Network Working Group                                             J. Moy
Request for Comments: 2329                   Ascend Communications, Inc.
Category: Informational                                       April 1998

                      OSPF Standardization Report

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 (1998).  All Rights Reserved.


    This memo documents how the requirements for advancing a routing
    protocol to Full Standard, set out in [Ref2], have been met for

    Please send comments to

Table of Contents

    1        Introduction ........................................... 2
    2        Modifications since Draft Standard status .............. 3
    2.1      Point-to-MultiPoint interface .......................... 4
    2.2      Cryptographic Authentication ........................... 5
    3        Updated implementation and deployment experience ....... 5
    4        Protocol Security ...................................... 7
             References ............................................. 8
             Security Considerations ................................ 8
             Author's Address ....................................... 8
             Full Copyright Statement ............................... 9

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RFC 2329              OSPF Standardization Report             April 1998

1.  Introduction

    OSPFv2, herein abbreviated simply as OSPF, is an IPv4 routing
    protocol documented in [Ref8]. OSPF is a link-state routing
    protocol.  It is designed to be run internal to a single Autonomous
    System.  Each OSPF router maintains an identical database describing
    the Autonomous System's topology.  From this database, a routing
    table is calculated by constructing a shortest-path tree. OSPF
    features include the following:

    o   OSPF responds quickly to topology changes, expending a minimum
        of network bandwidth in the process.

    o   Support for CIDR addressing.

    o   OSPF routing exchanges can be authenticated, providing routing

    o   Equal-cost multipath.

    o   An area routing capability is provided, enabling an Autonomous
        system to be split into a two level hierarchy to further reduce
        the amount of routing protocol traffic.

    o   OSPF allows import of external routing information into the
        Autonomous System, including a tagging feature that can be
        exploited to exchange extra information at the AS boundary (see

    An analysis of OSPF together with a more detailed description of
    OSPF features was originally provided in [Ref6], as a part of
    promoting OSPF to Draft Standard status. The analysis of OSPF
    remains unchanged. Two additional major features have been developed
    for OSPF since the protocol achieved Draft Standard status: the
    Point-to-MultiPoint interface and Cryptographic Authentication.
    These features are described in Sections 2.1 and 2.2 respectively of
    this memo.

    The OSPF MIB is documented in [Ref4]. It is currently at Draft
    Standard status.

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RFC 2329              OSPF Standardization Report             April 1998

2.  Modifications since Draft Standard status

    OSPF became a Draft Standard with the release of RFC 1583 [Ref3].
    Implementations of the new specification in [Ref8] are backward-
    compatible with RFC 1583. The differences between the two documents
    are described in the Appendix Gs of [Ref1] and [Ref8]. These
    differences are listed briefly below. Two major features were also
    added, the Point-to-MultiPoint interface and Cryptographic
    Authentication, which are described in separate sections.

    o   Configuration requirements for OSPF area address ranges have
        been relaxed to allow greater flexibility in area assignment.
        See Section G.3 of [Ref1] for details.

    o   The OSPF flooding algorithm was modified to a) improve database
        convergence in networks with low speed links b) resolve a
        problem where unnecessary LSA retransmissions could occur as a
        result of differing clock granularities, c) remove race
        conditions between the flooding of MaxAge LSAs and the Database
        Exchange process, d) clarify the use of the MinLSArrival
        constant, and e) rate-limit the response to less recent LSAs
        received via flooding.  See Sections G.4 and G.5 of [Ref1] and
        Section G.1 of [Ref8] for details.

    o   To resolve the long-standing confusion regarding representation
        of point-to-point links in OSPF, the specification now
        optionally allows advertisement of a stub link to a point-to-
        point link's subnet, ala RIP. See Section G.6 of [Ref1].

    o   Several problems involving advertising the same external route
        from multiple areas were found and fixed, as described in
        Section G.7 of [Ref1] and Section G.2 of [Ref8].  Without the
        fixes, persistent routing loops could form in certain such
        configurations. Note that one of the fixes was not backward-
        compatible, in that mixing routers implementing the fixes with
        those implementing just RFC 1583 could cause loops not present
        in an RFC 1583-only configuration. This caused an
        RFC1583Compatibility global configuration parameter to be added,
        as described in Section C.1 of [Ref1].

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RFC 2329              OSPF Standardization Report             April 1998

    o   In order to deal with high delay links, retransmissions of
        initial Database Description packets no longer reset an OSPF

    o   In order to detect link MTU mismatches, which can cause problems
        both in IP forwarding and in the OSPF routing protocol itself,
        MTU was added to OSPF's Database Description packets.
        Neighboring routers refuse to bring up an OSPF adjacency unless
        they agree on their common link's MTU.

    o   The TOS routing option was deleted from OSPF. However, for
        backward compatibility the formats of OSPF's various LSAs remain
        unchanged, maintaining the ability to specify TOS metrics in
        router-LSAs, summary-LSAs, ASBR-summary-LSAs, and AS-external-

    o   OSPF's routing table lookup algorithm was changed to reflect
        current practice. The "best match" routing table entry is now
        always selected to be the one providing the most specific
        (longest) match. See Section G.4 of [Ref8] for details.

    2.1.  Point-to-MultiPoint interface

        The Point-to-MultiPoint interface was added as an alternative to
        OSPF's NBMA interface when running OSPF over non-broadcast
        subnets. Unlike the NBMA interface, Point-to-MultiPoint does not
        require full mesh connectivity over the non-broadcast subnet.
        Point-to-MultiPoint is less efficient than NBMA, but is easier
        to configure (in fact, it can be self-configuring) and is more
        robust than NBMA, tolerating all failures within the non-
        broadcast subnet.  For more information on the Point-to-
        MultiPoint interface, see Section G.2 of [Ref1].

        There are at least six independent implementations of the
        Point-to-MultiPoint interface. Interoperability has been
        demonstrated between at least two pairs of implementations:
        between 3com and Bay Networks, and between cisco and Cascade.

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RFC 2329              OSPF Standardization Report             April 1998

    2.2.  Cryptographic Authentication

        Non-trivial authentication was added to OSPF with the
        development of the Cryptographic Authentication type. This
        authentication type uses any keyed message digest algorithm,
        with explicit instructions included for the use of MD5. For more
        information on OSPF authentication, see Section 4.

        There are at least three independent implementations of the OSPF
        Cryptographic authentication type. Interoperability has been
        demonstrated between the implementations from cisco and Cascade.

3.  Updated implementation and deployment experience

    When OSPF was promoted to Draft Standard Status, a report was issued
    documenting current implementation and deployment experience (see
    [Ref6]). That report is now quite dated. In an attempt to get more
    current data, a questionnaire was sent to OSPF mailing list in
    January 1996. Twelve responses were received, from 11 router vendors
    and 1 manufacturer of test equipment. These responses represented 6
    independent implementations. A tabulation of the results are
    presented below.

    Table 1 indicates the implementation, interoperability and
    deployment of the major OSPF functions. The number in each column
    represents the number of responses in the affirmative.

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RFC 2329              OSPF Standardization Report             April 1998

                                       Imple-   Inter-
            Feature                    mented   operated   Deployed
            OSPF areas                 10       10         10
            Stub areas                 10       10         9
            Virtual links              10       9          8
            Equal-cost multipath       10       7          8
            NBMA support               9        8          7
            CIDR addressing            8        5          6
            OSPF MIB                   8        5          5
            Cryptographic auth.        3        2          1
            Point-to-Multipoint ifc.   6        3          4

                    Table 1: Implementation of OSPF features

    Table 2 indicates the size of the OSPF routing domains that vendors
    have tested. For each size parameter, the number of responders and
    the range of responses (minimum, mode, mean and maximum) are listed.

       Parameter                    Responses   Min   Mode   Mean   Max
       Max routers in domain        7           30    240    460    1600
       Max routers in single area   7           20    240    380    1600
       Max areas in domain          7           1     10     16     60
       Max AS-external-LSAs         9           50    10K    10K    30K

                       Table 2: OSPF domain sizes tested

    Table 3 indicates the size of the OSPF routing domains that vendors
    have deployed in real networks. For each size parameter, the number
    of responders and the range of responses (minimum, mode, mean and
    maximum) are listed.

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RFC 2329              OSPF Standardization Report             April 1998

       Parameter                    Responses   Min   Mode   Mean   Max
       Max routers in domain        8           20    350    510    1000
       Max routers in single area   8           20    100    160    350
       Max areas in domain          7           1     15     23     60
       Max AS-external-LSAs         6           50    1K     2K     5K

                      Table 3: OSPF domain sizes deployed

    In an attempt to ascertain the extent to which OSPF is currently
    deployed, vendors were also asked in January 1998 to provide
    deployment estimates. Four vendors of OSPF routers responded, with a
    total estimate of 182,000 OSPF routers in service, organized into
    4300 separate OSPF routing domains.

4.  Protocol Security

    All OSPF protocol exchanges are authenticated. OSPF supports
    multiple types of authentication; the type of authentication in use
    can be configured on a per network segment basis. One of OSPF's
    authentication types, namely the Cryptographic authentication
    option, is believed to be secure against passive attacks and provide
    significant protection against active attacks. When using the
    Cryptographic authentication option, each router appends a "message
    digest" to its transmitted OSPF packets. Receivers then use the
    shared secret key and received digest to verify that each received
    OSPF packet is authentic.

    The quality of the security provided by the Cryptographic
    authentication option depends completely on the strength of the
    message digest algorithm (MD5 is currently the only message digest
    algorithm specified), the strength of the key being used, and the
    correct implementation of the security mechanism in all
    communicating OSPF implementations.  It also requires that all
    parties maintain the secrecy of the shared secret key.

    None of the OSPF authentication types provide confidentiality. Nor
    do they protect against traffic analysis. Key management is also not
    addressed by the OSPF specification.

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RFC 2329              OSPF Standardization Report             April 1998

    For more information, see Sections 8.1, 8.2, and Appendix D of


    [Ref1]  Moy, J., "OSPF Version 2", RFC 2178, July 1997.

    [Ref2]  Hinden, B., "Internet Routing Protocol Standardization
            Criteria", RFC 1264, October 1991.

    [Ref3]  Moy, J., "OSPF Version 2", RFC 1583, March 1994.

    [Ref4]  Baker, F., and R. Coltun, "OSPF Version 2 Management
            Information Base", RFC 1850, November 1995.

    [Ref5]  Moy, J., "OSPF Protocol Analysis", RFC 1245, August 1991.

    [Ref6]  Moy, J., "Experience with the OSPF Protocol", RFC 1246,
            August 1991.

    [Ref7]  Varadhan, K., Hares S., and Y. Rekhter, "BGP4/IDRP for IP--
            -OSPF Interaction", RFC 1745, December 1994.

    [Ref8]  Moy, J., "OSPF Version 2", STD 54, RFC 2328, April 1998.

Security Considerations

    Security considerations are addressed in Section 4 of this memo.

Author's Address

    John Moy
    Ascend Communications, Inc.
    1 Robbins Road
    Westford, MA 01886

    Phone: 978-952-1367
    Fax:   978-392-2075

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RFC 2329              OSPF Standardization Report             April 1998

    Full Copyright Statement

        Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1998).  All Rights Reserved.

        This document and translations of it may be copied and furnished
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        The limited permissions granted above are perpetual and will not
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        This document and the information contained herein is provided

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