Network Working Group N. Bahadur, Ed.
Internet-Draft Bracket Computing
Intended status: Informational S. Kini, Ed.
Expires: January 8, 2017
J. Medved
July 7, 2016

Routing Information Base Info Model


Routing and routing functions in enterprise and carrier networks are typically performed by network devices (routers and switches) using a routing information base (RIB). Protocols and configuration push data into the RIB and the RIB manager installs state into the hardware; for packet forwarding. This draft specifies a information model for the RIB to enable defining a standardized data model. Such a data model can be used to define an interface to the RIB from an entity that may even be external to the network device. This interface can be used to support new use-cases being defined by the IETF I2RS WG.

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

Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any time. It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference material or to cite them other than as "work in progress."

This Internet-Draft will expire on January 8, 2017.

Copyright Notice

Copyright (c) 2016 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 ( 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. Code Components extracted from this document must include Simplified BSD License text as described in Section 4.e of the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as described in the Simplified BSD License.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

Routing and routing functions in enterprise and carrier networks are traditionally performed in network devices. Traditionally routers run routing protocols and the routing protocols (along with static config) populate the Routing information base (RIB) of the router. The RIB is managed by the RIB manager and the RIB manager provides a north-bound interface to its clients i.e. the routing protocols to insert routes into the RIB. The RIB manager consults the RIB and decides how to program the forwarding information base (FIB) of the hardware by interfacing with the FIB manager. The relationship between these entities is shown in Figure 1.

      +-------------+        +-------------+
      |RIB client 1 | ...... |RIB client N |
      +-------------+        +-------------+
             ^                      ^
             |                      |
             |RIB manager          |
             |                     |
             |       +-----+       |
             |       | RIB |       |
             |       +-----+       |
       |                                 |
       V                                 V
+-------------+                   +-------------+
|FIB manager 1|                   |FIB manager M|
|   +-----+   |    ..........     |   +-----+   |
|   | FIB |   |                   |   | FIB |   |
|   +-----+   |                   |   +-----+   |
+-------------+                   +-------------+

Figure 1: RIB manager, RIB clients and FIB managers

Routing protocols are inherently distributed in nature and each router makes an independent decision based on the routing data received from its peers. With the advent of newer deployment paradigms and the need for specialized applications, there is an emerging need to guide the router's routing function [RFC7920]. Traditional network-device protocol-based RIB population suffices for most use cases where distributed network control is used. However there are use cases which the network operators currently address by configuring static routes, policies and RIB import/export rules on the routers. There is also a growing list of use cases [I-D.white-i2rs-use-case], [I-D.hares-i2rs-use-case-vn-vc] in which a network operator might want to program the RIB based on data unrelated to just routing (within that network's domain). Programming the RIB could be based on other information such as routing data in the adjacent domain or the load on storage and compute in the given domain. Or it could simply be a programmatic way of creating on-demand dynamic overlays (e.g. GRE tunnels) between compute hosts (without requiring the hosts to run traditional routing protocols). If there was a standardized publicly documented programmatic interface to a RIB, it would enable further networking applications that address a variety of use-cases [RFC7920].

A programmatic interface to the RIB involves 2 types of operations - reading from the RIB and writing (adding/modifying/deleting) to the RIB. [I-D.white-i2rs-use-case] lists various use-cases which require read and/or write manipulation of the RIB.

In order to understand what is in a router's RIB, methods like per-protocol SNMP MIBs and show output screen scraping are used. These methods are not scalable, since they are client pull mechanisms and not proactive push (from the router) mechanisms. Screen scraping is error prone (since the output format can change) and is vendor dependent. Building a RIB from per-protocol MIBs is error prone since the MIB data represent protocol data and not the exact information that went into the RIB. Thus, just getting read-only RIB information from a router is a hard task.

Adding content to the RIB from an external entity can be done today using static configuration mechanisms provided by router vendors. However the mix of what can be modified in the RIB varies from vendor to vendor and the method of configuring it is also vendor dependent. This makes it hard for an external entity to program a multi-vendor network in a consistent and vendor-independent way.

The purpose of this draft is to specify an information model for the RIB. Using the information model, one can build a detailed data model for the RIB. That data model could then be used by an external entity to program a network device.

The rest of this document is organized as follows. Section 2 goes into the details of what constitutes and can be programmed in a RIB. Guidelines for reading and writing the RIB are provided in Section 3 and Section 4 respectively. Section 5 provides a high-level view of the events and notifications going from a network device to an external entity, to update the external entity on asynchronous events. The RIB grammar is specified in Section 6. Examples of using the RIB grammar are shown in Section 7. Section 8 covers considerations for performing RIB operations at scale.

1.1. Conventions used in this document

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 [RFC2119].

2. RIB data

This section describes the details of a RIB. It makes forward references to objects in the RIB grammar (Section 6). A high-level description of the RIB contents is as shown below.

                       |             |
                       |             | 
                 0..N  |             | 1..N
                       |             |
                  interface(s)     RIB(s)
                                     | 0..N

Figure 2: RIB model

2.1. RIB definition

A RIB is an entity that contains routes. A RIB is identified by its name and a RIB is contained within a routing instance (Section 2.2). The name MUST be unique within a routing instance. All routes in a given RIB MUST be of the same rib family (e.g. IPv4). Each RIB MUST belong to a routing instance.

A routing instance can have multiple RIBs. A routing instance can even have two or more RIBs of the same rib family (e.g. IPv6). A typical case where this can be used is for multi-topology routing ([RFC4915], [RFC5120]).

Each RIB can be optionally associated with a ENABLE_IP_RPF_CHECK attribute that enables Reverse path forwarding (RPF) checks on all IP routes in that RIB. Reverse path forwarding (RPF) check is used to prevent spoofing and limit malicious traffic. For IP packets, the IP source address is looked up and the rpf interface(s) associated with the route for that IP source address is found. If the incoming IP packet's interface matches one of the rpf interface(s), then the IP packet is forwarded based on its IP destination address; otherwise, the IP packet is discarded.

2.2. Routing instance

A routing instance, in the context of the RIB information model, is a collection of RIBs, interfaces, and routing parameters. A routing instance creates a logical slice of the router. It allows different logical slices; across a set of routers; to communicate with each other. Layer 3 Virtual Private Networks (VPN), Layer 2 VPNs (L2VPN) and Virtual Private Lan Service (VPLS) can be modeled as routing instances. Note that modeling a Layer 2 VPN using a routing instance only models the Layer-3 (RIB) aspect and does not model any layer-2 information (like ARP) that might be associated with the L2VPN.

The set of interfaces indicates which interfaces are associated with this routing instance. The RIBs specify how incoming traffic is to be forwarded. And the routing parameters control the information in the RIBs. The intersection set of interfaces of 2 routing instances MUST be the null set. In other words, an interface MUST NOT be present in 2 routing instances. Thus a routing instance describes the routing information and parameters across a set of interfaces.

A routing instance MUST contain the following mandatory fields.

  • INSTANCE_NAME: A routing instance is identified by its name, INSTANCE_NAME. This MUST be unique across all routing instances in a given network device.
  • rib-list: This is the list of RIBs associated with this routing instance. Each routing instance can have multiple RIBs to represent routes of different types. For example, one would put IPv4 routes in one RIB and MPLS routes in another RIB.

A routing instance MAY contain the following optional fields.

  • interface-list: This represents the list of interfaces associated with this routing instance. The interface list helps constrain the boundaries of packet forwarding. Packets coming on these interfaces are directly associated with the given routing instance. The interface list contains a list of identifiers, with each identifier uniquely identifying an interface.
  • ROUTER_ID: The router-id field identifies the network device in control plane interactions with other network devices. This field is to be used if one wants to virtualize a physical router into multiple virtual routers. Each virtual router MUST have a unique router-id. ROUTER_ID MUST be unique across all network devices in a given domain.

A routing instance may be created purely for the purposes of packet processing and may not have any interfaces associated with it. For example, an incoming packet in routing instance A might have a nexthop of routing instance B and after packet processing in B, the nexthop might be routing instance C. Thus, routing instance B is not associated with any interface. And given that this routing instance does not do any control plane interaction with other network devices, a ROUTER_ID is also not needed.

2.3. Route

A route is essentially a match condition and an action following the match. The match condition specifies the kind of route (IPv4, MPLS, etc.) and the set of fields to match on. Figure 3 represents the overall contents of a route.

                              | | |
                    +---------+ | +----------+
                    |           |            |
               0..N |           |            |
      route-attribute         match         nexthop
                |       |       |       |        |
                |       |       |       |        |
               IPv4    IPv6    MPLS    MAC    Interface


Figure 3: Route model

This document specifies the following match types:

  • IPv4: Match on destination IP address in the IPv4 header
  • IPv6: Match on destination IP address in the IPv6 header
  • MPLS: Match on a MPLS label at the top of the MPLS label stack
  • MAC: Match on MAC destination addresses in the ethernet header
  • Interface: Match on incoming interface of the packet
  • IP multicast: Match on (S, G) or (*, G), where S and G are IP addresses

Each route MUST have associated with it the following mandatory route attributes.

  • ROUTE_PREFERENCE: This is a numerical value that allows for comparing routes from different protocols. Static configuration is also considered a protocol for the purpose of this field. It is also known as administrative-distance. The lower the value, the higher the preference. For example there can be an OSPF route for (or IPv6 2001:DB8::1/32) with a preference of 5. If a controller programs a route for (or IPv6 2001:DB8::1/32) with a preference of 2, then the controller's route will be preferred by the RIB manager. Preference should be used to dictate behavior. For more examples of preference, see Section 7.1.

Each route can have associated with it one or more optional route attributes.

  • route-vendor-attributes: Vendors can specify vendor-specific attributes using this. The details of this attribute is outside the scope of this document.

2.4. Nexthop

A nexthop represents an object resulting from a route lookup. For example, if a route lookup results in sending the packet out a given interface, then the nexthop represents that interface.

Nexthops can be fully resolved nexthops or unresolved nexthop. A resolved nexthop has adequate information to send the outgoing packet to the destination by forwarding it on an interface to a directly connected neighbor. For example, a nexthop to a point-to-point interface or a nexthop to an IP address on an Ethernet interface has the nexthop resolved. An unresolved nexthop is something that requires the RIB manager to determine the final resolved nexthop. For example, a nexthop could be an IP address. The RIB manager would resolve how to reach that IP address, e.g. is the IP address reachable by regular IP forwarding or by a MPLS tunnel or by both. If the RIB manager cannot resolve the nexthop, then the nexthop remains in an unresolved state and is NOT a candidate for installation in the FIB. Future RIB events can cause an unresolved nexthop to get resolved (like that IP address being advertised by an IGP neighbor). Conversely resolved nexthops can also become unresolved (e.g. in case of a tunnel going down) and hence would no longer be candidates to be installed in the FIB.

When at least one of a route's nexthops is resolved, then the route can be used to forward packets. Such a route is considered eligible to be installed in the FIB and is henceforth referred to as a FIB-eligible route. Conversely, when all the nexthops of a route are unresolved that route can no longer be used to forward packets. Such a route is considered ineligible to be installed in the FIB and is henceforth referred to as a FIB-ineligible route. The RIB information model allows an external entity to program routes whose nexthops may be unresolved initially. Whenever an unresolved nexthop gets resolved, the RIB manager will send a notification of the same (see Section 5 ).

The overall structure and usage of a nexthop is as shown in the figure below.

                                | 0..N
                              nexthop <-------------------------------+
                                |                                     |
         +-------+----------------------------+-------------+         |
         |       |              |             |             |         |
         |       |              |             |             |         |
      base   load-balance   protection      replicate     chain       |
         |       |              |             |             |         |
         |       |2..N          |2..N         |2..N         |1..N     |
         |       |              |             |             |         |
         |       |              V             |             |         |
         |       +------------->+<------------+-------------+         |
         |                      |                                     |
         |                      +-------------------------------------+
    |               |                 |              |
    |               |                 |              |
 nexthop-id  egress-interface  logical-tunnel        |
      |              |           |
      |              |           |
tunnel-encap  tunnel-decap  special-nexthop

Figure 4: Nexthop model

Nexthops can be identified by an identifier to create a level of indirection. The identifier is set by the RIB manager and returned to the external entity on request. The RIB data-model SHOULD support a way to optionally receive a nexthop identifier for a given nexthop. For example, one can create a nexthop that points to a BGP peer. The returned nexthop identifier can then be used for programming routes to point to the same nexthop. Given that the RIB manager has created an indirection for that BGP peer using the nexthop identifier, if the transport path to the BGP peer changes, that change in path will be seamless to the external entity and all routes that point to that BGP peer will automatically start going over the new transport path. Nexthop indirection using identifiers could be applied to not just unicast nexthops, but even to nexthops that contain chains and nested nexthops (Section 2.4.1).

2.4.1. Nexthop types

This document specifies a very generic, extensible and recursive grammar for nexthops. Nexthops can be Section 7.2.

  • Interface nexthops - pointing to an interface
  • Tunnel nexthops - pointing to a tunnel
  • Replication lists - list of nexthops to which to replicate a packet
  • Weighted lists - for load-balancing
  • Preference lists - for protection using primary and backup
  • Nexthop chains - for chaining multiple operations or attaching multiple headers
  • Lists of lists - recursive application of the above
  • Indirect nexthops - pointing to a nexthop identifier
  • Special nexthops - for performing specific well-defined functions (e.g. drop)

It is expected that all network devices will have a limit on how many levels of lookup can be performed and not all hardware will be able to support all kinds of nexthops. RIB capability negotiation becomes very important for this reason and a RIB data-model MUST specify a way for an external entity to learn about the network device's capabilities. Examples of when and how to use various kinds of nexthops are shown in

Tunnel nexthops allow an external entity to program static tunnel headers. There can be cases where the remote tunnel end-point does not support dynamic signaling (e.g. no LDP support on a host) and in those cases the external entity might want to program the tunnel header on both ends of the tunnel. The tunnel nexthop is kept generic with specifications provided for some commonly used tunnels. It is expected that the data-model will model these tunnel types with complete accuracy.

Nexthop chains Section 7.2.5, is a way to perform multiple operations on a packet by logically combining them. For example, one can chain together "decapsulate MPLS header" and "send it out a specific EGRESS_INTERFACE". Chains can be used to specify multiple headers over a packet, before a packet is forwarded. One simple example is that of MPLS over GRE, wherein the packet has an inner MPLS header followed by a GRE header followed by an IP header. The outermost IP header is decided by the network device whereas the MPLS header and GRE header are specified by the controller. Not every network device will be able to support all kinds of nexthop chains and an arbitrary number of header chained together. The RIB data-model SHOULD provide a way to expose nexthop chaining capability supported by a given network device.

2.4.2. Nexthop list attributes

For nexthops that are of the form of a list(s), attributes can be associated with each member of the list to indicate the role of an individual member of the list. Two attributes are specified:

  • NEXTHOP_PREFERENCE: This is used for protection schemes. It is an integer value between 1 and 99. A lower value indicates higher preference. To download a primary/standby pair to the FIB, the nexthops that are resolved and have two highest preferences are selected. Each <NEXTHOP_PREFERENCE> should have a unique value within a <nexthop-protection>


    Section 6).
  • NEXTHOP_LB_WEIGHT: This is used for load-balancing. Each list member MUST be assigned a weight between 1 and 99. The weight determines the proportion of traffic to be sent over a nexthop used for forwarding as a ratio of the weight of this nexthop divided by the weights of all the nexthops of this route that are used for forwarding. To perform equal load-balancing, one MAY specify a weight of "0" for all the member nexthops. The value "0" is reserved for equal load-balancing and if applied, MUST be applied to all member nexthops.

2.4.3. Nexthop content

At the lowest level, a nexthop can be one of:

  • identifier: This is an identifier returned by the network device representing a nexthop. This can be used as a way of re-using a nexthop when programming complex nexthops.
  • EGRESS_INTERFACE: This represents a physical, logical or virtual interface on the network device. Address resolution must not be required on this interface. This interface may belong to any routing instance.
  • IP address: A route lookup on this IP address is done to determine the egress interface. Address resolution may be required depending on the interface.
    • An optional RIB name can also be specified to indicate the RIB in which the IP address is to be looked up. One can use the RIB name field to direct the packet from one domain into another domain. By default the RIB will be the same as the one that route belongs to.
  • EGRESS_INTERFACE and IP address: This can be used in cases e.g. where the IP address is a link-local address.
  • EGRESS_INTERFACE and MAC address: The egress interface must be an ethernet interface. Address resolution is not required for this nexthop.
  • tunnel encap: This can be an encap representing an IP tunnel or MPLS tunnel or others as defined in this document. An optional egress interface can be chained to the tunnel encap to indicate which interface to send the packet out on. The egress interface is useful when the network device contains Ethernet interfaces and one needs to perform address resolution for the IP packet.
  • tunnel decap: This is to specify decapsulating a tunnel header. After decap, further lookup on the packet can be done via chaining it with another nexthop. The packet can also be sent out via a EGRESS_INTERFACE directly.
  • logical tunnel: This can be a MPLS LSP or a GRE tunnel (or others as defined in this document), that is represented by a unique identifier (E.g. name).
  • RIB_NAME: A nexthop pointing to a RIB indicates that the route lookup needs to continue in the specified RIB. This is a way to perform chained lookups.

2.4.4. Special nexthops

This document specifies certain special nexthops. The purpose of each of them is explained below:

  • DISCARD: This indicates that the network device should drop the packet and increment a drop counter.
  • DISCARD_WITH_ERROR: This indicates that the network device should drop the packet, increment a drop counter and send back an appropriate error message (like ICMP error).
  • RECEIVE: This indicates that that the traffic is destined for the network device. For example, protocol packets or OAM packets. All locally destined traffic SHOULD be throttled to avoid a denial of service attack on the router's control plane. An optional rate-limiter can be specified to indicate how to throttle traffic destined for the control plane. The description of the rate-limiter is outside the scope of this document.

3. Reading from the RIB

A RIB data-model MUST allow an external entity to read entries, for RIBs created by that entity. The network device administrator MAY allow reading of other RIBs by an external entity through access lists on the network device. The details of access lists are outside the scope of this document.

The data-model MUST support a full read of the RIB and subsequent incremental reads of changes to the RIB. An external agent SHOULD be able to request a full read at any time in the lifecycle of the connection. When sending data to an external entity, the RIB manager SHOULD try to send all dependencies of an object prior to sending that object.

4. Writing to the RIB

A RIB data-model MUST allow an external entity to write entries, for RIBs created by that entity. The network device administrator MAY allow writes to other RIBs by an external entity through access lists on the network device. The details of access lists are outside the scope of this document.

When writing an object to a RIB, the external entity SHOULD try to write all dependencies of the object prior to sending that object. The data-model SHOULD support requesting identifiers for nexthops and collecting the identifiers back in the response.

Route programming in the RIB MUST result in a return code that contains the following attributes:

  • Installed - Yes/No (Indicates whether the route got installed in the FIB)
  • Active - Yes/No (Indicates whether a route is fully resolved and is a candidate for selection)
  • Reason - E.g. Not authorized

The data-model MUST specify which objects are modify-able objects. A modify-able object is one whose contents can be changed without having to change objects that depend on it and without affecting any data forwarding. To change a non-modifiable object, one will need to create a new object and delete the old one. For example, routes that use a nexthop that is identified by a nexthop identifier should be unaffected when the contents of that nexthop changes.

5. Notifications

Asynchronous notifications are sent by the network device's RIB manager to an external entity when some event occurs on the network device. A RIB data-model MUST support sending asynchronous notifications. A brief list of suggested notifications is as below:

  • Route change notification, with return code as specified in Section 4
  • Nexthop resolution status (resolved/unresolved) notification

6. RIB grammar

This section specifies the RIB information model in Routing Backus-Naur Form [RFC5511]. This grammar is intended to help the reader better understand the english text description in order to derive a data model. However it may not provide all the detail provided by the english text. When there is a lack of clarity in the grammar the english text will take precedence.

<routing-instance> ::= <INSTANCE_NAME>
                       [<interface-list>] <rib-list>

<interface-list> ::= (<INTERFACE_IDENTIFIER> ...)

<rib-list> ::= (<rib> ...)
<rib> ::= <RIB_NAME> <rib-family>
                    [<route> ... ]
<rib-family> ::= <IPV4_RIB_FAMILY> | <IPV6_RIB_FAMILY> |
                 <MPLS_RIB_FAMILY> | <IEEE_MAC_RIB_FAMILY>

<route> ::= <match> <nexthop>

<match> ::= <IPV4> <ipv4-route> | <IPV6> <ipv6-route> |
            <MPLS> <MPLS_LABEL> | <IEEE_MAC> <MAC_ADDRESS> |
<route-type> ::= <IPV4> | <IPV6> | <MPLS> | <IEEE_MAC> | <INTERFACE>

<ipv4-route> ::= <ip-route-type> 
                 (<destination-ipv4-address> | <source-ipv4-address> |
                  (<destination-ipv4-address> <source-ipv4-address>))
<destination-ipv4-address> ::= <ipv4-prefix>
<source-ipv4-address> ::= <ipv4-prefix>
<ipv4-prefix> ::= <IPV4_ADDRESS> <IPV4_PREFIX_LENGTH>

<ipv6-route> ::= <ip-route-type>
                 (<destination-ipv6-address> | <source-ipv6-address> |
                  (<destination-ipv6-address> <source-ipv6-address>))
<destination-ipv6-address> ::= <ipv6-prefix>
<source-ipv6-address> ::= <ipv6-prefix>
<ipv6-prefix> ::= <IPV6_ADDRESS> <IPV6_PREFIX_LENGTH>                 
<ip-route-type> ::= <SRC> | <DEST> | <DEST_SRC>

<route-attributes> ::= <ROUTE_PREFERENCE> [<LOCAL_ONLY>]       
<address-family-route-attributes> ::= <ip-route-attributes> | 
                                      <mpls-route-attributes> | 
<ip-route-attributes> ::= <>
<mpls-route-attributes> ::= <>
<ethernet-route-attributes> ::= <>
<route-vendor-attributes> ::= <>

<nexthop> ::= <nexthop-base> |
              (<NEXTHOP_LOAD_BALANCE> <nexthop-lb>) |
              (<NEXTHOP_PROTECTION> <nexthop-protection>) |
              (<NEXTHOP_REPLICATE> <nexthop-replicate>) |

<nexthop-base> ::= <NEXTHOP_ID> |
                   <nexthop-special> |
                   <EGRESS_INTERFACE> |
                   <ipv4-address> | <ipv6-address> |
                       (<ipv4-address> | <ipv6-address>)) |
                   (<EGRESS_INTERFACE> <IEEE_MAC_ADDRESS>) |
                   <tunnel-encap> | <tunnel-decap> |
                   <logical-tunnel> |

<nexthop-special> ::= <DISCARD> | <DISCARD_WITH_ERROR> | 
                      (<RECEIVE> [<COS_VALUE>])

<nexthop-lb> ::= <NEXTHOP_LB_WEIGHT> <nexthop>
                 (<NEXTHOP_LB_WEIGHT> <nexthop) ...

<nexthop-protection> = <NEXTHOP_PREFERENCE> <nexthop>
                      (<NEXTHOP_PREFERENCE> <nexthop>)...

<nexthop-replicate> ::= <nexthop> <nexthop> ...

<nexthop-chain> ::= <nexthop> ...

<logical-tunnel> ::= <tunnel-type> <TUNNEL_NAME>
<tunnel-type> ::= <IPV4> | <IPV6> | <MPLS> | <GRE> | <VxLAN> | <NVGRE>

<tunnel-encap> ::= (<IPV4> <ipv4-header>) | 
                   (<IPV6> <ipv6-header>) |
                   (<MPLS> <mpls-header>) | 
                   (<GRE> <gre-header>) |
                   (<VXLAN> <vxlan-header>) | 
                   (<NVGRE> <nvgre-header>)
                  <PROTOCOL> [<TTL>] [<DSCP>]
                  <NEXT_HEADER> [<TRAFFIC_CLASS>] 
                  [<FLOW_LABEL>] [<HOP_LIMIT>]

<mpls-header> ::= (<mpls-label-operation> ...)
<mpls-label-operation> ::= (<MPLS_PUSH> <MPLS_LABEL> [<S_BIT>] 
                                        [<TOS_VALUE>] [<TTL_VALUE>]) | 
                           (<MPLS_SWAP> <IN_LABEL> <OUT_LABEL>

<vxlan-header> ::= (<ipv4-header> | <ipv6-header>) 
<nvgre-header> ::= (<ipv4-header> | <ipv6-header>) 

<tunnel-decap> ::= ((<IPV4> <IPV4_DECAP> [<TTL_ACTION>]) |
                    (<IPV6> <IPV6_DECAP> [<HOP_LIMIT_ACTION>]) |
                    (<MPLS> <MPLS_POP> [<TTL_ACTION>]))

Figure 5: RIB rBNF grammar

6.1. Nexthop grammar explained

A nexthop is used to specify the next network element to forward the traffic to. It is also used to specify how the traffic should be load-balanced, protected using preference or multicasted using replication. This is explicitly specified in the grammar. The nexthop has recursion built-in to address complex use-cases like the one defined in Section 7.2.6.

7. Using the RIB grammar

The RIB grammar is very generic and covers a variety of features. This section provides examples on using objects in the RIB grammar and examples to program certain use cases.

7.1. Using route preference

Using route preference a client can pre-install alternate paths in the network. For example, if OSPF has a route preference of 10, then another client can install a route with route preference of 20 to the same destination. The OSPF route will get precedence and will get installed in the FIB. When the OSPF route is withdrawn, the alternate path will get installed in the FIB.

Route preference can also be used to prevent denial of service attacks by installing routes with the best preference, which either drops the offending traffic or routes it to some monitoring/analysis station. Since the routes are installed with the best preference, they will supersede any route installed by any other protocol.

7.2. Using different nexthops types

The RIB grammar allows one to create a variety of nexthops. This section describes uses for certain types of nexthops.

7.2.1. Tunnel nexthops

A tunnel nexthop points to a tunnel of some kind. Traffic that goes over the tunnel gets encapsulated with the tunnel encap. Tunnel nexthops are useful for abstracting out details of the network, by having the traffic seamlessly route between network edges. At the end of a tunnel, the tunnel will get decapsulated. Thus the grammar supports two kinds of operations, one for encap and another for decap.

7.2.2. Replication lists

One can create a replication list for replicating traffic to multiple destinations. The destinations, in turn, could be complex nexthops in themselves - at a level supported by the network device. Point to multipoint and broadcast are examples that involve replication.

A replication list (at the simplest level) can be represented as:

<nexthop> ::= <NEXTHOP_REPLICATE> <nexthop> [ <nexthop> ... ]

The above can be derived from the grammar as follows:

<nexthop> ::= <nexthop-replicate>
<nexthop> ::= <NEXTHOP_REPLICATE> <nexthop> <nexthop> ...

7.2.3. Weighted lists

A weighted list is used to load-balance traffic among a set of nexthops. From a modeling perspective, a weighted list is very similar to a replication list, with the difference that each member nexthop MUST have a NEXTHOP_LB_WEIGHT associated with it.

A weighted list (at the simplest level) can be represented as:

<nexthop> ::= <NEXTHOP_LOAD_BALANCE> (<nexthop> <NEXTHOP_LB_WEIGHT>) 
                   [(<nexthop> <NEXTHOP_LB_WEIGHT>)... ]

The above can be derived from the grammar as follows:

<nexthop> ::= <nexthop-lb>
<nexthop> ::= <NEXTHOP_LOAD_BALANCE>
                <NEXTHOP_LB_WEIGHT> <nexthop> 
                (<NEXTHOP_LB_WEIGHT> <nexthop>) ...
<nexthop> ::= <NEXTHOP_LOAD_BALANCE> (<NEXTHOP_LB_WEIGHT> <nexthop>)
                (<NEXTHOP_LB_WEIGHT> <nexthop>) ...

7.2.4. Protection

A primary/backup protection can be represented as:

<nexthop> ::= <NEXTHOP_PROTECTION> <1> <interface-primary>
                                   <2> <interface-backup>)

The above can be derived from the grammar as follows:

<nexthop> ::= <nexthop-protection>
                      (<NEXTHOP_PREFERENCE> <nexthop>)...)
                      (<NEXTHOP_PREFERENCE> <nexthop>))
<nexthop> ::= <NEXTHOP_PROTECTION> ((<NEXTHOP_PREFERENCE> <nexthop-base>
                      (<NEXTHOP_PREFERENCE> <nexthop-base>))
<nexthop> ::= <NEXTHOP_PROTECTION> (<1> <interface-primary>
                      (<2> <interface-backup>))

Traffic can be load-balanced among multiple primary nexthops and a single backup. In such a case, the nexthop will look like:

<nexthop> ::= <NEXTHOP_PROTECTION> (<1>
               (<NEXTHOP_LB_WEIGHT> <nexthop-base>
               (<NEXTHOP_LB_WEIGHT> <nexthop-base>) ...))
                <2> <nexthop-base>)

A backup can also have another backup. In such a case, the list will look like:

<nexthop> ::= <NEXTHOP_PROTECTION> (<1> <nexthop> 
              <2> <NEXTHOP_PROTECTION>(<1> <nexthop> <2> <nexthop>))

7.2.5. Nexthop chains

A nexthop chain is a way to perform multiple operations on a packet by logically combining them. For example, when a VPN packet comes on the WAN interface and has to be forwarded to the correct VPN interface, one needs to POP the VPN label before sending the packet out. Using a nexthop chain, one can chain together "pop MPLS header" and "send it out a specific EGRESS_INTERFACE".

The above example can be derived from the grammar as follows:

<nexthop-chain> ::= <nexthop> <nexthop>
<nexthop-chain> ::= <nexthop-base> <nexthop-base>
<nexthop-chain> ::= <tunnel-decap> <EGRESS_INTERFACE>
<nexthop-chain> ::= (<MPLS> <MPLS_POP>) <interface-outgoing>

Elements in a nexthop-chain are evaluated left to right.

A nexthop chain can also be used to put one or more headers on an outgoing packet. One example is a Pseudowire - which is MPLS over some transport (MPLS or GRE for instance). Another example is VxLAN over IP. A nexthop chain thus allows an external entity to break up the programming of the nexthop into independent pieces - one per encapsulation.

A simple example of MPLS over GRE can be represented as:

<nexthop-chain> ::= (<MPLS> <mpls-header>) (<GRE> <gre-header>)

The above can be derived from the grammar as follows:

<nexthop-chain> ::= <nexthop> <nexthop> <nexthop>
<nexthop-chain> ::= <nexthop-base> <nexthop-base> <nexthop-base>
<nexthop-chain> ::= <tunnel-encap> <tunnel-encap> <EGRESS_INTERFACE>
<nexthop-chain> ::= (<MPLS> <mpls-header>) (<GRE> <gre-header>)

7.2.6. Lists of lists

Lists of lists is a complex construct. One example of usage of such a construct is to replicate traffic to multiple destinations, with load balancing. In other words, for each branch of the replication tree, there are multiple interfaces on which traffic needs to be load-balanced on. So the outer list is a replication list for multicast and the inner lists are weighted lists for load balancing. Lets take an example of a network element has to replicate traffic to two other network elements. Traffic to the first network element should be load balanced equally over two interfaces outgoing-1-1 and outgoing-1-2. Traffic to the second network element should be load balanced over three interfaces outgoing-2-1, outgoing-2-2 and outgoing-2-3 in the ratio 20:20:60.

This can be derived from the grammar as follows:

<nexthop> ::= <nexthop-replicate>
<nexthop> ::= <NEXTHOP_REPLICATE> (<nexthop> <nexthop>...)
<nexthop> ::= <NEXTHOP_REPLICATE> (<nexthop> <nexthop>)
<nexthop> ::= <NEXTHOP_REPLICATE> ((<NEXTHOP_LOAD_BALANCE> <nexthop-lb>)
              (<NEXTHOP_LOAD_BALANCE> <nexthop-lb>))
              (<NEXTHOP_LB_WEIGHT> <nexthop> 
              (<NEXTHOP_LB_WEIGHT> <nexthop>) ...))
                (<NEXTHOP_LB_WEIGHT> <nexthop>
                (<NEXTHOP_LB_WEIGHT> <nexthop>) ...))
              (<NEXTHOP_LB_WEIGHT> <nexthop> 
               (<NEXTHOP_LB_WEIGHT> <nexthop>)))
                (<NEXTHOP_LB_WEIGHT> <nexthop>
                (<NEXTHOP_LB_WEIGHT> <nexthop>)
                (<NEXTHOP_LB_WEIGHT> <nexthop>)))
               (<NEXTHOP_LB_WEIGHT> <nexthop>) 
               (<NEXTHOP_LB_WEIGHT> <nexthop>)))
               (<NEXTHOP_LB_WEIGHT> <nexthop>)
               (<NEXTHOP_LB_WEIGHT> <nexthop>)
               (<NEXTHOP_LB_WEIGHT> <nexthop>)))
<nexthop> ::= <NEXTHOP_REPLICATE>
                 (50 <outgoing-1-1>) 
                 (50 <outgoing-1-2>)))
                  (20 <outgoing-2-1>)
                  (20 <outgoing-2-2>)
                  (60 <outgoing-2-3>)))

7.3. Performing multicast

IP multicast involves matching a packet on (S, G) or (*, G), where both S (source) and G (group) are IP prefixes. Following the match, the packet is replicated to one or more recipients. How the recipients subscribe to the multicast group is outside the scope of this document.

In PIM-based multicast, the packets are IP forwarded on an IP multicast tree. The downstream nodes on each point in the multicast tree is one or more IP addresses. These can be represented as a replication list ( Section 7.2.2 ).

In MPLS-based multicast, the packets are forwarded on a point to multipoint (P2MP) label-switched path (LSP). The nexthop for a P2MP LSP can be represented in the nexthop grammar as a <logical-tunnel> (P2MP LSP identifier) or a replication list ( Section 7.2.2) of <tunnel-encap>, with each tunnel encap representing a single mpls downstream nexthop.

8. RIB operations at scale

This section discusses the scale requirements for a RIB data-model. The RIB data-model should be able to handle large scale of operations, to enable deployment of RIB applications in large networks.

8.1. RIB reads

Bulking (grouping of multiple objects in a single message) MUST be supported when a network device sends RIB data to an external entity. Similarly the data model MUST enable a RIB client to request data in bulk from a network device.

8.2. RIB writes

Bulking (grouping of multiple write operations in a single message) MUST be supported when an external entity wants to write to the RIB. The response from the network device MUST include a return-code for each write operation in the bulk message.

8.3. RIB events and notifications

There can be cases where a single network event results in multiple events and/or notifications from the network device to an external entity. On the other hand, due to timing of multiple things happening at the same time, a network device might have to send multiple events and/or notifications to an external entity. The network device originated event/notification message MUST support bulking of multiple events and notifications in a single message.

9. Security Considerations

All interactions between a RIB manager and an external entity MUST be authenticated and authorized. The RIB manager MUST protect itself against a denial of service attack by a rogue external entity, by throttling request processing. A RIB manager MUST enforce limits on how much data can be programmed by an external entity and return error when such a limit is reached.

The RIB manager MUST expose a data-model that it implements. An external agent MUST send requests to the RIB manager that comply with the supported data-model. The data-model MUST specify the behavior of the RIB manager on handling of unsupported data requests.

10. IANA Considerations

This document does not generate any considerations for IANA.

11. Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Ron Folkes, Jeffrey Zhang, the working group co-chairs and reviewers on their comments and suggestions on this draft. The following people contributed to the design of the RIB model as part of the I2RS Interim meeting in April 2013 - Wes George, Chris Liljenstolpe, Jeff Tantsura, Susan Hares and Fabian Schneider.

12. References

12.1. Normative References

[RFC2119] Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, March 1997.

12.2. Informative References

[I-D.hares-i2rs-use-case-vn-vc] Hares, S. and M. Chen, "Use Cases for Virtual Connections on Demand (VCoD) and Virtual Network on Demand (VNoD) using Interface to Routing System", Internet-Draft draft-hares-i2rs-use-case-vn-vc-03, July 2014.
[I-D.white-i2rs-use-case] White, R., Hares, S. and A. Retana, "Protocol Independent Use Cases for an Interface to the Routing System", Internet-Draft draft-white-i2rs-use-case-06, July 2014.
[RFC4915] Psenak, P., Mirtorabi, S., Roy, A., Nguyen, L. and P. Pillay-Esnault, "Multi-Topology (MT) Routing in OSPF", RFC 4915, DOI 10.17487/RFC4915, June 2007.
[RFC5120] Przygienda, T., Shen, N. and N. Sheth, "M-ISIS: Multi Topology (MT) Routing in Intermediate System to Intermediate Systems (IS-ISs)", RFC 5120, DOI 10.17487/RFC5120, February 2008.
[RFC5511] Farrel, A., "Routing Backus-Naur Form (RBNF): A Syntax Used to Form Encoding Rules in Various Routing Protocol Specifications", RFC 5511, DOI 10.17487/RFC5511, April 2009.
[RFC7920] Atlas, A., Nadeau, T. and D. Ward, "Problem Statement for the Interface to the Routing System", RFC 7920, DOI 10.17487/RFC7920, June 2016.

Authors' Addresses

Nitin Bahadur (editor) Bracket Computing 150 West Evelyn Ave, Suite 200 Mountain View, CA 94041 US EMail:
Sriganesh Kini (editor) EMail:
Jan Medved Cisco EMail: