PCE Working Group X. Zhang, Ed.
Internet-Draft Huawei Technologies
Intended status: Informational I. Minei, Ed.
Expires: January 8, 2017 Google, Inc.
July 07, 2016

Applicability of a Stateful Path Computation Element (PCE)


A stateful Path Computation Element (PCE) maintains information about Label Switched Path (LSP) characteristics and resource usage within a network in order to provide traffic engineering calculations for its associated Path Computation Clients (PCCs). This document describes general considerations for a stateful PCE deployment and examines its applicability and benefits, as well as its challenges and limitations through a number of use cases. PCE Communication Protocol (PCEP) extensions required for stateful PCE usage are covered in separate documents.

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction

[RFC4655] defines the architecture for a Path Computation Element (PCE)-based model for the computation of Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) and Generalized MPLS (GMPLS) Traffic Engineering Label Switched Paths (TE LSPs). To perform such a constrained computation, a PCE stores the network topology (i.e., TE links and nodes) and resource information (i.e., TE attributes) in its TE Database (TED). [RFC5440] describes the Path Computation Element Protocol (PCEP) for interaction between a Path Computation Client (PCC) and a PCE, or between two PCEs, enabling computation of TE LSPs. Extensions for support of GMPLS in PCEP are defined in [I-D.ietf-pce-gmpls-pcep-extensions].

As per [RFC4655], a PCE can be either stateful or stateless. A stateful PCE maintains two sets of information for use in path computation. The first is the Traffic Engineering Database (TED) which includes the topology and resource state in the network. This information can be obtained by a stateful PCE using the same mechanisms as a stateless PCE (see [RFC4655]). The second is the LSP State Database (LSP-DB), in which a PCE stores attributes of all active LSPs in the network, such as their paths through the network, bandwidth/resource usage, switching types and LSP constraints. This state information allows the PCE to compute constrained paths while considering individual LSPs and their inter-dependency. However, this requires reliable state synchronization mechanisms between the PCE and the network, between the PCE and the PCCs, and between cooperating PCEs, with potentially significant control plane overhead and maintenance of a large amount of state data, as explained in [RFC4655].

This document describes how a stateful PCE can be used to solve various problems for MPLS-TE and GMPLS networks, and the benefits it brings to such deployments. Note that alternative solutions relying on stateless PCEs may also be possible for some of these use cases, and will be mentioned for completeness where appropriate.

2. Terminology

This document uses the following terms defined in [RFC5440]: PCC, PCE, PCEP peer.

This document uses the following terms defined in [I-D.ietf-pce-stateful-pce]: Passive Stateful PCE, Active Stateful PCE, Delegation, Revocation, Delegation Timeout Interval, LSP State Report, LSP Update Request, LSP State Database.

This document defines the following term:

Minimum Cut Set:
the minimum set of links for a specific source destination pair which, when removed from the network, results in a specific source being completely isolated from specific destination. The summed capacity of these links is equivalent to the maximum capacity from the source to the destination by the max-flow min-cut theorem.

3. Overview of the Stateful PCE Protocol Extensions

This section is included for the convenience of the reader, please refer to the referenced documents for details of the operation.

[I-D.ietf-pce-stateful-pce] specifies a set of extensions to PCEP to enable stateful control of LSPs within and across PCEP sessions in compliance with [RFC4657]. It includes mechanisms to effect LSP state synchronization between PCCs and PCEs, delegation of control over LSPs to PCEs, and PCE control of timing and sequence of path computations within and across PCEP sessions.

[I-D.ietf-pce-stateful-pce] applies equally to MPLS-TE and GMPLS LSPs and distinguishes between an active and a passive stateful PCE. A passive stateful PCE uses LSP state information to optimize path computations but does not actively update LSP state. In contrast, an active stateful PCE may issue recommendations to the network. For example, an active stateful PCE may update LSP parameters in those PCCs that delegated control over their LSPs to the PCE.

Several new functions are added in PCEP to support both active and passive stateful PCEs. They are described in [I-D.ietf-pce-stateful-pce]. A function can be initiated either from a PCC towards a PCE (C-E) or from a PCE towards a PCC (E-C). The new functions are:

Stateful Capability negotiation (E-C,C-E):
both the PCC and the PCE must announce during PCEP session establishment that they support stateful PCE PCEP extensions.
LSP state synchronization (C-E):
after the session between a PCC and a stateful PCE is initialized, the PCE can perform path computation and update attributes in a PCC. However, if the goal of the PCE is to provide accurate path information based on the most up-to-date state of the network, the PCE should wait until it learns the state of the PCC's LSP states before doing so.
LSP update request (E-C):
A PCE requests the modification of one or more attributes (e.g., route) on a PCC's LSP.
LSP state report (C-E):
a PCC sends an LSP state report to a PCE whenever the state of an LSP changes.
LSP control delegation (C-E,E-C):
a PCC grants to a PCE the right to update LSP attributes on one or more LSPs; the PCE becomes the authoritative source of the LSP's attributes as long as the delegation is in effect; the PCC may withdraw the delegation or the PCE may give up the delegation.

[I-D.ietf-pce-pce-initiated-lsp] provides extensions to PCEP which enable the setup, maintenance and teardown of PCE-initiated LSPs under the stateful PCE model, without the need for local configuration on the PCC, thus allowing for a dynamic network that is centrally controlled and deployed.

[I-D.ietf-pce-stateful-pce] defines the extensions needed to support auto-discovery of stateful PCEs when using IGP for PCE discovery.

4. Deployment Considerations

This section discusses generic issues with stateful PCE deployments, and how specific protocol mechanisms can be used to address them.

4.1. Multi-PCE Deployments

Stateless and stateful PCEs can co-exist in the same network and be in charge of path computation of different types. To solve the problem of distinguishing between the two types of PCEs, either discovery or configuration may be used. The capability negotiation in [I-D.ietf-pce-stateful-pce] ensures correct operation when the PCE address is configured on the PCC.

Multiple stateful PCEs can co-exist in the same network. These PCEs may provide redundancy for load sharing, resilience, or partitioning of computation features. Regardless of the reason for multiple PCEs, an LSP is only delegated to one of the PCEs at any given point in time. [I-D.ietf-pce-stateful-pce] describes how LSPs can be re-delegated between PCEs, and the procedures on a PCE failure. [RFC7399] discusses various approaches for synchronizing state among the PCEs when multiple PCEs are used for load sharing or backup and compute LSPs for the same network.

4.2. LSP State Synchronization

The population of the LSP-DB using information received from PCCs is supported by the stateful PCE extensions defined in [I-D.ietf-pce-stateful-pce] , i.e., via LSP state report messages. Population of the LSP database via other means is not precluded.

Because the accuracy of the computations depends on the accuracy of the databases used, it is worth noting that the PCE view lags behind the true state of the network, because the updates must reach the PCE from the network. Thus, the use of stateful PCE reduces but cannot eliminate the possibility of crankbacks, nor can it guarantee optimal computations all the time. [RFC7399] discusses these limitations and potential ways to alleviate them.

In case of multiple PCEs with different capabilities, co-existing in the same network, such as a passive stateful PCE and an active stateful PCE, it is useful to refer to a LSP, be it delegated or not, by a unique identifier instead of providing detailed information (e.g., route, bandwidth etc.) associated with it, when these PCEs cooperate on path computation, such as for load sharing.

4.3. PCE Survivability

For a stateful PCE, an important issue is to get the LSP state information resynchronized after a restart. [I-D.ietf-pce-stateful-pce] defines a synchronization function and procedure, allowing a PCC to synchronize its LSP state with the PCE and [I-D.ietf-pce-stateful-sync-optimizations] specifies optimizations to the synchronization procedure. LSP state synchronization procedures can be applied equally to a network node or another PCE, allowing multiple ways of re-acquiring the LSP database on a restart. Because synchronization may also be skipped, if a PCE implementation has the means to retrieve its database in a different way (for example from a backup copy stored locally), the state can be restored without further overhead in the network. A hybrid approach where the bulk of the state is recovered locally, and a small amount of state is reacquired from the network, is also possible. Note that locally recovering the state would still require some degree of resynchronization to ensure that the recovered state is indeed up-to-date. Depending on the resynchronization mechanism used, there may be an additional load on the PCE, and there may be a delay in reaching the synchronized state, which may negatively affect survivability. Different resynchronization methods are suited for different deployments and objectives.

5. Application Scenarios

In the following sections, several use cases are described, showcasing scenarios that benefit from the deployment of a stateful PCE.

5.1. Optimization of LSP Placement

The following use cases demonstrate a need for visibility into global LSP states in PCE path computations, and for a PCE control of sequence and timing in altering LSP path characteristics within and across PCEP sessions. Reference topologies for the use cases described later in this section are shown in Figures 1 and 2.

Some of the use cases below are focused on MPLS-TE deployments, but may also apply to GMPLS. Unless otherwise cited, use cases assume that all LSPs listed exist at the same LSP priority.

The main benefit in the cases below comes from moving away from an asynchronous PCC-driven mode of operation to a model that allows for central control over LSP computations and maintenance, and focuses specifically on the active stateful PCE model of operation.

       |  A  |
               +-----+                      +-----+
               |  C  |----------------------|  E  |
               +-----+                      +-----+
              /        \      +-----+      /
       +-----+          +-----|  D  |-----+
       |  B  |                +-----+

Figure 1: Reference topology 1

            +-----+        +-----+        +-----+
            |  A  |        |  B  |        |  C  |
            +--+--+        +--+--+        +--+--+
               |              |              |
               |              |              |
            +--+--+        +--+--+        +--+--+
            |  E  +--------+  F  +--------+  G  |
            +-----+        +-----+        +-----+

Figure 2: Reference topology 2

5.1.1. Throughput Maximization and Bin Packing

Because LSP attribute changes in [RFC5440] are driven by Path Computation Request (PCReq) messages under control of a PCC's local timers, the sequence of resource reservation arrivals occurring in the network will be randomized. This, coupled with a lack of global LSP state visibility on the part of a stateless PCE may result in suboptimal throughput in a given network topology, as will be shown in the example below.

Reference topology 2 in Figure 2 and Tables 1 and 2 show an example in which throughput is at 50% of optimal as a result of lack of visibility and synchronized control across PCC's. In this scenario, the decision must be made as to whether to route any portion of the E-G demand, as any demand routed for this source and destination will decrease system throughput.