Network Working Group                                         R. Skelton
Request for Comments: 1673                                          EPRI
Category: Informational                                      August 1994
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Electric Power Research Institute Comments on IPng

Status of this Memo

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


This document was submitted to the IETF IPng area in response to RFC 1550. Publication of this document does not imply acceptance by the IPng area of any ideas expressed within. Comments should be submitted to the mailing list.

Executive Summary

The question of the future of the Internet protocol (IP) is an issue of national if not international concern. It is critical to the building of a National Information Infrastructure, comparable to the adoption of basic standards for the industrial era such as railways, highways and electricity.

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) is a non-profit organization, with 700 voluntary utility members, managing a technical research and development program for the electric utility industry to improve power production, distribution and use. The electric power industry is a major user of computing and
communications and is fully committed to open systems.

While the industry is today a heavy user of the Internet Protocol Suite (IPS) it is following a long term strategy based on international standards developed by ISO and CCITT and national standards developed by the IEEE, ANSI and other standards bodies that employ formal review and voting procedures.

This strategy is based on a survey of needs in all aspects of the electrical power supply enterprise. It concluded that these needs are met more effectively by the current suite of OSI protocols and international standards under development. Therefore, EPRI developed the Utility Communications Architecture (UCA) specification for communications and the Database Access Integrated Services specification for data exchange both based on the OSI model and

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international standards.

These specifications have been incorporated into the Industry Government Open Systems Specification (IGOSS). They are receiving favorable response and application by the industry and its suppliers as well as the support of the natural gas and waterworks industries.

The issues facing the Internet community concerning growth and the address and routing limitations of IP in particular, provide an ideal opportunity for creating the national uniform information transport superhighway. This is critical to the NII Agenda and the only proposal that will achieve this goal is one that is acceptable from both private and public sector viewpoints with both a national and an international perspective.

EPRI also believes it is critically important that new requirements need to be achieved by convergence of efforts to develop additional standards. Security, directory services, network management, and the ability to support real-time applications are four examples of where new convergent standards efforts are required.

Just as society could not in the past accept multiple standards for the gauge of the nation's railways, we can no longer accept multiple standards for information transport.

Engineering Considerations

1. Mandatory Requirement.

Inter networking must evolve to provide an industrial strength computing and communications environment for multiple uses of globally connected network resources. Specifically the underlying transport must provide high integrity support for upper layer industrial OSI applications including but not limited to MMS and TP. Use of interface layers such as RFC 1006 is not acceptable except as a transition strategy.

2. Basic Requirements.

      - Scaleability
        The addressing scheme must have essentially an unlimited address
        space to encompass an arbitrarily large number of information
        objects.  Specifically it must solve the fundamental limitations
        of 32 bit formats, a format for 20 octets and above is considered

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      - Routing table economy
        Network addressing must achieve significant economy in routing
        database size with very large networks.

      - Support for the existing Internet
        The existing internetworking paradigm and existing OSI and IPS
        applications are to be supported.

3. Key Engineering Considerations - A pragmatic solution.

      - Available now
        The solution must be available now using mature, internationally
        agreed standards and off-the-shelf implementations for hosts and
        routers.  The solution must leverage existing investments in
        standards development, deployment and experience while at the
        same time provide for all basic requirements.

      - Ease of Transition
        Any solution must provide an evolutionary transition path using
        an OSI.

      - IP dual network layer strategy.
        This must be achievable without modifications to existing
        inter-domain routing protocols while providing the ability to
        support proprietary protocols such as IPX and Appletalk.  The
        scheme must provide the ability to encompass other addressing
        schemes such as X.121 and E.164.  Existing SNMP and CMIP MIBs
        must be applicable and available.  Internet domain names need
        to be retained.

      - Routing effectiveness
        This key objective requires features such as route aggregation,
        service selection, and low frequency host advertisements; host
        routing intelligence should not be required.

      - Flexible Efficient Administration
        Operational needs will need to be met in an economic and
        flexible manner.  Addressing allocations can be either
        geographically based or based on carrier ID or both and will be
        administered by policy not network topology.  Simplified and
        robust configurability is required which includes the ability to
        identify resources e.g., multi-homed hosts and applications,
        instead of interfaces.

      - Mobility
        Dynamic addressing is required where hosts have the ability to
        learn their own network address with the minimum of human

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Security Considerations

Security isses are not discussed in this memo.

Author's Address

Ron Skelton
Member of Technical Staff
Advanced IT Group
Electric Power Research Institute
Palo Alto CA 94303