Responsible Network Management Guidelines

Ok, I'm a Mainiac (a person born in Maine), I'll get the ball rolling...

Operational Requirements Area S. Donelan
                                                          September 1996

               Responsible Network Management Guidelines

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.

Rational and Scope

   This document provides Responsible Network Management personnel of
   Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Internet Service Customers
   (ISCs) with guidelines for network management when the following
   conditions arise:

       - Routine Maintenance Activity
       - Problem Reporting and Referral
       - Escalation
       - End-to-End Testing
       - Customer Notification
       - Emergency Communications
       - Network Outage Measurement

   Specific procedures will require negotiations between the
   organizations involved. These guidelines do not replace or supersede
   contracts or any other legally binding documents.

Responsible Internet Service Provider

   A more familar term in Internet Standards is an Autonomous System.
   Since this document has additional requirements than an entity
   represented by an Autonomous System or Systems, this document creates
   a new entity.

   The Responsible Internet Service Provider (RISP) has overall
   responsibility for Internet service between its Internet Service
   Customers and other Internet Service Providers making up the

   An Internet Network, Autonomous System or group of Autonomous Systems
   may designate another entity to act on its behalf as its Responsible
   Internet Service Provider. In this document, Internet Service
   Customer (ISC) shall refer to the collective network, Autonomous

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   System or Systems which designated the Responsible Internet Service
   Provider as their agent.

   The Responsible Internet Service Provider is responsible for:

   -- Providing a contact that is readily accessible 24 hours a day, 7
   days a week.

   -- Providing trained personnel.

   -- Acting as the Internet Service Customer's primary contact in all
   matters involving Internet Service between Internet Providers.

   -- Accept problem reports from Internet Service Customers and casual
   end users or other parties receiving Internet Service problem
   reports. The RISP may prioritize problem reports from its own ISCs,
   or refer casual end users to their primary RISP, if known.
   Nevertheless the RISP should accept problem referrals from other

   [Editor's Note: I would like to say they shouldn't dump problem
   referrals in the trashcan after accepting the problem referral, but
   that's an unwinnable battle.]

   -- Advising the ISC when there is an ISP failure affecting the ISC

   -- Isolating problems to determine if the reported trouble is in the
   ISP's facilities or in other providers' service.

   -- Testing cooperatively, when necessary, with other providers to
   further identify a problem when it has been isolated to another
   provider's service.

   -- Keeping its Internet Service Customer advised of the status of the
   trouble repair.

   -- Maintaining complete and accurate records of its own customers and
   inter-provider gateways.

Routine Maintenance Activity

   Responsible Internet Service Providers should perform routine
   maintenance work during hours of minimum traffic to impact the least
   number of customers. In most areas, the period of lowest Internet
   traffic is between Midnight and 6am local time. Trans-contential and
   inter-contential connections should consider the local time on each
   end of the connection.

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   Activities which may affect other Internet Service Providers should
   be coordinated with the affected providers.

Problem Reporting and Referral

   The Responsible Internet Service Provider is responsible for
   performing all the necessary tests to determine the nature of the
   problem detected, or reported by its customers or by referral from
   other ISPs. If the trouble is isolated to an ISC or another ISP, the
   RISP will report the trouble to the appropriate ISC or ISP point of

   An example of the information exchanged in the problem report:

   -- Description of the problem, and any other useful information such
   as source and destination IP numbers, circuit numbers, etc. -- The
   name and contact information of the person referring the problem --
   The date and time of the report -- Trouble ticket number and the name
   or initials of the person accepting the report

   Periodic status reports shall occur when the problem has been
   isolated, when there is a significant change in the status of the
   problem, and when negotiated time intervals expire. Escalation will
   be according to negotiated procedures.

   Problem isolation may require cooperative testing between the ISC and
   ISP(s), which shall be provided when requested. The provider making
   the test is responsible for coordination.

   When the problem has been cleared, the ISP/ISP or ISP/ISC shall
   advise the other the problem has been cleared. When closing a
   problem report between ISP/ISP or ISP/ISC, the disposition should be
   furnished by the organization closing the ticket.

   An example of the information exchanged in the problem disposition:

   -- Trouble ticket number -- Referral datetime -- Returned datetime --
   Trouble identified as -- Resolution details -- Service charges, if
   the ticket resulted in a service charge

   If there is a disagreement about the disposition of a problem ticket,
   the parties involved should document their respective positions and
   the names of the individuals involved. Escalation will be made
   according to each organizations escalation procedures.


   Each ISP and ISC shall establish procedures for timely escalation of

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   problems to successive levels of management. The procedures should
   include the provision of status reports to the other provider or
   customer regarding the ticket status. Both technical and management
   contacts should be included in the escalation procedures.

End-to-End Testing

   Networks may experience problems which cannot be isolated by each
   provider individually testing and maintaining its own services. Each
   providers' service may appear to perform correctly, but trouble
   appears on an end-to-end service. The ISC's RISP should coordinate
   end-to-end testing with each sectional provider by problem referral
   through their Responsible Internet Service Provider. Each Internet
   Service Provider should accept the referral request for end-to-end
   testing coordination, and provide the contact information for the
   next sectional provider to the original requestor.

Customer Notification

   During a major outage a potential concern is customer goodwill and
   network congestion caused by repeated customer attempts to access the
   down network. An informed customer can reduce customer frustration,
   and network congestion.

   Pre-planning for quick notification can be most beneficial in
   alerting customers.

   Some example methods to notify customers include:

   -- If operational, network access equipment can display an alert when
   customers connect. The alert should be displayed before the customer
   logs into the network. If the network fails during or after
   attempting to validate the access information, the alert should not
   compromise any authentication done.

   -- Customer service calls increase dramatically during network
   failures. An informed customer representative can advise the
   customer on the best course of action. A method to quickly instruct
   customer service representatives on the options available is needed.

   -- The media, radio or television, can be used to inform the public.
   Pre-arrangements, and planning are needed to ensure only designated
   contacts are made with the media.

   -- Other automated announcements, such as World Wide Web pages or e-
   mail distribution lists with backup through other providers, recorded
   telephone status lines, or broadcast FAX notifications.

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   Public notifications, when utilized, should not make reference by
   name to a problem causing network or organization unless the network
   causing the problem has been identified. Internet network troubles
   can be difficult to isolate, and can give misleading indications to
   their true origin.

   [Editor's Note: Having the potential threat of naming names is
   useful, even if no one's lawyers ever allow anyone to do it.]

Emergency Communications

   Recognizing that all Responsible Internet Service Providers have a
   responsibility to provide an adequate level of support for their
   service and/or products, it is recommended they participate in an
   emergency communications system.

   Each RISP is responsible for providing a Emergency Point Of Contact.
   It is recommended each Emergency POC have at least one out-of-band
   contact method, such as an internationally dialable (non 800) voice
   and/or fax telephone number. Each RISP shall update the Emergency
   POC information whenever it changes. Each RISP shall test and verify
   its own emergency POC procedures are accurate and functioning on a
   regular basis, no less than once a year.

Network Outage Measurement

   Each ISP/ISC should maintain accurate records about network outages
   to measure, analyze and develop trend analysis of their network

Security Considerations

   Security, what security? This is the Internet, its every host for

Author's Address

   Sean Donelan
   Data Research Associates, Inc.
   1276 North Warson Road
   Saint Louis, MO 63132

   Phone: +1-314-432-1100
   EMail: sean@DRA.COM

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