December 13, 1996 11:00 AM ET

IETF tackles IP switching, RSVP issues
By Paula Musich

  The Internet Engineering Task Force this week moved forward on two major standards efforts for improving network bandwidth.

At a meeting in San Jose, Calif., the standards body cleared the way to begin work on an IP switching specification and turned its attention to the policy implications of the RSVP (Resource Reservation Protocol) specification.

Following three presentations from Cisco Systems Inc., IBM and Toshiba Corp. on speeding up the routing of network layer protocols in a switched and routed network, IETF officials agreed to form a working group to define a specification for what has been called IP, Tag or network-layer switching, said IETF chairman Fred Baker, a senior software engineer at Cisco, in San Jose.

IBM ended its silence on the topic by presenting a proposal called ARIS (Aggregate Route-Based IP Switching), which enables "routing and switching to converge to solve the scalability aspect of route aggregation," said Steve Simon, strategy program director for campus switch products at IBM, in Raleigh, N.C.

The IBM ARIS technology takes advantage of the IETF's Next Hop Resolution Protocol specification and uses the ATM Forum's LAN Emulation standard to provide gigabit routing through asynchronous transfer mode and LAN-switched networks, said Simon. IBM plans to implement ARIS next year in its Multiprotocol Switched Services product.

On the RSVP front, the IETF began to address the thorny policy implications that will ultimately govern how the protocol is used. The signaling protocol does not specify any controls over how a finite amount of network bandwidth is made available to all RSVP applications.

The IETF has formed a research task force to "look at the big picture," said Baker. Its charter is to determine what types of mechanisms are necessary to represent policies that users will ultimately wish to put in place to monitor RSVP usage -- not to define the policies themselves.

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