V6OPS Working Group P. Matthews
Internet-Draft Alcatel-Lucent
Intended status: Informational V. Kuarsingh
Expires: March 8, 2015 Dyn
September 4, 2014

Design Choices for IPv6 Networks


This document presents advice on the design choices that arise when designing IPv6 networks (both dual-stack and IPv6-only). The intended audience is someone designing an IPv6 network who is knowledgeable about best current practices around IPv4 network design, and wishes to learn the corresponding practices for IPv6.

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 http://datatracker.ietf.org/drafts/current/.

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This Internet-Draft will expire on March 8, 2015.

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction

This document presents advice on the design choices that arise when designing IPv6 networks (both dual-stack and IPv6-only). The intended audience is someone designing an IPv6 network who is knowledgeable about best current practices around IPv4 network design, and wishes to learn the corresponding practices for IPv6.

The focus of the document is on design choices where there are differences between IPv4 and IPv6, either in the range of possible alternatives (e.g. the extra possibilities introduced by link-local addresses in IPv6) or the recommended alternative. The document presents the alternatives and discusses the pros and cons in detail. Where consensus currently exists around the best practice, this is documented; otherwise the document simply summarizes the current state of the discussion. Thus this document serves to both to document the reasoning behind best current practices for IPv6, and to allow a designer to make an intelligent choice where no such consensus exists.

This document does not present advice on strategies for adding IPv6 to a network, nor does it discuss transition mechanisms. For advice in these areas, see [RFC6180] for general advice, [RFC6782] for wireline service providers, [RFC6342] for mobile network providers, [RFC5963] for exchange point operators, [RFC6883] for content providers, and both [RFC4852] and [I-D.ietf-v6ops-enterprise-incremental-ipv6] for enterprises. Nor does the document cover the ins and outs of creating an IPv6 addressing plan; for advice in this area, see [RFC5375].

This document focuses on unicast network design only. It does not cover multicast, nor supporting infrastructure such as DNS.

The current version is still work in progress, and it is expected that the presentation and discussion of additional design choices will be added as the document matures.

2. Design Choices

This section consists of a list of specific design choices a network designer faces when designing an IPv6-only or dual-stack network, along with guidance and advice to the designer when making a choice.

2.1. Links

2.1.1. Mix IPv4 and IPv6 on the Same Link?

Should IPv4 and IPv6 traffic be logically separated on a link? That is:

  1. Mix IPv4 and IPv6 traffic on the same layer 2 connection, OR
  2. Separate IPv4 and IPv6 by using separate physical or logical links (e.g., two physical links or two VLANs on the same link)?

Option (a) implies a single layer 3 interface at each end with both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses; while option (b) implies two layer 3 interfaces, one for IPv4 addresses and one with IPv6 addresses.

The advantages of option (a) include:

For these reasons, there is a pretty strong consensus in the operator community that option (a) is the preferred way to go. Most networks today use option (a) wherever possible.

However, there can be times when option (b) is the pragmatic choice. Most commonly, option (b) is used to work around limitations in network equipment. One big example is the generally poor level of support today for individual statistics on IPv4 traffic vs IPv6 traffic when option (a) is used. Other, device-specific, limitations exist as well. It is expected that these limitations will go away as support for IPv6 matures, making option (b) less and less attractive until the day that IPv4 is finally turned off.

2.1.2. Links with Only Link-Local Addresses?

Should the link:

  1. Use only link-local addresses (“unnumbered”), OR
  2. Have global or unique-local addresses assigned in addition to link-locals?

There are two advantages of unnumbered links. The first advantage is ease of configuration. In a network with a large number of unnumbered links, the operator can just enable an IGP on each router, without going through the tedious process of assigning and tracking the addresses for each link. The second advantage is security. Since link-local addresses are unroutable, the associated interfaces cannot be attacked from an off-link device. This implies less effort around maintaining security ACLs.

Countering this advantage are various disadvantages to unnumbered links in IPv6:

It should be noted that it is quite possible for the same link-local address to be assigned to multiple interfaces. This can happen because the MAC address is duplicated (due to manufacturing process defaults or the use of virtualization), because a device deliberately re-uses automatically-assigned link-local addresses on different links, or because an operator manually assigns the same easy-to-type link-local address to multiple interfaces. All these are allowed in IPv6 as long as the addresses are used on different links.

For more discussion on the pros and cons, see [I-D.ietf-opsec-lla-only].

Today, most operators use numbered links (option b).

2.2. Static Routes

2.2.1. Link-Local Next-Hop in a Static Route?

What form of next-hop address should one use in a static route?

  1. Use the far-end’s link-local address as the next-hop address, OR
  2. Use the far-end’s GUA/ULA address as the next-hop address?

Recall that the IPv6 specs for OSPF [RFC5340] and ISIS [RFC5308] dictate that they always use link-locals for next-hop addresses. For static routes, [RFC4861] section 8 says:

This implies that using a GUA or ULA as the next hop will prevent a router from sending Redirect messages for packets that "hit" this static route. All this argues for using a link-local as the next-hop address in a static route.

However, there are two cases where using a link-local address as the next-hop clearly does not work. One is when the static route is an indirect (or multi-hop) static route. The second is when the static route is redistributed into another routing protocol. In these cases, the above text from RFC 4861 notwithstanding, either a GUA or ULA must be used.

Furthermore, many network operators are concerned about the dependency of the default link-local address on an underlying MAC address, as described in the previous section.

Today most operators use GUAs as next-hop addresses.

2.3. IGPs

2.3.1. IGP Choice

One of the main decisions for an IPv6 implementor is the choice of IGP (Interior Gateway Protocol) within the network. The primary choices are the IETF protocols of RIP [RFC2080], OSPF [RFC2328] [RFC5340] and IS-IS [RFC5120] [RFC5308], though some operators may consider non-IETF protocols. Here we limit our discussion to the pros and cons of OSPF vs. IS-IS.

Considering just OSPF vs. IS-IS, the discussion in this section revolves around the options in the table below:

Option IGP for IPv4 IGP for IPv6 Known to work well Hard separation Similar configuration possible
b IS-IS OSPFv3 - YES -
e OSPFv3 IS-IS - YES -
f OSPFv3 OSPFv3 - - YES

Three of the options above are marked as "Known to work well". These options have seen significant deployments and are generally considered to be good choices. The other options represent valid choices, but have not seen widespread use, so it is hard to offer comments on how well they work. In particular, options (e) and (f) use OSPFv3 to route IPv4 [RFC5838], which is still rather new and untested.

A number of options are marked “Gives hard separation”. These options use a different IGP for IPv4 vs IPv6. With these options, a problem with routing IPv6 is unlikely to affect IPv4 or visa-versa.

Three options are marked “Similar configuration possible”. This means it is possible (but not required) to use very similar IGP configuration for IPv4 and IPv6: for example, the same area boundaries, area numbering, link costing, etc. If you are happy with your IPv4 IGP design, then this will likely be a consideration. By contrast, the options that uses IS-IS for one IP version and OSPF for the other version will require quite different configuration, and will also require the operations staff to become familiar with the difference between the two protocols.

With option (a), there is an additional choice of whether to run IS-IS in single-topology mode (where IPv4 and IPv6 share a single topology and a single set of link costs[RFC5308]) or multi-topology mode (where IPv4 and IPv6 have separate topologies and potentially different link costs[RFC5120]). A big problem with single-topology mode is that it cannot easily accommodate devices that support IPv4-only or IPv6-only. Thus, today there is general agreement that multi-topology is the right choice as this gives the greatest flexibility in network design.

It should be noted that a number of ISPs have run OSPF as their IPv4 IGP for quite a few years, but have selected IS-IS as their IPv6 IGP. However, there are very few (none?) that have made the reverse choice. This is, in part, because routers generally support more nodes in an IS-IS area than in the corresponding OSPF area, and because IS-IS is seen as more secure because it runs at layer 2.

2.4. BGP

The discussion in this section revolves around the following table.

Route Family Transport Comments
Unlabeled IPv4 IPv4 Works well
Unlabeled IPv4 IPv6 Next-hop issues
Unlabeled IPv6 IPv4 Next-hop issues
Unlabeled IPv6 IPv6 Works well
Labeled IPv4 IPv4 Works well
Labeled IPv4 IPv6 Next-hop issues
Labeled IPv6 IPv4 (6PE) Works well
Labeled IPv6 IPv6 ???
VPN IPv4 IPv4 Works well
VPN IPv4 IPv6 Next-hop issues
VPN IPv6 IPv4 (6VPE) Works well
VPN IPv6 IPv6 ???

The first column lists various route families, where “unlabeled” means SAFI 1, “labeled” means SAFI 4, and “VPN” means SAFI 128. The second column lists the protocol used to transport the BGP session, frequently specified by giving either an IPv4 or IPv6 address in the “neighbor” statement.

The third column comments on the combination in the first two columns:

Also, it is important to note that changing the set of address families being carried over a BGP session requires the BGP session to be reset (unless something like [I-D.ietf-idr-dynamic-cap] or [I-D.ietf-idr-bgp-multisession] is in use). This is generally more of an issue with eBGP sessions than iBGP sessions: for iBGP sessions it is common practice for a router to have to two iBGP sessions, one to each member of a route reflector pair, and so one can change the set of address families on first one session and then the other.

The following subsections discuss specific scenarios in more detail.

2.4.1. BGP Sessions for Unlabeled Routes

Unlabeled routes are commonly carried on eBGP sessions, as well as on iBGP sessions in networks where Internet traffic is carried unlabeled across the network. In these scenarios, operators today most commonly use two BGP sessions: one session is transported over IPv4 and carries the unlabeled IPv4 routes, while the second session is transported over IPv6 and carries the unlabeled IPv6 routes.

There are several reasons for this choice:

2.4.2. BGP sessions for Labeled or VPN Routes

In these scenarios, it is most common today to carry both the IPv4 and IPv6 routes over sessions transported over IPv4. This can be done with either: (a) one session carrying both route families, or (b) two sessions, one for each family.

Using a single session is usually appropriate for an iBGP session going to a route reflector handling both route families. Using a single session here usually means that the BGP session will reset when changing the set of address families, but as noted above, this is usually not a problem when redundant route reflectors are involved.

In eBGP situations, two sessions are usually more appropriate.

2.4.3. eBGP Endpoints: Global or Link-Local Addresses?

When running eBGP over IPv6, there are two options for the addresses to use at each end of the eBGP session (or more properly, the underlying TCP session):

  1. Use link-local addresses for the eBGP session, OR
  2. Use global addresses for the eBGP session.

Note that the choice here is the addresses to use for the eBGP sessions, and not whether the link itself has global (or unique-local) addresses. In particular, it is quite possible for the eBGP session to use link-local addresses even when the link has global addresses.

The big attraction for option (a) is security: an eBGP session using link-local addresses is impossible to attack from a device that is off-link. This provides very strong protection against TCP RST and similar attacks. Though there are other ways to get an equivalent level of security (e.g. GTSM [RFC5082], MD5 [RFC5925], or ACLs), these other ways require additional configuration which can be forgotten or potentially mis-configured.

However, there are a number of small disadvantages to using link-local addresses:

For these reasons, most operators today choose to have their eBGP sessions use global addresses.

3. General Observations

There are two themes that run though many of the design choices in this document. This section presents some general discussion on these two themes.

3.1. Use of Link-Local Addresses

The proper use of link-local addresses is a common theme in the IPv6 network design choices. Link-layer addresses are, of course, always present in an IPv6 network, but current network design practice mostly ignores them, despite efforts such as [I-D.ietf-opsec-lla-only].

There are three main reasons for this current practice:

3.2. Separation of IPv4 and IPv6

Currently, most operators are running or planning to run networks that carry both IPv4 and IPv6 traffic. Hence the question: To what degree should IPv4 and IPv6 be kept separate? As can be seen above, this breaks into two sub-questions: To what degree should IPv4 and IPv6 traffic be kept separate, and to what degree should IPv4 and IPv6 routing information be kept separate?

The general consensus around the first question is that IPv4 and IPv6 traffic should generally be mixed together. This recommendation is driven by the operational simplicity of mixing the traffic, plus the general observation that the service being offered to the end user is Internet connectivity and most users do not know or care about the differences between IPv4 and IPv6. Thus it is very desirable to mix IPv4 and IPv6 on the same link to the end user. On other links, separation is possible but more operationally complex, though it does occasionally allow the operator to work around limitations on network devices. The situation here is roughly comparable to IP and MPLS traffic: many networks mix the two traffic types on the same links without issues.

By contrast, there is more of an argument for carrying IPv6 routing information over IPv6 transport, while leaving IPv4 routing information on IPv4 transport. By doing this, one gets fate-sharing between the control and data plane for each IP protocol version: if the data plane fails for some reason, then often the control plane will too.

4. IANA Considerations

This document makes no requests of IANA.

5. Security Considerations


6. Acknowledgements

Many, many people in the V6OPS working group provided comments and suggestions that made their way into this document. A partial list includes: Rajiv Asati, Fred Baker, Michael Behringer, Marc Blanchet, Ron Bonica, Randy Bush, Cameron Byrne, Brian Carpenter, KK Chittimaneni, Tim Chown, Lorenzo Colitti, Gert Doering, Bill Fenner, Kedar K Gaonkar, Chris Grundemann, Steinar Haug, Ray Hunter, Joel Jaeggli, Victor Kuarsingh, Ivan Pepelnjak, Alexandru Petrescu, Rob Shakir, Mark Smith, Jean-Francois Tremblay, Tina Tsou, Dan York, and Xuxiaohu.

The authors would also like to thank Pradeep Jain and Alastair Johnson for helpful comments on a very preliminary version of this document.

7. Informative References

[I-D.ietf-idr-bgp-multisession] Scudder, J., Appanna, C. and I. Varlashkin, "Multisession BGP", Internet-Draft draft-ietf-idr-bgp-multisession-07, September 2012.
[I-D.ietf-idr-dynamic-cap] Ramachandra, S. and E. Chen, "Dynamic Capability for BGP-4", Internet-Draft draft-ietf-idr-dynamic-cap-14, December 2011.
[I-D.ietf-opsec-lla-only] Behringer, M. and E. Vyncke, "Using Only Link-Local Addressing Inside an IPv6 Network", Internet-Draft draft-ietf-opsec-lla-only-10, July 2014.
[I-D.ietf-v6ops-enterprise-incremental-ipv6] Chittimaneni, K., Chown, T., Howard, L., Kuarsingh, V., Pouffary, Y. and E. Vyncke, "Enterprise IPv6 Deployment Guidelines", Internet-Draft draft-ietf-v6ops-enterprise-incremental-ipv6-06, July 2014.
[RFC2080] Malkin, G. and R. Minnear, "RIPng for IPv6", RFC 2080, January 1997.
[RFC2328] Moy, J., "OSPF Version 2", STD 54, RFC 2328, April 1998.
[RFC4472] Durand, A., Ihren, J. and P. Savola, "Operational Considerations and Issues with IPv6 DNS", RFC 4472, April 2006.
[RFC4852] Bound, J., Pouffary, Y., Klynsma, S., Chown, T. and D. Green, "IPv6 Enterprise Network Analysis - IP Layer 3 Focus", RFC 4852, April 2007.
[RFC4861] Narten, T., Nordmark, E., Simpson, W. and H. Soliman, "Neighbor Discovery for IP version 6 (IPv6)", RFC 4861, September 2007.
[RFC5082] Gill, V., Heasley, J., Meyer, D., Savola, P. and C. Pignataro, "The Generalized TTL Security Mechanism (GTSM)", RFC 5082, October 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, February 2008.
[RFC5308] Hopps, C., "Routing IPv6 with IS-IS", RFC 5308, October 2008.
[RFC5340] Coltun, R., Ferguson, D., Moy, J. and A. Lindem, "OSPF for IPv6", RFC 5340, July 2008.
[RFC5375] Van de Velde, G., Popoviciu, C., Chown, T., Bonness, O. and C. Hahn, "IPv6 Unicast Address Assignment Considerations", RFC 5375, December 2008.
[RFC5838] Lindem, A., Mirtorabi, S., Roy, A., Barnes, M. and R. Aggarwal, "Support of Address Families in OSPFv3", RFC 5838, April 2010.
[RFC5925] Touch, J., Mankin, A. and R. Bonica, "The TCP Authentication Option", RFC 5925, June 2010.
[RFC5963] Gagliano, R., "IPv6 Deployment in Internet Exchange Points (IXPs)", RFC 5963, August 2010.
[RFC6180] Arkko, J. and F. Baker, "Guidelines for Using IPv6 Transition Mechanisms during IPv6 Deployment", RFC 6180, May 2011.
[RFC6342] Koodli, R., "Mobile Networks Considerations for IPv6 Deployment", RFC 6342, August 2011.
[RFC6782] Kuarsingh, V. and L. Howard, "Wireline Incremental IPv6", RFC 6782, November 2012.
[RFC6883] Carpenter, B. and S. Jiang, "IPv6 Guidance for Internet Content Providers and Application Service Providers", RFC 6883, March 2013.

Authors' Addresses

Philip Matthews Alcatel-Lucent 600 March Road Ottawa, Ontario K2K 2E6 Canada Phone: +1 613-784-3139 EMail: philip_matthews@magma.ca
Victor Kuarsingh Dyn 150 Dow Street Manchester, NH 03101 USA EMail: victor@jvknet.com