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IP tunnel MTU

Hi Roland,

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Dobbins, Roland [mailto:rdobbins at arbor.net]
> Sent: Monday, October 22, 2012 6:49 PM
> To: NANOG list
> Subject: Re: IP tunnel MTU
> On Oct 23, 2012, at 5:24 AM, Templin, Fred L wrote:
> > Since tunnels always reduce the effective MTU seen by data packets due
> to the encapsulation overhead, the only two ways to accommodate
> > the tunnel MTU is either through the use of path MTU discovery or
> through fragmentation and reassembly.
> Actually, you can set your tunnel MTU manually.
> For example, the typical MTU folks set for a GRE tunnel is 1476.

Yes; I was aware of this. But, what I want to get to is
setting the tunnel MTU to infinity.

> This isn't a new issue; it's been around ever since tunneling technologies
> have been around, and tons have been written on this topic.  Look at your
> various router/switch vendor Web sites, archives of this list and others,
> etc.

Sure. I've written a fair amount about it too over the span
of the last ten years. What is new is that there is now a
solution near at hand.
> So, it's been known about, dealt with, and documented for a long time.  In
> terms of doing something about it, the answer there is a) to allow the
> requisite ICMP for PMTU-D to work to/through any networks within your span
> of administrative control and b)

That does you no good if there is some other network further
beyond your span of administrative control that does not allow
the ICMP PTBs through. And, studies have shown this to be the
case in a non-trivial number of instances.

> b) adjusting your own tunnel MTUs to
> appropriate values based upon experimentation.

Adjust it down to what? 1280? Then, if your tunnel with the
adjusted MTU enters another tunnel with its own adjusted MTU
there is an MTU underflow that might not get reported if the
ICMP PTB messages are lost. An alternative is to use IP
fragmentation, but recent studies have shown that more and
more operators are unconditionally dropping IPv6 fragments
and IPv4 fragmentation is not an option due to wrapping IDs
at high data rates.

Nested tunnels-within-tunnels occur in operational scenarios
more and more, and adjusting the MTU for only one tunnel in
the nesting does you no good if there are other tunnels that
adjust their own MTUs.

> Enterprise endpoint networks are notorious for blocking *all* ICMP (as
> well as TCP/53 DNS) at their edges due to 'security' misinformation
> propagated by Confused Information Systems Security Professionals and
> their ilk.  Be sure that your own network policies aren't part of the
> problem affecting your userbase, as well as anyone else with a need to
> communicate with properties on your network via tunnels.

Again, all an operator can control is that which is within their
own administrative domain. That does no good for ICMPs that are
lost beyond their administrative domain.

Thanks - Fred
fred.l.templin at boeing.com

> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Roland Dobbins <rdobbins at arbor.net> // <http://www.arbornetworks.com>
> 	  Luck is the residue of opportunity and design.
> 		       -- John Milton