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Hierarchical Home Agent Architecture for Mobile IP Communications

Imed Romdhani(1), Jose Munoz(1), Hatem Bettahar(2), Abdelmadjid Bouabdallah(2) Napier University (1) School of Computing 10 Colinton Road Edinburgh, EH10 5DT UK (+44) 0131 455 2726 {I.Romdhani, J.Munoz}@napier.ac.uk Université de Technologie de Compiègne (2) HeuDiaSyc, CNRS UMR 6599 BP 20529 - 60205 Compiègne Cedex. France. (+33) 03 44 23 44 23 {bettahar, bouabdal}@utc.fr

Abstract
While the Mobile IP protocol does not exclude the use of multiple Home Agents (HAs), it does not impose any particular model either. Recent solutions propose that a mobile node uses multiple HAs located in different physical links in his home network. However, no architectural scheme is proposed either for unicast or multicast communications. In this paper, we propose a Hierarchical Home Agent architecture in which each Home Agent (HA) is assigned a specific topological level in its domain. The mobile node is notified about such hierarchy and chooses the closest HA on a perconnection basis. Our primary goal is to optimise both unicast and multicast routing for mobile nodes. We prove that our solution avoids redundant multicast traffic in the home domain and it is easy to implement using the current Mobile IP specification without extra cost.

mobile node (MN) and its correspondent node (CN), which is the mobile host’s communication endpoint, should be updated to reflect the current location of the MN. This requires special routes between MN and its CN as the MN’s Home Address (HoA) can no longer be used with the conventional IP routing protocols to deliver packets to the MN’s current location. This is because the HoA is topologically incorrect and cannot be used in foreign networks due to ingress filtering restrictions. For a highly-dynamic MN, the special route should be updated regularly, such by the MN itself, or by a third party. Depending on the location update and notification mechanisms, different mobility management schemes were proposed by the Internet community to support unicast communication. Some schemes were designated to handle IP mobility of IPv4-based mobile host [1], where others were developed for IPv6 [2]. While the Mobile IP protocols do not exclude the use of multiple Home Agents (HA), they do not impose any particular model either. Recent solutions have proposed that a mobile node uses multiple HAs located in different physical links. These solutions have been designed to solve different problems, such as: binding update load balancing between HAs [9] [14] [18]; fault tolerance [6] [10] [11]; or unicast route optimisation between a CN and an MN [9][10][12]. These solutions

1. Introduction
IP mobility allows mobile hosts to continue receiving services while moving amongst different IP networks. While moving, IP address changes are kept transparent to the higher layers in order to avoid their possible temporal disconnection. Thus, to guarantee the transparency of the handover, the IP routes between a

Proceedings of the 11th IEEE Symposium on Computers and Communications (ISCC'06) 0-7695-2588-1/06 $20.00 © 2006 IEEE

Related Work The IETF has proposed the Mobile IP protocol to allow a mobile node to change its points of attachment to the network without losing IP transport layer connectivity [1][2]. The HoA does not depend on a connection place to the Internet. and “full” if it exceeds the upper threshold. Mobile IP provides a mechanism to a mobile node (MN) to retain one permanent IP address.00 © 2006 IEEE . The triangle routing also called “dog-leg Proceedings of the 11th IEEE Symposium on Computers and Communications (ISCC'06) 0-7695-2588-1/06 $20. transparently. the queue status is re-evaluated and the process is renewed. We conclude by highlighting the advantages of our solution and its limits. Using a double-threshold approach. These multiple HAs approaches aim to solve different issues. to redirect the unicast route from a CN to a new instance of an HA. Finally. recent researches have proposed to use multiple HAs where the HAs are placed in different physical links in the home network. the MN chooses one of the HAs to register with it. initially. the HA intercepts them and tunnels them to the MN’s CoA. the HA with which the MH is registered. Second. when a CN sends data packets to the MN’s HoA. we detail our solution and we describe its implementation. Thus. Moreover. When this timer expires. called hereinafter a Care-of Address (CoA). Each time a transfer is made. When this timer expires. the authors in [7] have suggested using a new loadbalancing information option in which each HA regularly advertises the number of available MN number that it is able to accept. For all these reasons. To define the accepted threshold. from its home network and one temporal IP address. in order to improve the system performance of the Mobile IPv4 protocol. congestion is likely to arise in the home network and the HA will be the bottleneck point of such congestion. two approaches may be used: replication where the HAs are replicated and each HA maintains the same binding information of all MNs as other HAs and partition where HAs are partitioned. membership load balancing between different HAs. they have defined upper and lower thresholds to be used by HAs where an HA is said to be “vacant” if its queue length falls below the lower threshold. and efficient IGMP/MLD membership delivery to MNs. that is different from the primary HA. routing” may have an undesirable effect on time sensitive applications.e. Such procedure of forwarding suffers from triangle routing via the home network. it maintains a binding cache entry that binds both the HoA and the CoA. and propose to implement this option in the IPv6 router advertisement message sent by the HA. such as: caching and traffic load balancing. To have multiple HAs. The HA acknowledges the registration request by sending a registration reply message. In fact. called hereinafter a Home Address (HoA). When the queue length exceeds the threshold. i. and route optimisation for unicast communications. or below the threshold. we propose a new hierarchical architecture for both unicast and multicast Mobile IP communications. they are networkinitiated. these solutions are designed to handle unicast communication between an MN and a CN and they do not address the issues of multicast communications such as: multicast route optimisation inside the home domain. This message is used to create a binding association between the MN’s HoA and the MN’s CoA for a given lifetime. and each HA maintains information for a subset of MNs. In Section 3. a packet timer is set. fault tolerance and reliability. To enhance these methods and instead of using HA queue status and a fixed number of MNs. authors in [14] have proposed a dynamic threshold loadbalancing policy. 2. Compared to the Mobile IP specification.1 Caching and load balancing Caching and load balancing consists of redirecting packet from a busy HA to a vacant one. it is the network the one that decides. from a foreign network. Each HA then advertises its queue information each time the queue length moves over. Each HA then maintains a Tstt timer for the MN. Our architecture is composed of a set of distributed HAs inside the home domain and the selection of an HA is MNinitiated and on per-connection basis (unicast or multicast). we present the problem statement and the related works in Section 2. whereas the CoA depends on the connection place.suffer from different issues. Compared to the previous approach. To register its CoA address. an MN sends a registration request message to its HA. In this paper. As soon as the HA is notified about the MN’s CoA. Then. The Tstt counter only begins to 2. First. the authors in [15] have proposed a policy to distribute the load amongst multiple HAs in the Mobile IPv4 protocol. incoming unicast packets are transferred from one HA to another based on a Stream Transfer Time (Tstt). an HA attempts to transfer one correspondent node (source) to another HA. the proposed solutions lack from an efficient implementation scheme and require extra cost to modify current Mobile IP protocols since the majority of them introduce new architectural entities. chooses another HA to serve the MN.

where each HARP peer is configured with information about its peers and forwards any Mobile-IP registration messages (BU) it receives to its peers. The HA priorities are set in the configuration settings in the MN. The HAHA protocol provides HA redundancy. or even several. load balancing. the HoA changes too. As a result. HARP peers thus act in parallel to create or delete tunnels to the MN’s remote CoA according to the last registration message received. In addition. except that the MN’s HoA is no longer permanent. authors in [19] have proposed an MN-initiated method.decrement once packets start arriving to MN from the new HA. This THA aims to intercept packet destined for the MN in the foreign domain and tunnelling them to it. Similar to the dynamic reassignment. Despite these solutions solve relevant issues. this method is not scalable and requires an important network management tasks. HAs crash. when an MN sends a registration message to the best HA. the mobility binding cache will be lost and all MNs registered with the HA will lose connectivity unless a redundancy mechanism is employed. an HA can tunnel the intercepted packet to the primary HA. authors have defined a “HA Switching” mechanism where an HA can request from an MN to switch to another HA. this will be accepted or denied depending on the CoA. before they go through the primary HA.2 Fault tolerance If the primary HA fails. each HA has an access list containing the entire foreign agent CoAs in its region. which addresses the issues of intermittent connectivity and optimised routing overhead from the MN to the CN. To do so. requires: signalling procedure between the MN. authors in [12] proposed to use dynamic HA reassignment in Mobile IPv4. authors in [18] proposed a multiple HAs protocol extension called “Home Agent Redundancy Protocol” (HARP). the majority of the solutions introduce an extra cost to achieve their goals. and have proposed a new “Temporary Home Agent” (THA). This reassignment procedure Proceedings of the 11th IEEE Symposium on Computers and Communications (ISCC'06) 0-7695-2588-1/06 $20. Compared to the THA technique. It then intercepts the connection and finds an HA candidate close to the CN. with respect to geographic location. these solutions are not easy to implement and some of them introduce new architectural entities. For this purpose. This protocol is based on one or more HARP peers that act as a single shared HA. the primary HA synchronizes its binding cache with other HAs. Thus. thus this static configuration faces serious problems when the home network is reconfigured and the HA addresses are changed. authors in [8] have proposed a new session-layer-based mobility architecture called DHARMA. Their primary concern is system robustness and their model is designed to serve all the MNs by varying the degree of redundancy. While all the previous methods are HA-initiated.00 © 2006 IEEE . inter-HAs roaming and load balancing. In addition. Thus. In their solution. authors in [17] developed the “Mobile IP Home Agent Redundancy” feature. the Foreign Agent (FA). 2. whenever the MN changes the HA. Compared to the HAHA protocol. when one. where the selection of the HA is done at the IP level while addressing the routing efficiency toward the MN. Thus. In addition. the backup HA (standby HA) starts to serve MNs. Following the same concept. whenever the handover occurs. the dynamic reassignment supports simultaneous binding. and on a failure. the THA is located at the gateway to a foreign domain. These HAs then exchange mobility binding updates.3 Route optimisation Authors in [9] have proposed the “Inter Home Agents Protocol” (HAHA) to provide multiple HAs support for IPv6 mobile nodes and mobile routers. any HA can earlier intercept and tunnel unicast packets to the current location of the MN. and the AAA server. the MN attempts to register with another HA with the next highest priority. and also optimises the interception of unicast packet addressed to MN. where the MN chooses the best HA. Alternatively. we 2. As described above. whereas instead of using the HA switching. The authors have also proposed to use a packet counter as an alternative to the Tstt timer. authors in [16] have addressed the triangle routing and the prolonged handoff latency. The MA entity dynamically attributes a new HA to the MN. a Mobility Agent (MA). a new architectural entity called “Mobility Agent” (MA) is introduced. and it dynamically allocates a temporary home address for the MN. If the registration is unsuccessful. This selection is done transparently on a perconnection basis when a mobile host initiates a connection with a correspondent node. which has two types of HA are designed: one active HA and another HA as a standby HA. This uses an overlay network to deploy distributed HAs and uses different routing algorithms to select the closest HA to the CN. The MN then uses this new HoA as its source address when initiating a connection to a CN. For this purpose. The MA serves as a mobility-aware indirection point between MN and CN and can be co-located with an HA.

3. the HAs are ordered based on their priorities. it attempts to rejoin the multicast group in order to avoid packet loss. When the multicast source is located outside the home domain. we extend the basic HAs List of the Mobile IPv6 protocol to introduce the hierarchy level information. Based on the scope of the multicast traffic and the location of the multicast source. Before sending its request. the mobile receiver selects the appropriate HA. Thus.e. the mobile receiver should compare the hierarchical-level of its primary HA with those of the Home Agents List. where the level information is a hop-distance range from the exit router. each mobile multicast receiver (MN) tunnels its multicast group membership report message (IGMP/MLDv2) [3] to its HA. the home subscription approach is mandatory to avoid multicast disruption. If a CN is located Proceedings of the 11th IEEE Symposium on Computers and Communications (ISCC'06) 0-7695-2588-1/06 $20. The higher hierarchical HA and the home domain egress router or VPN gateway may be collocated. When the HA receives the tunnelled multicast report message. The higher HA checks first if the mobile receiver is authorized to join the requested multicast group and if it is a valid member of the home network. it decapsulates and forwards it to the multicast router on the home network. if the MN sends its membership report to the higher hierarchical HA (HA2) instead of sending it to its primary HA (HA1). each entry of the HAs List contains the hierarchy-level and the list of the IP addresses of the HAs within the hierarchy. etc. Our solution is designed to handle all Mobile IP protocols [1][2]. The IETF has suggested to use two approaches: Home Subscription (HS) and Remote Subscription (RS) [4]. the HA intercepts and forwards the incoming multicast packets down the tunnel to MN. we suggest that the mobile node sends its membership report message to the higher level HA instead of using its primary HA. If a mobile receiver is already a member of a given multicast group and detects that it is moving to a new foreign network (case of macro-mobility). the MN chooses the higher hierarchical HA and tunnels its multicast group membership report to it. To support IP mobile multicast. The MN can select dynamically the appropriate HA based for example on: economic criteria (minimum billing cost). Thus the level is higher.00 © 2006 IEEE . the HA joins the multicast delivery tree and forwards data through the reverse tunnel to it. In case of Mobile IPv6 protocol.1 General idea In order to optimise both unicast and multicast routing. To join a multicast group using the home subscription approach. the multicast traffic will travel through a shortest path from the Ingress Router to the Egress Router before reaching MN. Moreover. These priorities are set in similar manner as in both Mobile IPv4 and Mobile IPv6 protocols. we need a scalable architecture that covers both the advantages of using multiple HAs and optimises both unicast and multicast communications for mobile hosts. and advertises it to all the other HAs in a manner similar to the HAHA protocol [9]. if the HA is closer to the exit router (egress router) of the home domain. Quality of Service (QoS) requirements (shortest path to CN. also called bi-directional tunnelling. Once a multicast branch is established between the MR and the multicast delivery tree. Therefore. the mobile receiver cannot join the multicast group from the foreign network (i. When the source is located outside the home domain. In case of a unicast communication. with respect to hop-distance. The local multicast router (MR) intercepts this membership request and sends accordingly a join message to the nearest on-tree router to join the requested multicast group and source.believe that there is an urgent need for an MN-initiated solution where the nomadic user chooses on his will the HA to be served with. Our solution: Hierarchical Home Agents 3. As figure 1 illustrates. The exit router is defined as the router from which Internet traffic leaves the home domain. A binding registration may be required to overcome the security issues. Each HA then computes its own level metric. delay. In such situation. The selected HA is closer in terms of hop distance to the boundary of the domain and it is in the shortest possible path toward the multicast source. If the multicast join is denied in the foreign network or the multicast scope is limited. In our method. we propose a new solution that uses a topological hierarchical-level for each Home Agent. each HA may be statically configured to use a default exit router or chooses it based on unicast routing protocol information (such as OSPF or BGP protocol). If the mobile receiver is authorized to get multicast traffic from home. the multicast delivery will be more optimal and avoids redundant multicast traffic (native and tunnelled multicast) in all the routers between HA2 and HA1. the mobile node can register with the appropriate hierarchical HA based on the location of its unicast CNs. To compute its level. using the remote subscription approach).) or security consideration. As a consequence. each HA builds and maintains a Home Agents List (HAs List) and advertises it in response to an ICMP Home Address Discovery Request message sent by an MN [3].

In other words.3. Our extension consists of adding hierarchy level information for each HA in the ICMP Home Address Discovery Message sent by the mobile node. otherwise it chooses a lower HA. the mobile node may attempt to register with another HA from the HAs List until its registration is accepted. In the basic Mobile IPv6. Each Home Agent Address Record is a block of fields that contain the hierarchy level and the list of HAs in such hierarchy and it has the internal format described by Figure 3. The mobile node. an HA uses this preference in ordering the Home Agents List when it sends an ICMP Home Agent Address Discovery message. To implement our extension. To discover the address of a suitable HA on its home link. To do so. The preference value is taken from the Home Agent Preference field in the Router Advertisement message [5]. the HA list will be ordered based on the each HA’s preference. a mobile node uses the Home Address Discovery mechanism. When used in an IP multicast context. a mobile receiver can trigger a new hierarchical HA if it faces for example serious packet loss or join delay. For QoS performance reason. This reply message contains the addresses and the preferences of all the HAs operating on the home link. As Figure 2 illustrates. for each hierarchical-level. Then it chooses one HA and sends its home registration Binding Update message to it. The Nr of Home Agent Records field specifies how many Home Agent Address Records are present in this report.00 © 2006 IEEE . the ordering will be based first on the hierarchical-level and then on the preference value. the mobile node sends an ICMP Home Agent Address Discovery Request message to the Mobile IPv6 HAs anycast address for its home subnet prefix. upon receiving this reply message updates its HAs List data structure. Ingress Router Egress Router HA 2 Multicast Delivery Tree Mobile Receiver (CoA) Type Code Checksum Nr of HA Records [N] Identifier Home Agent Address Record [1] Home Agent Address Record [2] HA 1 Home Domain … Native Multicast Traffic Tunnelled Multicast Traffic Home Agent Address Record [N] Figure 2: ICMP Home Agent Address Discovery Reply Message Figure 1: Triangle routing inside the home network 3. The mobile receiver can choose a new HA that belongs to the same hierarchy. in the ICMP Home Agent Address Discovery Reply message. our new field is added in the reserved field of the ICMP Home Agent Address Discovery Reply message. Advantages and limitations The hierarchical-based Home Agent architecture has several key features.2 Implementation detail To support our solution. Multicast Source (S) Address field by a new Home Agent Address Record. In fact. if the Router Advertisement message contains a Home Agent Information Option. we suggest extending the Mobile IPv6 protocol [2]. the solution enhances the home subscription approach of the Mobile IP protocol by reducing the bi- Proceedings of the 11th IEEE Symposium on Computers and Communications (ISCC'06) 0-7695-2588-1/06 $20. but in our solution. 3. The HA on its home link that receives this request message replies with an ICMP Home Agent Address Discovery Reply message. we introduce a simple modification to the ICMP Home Agent Address Discovery Reply message by adding a new field called “Nr of Home Agent Records”. we substitute the old Home Agent Record Type Hierachy Level Home Agent Address [1] Home Agent Address [2] … Home Agent Address [N] Figure 3: Home Address Record format Our hierarchy level is used in addition to the preference value for each HA. the MN selects the highest HA.outside the home domain. In case of failure.

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Conclusion In this paper we have proposed an efficient solution to implement multiple Home Agents in Mobile IP protocols. 5. Ye Ge. no third multicast party is required. and Thuel S. 'Towards the Knowledge Millennium'. 21st International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems Workshops (ICDCSW '01). an MN can rely on its primary HA. Bjorn Knutsson. December 1998. Big Sky. IETF Internet Draft. David Stewart. Khalil. “Use of Mobile-IP Priority Home Agents for Aeronautics Space Operations and Military Applications. Nordmark. and Kai Zhang. pp. [3] L. [10] Jenn-Wei Lin. H. “Neighbor Discovery for IP Version 6 (IPv6)”. [9] Ryuji Wakikawa.txt.txt. J. Montana. Our solution modifies the ICMP Home Address Discovery mechanism in the Mobile IPv6 protocol. “Home Agent Redundancy in Mobile IP”. In case the of a unicast communication. MN can choose its HA on a per communication basis and based on its location. 2004. [11] JinHo Ahn.R. “An Efficient FaultTolerant Approach for Mobile IP in Wireless Systems”. Hawaii. 2003. IEEE INFOCOM 2005. however. and Pascal Thubert. Smith. Pages 18-41. Vol. Simpson. and Boult T. Wireless Networks.. and W. RFC 3344. and L. RFC 3810. August 2002. this solution is a dynamic MN-initiated solution and does not require a static configuration in either in MN.