The standard IP multicast infrastructure in the Internet and many enterprise intranets is based on the PIM-SM protocol and Multicast Source Discovery Protocol (MSDP). These protocols have proved to be reliable, extensive, and efficient. However, they are bound to the complexity and functionality limitations of the Internet Standard Multicast (ISM) service model. For example, with ISM, the network must maintain knowledge about which hosts in the network are actively sending multicast traffic. With SSM, this information is provided by receivers through the source addresses relayed to the last-hop devices by IGMPv3. SSM is an incremental response to the issues associated with ISM and is intended to coexist in the network with the protocols developed for ISM. In general, SSM provides IP multicast service for applications that utilize SSM.
ISM service is described in RFC 1112. This service consists of the delivery of IP datagrams from any source to a group of receivers called the multicast host group. The datagram traffic for the multicast host group consists of datagrams with an arbitrary IP unicast source address S and the multicast group address G as the IP destination address. Systems will receive this traffic by becoming members of the host group. Membership in a host group simply requires signaling the host group through IGMP Version 1, 2, or 3.
In SSM, delivery of datagrams is based on (S, G) channels. Traffic for one (S, G) channel consists of datagrams with an IP unicast source address S and the multicast group address G as the IP destination address. Systems will receive this traffic by becoming members of the (S, G) channel. In both SSM and ISM, no signaling is required to become a source. However, in SSM, receivers must subscribe or unsubscribe to (S, G) channels to receive or not receive traffic from specific sources. In other words, receivers can receive traffic only from (S, G) channels to which they are subscribed, whereas in ISM, receivers need not know the IP addresses of sources from which they receive their traffic. The proposed standard approach for channel subscription signaling utilizes IGMP INCLUDE mode membership reports, which are supported only in IGMP Version 3.
SSM can coexist with the ISM service by applying the SSM delivery model to a configured subset of the IP multicast group address range. The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) has reserved the address range from 188.8.131.52 through 184.108.40.206 for SSM applications and protocols. The software allows SSM configuration for an arbitrary subset of the IP multicast address range from 220.127.116.11 through 18.104.22.168. When an SSM range is defined, an existing IP multicast receiver application will not receive any traffic when it tries to use addresses in the SSM range unless the application is modified to use explicit (S, G) channel subscription.