RFC3269: Author Guidelines for Reliable Multicast Transport (RMT) Building Blocks and Protocol Instantiation documents

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Network Working Group                                         R. Kermode
Request for Comments: 3269                                      Motorola
Category: Informational                                      L. Vicisano
                                                              April 2002

Author Guidelines for Reliable Multicast Transport (RMT) Building Blocks
                  and Protocol Instantiation documents

Status of this Memo

   This memo provides information for the Internet community.  It does
   not specify an Internet standard of any kind.  Distribution of this
   memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2002).  All Rights Reserved.


   This document provides general guidelines to assist the authors of
   Reliable Multicast Transport (RMT) building block and protocol
   instantiation definitions.  The purpose of these guidelines is to
   ensure that any building block and protocol instantiation definitions
   produced contain sufficient information to fully explain their
   operation and use.  In addition these guidelines provide directions
   to specify modular and clearly defined RMT building blocks and
   protocol instantiations that can be refined and augmented to safely
   create new protocols for use in new scenarios for which any existing
   protocols were not designed.

Table of Contents

   1 Introduction ...................................................  2
   1.1 Terminology ..................................................  3
   2 The Guidelines .................................................  3
   2.1 Building Block Document Guidelines ...........................  3
   2.1.1 Rationale ..................................................  3
   2.1.2 Functionality ..............................................  4
   2.1.3 Applicability Statement ....................................  4
   2.1.4 Packet-Header Fields .......................................  4
   2.1.5 Requirements from other Building Blocks ....................  5
   2.1.6 Security Considerations ....................................  5
   2.1.7 Codepoint Considerations ...................................  6
   2.1.8 Summary Checklist ..........................................  6
   2.2 Protocol Instantiation Document Guidelines ...................  7

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   2.2.1 Applicability Statement ....................................  7
   2.2.2 Architecture Definition ....................................  7
   2.2.3 Conformance Statement ......................................  8
   2.2.4 Functionality Definition ...................................  8
   2.2.5 Packet Formats .............................................  9
   2.2.6 Summary Checklist ..........................................  9
   3 IANA Considerations ............................................  9
   4 Acknowledgements ............................................... 10
   5 References ..................................................... 10
   6 Authors' Addresses ............................................. 11
   7 Full Copyright Statement ....................................... 12

1.  Introduction

   Reliable Multicast Transport (RMT) protocols can be constructed in a
   variety of ways, some of which will work better for certain
   situations than others.  It is believed that the requirements space
   for reliable multicast transport is sufficiently diverse that no one
   protocol can meet all the requirements [RFC2887].  However, it is
   also believed that there is sufficient commonality between the
   various approaches that it should be possible to define a number of
   building blocks [RFC3048] from which the various RMT protocols can be

   One key benefit of this approach is that the same building block can
   be used multiple times in different protocol instantiations.  Another
   key benefit is that building blocks may be upgraded as experience and
   understanding is gained.  For this operation to be possible the
   building block needs to be clearly defined in terms of what it does,
   how it interacts with other building blocks, and how it fits into the
   overall architecture of a protocol instantiation.  This description
   should also be sufficiently detailed so that those wishing to improve
   upon a particular building block or protocol instantiation can do so
   with a full understanding of the design decisions and tradeoffs that
   were made earlier.

   The building block approach also presents some dangers that must be
   well understood in order to avoid potential specification flaws.

   The most important danger is related to inappropriate usage of
   building blocks.  Although efforts should be made in order to produce
   a modular and reusable specification of building blocks, for
   practical reasons this goal is not always fully achievable.  This
   results in the specification of building blocks whose applicability
   is context dependent, which in turn creates the potential for the
   risk of co-dependence incompatibilities between building blocks.  An
   example of such an incompatibility would be situation where the

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   combinations of building blocks A and B works, the combination of
   building blocks B and C works, however the combination of building
   blocks A, B, and C does not work.

   In order to avoid misusage of and incompatibilities between building
   blocks, any external dependency must be highlighted in the building
   block specification.  Furthermore, the specification must contain a
   precise applicability statement for the building block.  Conversely,
   any protocol instantiation specification must state how any building
   block being used in it meets the protocol instantiation's
   applicability requirements.  These guidelines are not intended to
   replace the common practice of Internet specification writing, but to
   augment them in a manner that better fits the RMT framework.

1.1.  Terminology

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119 [RFC2119].

2.  The Guidelines

   This document provides guidelines for authors of the two main kinds
   of RMT documents; building block documents and protocol instantiation
   documents.  The guidelines for each are as follows.

2.1.  Building Block Document Guidelines

   All RMT Building block documents MUST contain sections that cover the

2.1.1.  Rationale

   Individual building blocks SHOULD be reusable within multiple
   protocols and MUST provide functionality not present within other
   building blocks.  If a building block is currently used in a single
   protocol instantiation, then it MUST specify some functionality that
   is likely to be reused in another (future) protocol instantiation.

   The rationale section of a building block document must clearly
   define why the particular level of granularity for the functional
   decomposition resulted in that building block being chosen.  If the
   granularity is too small it is highly likely that the building blocks
   will be trivial, and therefore require excessive additional effort to
   realize a working protocol.  Conversely, if the level of granularity
   is too large, building blocks will only be usable within a single
   protocol instantiation.  The rationale section MUST show that the
   level of granularity is appropriate so that neither problem occurs.

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2.1.2.  Functionality

   The functionality section within a building block document MUST
   describe all algorithms and functions contained within the building
   block.  In addition, the external interfaces for accessing these
   algorithms and functions MUST be fully specified so that the building
   block can be combined with other building blocks and any additional
   functionality specified within a protocol instantiation document to
   realize a working protocol.

2.1.3.  Applicability Statement

   One of the most important sections of a building block document will
   be the Applicability Statement.  The purpose of this section is to
   provide sufficient details about the intended use of the building
   block so that potential authors of protocol instantiations will be
   able to use the building block in conformance to its applicability
   constraints.  Also the Applicability Statement section will enable
   future building block document authors to quickly determine whether
   or not their particular need can be met with an existing building
   block.  For this to be possible the Applicability Statement MUST

   o  Intended scenarios for the building block's use.

   o  The building block's known failure modes, why they occur, and how
      they can be detected.

   o  A list of environmental considerations that includes but is not
      limited to whether the building block requires multi-source
      multicast or can be used in single-source only multicast networks,
      satellite networks, asymmetric networks, and wireless networks.

   o  A list of potential areas of conflict or incompatibilities with
      other building blocks.

2.1.4.  Packet-Header Fields

   If a building block implements a functionality whose realization
   requires an exchange of protocol messages between multiple agents,
   then the building block specification MUST state what kind of
   information is required and how the exchanged occurs.  This includes
   detailed description of the data format and various communication
   requirements, such as timing constraints, and network requirements
   (e.g., multicast vs. unicast delivery).

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   Typically the data format specification is at the level of "generic
   header fields" without a full bit-level header specification.
   Generic header fields MAY specify additional requirements, such as
   representation precision or preferred position within the packet
   header (this last constraint might be dictated by efficiency

   A building block specification MAY specify "abstract messages" that
   carry particular information for exclusive use within the building
   block, however, more frequently, it will rely on the protocol
   messages specified in the protocol instantiation to carry the
   information it needs.

   The building block that provides Generic Router Assist functionality
   is an exception to the rule stated above.  For efficiency reasons,
   this building block may fully specify header fields and positions of
   these fields within the packet-header.

2.1.5.  Requirements from other Building Blocks

   Each building block will specify a well defined piece of
   functionality that is common to multiple protocol instantiations.
   However, this does not mean that building block definitions will be
   generated in isolation from other building blocks.  For example, a
   congestion control building block will have specific requirements
   regarding loss notification from either a NACK or ACK building block.
   The "Requirements from other Building Blocks" section is included to
   capture these requirements so that the authors of related building
   blocks can determine what functionality they need to provide in order
   to use a particular building block.

   Specifically, the "Requirements from other Building Blocks section"
   MUST provide a complete and exhaustive enumeration of all the
   requirements that will be made upon other building blocks in order
   for the building block being specified to operate in its intended
   manner.  Requirements that SHOULD be enumerated include but are not
   limited to:

   o  Event generation for and responses to other building blocks.

   o  Message ordering relative to messages from other building blocks.

2.1.6.  Security Considerations

   Protocol instantiations have the ultimate responsibility of
   addressing security requirements, in conformance to RFC 2357.
   Security considerations may not be applicable to generic building
   blocks other than a specific "security" building block.  Some

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   building blocks, however, may raise special security issues, either
   due to the nature of communication required by the building block or
   due to the intended usage of the building block in a protocol
   instantiation.  When special security issues are present in a
   building block, its specification MUST address them explicitly.

   An example of this might be a building block that involves exchange
   of data that is particularly sensitive to security attacks.

2.1.7.  Codepoint Considerations

   Certain Building Blocks will specify general frameworks for
   describing functionality while leaving the detail open for
   implementation specific algorithms.  One example of such a building
   block is the Forward Error Correction (FEC) building block which
   describes the framing aspects for FEC message fragments but not the
   algorithms used to generate the redundant data.

2.1.8.  Summary Checklist

      _  Provide justification for the building block's existence
      _  Provide rationale for the building block's granularity

      _  Functionality contained within the building block
      _  External interfaces

   Applicability Statement
      _  Intended usage
      _  Failure modes (including means of detection if known)
      _  Environmental considerations
      _  Incompatibilities / Conflicts with other building blocks

   Packet Header Fields
      _  Specification of logical packet-header fields (*)
      _  Abstract messages specifications (*)

   Requirements from other building blocks;
      _  Mandatory needs from other building blocks

   Security Considerations
      _  Specify as much as possible (with respect to procedures,
         algorithms and data encoding), without affecting the general
         applicability of the building block.

   (*) May not be applicable to some building blocks.

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2.2.  Protocol Instantiation Document Guidelines

   Protocol Instantiation documents have one purpose: to specify how one
   can combine multiple building blocks to construct a new fully
   specified working protocol.  To that end RMT Protocol Instantiation
   documents MUST contain the following four sections.

2.2.1.  Applicability Statement

   The applicability statement's purpose is to frame the design space in
   which the fully realized protocol will operate and to thereby enable
   subsequent would-be RMT protocol designers to determine whether or
   not an existing protocol already meets their needs.  For this to be
   possible the applicability statement MUST adhere to the following

   1) The target application space for which the protocol is intended
      MUST be clearly identified.  For example; is the protocol to be
      used for real-time delivery, or non-real time file transfer?

   2) The target scale, in terms of maximum number of receivers per
      session, for which the protocol is intended MUST be clearly
      specified.  If the protocol has an architectural limitation
      resulting from the optimization of another feature, such as per
      packet acknowledgment, this SHOULD be included.

   3) The applicability statement MUST identify the intended
      environments for the protocol's use AND list any environments in
      which the protocol should not be used.  Example environments that
      should be considered include asymmetric networks, wireless
      networks, and satellite networks.

   4) Finally, all protocols have inherent weaknesses that stem from the
      optimization for a specific feature.  These weaknesses can
      manifest in spectacular failure modes when certain conditions
      occur.  When known, these conditions and the nature of how the
      subsequent failure can be detected MUST be included in the
      applicability statement.

2.2.2.  Architecture Definition

   Protocol Instantiations define how to combine one or more building
   blocks to create a working protocol.  The Architecture Definition
   lays out the framework for how this take place.  For this framework
   to be complete, it MUST contain the following information:

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   1) An overview of the major facets of the protocol's operation.

   2) Full enumeration and overview of which Building Blocks are used
      with explicit references to their documents that define them.

   3) An overview of how the aforementioned building blocks are to be

   4) A discussion of the design tradeoffs made in the selection of the
      chosen architecture.

2.2.3.  Conformance Statement

   The conformance statement below MUST be included and adhered to:

      "This Protocol Instantiation document, in conjunction with the
      following Building Block documents identified in [list of relevant
      building block references] completely specifies a working reliable
      multicast transport protocol that conforms to the requirements
      described in RFC 2357."

   Protocol instantiation document authors are specifically reminded
   that RFC 2357 requires that any RMT protocol put forward for
   standardization with the IETF is required to protect the network in
   as much as is possible.  This does not mean that RMT protocols will
   be held to a higher standard than unicast transport protocols, merely
   that they should be designed to perform at least as well as unicast
   transport protocols when it comes to the possibility of protocol

2.2.4.  Functionality Definition

   Building Block documents will be incomplete in that they will specify
   an abstract framework of a building block's functionality.  Complete
   algorithmic specifications for each building block along with any
   additional functionality MUST be provided within the Protocol
   Instantiation document's functionality definition.  Furthermore, this
   description must show that each building block is used in accordance
   with its respective applicability statement.  Finally the
   functionality description must provide a description of the abstract
   programming interface for interfacing the protocol instantiation with
   the applications that will use it.

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2.2.5.  Packet Formats

   Once all the functionality has been fully defined, the Protocol
   Instantiation document must define the packet formats that will be
   used by the protocol.  Each message part and the rules for their
   concatenation MUST be specified for both IPv4 [RFC791] and IPv6
   [RFC2460].  Support for IPSEC [RFC2401] MUST be explicitly shown.

   In recognition of the fact that protocols will evolve and that IP
   protocol numbers are a scarce resource, protocol instantiations MUST
   initially define packet formats for use over UDP [RFC768].  Whether
   or not a particular Reliable Multicast Transport protocol
   instantiation becomes sufficiently popular to warrant its own
   protocol number is an issue which will be deferred until such time
   that the protocol has been sufficiently widely deployed and

2.2.6.  Summary Checklist

   Applicability Statement
      _  Target application space
      _  Target scale
      _  Intended environment
      _  Weaknesses and known failure modes

   Architecture Definition
      _  Operational overview
      _  Building blocks used
      _  Details on how building blocks are joined

   Conformance Statement
      _  Inclusion of mandatory paragraph

   Functionality Definition
      _  Building block algorithmic specification
      _  Addition functionality specification
      _  Compliance with building block applicability statements
      _  Abstract program interface

   Packet Formats
      _  IPv4 message parts
      _  IPv6 message parts
      _  IPSEC support
      _  Message ordering

3.  IANA Considerations

   There are no explicit IANA considerations for this document.

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4.  Acknowledgements

   This document represents an overview of the mandatory elements
   required for the specification of building blocks and protocol
   instantiations within the RMT working group.  The requirements
   presented are a summarization of discussions held between the RMT
   Working Group chairs and the participants in the IRTF Reliable
   Multicast Research Group.  Although the name of these participants
   are too numerous to list here, the Working Group chairs would like to
   thank everyone who has participated in these discussions for their

5.  References

   [RFC768]  Postel, J., "User Datagram Protocol", STD 6, RFC 768,
             August 1980.

   [RFC791]  Postel, J., "Darpa Internet Protocol Specification", STD 5,
             RFC 791, September 1981.

   [RFC2401] Kent, S. and R. Atkinson, "Security Architecture for the
             Internet Protocol", RFC 2401, November 1998.

   [RFC2460] Deering, S. and R. Hinden, "Internet Protocol, Version 6
             (IPv6) Specification", RFC2460, December 1998.

   [RFC2887] Handley, M., Floyd, S., Whetten, B., Kermode, R., Vicisano,
             L. and M. Luby, "The Reliable Multicast Design Space for
             Bulk Data Transfer", RFC 2887, August 2000.

   [RFC3048] Whetten, B., Vicisano, L., Kermode, R., Handley, M., Floyd,
             S. and M. Luby, "Reliable Multicast Transport Building
             Blocks for One-to-Many Bulk-Data Transfer", RFC 3048,
             January 2001.

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6.  Authors' Addresses

   Roger Kermode
   Motorola Australian Research Centre
   Locked Bag 5028
   Botany  NSW  1455,

   EMail: Roger.Kermode@motorola.com

   Lorenzo Vicisano
   Cisco Systems,
   170 West Tasman Dr.
   San Jose, CA 95134, USA

   EMail: lorenzo@cisco.com

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7.  Full Copyright Statement

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2002).  All Rights Reserved.

   This document and translations of it may be copied and furnished to
   others, and derivative works that comment on or otherwise explain it
   or assist in its implementation may be prepared, copied, published
   and distributed, in whole or in part, without restriction of any
   kind, provided that the above copyright notice and this paragraph are
   included on all such copies and derivative works.  However, this
   document itself may not be modified in any way, such as by removing
   the copyright notice or references to the Internet Society or other
   Internet organizations, except as needed for the purpose of
   developing Internet standards in which case the procedures for
   copyrights defined in the Internet Standards process must be
   followed, or as required to translate it into languages other than

   The limited permissions granted above are perpetual and will not be
   revoked by the Internet Society or its successors or assigns.

   This document and the information contained herein is provided on an


   Funding for the RFC Editor function is currently provided by the
   Internet Society.

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