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[ga] More Root-Servers?

Yesterday suggestions were made here for placing root-servers more
geographically spread around the world. The problem is that 13 is
the maximum.

Below an idea that RIPE (which operates K) is considering. In short:
there would be several machines with the same IP number in different
places using anycast. So there would in fact be more root-servers that
appear to be just one of the 13.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 05 Nov 2002 13:12:22 +0100
From: Daniel Karrenberg <Daniel.Karrenberg@ripe.net>
To: RIPE DNS WG <dns-wg@ripe.net>
Cc: RIPE Routing WG <routing-wg@ripe.net>
Subject: Distributing K-Root Service by Anycast Routing

Dear Colleagues,

below you find the proposal to start distributing the service
of k.root-servers.net by using anycast. I welcome comments
and suggestions either privately or on the DNS WG list.
I would like to see a good discussion so that we can proceed
with support from the RIPE community. Can we have this
discussion on the DNS WG list too please? In particular
I would like to hear technical suggestions for Appendix A.




     Distributing  K-Root Service by Anycast Routing of

                     Daniel Karrenberg

     $Id: k-any.ms,v 1.9 2002/11/05 12:03:32 dfk Exp $


          This memo proposes to distribute the DNS ser-
     vice  provided by k.root-servers.net across multi-
     ple locations in the Internet topology.   It  dis-
     cusses  the  motivation  for and the principles of
     implementation.  A  first  inventory  of  detailed
     issues is provided in an appendix.

1.  Introduction

DNS  root  name  servers  need  to be accessible by Internet
hosts in order for the DNS to function  properly.   Accessi-
bility  is determined by the ability of the server to handle
a given query load and by the connectivity of the server  to
the rest of the Internet.

The  RIPE  NCC  operates  k.root-servers.net (K-root) in the
RIPE region in order to help safeguard the  quality  of  the
DNS  in  the  Internet and in the RIPE region in particular.
The RIPE NCC obtains guidance from RIPE.

For K-root the connectivity  issue  has  been  addressed  by
placing  it at the LINX, a topologically very well connected
point.  The server load issue has been addressed by  deploy-
ing  successive  generations of hardware with increased pro-
cessing power and by distributing the load locally  among  a
number  of  machines  at different LINX sites.  A cold spare
system has been available in Amsterdam at all times to  pro-
vide continuity in case of catastrophic failures at the pri-
mary server location.  Over the years this set-up  has  pro-
vided very reliable service.

However issues about differences in connectivity to the ser-
vice across the RIPE region have been raised repeatedly.   A
more  distributed provision of the service is generally seen
as positive because of

  -  lower network  delays  due  to  shorter  paths  between
     clients and servers,

  -  less dependence on connectivity to a single location,

  -  better  load and DDoS attack resiliance because of dis-
     tributed servers,

  -  more overall redundancy.

For these reasons numerous  organisations  have  offered  to
host  additional  servers  operated  by the RIPE NCC. So far
this has not been considered because the number of unique IP
addresses  at which the service can be provided is exhausted
by currently assigned servers.

2.  Scope of this Memo

This memo proposes  to  deploy  multiple  servers  providing
k.root-servers.net name service across the RIPE region, each
using the same IP address.  This is  commonly  called  'any-
casting'.   A detailed description of one implementation can
be found in RFC3258.  The  intention  of  this  memo  is  to
establish  the  principles  of  this,  inventarise the major
issues and request comments  from  the  RIPE  community  and
other  interested parties.  An initial inventory of detailed
issues is provided as an appendix.

3.  Proposal

Simply put the RIPE NCC will provide K-root name service  at
multiple  locations dispersed over the Internet topology but
at the same IP address.  No DNS client/resolver changes  are
necessary.  The service will appear exactly the same for the
users.  Normal Internet routing will distribute the  traffic
among the different instances of K-root.

This  will  be  implemented by installing multiple copies of
the current server sets at different points  and  announcing
the current prefix 193.0.14/24 from these points.

The  main  challenge  with  this set-up is to ensure consis-

operation -
     All servers will be operated in a consistent way by the
     RIPE  NCC.   They  will  have  appropriate  out-of-band
     access path to ensure that the  operations  centre  can
     access them.

monitoring -
     The  availability  and  responses  will be monitored by
     dedicated  monitoring  systems  installed  at  multiple
     locations.   Also  the  BGP  propagation  of the prefix
     193.0.14/24 will be monitored constantly by the  exist-
     ing remote route collectors.  [http://www.ripe.net/ris]
     Users will be able to identify the particular  instance
     they  are using by published methods using DNS queries.

correctness -
     The correctness and authenticity of the root zone  data
     will  eventually be guaranteed using DNSSEC. Until this
     can be deployed the current  method  will  need  to  be
     employed:  ISPs will need to closely monitor where they
     route traffic to 193.0.14/24 and from where they accept
     traffic  from  that address.  The RIPE NCC will publish
     and maintain a list with the locations  of  the  k-root
     instances,  the  BGP autonomous system numbers of their
     immediate neighbors and any other information that  can
     help  ISPs  and  others  to  ensure  that they reach an
     authentic instance of K-root.  This list will be  main-
     tained until appropriate routing security technology is
     widely deployed.

The RIPE NCC and K-root itself are well suited for this mode
of  operation.   IANA  asked the RIPE NCC to operate K-root,
the geographic and topological location of  K-root  was  not
specified  in  any  way  other  than  "somewhere in the RIPE
region". The RIPE NCC was chosen because it is  neutral  and
professional  but above all directly accountable to RIPE and
its membership.

The location at the LINX was subsequently  chosen  based  on
evaluation of the Internet topology in the region and a rec-
ommendation by the RIPE DNS working group.  Distributing  K-
root  over  a  number of places is a natural continuation of
this policy.

In addition to operating K-root at  a  remote  location  the
RIPE  NCC  has  considerable  experience  in  operating dis-
tributed services.  The Test  Traffic  Measurements  Service
operates more than 80 machines all over the world to collect
performance measurements.  Some of these can be used to mon-
itor  the DNS service of K-root as well.  The Routing Infor-
mation  Service  operates  9  remote  route  collectors   at
exchange  points  all  over the world to collect BGP routing
information.  These route collectors will be used to monitor
the routing of 193.0.14/24.

At  any point in time there is a trade-off between the added
benefit of adding more servers and the difficulty of operat-
ing  them  consistently.   The  optimal  number  of  servers
depends on a large number of  constantly  changing  factors.
It needs to be evaluated continuously as things progress.

4.  Operational & Funding Models

For  the purpose of stability and for gaining experience all
instances of K-root will be operated by the RIPE NCC.   This
ensures  smooth  transitions, consistency and correctness of
root zone data.

After the initial deployment there are a number of  possible
operational and funding models.

4.1.  Traditional

Traditionally  K-root  operations  have been part of general
RIPE NCC activities and thus have been  collectively  funded
by  the RIPE NCC membership.  This is an appropriate funding
model as all members benefit from stable root name  service.
It  is also easy to administer.  Difficulties may arise when
the number of locations is such that the  operational  costs
increase  very significantly.  Another important drawback of
this model is that the number of additional  sites  will  be
limited  by  available  funds  and the sites will have to be
determined  by  a  selection  procedure  based  on  criteria

     - position in Internet topology,

     - position relative to existing K-root instances,

     - local operations support,

     - operational requirements [rfc2870],

     - commitment to fund operations at a later stage.

4.2.  Location Fees

The  drawbacks of the traditional model can be largely over-
come by charging the organisations hosting K-root  instances
a  fee  that  covers  the  operational costs. This obviously
scales better and requires less of a beauty contest, because
the  funds available will more closely match the operational
costs.  It is quite possible that the initial demand will be
higher than the operational capabilities of the RIPE NCC.

Also  it  should  be observed that in funding and some other
aspects this is exactly  the  opposite  of  the  traditional
model: In the traditional model the RIPE NCC pays facilities
management fees to the hosts whereas in this model the hosts

Transition should be planned carefully.

4.3.  Operated and Funded Decentrally

In  this  model anyone who wishes would be able to operate a
K-root instance.  This model has such serious problems  with
guaranteeing  stability  and  consistency  that it cannot be
implemented today  or  in  the  near  future.   The  minimum
requirement  for  this  operational  mode  is a zone signing
mechanism that ensures consistency and authenticity of  root
zone  data.  Implementing this also requires a changed model
of service responsibility as it is obviously  impossible  to
hold any one entity responsible for the service.  While this
may ultimately scale the best, it is extremely premature  at
this point.

We  propose  to  continue with the traditional model for now
and explore other models while gaining  operational  experi-
ence.   The associated selection procedures will be executed
by the RIPE NCC and guided by the relevant requirements RFCs
and the RIPE DNS working group.

5.  Implementation Plan

5.1.  Initial BGP change

The  routing  announcements  of  the  current  server prefix
193.0.14/24 will change from AS5459 (LINX) to the  dedicated
new K-root autonomous system number AS25152.

ISPs  need  to be aware of this and adapt their routing fil-
ters accordingly.  It is recommended that ISPs  who  do  not
already  do  so,  take  precautions,  safeguaring  that they
receive this prefix from an authentic K-root via  a  trusted
path  and that they route traffic to it via trusted paths as
far as possible.  At the same time an initial set of BGP and
DNS service monitors will be deployed.

5.2.  Move the Cold Standby to Service

The  current  cold  standby  server  at the RIPE NCC will be
activated as a regular server.  AS25152  will  be  announced
also  by  the  RIPE  NCC  at  the  AMS-IX.  As the server is
already available and configured this  can  be  done  fairly
rapidly.  The distribution of the load, BGP routing informa-
tion and other operational data will be gathered and  evalu-
ated.   ISPs  will  have the opportunity to test this set-up
and provide feedback.  In case  of  problems  the  RIPE  NCC
instance of K-root will be deactivated quickly, returning to
the previous service level.

5.3.  Implement Further Instances

While monitoring continuously a number of further  instances
of  K-root will be deployed.  Currently we expect this to be
about 5 additional instances.  This  number  is  limited  by
operational and monitoring capacity.  It is important not to
deploy more instances than can safely be operated and  moni-
tored.   Especially the capacity to detect and correct prob-
lems in this distributed set-up needs to be carefully  moni-

5.4.  Spreading Further

Planning further than this is currently difficult because of
lack of experience with distributed  K-root  operations  and
possible funding models.


The author would like to thank Joao Silva Damas for comments
on an earlier draft as well as Andrei Robachevsky  and  Henk
Uijterwaal who provided comments on recent drafts.

Appendix A - Detailed Issues

Using a router or having a server speak BGP?

Withdrawing BGP announcements based on service availability?

Distributed service monitoring: Using current RIPE NCC oper-
ated  machines  all  over the world is an easy option. Maybe
distributing automatic monitoring software to be run by vol-
unteers  is  another. What is essentially needed is to try a
small number of queries  periodically  including  the  query
identifying  the  instance  of the server. Then transmitting
the results back to a (set of) collection point(s).

Distributed BGP Monitoring: The RIS can be  used  for  this.
Coverage should be sufficient.

Information  Campaign: What is needed to reach all ISPs that
need to know? How long a lead time do they need for the var-
ious stages of the deployment?

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