Re: [Teas] Yangdoctors early review of draft-ietf-teas-yang-te-types-03 (was -01)

Jan Lindblad <> Mon, 21 January 2019 10:10 UTC

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Subject: Re: [Teas] Yangdoctors early review of draft-ietf-teas-yang-te-types-03 (was -01)
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Tarek, team,

> Hi Jan
> Thanks again for your thorough review and comments. We have uploaded version -03 of the draft that addresses your comments. Please see Inline [TS] for the resolution action taken.
> Please let us know if you have any further comments.

Very good to see progress. There are still a few things I think we should discuss. Look for [janl2] inline below. 

> From: Jan Lindblad < <>>
> Date: Monday, November 5, 2018 at 4:20 AM
> To: Tarek Saad < <>>
> Cc: " <>" < <>>, " <>" < <>>, " <>" < <>>, " <>" < <>>
> Subject: Re: Yangdoctors early review of draft-ietf-teas-yang-te-types-01
> Resent-From: < <>>
> Resent-To: Tarek Saad < <>>, < <>>, < <>>, < <>>, < <>>, < <>>, < <>>, < <>>, < <>>, < <>>, Lou Berger < <>>
> Resent-Date: Monday, November 5, 2018 at 4:19 AM
> Tarek, 
> See my comments below [janl].
>>     General questions:
>>     #1: There are many locations in the YANG talking about an "ERO subobject index"
>>     (and once RRO index, record route subobject). What is this, and how is it
>>     supposed to be used? The document is silent on this matter, and I have seen
>>     modules with problems around numeric index leafs much like this earlier. Are
>>     these numbers stable, i.e. remains the same forever?
>> [TS]: The list of explicit route objects defines a TE path (e.g. hops), where the index is used as a key to identify a specific entry in the list. A lower index implies the TE path traverses this entry earlier. We will clarify the description and remove mention of “subobject” in the next update to the document.
> [janl] Very good re description changes.
> I'm a little worried that numeric indices will end up in the same quagmire+impasse where ACLs have been the last decades. Isn't there a risk that people will want to insert entries between two consecutive indices? Is "renumber" an operation that someone might ask for on these indices?
> [TS]: The list is ordered by the key (index).. We’ve added a note in the description that entries with lower index are visited first by the path. It is understandable that the list may have to be reconfigured if an entry can not be fit in between two existing ones. Note, a change in the configured ERO list is generally handled as non-destructive event to an existing/provisioned tunnel (e.g. handled as make-before-break).
>       leaf index {
>         type uint32;
>         description
>           "Route object entry index. A lower index indicates
>            path traverses the hop earlier than the higher index
>            hop(s)";

[janl2] Thanks for the clarification. My strong advice in the situation you describe would be to change the lists with a uint32 index key to an ordered-by user list with a string key.

Several decades' experience attempting to automate management of ACLs keyed by integers speak quite strongly against that solution. The IETF standard YANG modules for ACLs have now abandoned this approach and adopted ordered-by user lists with string keys.

Let's say a manager has pushed a path to a set of devices. Now it needs to configure a re-route around a network problem. This means replacing one of the configured legs with five legs. Now, if they are keyed by integers, this may make it necessary to renumber rules to make this re-route fit. Of course an "experienced" manager may leave some room in between rules so that this renumbering doesn't happen so often. The problem is that if it could ever happen, whoever programs the manager still needs to write (and test) the code for this. Then there are references to these rules (exclude, include) that also need to be updated if this happens. More code, more test. And if a human goes in and makes this change manually on a device, the manager no longer has any clue as to what happened. All it sees is a bunch of new rules with new rule names; and a bunch of rules with the same names, many of which have different content; it has no way of learning the intent. What has been added, changed and removed? When nothing is stable, reconciliation of a change becomes pretty much impossible. ACL management is notoriously inefficient today, largely due to this seemingly small (and completely unnecessary) problem with the management approach.

The fix is simple. Make sure rule identities do not also double as sequencing information. If identifiers are also used to convey important configuration information, so that existing identifiers must change whenever the intent is adjusted, that leads to an expensive solution. In YANG, there is a mechanism that is made for this situation. That's order-by user lists. In such lists, the order of entries is controlled by the user (operator, programmer) without relying on the key value(s) to determine that order. The user can insert any number of rules before or after any other, or first or last in the list. The user can move entries around without changing their names.

This makes the device interface significantly easier to use for both operators and programmers. While integer rule names are still possible, the string type is better as some folks might falsely believe the an integer key would be used as a sorting metric.

To fix this in the model, the lists currently keyed by leaf index would look something like this instead:

  list example-route-state {
    ordered-by user;
    key name;
    uses record-route_state;

Where the record-route_state looks like this:

  grouping record-route_state {
      "The record route grouping";
    leaf name {
      type string;
        "Record route hop name. The name is used to
         identify an entry in the list. Records listed
         earlier in the list means the path traverses it earlier";

I'm not sure I understand the author's intent perfectly, but my impression is that some of the lists keyed by index are meant to refer to route-objects in other lists. Like list route-object-include-object entries would only make sense when they point to (use the same index as) an existing route-object. Is that so? Any such reference should be modeled using the leafref type, and a path pointer to the list that contains relevant entries. E.g. like this:

    list route-object-include-object {
      key name;
        "List of explicit route objects to be included
         in path computation";
      leaf name {
        type leafref {
          path "/path/to/the/rule/name"; // fill in which list we're pointing to here
          "Route object entry name. Points out a route object
           in list xxxx that will be included in the path.";

Let me know if this makes sense. Happy to discuss and/or explain further.
>>     #2: There are few leafs (5) with default values given, and none with mandatory.
>>     Probably needs to increase before we get to last call.
>> [TS]: In general, the team tried to avoid setting defaults unless it is strictly dictated by another RFC/standard. The team will review again to see if any was missed and will take action.
> [janl] That's all fine. Just remember to describe what happens when a leaf has no value every time there is no default or mandatory. Easy to forget, experience shows. Missing this causes non-interoperability in the standard.
> [TS]: the team has opted to assign defaults to all optional leafs in the latest revision of the draft.

[janl2] Very good.
>>     #3: There are several choices in the module that are meant to be augmented with
>>     additional cases. In many instances, this is explicitly spelled out, very good.
>>     If this is meant to happen in all choices, it would be nice to point this out
>>     in every instance. Also, if there are any specific assumptions or
>>     considerations to keep in mind when augmenting in a new technology, please note
>>     that in the description as well.
>> [TS]: yes, we will update as necessary.
> [janl] Great!
>>     Issues and nits:
>>     #4: Unclear data type
>>     419:
>>       typedef admin-group {
>>         type binary {
>>           length 4;
>>     What is the format of this binary? If this is always a 4-byte binary, wouldn't
>>     a numeric type be more user friendly, e.g. uint32?
>> [TS]: the standard defines admin group as 4-octet binary (9 - Administrative group (4 octets) ), and for extended-admin-group as series of those. We are also defining a union to encompass both as admin-groups below. Do you still have concerns on this?
>>   typedef admin-groups {
>>     type union {
>>       type admin-group;
>>       type extended-admin-group;
>>     }
>>     description "TE administrative group derived type";
>>   }
> [janl] I'm have two concerns. The first is that I don't know what the format of the type is. How do I know how to construct one of these values, or interpret an existing one? Is this a randomly chosen value? The other concern is how an operator would enter this value. The binary type is not the most user friendly of types. A numeric representation in the management interface might make better sense.
> [TS]: RFC3630 and RFC5305 defines admin-groups (aka affinity colors) as binary flags that are user specified (e.g. bit-position X is for RED, and bit-position Y is for GREEN). So, binary type would be closest to this representation. On other hand, RFC7591 states that a binary value is represented as a JSON string -- base64 encoding ( <>). Let us know if there are still concerns on this.

[janl2] The YANG binary type is mostly used for large binary chunks that an operator would never type, e.g. a 2048-bit RSA key or a new software image. As I understand, the admin-group type is used for something an operator might configure or read. If so, I would suggest changing this type. If this is a 4-octet value, an uint32 would work nicely, would it not? "2149847551" Or a dotted-quad? "" Or maybe you could invent a more human friendly interface, e.g. a string of zeros and ones with dashes at strategic positions? "10000000-00100100-00010001-11111111"

If you leave this as type binary, at least don't expect operators to be able to enter these values with reasonable effort. The binary type is not meant for this.

I noticed you also modeled the leaf as-number as type binary. This is probably not a good idea. Suggest using uint16 or uint32.

>>     #5: identifier in container with optional leafs
>>     1496:
>>       grouping te-topology-identifier {
>>     The name suggests this is used as an identifier, but all the leafs are
>>     optional. This is not typical. They are also in a container, precluding them
>>     from being used as list keys. Is that as intended?
>> [TS]: this container is not meant to be reused for a list, rather contains ID(s) that together can be used to lookup a specific topology that the TE tunnel is using. We can clarify this in the description
> [janl] Hmm, ok. Still not sure what happens if you omit some value(s), but I guess I should wait to see your clarification.
> [TS]: we have addressed this by specifying defaults for the optional leafs.

[janl2] Nice.
>>     #6: Optional -id leafs again
>>     1700:
>>               leaf node-id {
>>               leaf link-tp-id {
>>     1768:
>>             leaf address {
>>     1783:
>>             leaf node-id {
>>             leaf link-tp-id {
>>     Leafs that appear to be used as identifiers are optional
>> [TS]: such IDs identify a specific node, link, or address in the network but in our applications we do not to use them as keys in such lists. For example list explicit-route-objects defines a separate index leaf to be used as key -- since, a path may contain the same node-id or address repeated multiple times (looping path)..  
> [janl] So what happens if you omit specifying some of them?
> [TS]: This was reworked and added a mandatory to leafs that are must, and added defaults to optional leafs.

[janl2] ok.

>>     #7: binary length in bits?    
>>     1731:
>>                leaf as-number {
>>                 type binary {
>>                   length 16;
>>     1773:
>>             leaf ip-flags {
>>               type binary {
>>                 length 8;
>>     1805:
>>               leaf label-flags {
>>                 type binary {
>>                   length 8;
>>     It appears to me the modeler might have thought the length is given in bits.
>>     The value of length is in bytes, however.
>> [TS]: good catch, thanks. We'll correct it to indicate number of octets as RFC6020 defines.
>>     #8: Must expression copy paste
>>     1852:
>>         container label-end {
>>           must "not(../label-end/te-label/direction) or "
>>             + "not(te-label/direction) "
>>             + "or ../label-end/te-label/direction = te-label/direction" {
>>     This must expression appears to have been copied from label-start. In any case,
>>     it always evaluates to true and has no effect.
>> [TS]: thanks, we can see the bug in the expression as is, and this will be fixed/updated.
>>         container label-end {
>>           must "not(../label-start/te-label/direction) or "
>>             + "not(te-label/direction) "
>>             + "or ../label-start/te-label/direction = te-label/direction" {
> [janl] This revised must statement is superfluous. The must statement on container label-start already covers this case.
> [TS]: addressed

[janl2] This may not work as intended anymore. The must expression is fine in itself, but now the direction leaf has a default (forward), which means it will always exist with one value or another. The case that the   not(.... /direction)   expressions test for will therefore never happen. Only the last part (direction = direction) will be relevant, and I'm not sure that's what you wanted.

>>     #9: Unclear bit field
>>     1885:
>>         leaf range-bitmap {
>>           type binary;
>>           description
>>             "When there are gaps between label-start and label-end,
>>              this attribute is used to specify the positions
>>              of the used labels.";
>>         }
>>     Need more information on how to interpret this leaf. Which bits map to what,
>>     and what does the bit field values 0 and 1 indicate?
>> [TS]: ]: Each bit-position in the bitmap will map to an offset from the label-start. For example, if label-start=16000 and bitmap=0x11, then labels={16000, 16004} are relevant. We will clarify this in the next update.
> [janl] Very good. Since you are using type binary and refer to the contents using integers, you should also specify how you map those integer values to bit positions in the binary. E.g. big-endian?
> [TS]: We have clarified this in the description of the leaf that it is big-endian representation

[janl2] Good that you added a description, but it doesn't make me much wiser, I'm afraid. Even if there is a reference to RFC7951 (which is only applicable to RESTCONF, btw), the new description doesn't describe what the values mean (even when encoded according to 7951s6.6).

Try to describe the algorithm I, as operator or network automation programmer, should use to figure out what values to use here. The encoding is also important, but if this is something operators should enter, the binary type isn't what you want. If you pick a different type, the encoding will probably fall out automatically.

Best Regards,

> Regards,
> Tarek
>>     #10: Canonical representation
>>     67:
>>       typedef te-bandwidth {
>>     The type is based on a string with a pattern allowing hex characters and an
>>     upper or lowercase P. Since the pattern allows multiple representations of the
>>     same underlaying value (0x1p10 presumably means the same as 0x1p0xa and
>>     0x1P0XA) the question comes up if there is a canonical representation of this
>>     value, e.g. using all lowercase and all hex, or if the string must be
>>     remembered exactly as given by the client. The description could answer this
>>     question.
>> [TS]: We will update the description to indicate more strict canonical form (all upper case).
>>     #11: Mix of upper and lowercase
>>     The module specifies many enumeration and identity values. Some are all
>>     lowercase. Some are all uppercase. The principle of least astonishment suggests
>>     to pick one and stick with it. YANG recommendations suggest to use all
>>     lowercase when in doubt.
>>       typedef te-link-direction {
>>       typedef te-label-direction {
>>       typedef te-hop-type {
>>       identity LSP_METRIC_TYPE {
>>       identity LSP_METRIC_RELATIVE {
>>       identity LSP_METRIC_ABSOLUTE {
>>       identity LSP_METRIC_INHERITED {
>> [TS]: we will update to all lower-case to align with YANG recommendations.
> [janl] Great!
> /jan