QoS: Regulating Packet Flow Configuration Guide, Cisco IOS XE Release 3S
Regulating Packet Flow Using Traffic Shaping
Regulating Packet Flow Using Traffic Shaping
Last Updated: January 24, 2012
This module contains an overview of regulating the packet flow on a network. Regulating the packet flow (that is, the flow of traffic) on the network is also known as traffic shaping. Traffic shaping allows you to control the speed of traffic that is leaving an interface. This way, you can match the flow of the traffic to the speed of the interface that is receiving the packet. Cisco provides a traffic-regulating mechanism called Class-Based Traffic Shaping. Before configuring this mechanism, it is important that you understand the overview presented in this module.
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Information About Traffic Shaping
Benefits of Shaping Traffic on a Network
Here are some scenarios for which you would use traffic shaping:
A similar, more complicated case would be a link-layer network giving indications of congestion that has differing access rates on different attached data terminal equipment (DTE); the network may be able to deliver more transit speed to a given DTE device at one time than another. (This scenario warrants that the token bucket be derived and that then its rate be maintained.)
Token Bucket and Traffic Shaping
Traffic shaping uses a token bucket metaphor to shape traffic. A token bucket is a formal definition of a rate of transfer. It has three components: a burst size, a mean rate, and a time interval (Tc). Although the mean rate is generally represented as bits per second, any two values may be derived from the third by the relation shown as follows:
mean rate = burst size / time interval
Here are some definitions of these terms:
By definition, over any integral multiple of the interval, the bit rate of the interface will not exceed the mean rate. The bit rate, however, may be arbitrarily fast within the interval.
A token bucket is used to manage a device that regulates the data in a flow. For example, the regulator might be a traffic shaper. A token bucket itself has no discard or priority policy. Rather, a token bucket discards tokens and leaves to the flow the problem of managing its transmission queue if the flow overdrives the regulator.
In the token bucket metaphor, tokens are put into the bucket at a certain rate. The bucket itself has a specified capacity. If the bucket fills to capacity, newly arriving tokens are discarded. Each token is permission for the source to send a certain number of bits into the network. To send a packet, the regulator must remove from the bucket a number of tokens equal in representation to the packet size.
If not enough tokens are in the bucket to send a packet, the packet waits until the bucket has enough tokens. If the bucket is already full of tokens, incoming tokens overflow and are not available to future packets. Thus, at any time, the largest burst a source can send into the network is roughly proportional to the size of the bucket.
Note that the token bucket mechanism used for traffic shaping has both a token bucket and a data buffer, or queue; if it did not have a data buffer, it would be a traffic policer. For traffic shaping, packets that arrive that cannot be sent immediately are delayed in the data buffer.
For traffic shaping, a token bucket permits burstiness but bounds it. It guarantees that the burstiness is bounded so that the flow will never send faster than the capacity of the token bucket plus the time interval multiplied by the established rate at which tokens are placed in the bucket. It also guarantees that the long-term transmission rate will not exceed the established rate at which tokens are placed in the bucket.
Traffic Shaping and Rate of Transfer
Traffic shaping limits the rate of transmission of data. You can limit the data transfer to one of the following:
As mentioned, the rate of transfer depends on these three components that constitute the token bucket: burst size, mean rate, time (measurement) interval. The mean rate is equal to the burst size divided by the interval.
When traffic shaping is enabled, the bit rate of the interface will not exceed the mean rate over any integral multiple of the interval. In other words, during every interval, a maximum of burst size can be sent. Within the interval, however, the bit rate may be faster than the mean rate at any given time.
One additional variable applies to traffic shaping: excess burst (Be) size. The Be size corresponds to the number of noncommitted bits--those outside the CIR--that are still accepted by the switch but marked as discard eligible (DE).
In other words, the Be size allows more than the burst size to be sent during a time interval in certain situations. The switch will allow the packets belonging to the excess burst to go through but it will mark them by setting the DE bit. Whether the packets are sent depends on how the switch is configured.
When the Be size equals 0, the interface sends no more than the burst size every interval, achieving an average rate no higher than the mean rate. However, when the Be size is greater than 0, the interface can send as many as Bc plus Be bits in a burst, if in a previous time period the maximum amount was not sent. Whenever less than the burst size is sent during an interval, the remaining number of bits, up to the Be size, can be used to send more than the burst size in a later interval.
How Traffic Shaping Regulates Traffic
The figure below illustrates how a traffic shaping mechanism regulates traffic.
In the figure above, incoming packets arrive at an interface. The packets are classified using a "classification engine," such as an access control list (ACL) or the Modular Quality of Service Command-Line Interface (MQC). If the packet matches the specified classification, the traffic shaping mechanism continues. Otherwise, no further action is taken.
Packets matching the specified criteria are placed in the token bucket. The maximum size of the token bucket is the Bc size plus the Be size. The token bucket is filled at a constant rate of Bc worth of tokens at every Tc. This is the configured traffic shaping rate.
If the traffic shaping mechanism is active (that is, packets exceeding the configured traffic shaping rate already exist in a transmission queue), at every Tc, the traffic shaper checks to see if the transmission queue contains enough packets to send (that is, up to either Bc (or Bc plus Be) worth of traffic).
If the traffic shaper is not active (that is, there are no packets exceeding the configured traffic shaping rate in the transmission queue), the traffic shaper checks the number of tokens in the token bucket. One of the following occurs:
Traffic Shaping versus Traffic Policing
Although traffic shaping and traffic policing can be implemented together on the same network, there are distinct differences between them, as shown in the table below.
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