using active techniques which are within this scope of work. Passive observations of user traffic for measurement purposes raise many privacy issues. We refer the reader to the privacy considerations described in the Large Scale Measurement of Broadband Performance (LMAP) Framework [RFC7594], which covers active and passive techniques.

10. IANA Considerations

This memo makes no requests of IANA.

11. Acknowledgements

The authors thank ....

12. References

12.1. Normative References

[RFC0792] Postel, J., "Internet Control Message Protocol", STD 5, RFC 792, DOI 10.17487/RFC0792, September 1981.
[RFC2119] Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, March 1997.
[RFC2330] Paxson, V., Almes, G., Mahdavi, J. and M. Mathis, "Framework for IP Performance Metrics", RFC 2330, DOI 10.17487/RFC2330, May 1998.
[RFC2460] Deering, S. and R. Hinden, "Internet Protocol, Version 6 (IPv6) Specification", RFC 2460, DOI 10.17487/RFC2460, December 1998.
[RFC2675] Borman, D., Deering, S. and R. Hinden, "IPv6 Jumbograms", RFC 2675, DOI 10.17487/RFC2675, August 1999.
[RFC2681] Almes, G., Kalidindi, S. and M. Zekauskas, "A Round-trip Delay Metric for IPPM", RFC 2681, DOI 10.17487/RFC2681, September 1999.
[RFC2991] Thaler, D. and C. Hopps, "Multipath Issues in Unicast and Multicast Next-Hop Selection", RFC 2991, DOI 10.17487/RFC2991, November 2000.
[RFC4494] Song, JH., Poovendran, R. and J. Lee, "The AES-CMAC-96 Algorithm and Its Use with IPsec", RFC 4494, DOI 10.17487/RFC4494, June 2006.
[RFC4656] Shalunov, S., Teitelbaum, B., Karp, A., Boote, J. and M. Zekauskas, "A One-way Active Measurement Protocol (OWAMP)", RFC 4656, DOI 10.17487/RFC4656, September 2006.
[RFC5357] Hedayat, K., Krzanowski, R., Morton, A., Yum, K. and J. Babiarz, "A Two-Way Active Measurement Protocol (TWAMP)", RFC 5357, DOI 10.17487/RFC5357, October 2008.
[RFC5644] Stephan, E., Liang, L. and A. Morton, "IP Performance Metrics (IPPM): Spatial and Multicast", RFC 5644, DOI 10.17487/RFC5644, October 2009.
[RFC5835] Morton, A. and S. Van den Berghe, "Framework for Metric Composition", RFC 5835, DOI 10.17487/RFC5835, April 2010.
[RFC6282] Hui, J. and P. Thubert, "Compression Format for IPv6 Datagrams over IEEE 802.15.4-Based Networks", RFC 6282, DOI 10.17487/RFC6282, September 2011.
[RFC6437] Amante, S., Carpenter, B., Jiang, S. and J. Rajahalme, "IPv6 Flow Label Specification", RFC 6437, DOI 10.17487/RFC6437, November 2011.
[RFC6564] Krishnan, S., Woodyatt, J., Kline, E., Hoagland, J. and M. Bhatia, "A Uniform Format for IPv6 Extension Headers", RFC 6564, DOI 10.17487/RFC6564, April 2012.
[RFC6673] Morton, A., "Round-Trip Packet Loss Metrics", RFC 6673, DOI 10.17487/RFC6673, August 2012.
[RFC7045] Carpenter, B. and S. Jiang, "Transmission and Processing of IPv6 Extension Headers", RFC 7045, DOI 10.17487/RFC7045, December 2013.
[RFC7312] Fabini, J. and A. Morton, "Advanced Stream and Sampling Framework for IP Performance Metrics (IPPM)", RFC 7312, DOI 10.17487/RFC7312, August 2014.
[RFC7799] Morton, A., "Active and Passive Metrics and Methods (with Hybrid Types In-Between)", RFC 7799, DOI 10.17487/RFC7799, May 2016.

12.2. Informative References

[bdrmap] Luckie, M., Dhamdhere, A., Huffaker, B., Clark, D. and KC. Claffy, "bdrmap: Inference of Borders Between IP Networks", In Proceedings of the 2016 ACM on Internet Measurement Conference, pp. 381-396. ACM, 2016.
[I-D.brockners-inband-oam-data] Brockners, F., Bhandari, S., Pignataro, C., Gredler, H., Leddy, J., Youell, S., Mizrahi, T., Mozes, D., Lapukhov, P., <>, R. and d., "Data Fields for In-situ OAM", Internet-Draft draft-brockners-inband-oam-data-05, May 2017.
[IDCong] Luckie, M., Dhamdhere, A., Clark, D. and B. Huffaker, "Challenges in inferring internet interdomain congestion", In Proceedings of the 2014 Conference on Internet Measurement Conference, pp. 15-22. ACM, 2014.
[MLB] Augustin, B., Friedman, T. and R. Teixeira, "Measuring load-balanced paths in the Internet", Proceedings of the 7th ACM SIGCOMM conference on Internet measurement, pp. 149-160. ACM, 2007., 2007.
[MLRM] Fontugne, R., Mazel, J. and K. Fukuda, "An empirical mixture model for large-scale RTT measurements", 2015 IEEE Conference on Computer Communications (INFOCOM), pp. 2470-2478. IEEE, 2015., 2015.
[P2] Jain, R. and I. Chlamtac, "rereerThe P 2 algorithm for dynamic calculation of quantiles and histograms without storing observations", Communications of the ACM 28.10 (1985): 1076-1085, 2015.
[PT] Augustin, B., Cuvellier, X., Orgogozo, B., Viger, F., Friedman, T., Latapy, M., Magnien, C. and R. Teixeira, "Avoiding traceroute anomalies with Paris traceroute", Proceedings of the 6th ACM SIGCOMM conference on Internet measurement, pp. 153-158. ACM, 2006., 2006.
[RFC7594] Eardley, P., Morton, A., Bagnulo, M., Burbridge, T., Aitken, P. and A. Akhter, "A Framework for Large-Scale Measurement of Broadband Performance (LMAP)", RFC 7594, DOI 10.17487/RFC7594, September 2015.
[RTTSub] Bischof, Z., Rula, J. and F. Bustamante, "In and out of Cuba: Characterizing Cuba's connectivity", In Proceedings of the 2015 ACM Conference on Internet Measurement Conference, pp. 487-493. ACM, 2015.
[SCAMPER] Matthew Luckie, M., "Scamper: a scalable and extensible packet prober for active measurement of the internet", Proceedings of the 10th ACM SIGCOMM conference on Internet measurement, pp. 239-245. ACM, 2010., 2010.
[SSNT] Park, K. and W. Willinger, "Self-Similar Network Traffic and Performance Evaluation (1st ed.)", John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, NY, USA, 2000.

Authors' Addresses

José Ignacio Alvarez-Hamelin Universidad de Buenos Aires Av. Paseo Colón 850 Buenos Aires, C1063ACV Argentine Phone: +54 11 5285-0716 EMail: URI:
Al Morton AT&T Labs 200 Laurel Avenue South Middletown, NJ 07748 USA Phone: +1 732 420 1571 Fax: +1 732 368 1192 EMail: URI:
Joachim Fabini TU Wien Gusshausstrasse 25/E389 Vienna, 1040 Austria Phone: +43 1 58801 38813 Fax: +43 1 58801 38898 EMail: URI: