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Re: [802SEC] P802c PAR [was Re: [802SEC] FW: [STDS-802-11] Fwd: [802SEC] IEEE 802 Nov 14 Plenary - "PARs under Consideration" Posted]

Roger, and others:

Please see inline comments, responses to questions below.  (Again, everything is personal opinion, not RAC position.)


On Oct 8, 2014, at 12:02 PM, Roger Marks <> wrote:

I share many of Dan's concerns about partitioning the local space.

I take Bob's point that RAC policy does not oppose the use of the CID in addresses. In fact, I read RAC's EUI tutorial as specifically suggesting such use:

*"A CID has the X bit equal to one and consequently that places any address with the CID as its first three octets in the local address space (U/L = 1)."
*"a CID can be extended to create a locally administered MAC address"
*"If a CID is used to create MAC addresses, the X bit becomes the U/L bit. Any such addresses are by definition locally administered and consequentially may not be globally unique."

So I think that it's difficult to justify opposition to the P802c PAR based on RAC policy for the CID. But the fundamental concerns remain. I'd like to get a better understanding of what the RAC was thinking. I can't understand the explanation in the EUI tutorial
["CID though can be a useful tool in management of the local address space to help a network administrator keep local addresses unique to a network (rather than being globally unique."]. I also don't see an explanation in the draft 802c CSD.

<RMG> If a vendor for example is creating virtual machines, if they use their CID, it will by definition be unique from any other vendor using their CID as the basis for creating local addresses for virtualization or any other purpose.  There doesn’t have to be a single address administration function.  Other thoughts of RAC members (no policy on any of this that I recall):
1.  If only a portion of the CID space is used for automated assignment, then we can reserve another portion to be the “wild west” where a Local Address administrator still has free reign.
2.  We can gather up and publish somehow a list of local addresses that people have assumed to be usable.  Some local addresses are specified in standards.
3.  We can consider giving priority to current OUI assignees to get the corresponding CID (numbers only differing by the U/L bit).  This would legitimize those users that assumed (they had rights to do this).  (Big debate should we reaward someone that just assumed rights that weren’t expressly granted?) BTW, The RAC administrator just received a question last month stating the assumption that they had rights to flip the U/L bit of an assigned OUI and nobody else would be assigning a Local Address with that value—nothing that RAC policy suggests they could assume but not uncommon.

<RMG>  What of any of this RAC thinking/discussion would be included in the p802c draft is not an issue for the PAR, but rather for draft development and balloting.  BTW, it wasn’t only RAC thinking, but 802.1 and IETF that contributed to launching the CID recognizing possibilities for use in automated local address creation.

I'd like to understand the perceived role of the "Company" owning the CID used in a MAC address. Is it:

(a) The device manufacturer? This seems to be like saying that every locally-assigned DHCP address in my house should have some bits that are assigned based on the manufacturer. What use is that? [OK, diagnosis may be a little more convenient if an OUI happens to correspond to the name brand on the device, but that's a trivial advantage, and it's a disadvantage for privacy.]

<RMG>  On the privacy point, a CID based address is better than an EUI used as a MAC address as it is not repetitively used by a device (24-bits could still effectively be random) from the snooping point of view. If it were turned around and the CID is one used by the local address administrator, then the local MAC address that a device is using tell you nothing about that device.  Using CID in diagnosis was not a consideration as far as I recall either during RAC discussions or in possible protocols I’ve heard described.

<RMG>  If there were multiple DHCP devices in your house that didn’t communicate, that would be one way to allow both DHCP devices to not assign duplicates.  I believe Fibre Channel Over Ethernet has sufficient specification (like DHCP) so that this would not be needed, but if the RA assigns the appropriate CID to FCOE, then no virtulization vendor or Internet of Things vendor would be assigning duplicates with the FCOE application.

<RMG>  There are also possibilities that the function is more that of a software vendor, operator or other rather than a hardware manufacturer.  (Though CID use in many of these cases is not for MAC addresses but rather for Context Dependent Identifiers.)

(b) The local network administrator? This seems to be like saying that every locally-assigned DHCP address in my house should have some bits that are unique to my house. What use is that? Local is local; what good is making it partially global?

<RMG> The most consistent policy for use of the local address space is that a local address administrator would assure no duplicates were created.  That has existed since the early 1980s.  IBM proposals back then indicated a preference for only using local addresses for 802.5 (16-bit ring number and 32-bit node number).  That would have operated under this broad rule for the local address administrator.  Perhaps I’m missing your point with the DHCP example here.

(c) An operator? For example, a gas meter has a gas company CID and an electrical meter has a power company CID on the same LAN. Seems like a problem better solved by VLAN,.

<RMG> VLAN isn’t the answer to duplicate addresses.  I don’t recall VLANs being part of RAC considerations though.

(d) Something else?

<RMG> Where there is no standard to govern things, the CID allows private protocols that do not have to cooperate with other protocols.  Obviously if p802c is successful, then it will be referenced by other standards and be used by private protocols rather than just picking local addresses for the application as is now sometimes done.  CID of course has non-address uses that can reduce the consumption of OUIs.  For example, some standards specify use of an OUI for non-address applications.  I would guess though that this was not part of your concern here.  
If I were a network administrator, I might see value in partitioning the local space following the IP model; in other words, on the basis on topology, so I could make forwarding decisions on the basis of a subset of the address and not need to store every MAC address in a switching table. But, if I were going to implement such a system, I'd want to locally administer 46 bits, not 24.

<RMG>  Lots of possibilities here.  How about 44 bits?  One quadrant of the local space for the “wild west”, one for CID based automated assignment, one for …  Realistically, the problem here is how to best accommodate the fact that the entire space is the “wild west” today, no rules other than some local administrator being responsible for preventing duplicates, but reality being that some uses of the local address space are in use.  From my perspective, the RAC is really serious about not declaring other legacy uses “illegal”, something 46-bits probably could come closer to doing.  I believe the RAC consensus is that any local address structuring will take years to get pushed into the marketplace.  We started that by getting appropriate warning into IETF descriptions of 802 addressing and OUI and CID.  We tried to get it into the revision of Std 802.  We will work to get things tightened up in many IEEE standards that use the OUI registry especially other IEEE standards that use 802 addressing.  But this is and will be a long process not solved by p802c even though I believe p802c helps with a solution.  Any proposal that ignores the reality of legacy use and simply assumes local addresses are not in use, I believe is flawed, whether that assumption is in 802 or IETF or were to become a property of any standard that attempts to jump into the local address space.

My personal opinion is the primary RAC responsibility is to ensure the viability of its registries.  The two I worry about most are OUI and EtherType.  I also believe that IEEE Std 802 is the right place to standardize 802 style MAC addresses.  The two are related but there is an important distinction in responsibilities.  An IEEE 802c amendment will have been subjected to a balloting process open to all interested parties.  A RAC policy isn’t subject to the same process.

I think that the PAR and CSD need to provide a clear indication of the expected usage model, articulating its advantages and disadvantages.

<RMG> I disagree in principle.  Such details are for a project to decide.  To me, is there a reasonable solution (technical and economic feasibility) to bring structure to the local address space and make local addresses more usable for IoT, virtulization, etc. is the requirement for approving a PAR.  Sometimes we write the PAR to standardize a solution, but that is not IEEE-SA policy.  The PAR serves as an announcement to the world of activity being initiated to all interested parties, in other words, a PAR to address a problem or opportunity is really what is intended by IEEE-SA process.  I’m expect I’ve overstated your position here, and I’ll leave it to the PAR proponents to accommodate provision of more detail.

I agree with Adrian that a forum at the Plenary would be very helpful.

Roger Marks

EthAirNet Associates

I'd like to clarify/correct a couple points in Dan's email.  (Personal comments, not comments from the RAC.)

1.  Talking about what the CID has been historically is a bit misleading.  The CID has very little history, only having been introduced this year.  The RAC has never stated what it would not be used for, contrary to a possible inference from the assertion that the CID was ONLY for non-address applications.  I'm not aware of any RAC statement or document that says a CID shouldn't be used for local address assignment.

2.  The possibility of using a three-octet value with the U/L bit set as the base for local address assignment has a very long history independent of any RAC policy supporting the practice (nor RAC policy to prevent such practice).  (Some have assumed and standards have even specified local addresses based on setting the U/L bit of an assigned OUI.)

3.  The possibility for recommended practices or standards specifying use of a CID in assigning a local address was a RAC consideration in recommending to the BOG that a CID product be introduced.  So, the idea underlying p802c is consistent with RAC considerations in development and introduction of CIDs.

4.  I would expect RAC members (me for one) and perhaps even RAC mandatory coordination  comments would object to anything in p802c that declares legacy uses "illegal".  I find nothing in the p802c PAR that indicates the specifications would do this.  On the contrary, all presentations I have seen for "automated" assignment of local addresses (rather than assignment by a local address administrator), except for pure randomization, recognize and deal with duplicate local address assignment  These proposals recognize legacy use of the local space, and minimize the impacts of duplicate addresses on network operation. 

Bob Grow
M: 858 705 1829

On Oct 6, 2014, at 11:09 PM, "Stephens, Adrian P" <Adrian.P.Stephens@INTEL.COM> wrote:

Dear EC,

Feedback from Dan Harkins.  His argument makes sense to me.
I'd like to see a forum at the Plenary where this discussion can take place.

Best Regards,
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-----Original Message-----
From: *** IEEE stds-802-11 List *** [] On Behalf Of Dan Harkins
Sent: 06 October 2014 18:27
Subject: Re: [STDS-802-11] Fwd: [802SEC] IEEE 802 Nov 14 Plenary - "PARs under Consideration" Posted

--- This message came from the IEEE 802.11 Working Group Reflector ---

 Hi Jon,

 Thank you for the opportunity to comment on one of these PARs.

 I have serious problems with the 802c PAR. This proposes forming a group to partition and allocate portions of the local address space (those ethernet addresses with the "local" bit set to 1). Currently the local address space has 2^46 entries in it (48 bits with local bit = 1 and broadcast/multicast = 0).
There are a number of issues with this plan.

 First of all, the IEEE RAC has been assigning OUIs for years.
Historically, with an OUI an assignee also got 2^24 unique addresses assigned (an MA-L). Now the IEEE RAC is requiring first-time applicants to apply for a MA-M or MA-S first, providing 2^20 or 2^12 addresses, respectively. In any event, purchasing of an OUI gets an assignment of globally-unique addresses. Also, the IEEE RAC will sell a "company ID", or CID.
CIDs are intended for "non-address applications" such as protocol identifiers or context-dependent identifiers and assignees get a total of zero addresses, which makes sense (non-address application gets no addresses). These CIDs look just like OUIs, they are 24 bits, except if you were to construct an address out of a CID it would be in the local address space because the difference between an OUI and CID is a bit which maps to the "local" bit. This has not been a problem historically because CIDs are for "non-address applications" and you should not be forming addresses out of CIDs so there could be no conflict.

 This PAR wants to allocate a portion of the local address space using IEEE RAC assigned CIDs. It actually wants to form addresses out of things that have been assigned for non-address applications. That does not seem to be consistent with the past or current practice of the IEEE RAC. And it creates new problems that IEEE RAC assignment of CIDs did not used to have, namely devices that use the local address space today may now become "illegal" as they will infringe on addresses this 802c group may allocate if the PAR is approved.

 Another problems is that applications that want to randomize MAC addresses, for example following the recommendations from 11-14/0367r2, the probability of a collision of randomly-chosen MAC addresses must be kept as remote as possible. Partitioning the local address space will vastly increase the probability of collision and when there's a collision of MAC addresses on a network there are networking problems. Randomly-chosen MAC addresses do not need to be globally unique, they just need to be unique on the locally-switched network. As soon as a router is reached the addresses don't matter-- i.e. a device on the other side of the router could choose the same MAC address as my device does and that's not a problem.

 Using the birthday paradox we can tell the probability of a collision p(N:C) with C being the number of MAC addresses available to choose from and N being the number of STAs on a locally-switched network. How many STAs can we expect? Well for a small IEEE/verilan kind of network it's going to be less than 5000. The record for the largest 802.11 deployment is 30,000+ simultaneous STAs seen (Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA at a 49ers game).

If the entire local address space is available we get:

 p(500, 2^46) = 0.0000000018
 p(1000, 2^46) = 0.0000000071
 p(5000, 2^46) = 0.0000001776
 p(10000, 2^46) = 0.0000007105
 p(30000, 2^46) = 0.00000639 (about 1:156,000)
 p(64000, 2^46) = 0.0000291 (about 1:34000)

Keep in mind that modern switches don't really function too well when the forwarding table gets too big (which is why vendors recommend it not get bigger than 32k even though the theoretical max is 64k). If the 802c PAR requires randomly choosing based on a CID we end up with:

 p(500, 2^24) = 0.0074
 p(1000, 2^24) = 0.029
 p(5000, 2^24) = 0.525

and that's already worse than a coin flip, for just 5000 STAs.

 Actually, the probability of collision for an average home network with the 802c partitioning, p(15, 2^24), is about the same as it is for the largest 802.11 network ever without the 802c partitioning, p(30000, 2^46).

 So this PAR will guarantee that collisions will happen constantly on even the smallest 802.11 network. This PAR will guarantee chaos on a network of any reasonable size.

 To sum, this PAR will create problems with the way the IEEE RAC has historically allocated CIDs (they are for non-address purposes and you get no addresses) and it will guarantee chaos on switched networks. Well what problem does this PAR solve if it's producing all these problems you ask? It doesn't look like it solves a problem.

 It says that "[i]ncreasing use of virtual machines and Internet of Things (IoT) devices could exhaust the global address space if global addresses are assigned. This project will enable protocols that automatically configure addresses from a portion of the local address space. Such protocols will allow virtual machines and IoT devices to obtain a local address without local administration."

 But these devices can already automatically configure addresses from the local address space by just choosing randomly and the probability of collision is very remote. This PAR is actually describing a non-problem-- IoT devices cannot obtain local addresses without local administration-- and then proposing to create huge problems because of it-- partitioning of the local address space.

 I am strongly opposed to this PAR. IEEE 802 should not be approving groups that will cause huge problems on networks, especially when they do not appear to provide any tangible benefit.

 Thank you for giving me this opportunity to express my opinion on the 802c PAR. Regards,


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