MPLS DiffServ: A Combined Approach

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1 MPLS DiffServ: A Combined Approach Asha Rahul Sawant, Jihad Qaddour Applied Computer Science Illinois State University Abstract: Multi Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) is choice of future technology as it has capability to perform traffic engineering. Differentiated Service (Diffserv) is the scalable Quality of Service (QoS) that is provided by many Internet Service Providers on today s IP networks. This paper discusses the MPLS Diffserv integration to achieve quality of service on MPLS networks. MPLS + Diffserv is very useful strategy for today s traffic. It talks about different approaches to map Diffserv code point (DSCP) to Label Switched Path (LSP) and their advantages and disadvantages. It then introduces the concept of encapsulated LSPs to achieve future QoS, which requires further study to examine its practicability. 1. Introduction IP networks are increasingly carrying multimedia traffic along with Internet traffic as more and more organizations are using IP networks for their businesses. Corporate World is increasingly relying on IP network for their extra-network or inter-network needs. Many VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) are deployed on an IP backbone [10] demanding end-to-end guaranteed service from IP network. IP was designed to provide best-effort service for delivery of data packets and to run across virtually any network transmission media and system platform. IP network is trying to find solutions to adapt to this growing demand by providing different services like VoIP (Voice over IP), Integrated Service (IntServ), and Differentiated Service (DiffServ). Section 3.1 explains DiffServ. Still IP network is not successful in providing ultimate quality of service, as it has no means to handle traffic engineering very effectively. IP networks also lack the speed of layer 2 switching. MPLS [1, 3] is a promising solution to take over the next generation IP networks Section 2.2 explains the MPLS. MPLS can be combined with DiffServ to provide quality of service along with traffic engineering as both have many things in common [9]. Section 3 explains the DiffServ MPLS networks. Section 4: Discussion, describes the concept of encapsulated LSP for future QoS needs. Section 5 concludes the paper. 2. Background 2.1 DiffServ DiffServ [4, 5] emerged as simpler solution to provide QoS as implementing IntServ and RSVP was difficult [5]. The main goal of DiffServ [6, 7] was to meet the performance requirements of the user. Differentiated service mechanisms allow network providers to allocate different levels of service to different users of the Internet. User needs to have Service Level Agreement (SLA) with Internet Service Provider to get DiffServ. [5]. DiffServ Architecture DiffServ aggregates traffic into different classes by marking IP packets, which will receive specific Pre-Hop behavior at every node. DiffServ architecture uses Type of Service (TOS) octet in IPv4 and Traffic Class Octet field in IPv6 to mark the packet to be treated in specific/particular way (forwarding treatment, per hop behavior). (Figure 1) The Diffserv architecture [4] is composed of a number of small functional units implemented in the network nodes. This includes the definition of a set of Per-Hop Behaviors (PHBs), packet classification and traffic conditioning functions like metering, marking, shaping and policing. DiffServ is provided only in DiffServ Domain, which is contiguous set of nodes with PHB, traffic conditioning capabilities. 1

2 DS ingress node checks whether the incoming traffic is according to the technical conditioning specifications mentioned in SLA (in profile) otherwise, the excess packets are considered as out of profile. Ingress node accordingly classifies the traffic into one or more behavior aggregates (BA) or multi-field (MF) classifier. BA classifiers classify packets based upon DS field whereas MF classifiers use multiple fields. MF classifiers provide per flow service. One behavior aggregate is treated in one way. Each packet is marked with appropriate DSCP. Ingress and egress nodes do the traffic conditioning by metering, policing, shaping or dropping the traffic based upon the classifier (figure 2). Some of the intermediate nodes also may have the traffic conditioning capabilities. Pre-Hop behavior: Each node in DS domain treats the packet in a specified way according to the classifier or DSCP. This forwarding behavior is called Pre-Hop Behavior. The default PHB is Best Effort Precedence Type of Service R R: Reserved Figure 1(a): IPv DS Code point (DSCP) Currently unused Figure 1(b): DSCP Meter Packets Classifier Marker Shaper/ Dropper Figure 2: Logical View of a Packet Classifier and Traffic Conditioner The PHB is the means by which a node allocates resources to behavior aggregates. With the help of this basic hop-by-hop resource allocation mechanism that useful differentiated services may be constructed. There is always minimum bandwidth specified for best-effort traffic. PHB can be Expedited Forwarding (EF) or Assured Forwarding (AF) Advantages of DiffServ The diffserv model is scalable because multi-flow classification, policing, shaping and marking is done at the border routers of the ISP networks. The core routers, on the other hand simply does the forwarding based on the DiffServ code point (DSCP), which is the first six bits in the TOS byte in the IP header. Since the core routers need not maintain any per-flow state, this model is more scalable. The granularity of service provisionin g is a class in diff-serv, as opposed to being a flow in IntServ. Multiple 2

3 flows may be mapped on to a single per-hop behavior (PHB), which is indicated by the value in the DSCP. This too, ensures the scalability of the diff-serv model. Thus DiffServ is easier to implement and deploy. 2.2 MPLS MPLS is a switching technology using labels. In a MPLS network, incoming packets are assigned a "label" by a "label edge router (LER)" according to their forwarding equivalence class (FEC). Packets are forwarded along a "label switch path (LSP)" where each "label switch router (LSR)" makes forwarding decisions based solely on the contents of the label, eliminating the need to look for its IP address. At each hop, the LSR takes off the existing label and applies a new label for the next hop. Next hop also decides how to forward the packet by reading just the label on the packet. These established paths, Label Switch Paths (LSPs) can guarantee a certain level of performance, to route around network congestion, or to create IP tunnels for network-based virtual private networks. In many ways, LSPs are similar to circuitswitched paths in ATM or Frame Relay networks, except that they are not dependent on a particular Layer 2 technology. MPLS provides many other benefits to IPbased networks. Table: 1 indicates the advantages of MPLS. MPLS Architecture MPLS architecture [3] is consists of MPLS nodes such as Ingress LSR, Transit LSR, Egress LSR, labels and various methods and protocols to use labels to forward packets. As traffic enters the MPLS network, ingress LSR (Label Switching Router) classifies it into different FEC (Forward Equivalence Class) after reading network layer destination address. MPLS brings many benefits to IP Traffic Engineering VPNs - using MPLS Layer 2 Transport Elimination of Multiple Layers Maps IP addresses to simple, fixedlength labels used by different packetforwarding and packet-switching technologies Interfaces to existing routing protocols RSVP, OSPF Enhanced scalability by way of switching technology Obviate the need for an IP-over-ATM overlay model and its associated Management overhead Table 1: MPLS benefits [11] Label is generated according to label distribution protocol. This label is used to forward the packet. The traffic is encapsulated in MPLS header. MPLS header is 32 bit long and consists of label (20 bits), Exp (3 bits) for experimental use, S (stacking bit, 1bit), TTL (8 bits) [1]. (Figure 3) Transit routers examine the MPLS shim header to make forwarding decision and swap the label with appropriate label for next hop. Egress router performs the deencapsulation and removes the MPLS header. Two neighboring routers Label known as label distribution peers decide on a label to bind a particular FEC. FEC is used to describe an association of discrete packets with a destination address, usually final recipient of the traffic. For different classes of service, different FECs and their associated labels are used. For Internet following are the candidate parameters for establishing an FEC. Source and/or destination IP address Source and/or destination port numbers IP protocol ID (PID) IPv4 Differentiated Service (DS) code point IPv6 flow label [1] 3

4 The assignment of label is made by the downstream LSR by either downstream-ondemand operation or unsolicited downstream label operation. Label binding is local and does not represent the FEC. It is the agreement between two LSRs for binding to a particular FEC. MPLS architecture supports hierarchy. The processing of routers is completely independent of the level of hierarchy [3]. This label stack allows having different label agreement between inter-domain routers from label agreement between intra-domain routers. The processing is always based on the top label. LSRs use NHLFE (Next Entry Label Forwarding Entry) to forward the packets. NHLFE consists of the packet s next hop and the operation to be performed on the packet s label. The incoming label maps each label to a set of NHFELs. NHFEL is used to forward labeled as well as nonlabeled packets. Label (20 bits) Exp (3 bits) Figure 3: MPLS header S (1 bit) TTL (8 bits) In order to forward an unlabeled packet, a LSR analyzes the network layer header, to determine the packet's FEC. It then uses the FTN (FEC to NHLFE) to map this to an NHLFE. Using the information in the NHLFE, it determines where to forward the packet, and performs an operation on the packet's label stack. It then encodes the new label stack into the packet, and forwards the result. In order to forward a labeled packet, a LSR examines the label at the top of the label stack. It uses the ILM (Incoming Label Map) to map this label to an NHLFE. Using the information in the NHLFE, it determines where to forward the packet, and performs an operation on the packet's label stack. It then encodes the new label stack into the packet, and forwards the result. [3] Aggregation allows use of single label for union of FECs and Label merging allows use of single label for a set of incoming labels whose next hop is the same LSR. The path through one or more LSRs, followed by packets is called LSP (Label Switched Path). MPLS uses two methods for choosing the LSP for a FEC, which is called route selection: Hop-By-Hop routing and Explicit Routing In Hop-By-Hop routing, each LSR chooses the next hop independently and in Explicit routing, the entire LSP is specified. 3. MPLS & DiffServ Diffserv and MPLS help solve the IP quality problem. Diffserv uses the IP TOS (type of service) field to classify traffic into different classes at the boundary node to provide QoS. MPLS also classifies traffic into different FECs with which it can provide QoS. Table 2 shows the similarities between Diffserv and MPLS. MPLS networks support Diffserv by mapping Diffserv BAs onto LSPs [1]. The DSCP of a packet determines the behavior of the nodes and MPLS label of a packet determines the route of the packet. MPLS Diffsev network combines these to features best match traffic engineering and QoS. Similarities between Diffserv & MPLS Complexity is pushed to edge routers. Classification of traffic at edge routers Labeling of packets after classifying them Transit routers treat packets according to the labels Labels are short and of fixed length Aggregation support Table 2[9] When a Diffserv packet arrives into a MPLS network, ingress LSR examines the TOS 4

5 field of IP datagram to check the Diffserv information (DSCP). The incoming traffic is mapped to appropriate LSP. MPLS can map Diffserv traffic to MPLS traffic in several ways. Multiple BAs can be mapped to single LSP or a single BA is mapped to single LSP. When multiple BAs are mapped to a single LSP, Exp field in MPLS is used to specify PHB. This method is called EXP-Inferred-PSC LSP (E-LSP). When a single BA is mapped to a single LSP, it is Label-Only-Inferred-PSC LSP (L- LSP). Table 3 shows the comparison between E-LSP and L-LSP. E-LSP: EXP field of MPLS header (3 bits) is used to specify BAs. Label can be used to make a forwarding decision and EXP field can be used to determine how to treat the packet. L-LSP: A separate LSP can be established for a single FEC BA combination. In this case, the LSR can infer the path as well as treatment of the packet from the label of the packet. The EXP field encodes the drop precedence of the packets. Advantages E-LSPs PHB is determined from EXP field No additional signaling is required EXP-> PHB mapping is configured Shim header is required; E-LSPs are not possible on ATM links Up to 8 PHBs per LSP Supports 8 BAs In a network supporting less than 8 Diffserv classifications, E-LSP is very useful. It combines the traffic engineering capabilities of MPLS with QoS provided by DSCP. LSR needs to map EXP field to PHB. This mapping needs to be configured. L-LSP supports arbitrarily large number of <FEC, BA> combinations. Different LSPs are used for different types of BAs. Ingress router sets the EXP field in accordance with the drop precedence of the packet and sends it on to correct LSP for specified Diffserv BA. Transit routers read the label along with EXP field and act accordingly. Mapping of Label to PHB is signaled and EXP to drop precedence is well known. Disadvantages The problem with E-LSP is that availability of only three bits allows representation of 8 BAs for a given FEC. This is not useful when more than 8 BAs are defined [2]. Though L-LSP supports arbitrarily large number of PHBs, the problem is scalability. In a network with different LSPs for the different BAs increases the number of labels a LSR has to maintain. With increasing number of PHBs, maintaining that amount of labels can become a problem. [9]. L-LSPs PHB is determined from label or from Label/EXP PHB or PHB scheduling group is signaled at LSP setup (in LDP, RSVP etc) Label ->PHB mapping is signaled EXP->PHB mapping is well known Shim or link layer header may be used, therefore suitable for ATM links One PHB per LSP Supports more than 8 BAs Table 3: Difference between E-LSP and L-LSP [2] 4. Discussion Though E-LSP is very useful in a network with limited number of traffic classifications (less than or equal to 8), along with increasing number of traffic classification, E-LSP is not going to serve the purpose. L-LSP is the answer for MPLS Diffserv with many types of PHBs defined. Using different trade-off and combinations of techniques can solve the scalability problem of L-LSP. [9]. The main technique is not permanent usage of resources and labels. Labels will be assigned whenever a particular customer uses the network. ISP providers have many dial-in customers, who need intermittent connections. When such customers are not using the network, the labels associated with them can be used for some other purposes. Thus the total number of labels used will not increase beyond scope and will still 5

6 support more numbers of traffic classifications [9]. In future, QoS is going to be must demanding well-defined methods for providing QoS. Demand high granularity of QoS, will require more number of BAs in Diffserv. MPLS is going to be choice of technology as it provides traffic engineering capabilities and QoS. Today, MPLS supports only Diffserv but as a future technology, it will prove beneficial, if MPLS technology is expanded to embrace future QoS, rather than defining new standards for QoS. Diffserv can be extended to provide high granularity of QoS. One thought/ approach to provide such high granular Diffserv is the use of encapsulated LSPs; one LSP deciding the QoS and the other one deciding the path. Labels used to denote QoS could be static as well as dynamic. The assumption is the classes of service do not change as frequently as the network itself. In that case, static use of labels, which means the fixed association of label and service, will reduce the processing time of LSRs. By checking the outer LSP, LSR knows what how to treat the packet. LSR can then check inner LSP to look up the table just to make forwarding decision. Static Label-Service association will not require LSRs to swap the label for outer LSP. Main policy LSR of the ISP can be configured for the label Service association. This information is provided to all other LSR through LDP or other similar protocols. When dynamic labels are used, labels specifying different classes of services should also be exchanged using LDP or similar protocols. For this approach each LSR needs to maintain two separate databases: one for traffic classes and the other for path decisions. Use of encapsulated LSPs eliminates the need establishing different LSPs for different classes thus eliminating the need to maintain large number of labels as label as same labels can be used for denoting service as well as forwarding decision. Outer LSP will determine the service and the inner LSP will determine the path. This approach needs further study to check its viability. 5. Conclusion This paper described how MPLS and Diffserv work together. It described different approaches to incorporate the Diffserv into MPLS newtworks. It also evaluated the advantages and disadvantages of these approaches briefly. Then paper introduced the concept of encapsulated LSPs to accomplish future QoS supporting many types of traffic classification. This new approach needs further study to check its feasibility. References [1] Uyless Black, MPLS and label Switching Networks, Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, 2002 [2] Bruce Davie, Yakov Rekhter, MPLS Technology and Applications, Morgan Kaufmann, San Francisco, CA 2000 [3] E. Rosen, A. Viswanathan, R. Callon, Multiprotocol Label Switching Architecture, RFC 3031, January 2001 [4] S. Blake, An Architecture for Differentiated Services, RFC 2475, December 1998 [5] Xipeng Xiao, Lionel M. Ni, Internet QoS: the Big Picture, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI [6] Anupama Sundaresan, Differentiate Service, [7] Differentiated Services, [8] Cisco Systems, Diffserv The Scalable End-to- End QoS Model, /iofwft/prodlit/difse_wp.htm [9] Gonzalo Camarillo, Routing Architecture in Diffserv MPLS networks, Advanced Signaling Research Laboratory, Ericsson, FIN Jorvas, Finland [10] Thomas Telkamp, Devloping MPLS and Diffserv in the network, alcrossing_0206).html [11] MPLS-RC, 6

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