Internet Accounting: Background
RFC 1272

Document Type RFC - Informational (November 1991; No errata)
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Network Working Group                                           C. Mills
Request for Comments: 1272                                           BBN
                                                                D. Hirsh
                                         Meridian Technology Corporation
                                                                 G. Ruth
                                                                     BBN
                                                           November 1991

                    INTERNET ACCOUNTING: BACKGROUND

Status of this Memo

   This memo provides information for the Internet community.  It does
   not specify an Internet standard.  Distribution of this memo is
   unlimited.

1. Statement of Purpose

   This document provides background information for the "Internet
   Accounting Architecture" and is the first of a three document set:

      Internet Accounting Background & Status (this document)
      Internet Accounting Architecture        (under construction)
      Internet Accounting Meter Service       (under construction)

   The focus at this time is on defining METER SERVICES and USAGE
   REPORTING which provide basic semantics for measuring network
   utilization, a syntax, and a data reporting protocol.  The intent is
   to produce a set of standards that is of practical use for early
   experimentation with usage reporting as an internet accounting
   mechanism.

   The architecture should be expandable as additional experience is
   gained.  The short-term Internet Accounting solution is intended to
   merge with OSI and Autonomous Network Research Group (ANRG) efforts
   and be superseded by those efforts in the long term.  The OSI
   accounting working groups are currently defining meter syntax and
   reporting protocols.  The ANRG research group is currently
   researching economic models and accounting tools for the Internet
   environment.

   Internet Accounting as described here does not wrestle with the
   applications of usage reporting, such as monitoring and enforcing
   network policy; nor does it recommend approaches to billing or tackle
   such thorny issues as who pays for packet retransmission.

   This document provides background and tutorial information on issues

Mills, Hirsh, & Ruth                                            [Page 1]
RFC 1272            Internet Accounting: Background        November 1991

   surrounding the architecture, or in a sense, an explanation of
   choices made in the Internet Accounting Architecture.

2. Goals for a Usage Reporting Architecture

   We have adopted the accounting framework and terminology used by OSI
   (ISO 7498-4 OSI Reference Model Part 4: Management Framework).  This
   framework defines a generalized accounting management activity which
   includes calculations, usage reporting to users and providers and
   enforcing various limits on the use of resources.  Our own ambitions
   are considerably more modest in that we are defining an architecture
   to be used over the short- term (until ISO and ANRG have final
   pronouncement and standards) that is limited to network USAGE
   REPORTING.

   The OSI accounting model defines three basic entities:

      1) the METER, which performs measurements and aggregates the
         results of those measurements;

      2) the COLLECTOR, which is responsible for the integrity and
         security of METER data in short-term storage and transit;
         and

      3) the APPLICATION, which processes/formats/stores METER
         data.  APPLICATIONS implicitly manage METERS.

   This working group, then, is concerned with specifying the attributes
   of METERS and COLLECTORS, with little concern at this time for
   APPLICATIONS.

3. The Usage Reporting Function

3.1. Motivation for Usage Reporting

   The dominant motivations for usage reporting are:

          o  Understanding/Influencing Behavior.
             Usage reporting provides feedback for the subscriber on
             his use of network resources. The subscriber can better
             understand his network behavior and measure the impact of
             modifications made to improve performance or reduce
             costs.

          o  Measuring Policy Compliance.
             From the perspective of the network provider, usage
             reports might show whether or not a subscriber is in
             compliance with the stated policies for quantity of

Mills, Hirsh, & Ruth                                            [Page 2]
RFC 1272            Internet Accounting: Background        November 1991

             network usage.  Reporting alone is not sufficient to
             enforce compliance with policies, but reports can
             indicate whether it is necessary to develop additional
             methods of enforcement.

          o  Rational Cost Allocation/Recovery.
             Economic discipline can be used to penalize inefficient
             network configuration/utilization as well as to reward
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