- Open Access
A cluster-based proxy mobile IPv6 for IP-WSNs
© Jabir et al; licensee Springer. 2012
- Received: 11 February 2012
- Accepted: 17 May 2012
- Published: 17 May 2012
The Sensor Proxy Mobile IPv6 (SPMIPv6) has been designed for IP-based wireless sensor networks mobility to potentially save energy consumption by relieving the sensor nodes from participating in the handoff process. However, SPMIPv6 is dependent on a single and central Local Mobility Anchor (LMA), and thus, it inherited most of the problems observed in the Proxy Mobile IPv6 (PMIPv6) protocol, including long handoff latency, non-optimized communication path, and bottleneck issues. In addition, SPMIPv6 extends the single point of failure to include both the authentication and network information. This study presents an enhanced architecture for SPMIPv6 called Clustered SPMIPv6 (CSPMIPv6) to overcome the problems above. In the proposed architecture, the Mobility Access Gateways (MAGs) are grouped into clusters, each with a distinguished cluster Head MAG (HMAG). The HMAG is mainly designed to reduce the load on LMA by performing intra-cluster handoff signaling and providing an optimized path for data communications. The proposed architecture is evaluated analytically, and the numerical results show that the proposed CSPMIPv6 outperforms both SPMIPv6 and PMIPv6 protocols in terms of LMA load, local handoff delay, and transmission cost performance metrics.
- wireless sensor network
- mobility management protocols
- Proxy MIPv6 (PMIPv6)
- Sensor PMIPv6 (SPMIPv6)
Wireless sensor networks (WSNs) consist of a large number of small devices that sense and collect information from their immediate environment. The collected data are transmitted hop-by-hop through the network and then to the sink node, which is where these data are analyzed. These types of networks pose many challenges because of their limited energy, low computational capabilities, low memory, unattended operation, and dynamic environmental changes .
With the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) and ubiquitous computing, the need has emerged to design protocols which connect the WSN to Internet. Ubiquitous computing, where computers interact with and make decisions on behalf of the user, needs sensing data to make the respective decisions. Since the Internet is the most widespread network, connecting WSNs to the Internet to disseminate sensed data is essential for making ubiquitous computing into reality . Integrating the Internet Protocol (IP) with WSNs can facilitate WSNs to interconnect with other IP networks and capitalize the existing Internet infrastructure and IP-applications for cohesive connectivity with sensor networks . Two main approaches, namely, the proxy-based and the sensor node stack-based approaches, are used for connecting WSNs to IP networks . In the proxy-based approach, the sink node serves as the gateway between the sensor nodes and the Internet. In the sensor node stack-based approach, the IP protocol is implemented in each sensor as a routing protocol to allow data exchange inside the sensor network and enable Internet connectivity with other networks .
Lightweight protocol becomes a critical requirement when the benefits from an IP-enabled architecture and the limitations of WSNs are considered because it allows the possibility of connecting WSNs to IP networks. The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) 6LoWPAN working group plays a significant role in making the use of IPv6 over the standard IEEE802.15.4 possible. 6LoWPAN  is a lightweight protocol that allows connectivity among devices with limited power by importing IPv6 capabilities into low-power devices. 6LoWPAN adopts the physical (PHY) and Media Access Control (MAC) layer protocols defined in IEEE 802.15.4 to make them as its PHY and MAC layer protocols. The IPv6 protocol is used as the network layer protocol in 6LoWPAN. Since the IPv6 network layer maximum transmission unit is not compatible with the MAC layer of IEEE 802.15.4, a network adaptation layer has been added between the network and MAC layers to perform fragmentation, reassembling, perform IPv6 header compression, and handle mesh addressing.
Mobility management protocols are essential in the growing research area of IoT because the static attributes of nodes are no longer dominant in the current environment. Mobility management protocols should provide users with full access to information regardless of their locations. Nodes may move locally within one domain or extend their movements outside their domains. Movement can also be viewed from the constituting number of nodes (i.e., a single node or as a group of nodes) . Mobility management protocols may be implemented in the host itself (i.e., host-based mobility) or in the proxy router (i.e., network-based mobility). Network-based mobility is more suitable in low-power sensor nodes because it relieves the sensor nodes from participating in any mobility operation, thereby prolonging network lifetime .
The IETF has standardized the host-based Mobile IPv6 (MIPv6)  and Network Mobility (NEMO)  protocols to address the management needs of the global mobility of mobile nodes (MNs) and mobile networks, respectively. Both protocols enable the continuity of the communication session for hosts while they are moving. However, these host-based protocols suffer from high signaling overhead, long handoff latency, and high packet loss ratio .
The IETF has standardized the Proxy Mobile IPv6 (PMIPv6)  to solve problems associated with host-based protocols. PMIPv6 adds two functional entities, namely, Local Mobility Anchor (LMA) and Mobility Access Gateway (MAG). LMA maintains the reachability of the MN address while it moves within the local PMIPv6 domain. The MAG detects MN movements and initiates the required authentication signals with the Authentication, Authorization, and Accounting (AAA) server to register the MN with LMA. The MAG requires the LMA address, the network prefix of the MN, and the allowed address configuration modes to accomplish the registration. All these information are stored in the AAA server in either a centralized or distributed manner .
The main feature of PMIPv6 is its network-based mobility management protocol, in which the network detects the node mobility and initiates the required mobility signals. Thus, PMIPv6 relieves the MN from participating in the handoff process. The features of PMIPv6 described above have motivated the adoption of PMIPv6 in WSN mobility management. Islam and Huh  proposed the Sensor Proxy Mobile IPv6 (SPMIPv6) protocol, which is an adaptation of the PMIPv6 protocol. SPMIPv6 has substantially reduced signaling and mobility costs, as well as the level of energy consumption. However, SPMIPv6 inherited the drawbacks of the standard PMIPv6 because of its dependence on a central LMA. The single and central entity architecture of the SPMIPv6 leads to a single point of failure, making it vulnerable to the bottleneck problem and long handoff latency. In addition, the mobility-related signaling and communication messages pass through a non-optimized routing path, increasing the handoff latency, end-to-end delay time, and the packet loss ratio. Moreover, the authentication and registration signals, which are frequently exchanged between LMA, AAA, and MAGs, significantly affect the handoff latency and packet loss during handoff .
Several studies in literature have attempted to enhance PMIPv6, including the Fast Proxy MIPv6 (PFMIPv6)  protocol, which has been standardized by the IETF to reduce the handoff latency. However, the PFMIPv6 protocol introduces false handoff initiation because the serving network predicts the new network where the MN moves to . Nguyen and Bonnet  developed a cluster-based PMIPv6 for wireless mesh networks, wherein LMA serves as the cluster head and MAGs represent the access routers (ARs). However, they proposed a multi-LMA environment, where LMAs are involved in all the binding and communication processes. Hwang et al.  proposed a localized management support for PMIPv6 to solve the bottleneck problem by providing a localized handoff and route optimization using a reactive fast handover and hierarchical architecture. Their proposed architecture performed handoffs without the participation of the LMA with a short handoff latency time. However, the MAGs managed the communications and handoffs of their attached MAGs and MNs, resulting in additional functions that may lead to a long end-to-end delay time. Moreover, their proposed method requires multiple updates as the nesting level becomes larger, especially during the initial MN registration.
This study presents an enhanced architecture of SPMIPv6, named Cluster-based SPMIPv6 (CSPMIPV6), to solve the bottleneck, long handoff latency, and route optimization problems.
Providing a detailed preview and analysis of the multitudes of the methods currently used for connecting WSN to the Internet. Then, analyzes the manner in which the mobility protocols have evolved to position themselves for WSN.
Identification of the demerits of SPMIPv6, which serves as the underlying motivation of the proposed architecture.
Proposal and development of the architecture called CSPMIPv6 to enhance the SPMIPv6 protocol.
Presentation of the mathematical analysis and respective numerical results to evaluate the efficiency of the proposed CSPMIPv6 architecture.
The rest of this article is organized as follows: Section 2 presents the mobility management protocols used in IP-WSN. Section 3 shows the proposed CSPMIPv6, including its signaling, messaging, and binding tables. Section 4 presents the performance evaluations of the proposed CSPMIPv6. Section 5 presents the numerical results. Section 6 concludes the study, including some ideas for future investigations.
CSPMIPv6 is proposed to overcome the common disadvantages of PMIPv6 and SPMIPv6 by dividing the proxy domain into a number of local sub-domains. Each sub-domain is represented as a cluster that constitutes a group of MAGs with one Head MAG (HMAG), which is one of the PMIP MAGs that functions as a cluster head. HMAGs are selected during network installation and configuration. The method used for creating the optimum clusters is beyond the scope of this study. This section discusses the architecture, signaling, binding tables, and messages of the proposed CSPMIPv6. For simplicity, the terms MAG, LMA, and MN will be used hereinafter to unify the terms among PMIPv6, SPMIPv6, and the proposed CSPMIPv6.
3.1. Proposed CSPMIPv6 architecture
3.2. The CSPMIPv6 messages
In CSPMIPv6, a number of messages should be exchanged among the CSPMIPv6 entities to perform the registration, handoff, and communication processes. These messages include Proxy Binding Update (PBU), Proxy Binding Acknowledgement (PBA), Local PBU (LPBU), Local PBA (LPBA), Proxy Binding Query (PBQ), and Proxy Query Acknowledgement (PQA). In addition, all the LMA, HMAGs, and MAGs should maintain their respective binding list to store the required information of the MN's current location.
3.3. CSPMIPv6 signaling
This section presents the new CSPMIPv6 signaling, including the MN registration and the intra- and inter-cluster handoff operations.
3.3.1. MN registration signaling
Steps 1 and 2: Once the MAG detects an MN attachment, it sends an LPBU request to the corresponding HMAG that contains the MN identifier (MN-ID).
Step 3: The HMAG performs MN authentication. Upon successful authentication, the HMAG sends a PBU to the LMA that contains the MN's identifier and the requesting HMAG.
Step 4: The LMA now has all the information needed to register the MN. The LMA adds a new BCE for the MN and sends a PBA message back to the requesting HMAG. The PBA message contains the MN's home network prefix (HNP), which will be used by the MN to maintain its IPv6 address. The LMA then sets up a bi-directional tunnel with the corresponding HMAG for the routing of traffic to and from the MN.
Step 5: The HMAG registers the MN in its BUL table and sends an LPBA back to the corresponding MAG that contains the MN prefix. The HMAG then configures the required routing information needed to reach MN.
Step 6: Once the requesting MAG receives the LPBA, it registers the MN in its BUL table and sends a router advertisement message to the requesting node.
Notably, the MN information is registered into the LMA, HMAG, and the MAG tables during the registration process, as shown in Figure 1. In addition, the MN information is exchanged between the HMAG and MAGs to configure the required routing information for the MN, and thus, establishing a tunnel between the HMAG and MAGs is unnecessary . Moreover, the AAA is integrated within the HMAG to reduce the signaling cost during the registration and handoff operations. The idea of integrating the AAA with the HMAG is inspired by the work of Islam and Huh , who integrated the AAA with LMA to reduce signaling overhead. However, they extended the single point of failure to include both the authentication and binding information.
3.3.2. Intra- and inter-cluster handoff signaling
On the other hand, the LMA must be involved in the inter-cluster handoff because the MN changes its cluster and connects to a new HMAG. In this study, MAG1 and MAG2 were assumed to be attached to HMAG1 and HMAG2, respectively. Once MAG2 detects the MN attachment, it sends an LPBU to its HMAG2. Once HMAG2 receives the LPBU, it searches for a matched entry for MN in its binding table. Since the MN comes from another cluster, HMAG2 will not find any entry for this specific MN. HMAG2 then sends a PBU to the LMA to update the BCE of the MN. The LMA updates the HMAG field for the MN and replies via a PBA to the requesting HMAG2. Once HMAG2 receives the PBA, it creates an entry for the MN and replies by sending an LPBA back to the requesting MAG2. The MAG2 consequently creates the required entry for the MN in its binding table and advertises the HNP to the MN.
3.4. CSPMIPv6 applications
The IP-WSN can be deployed for a wide range of applications, including industrial monitoring, structural monitoring, health care, connected home, vehicle telematics, and agricultural monitoring . In this section, the health care application proposed by Islam and Huh  is considered and enhanced using CSPMIPv6 as a mobility management protocol.
3.4.1. Healthcare application
Consider a specialized hospital with state-of-the-art technology, where a patient can get healthcare and monitoring both at the hospital and at home. Specialist doctors can monitor patient cases while they are in the patient room, in different rooms within the same ward, in different floors, and even outside the hospital. The healthcare application scenario proposed in  is modified according to the proposed architecture.
3.4.2. CSPMIPv6 communication and movement scenarios
This section presents three communications scenarios, including the Intra-HMAG, Inter-HMAG, and Inter-domain communications.
A. Intra-HMAG communication scenario
MN1 sends the data packet to its MAG1.
Once MAG1 receives the packet, it checks the network prefix of the destination MN (MN3) to check if the destination node belongs to the same MAG1. If there is an entry in the BUL of the MAG1, the packet is forwarded directly to MN3.
Since MN3 address belongs to another network, MAG1 sends the packet to its cluster head HMAG1.
Once HMAG1 receives the packet, it checks its BUL to search for the destination address. Since MN3 belongs to MAG2, HMAG1 sends the packet to MAG2 to be forwarded to the MN.
B. Inter-HMAG communication scenario
Once MAG2 receives a packet from MN3, it forwards the packet to the HMAG1.
Upon receiving the packet by HMAG1, it searches its BUL for an MN5 entry. Since MN5 belongs to another HMAG, HMAG1 sends a PBQ message to the entire HMAGs multicast group.
Once the HMAG2 receives the PBQ, it replies immediately via a PBA to HMAG1. HMAG1 then creates the required tunnel for data transmission.
C. Inter-domain communication scenario
When the data packet reaches the HMAG2, HMAG2 sends a PBQ to the entire HMAGs multicast group. However, HMAG2 will not receive any PQA because the destination node (CN) belongs to another domain.
The HMAG2 forwards the packet to the LMA through the bidirectional tunnel.
The LMA forwards the data packet to its destination.
On the other hand, if the LMA receives a data packet destined to the MN from a CN outside the CSPMIPv6 domain, it searches for an entry in its binding cache table for this particular MN. If LMA locates the required entry, it encapsulates and forwards the packet to the corresponding HMAG. Once the HMAG receives the encapsulated packet, it decapsulates the packet and searches for an entry in its BUL. Then, the HMAG uses the routing information to forward the packet to the respective MAG, which forwards the packet to the MN.
The communication scenarios above show that LMA is involved only during the inter-domain communication process when the CN resides outside the CSPMIPv6 domain.
Parameters for the performance analyzing
Transmission cost of a packet between nodes x and y
Processing cost of node C for binding update or lookup
Setup time for connecting MN with MAG
Number of MAGs in PMIPv6 domain
Number of HMAGs in CSPMIPv6 domain
Number of active hosts per MAG
Number of MAGs per HMAG
Hop count between nodes x and y
Size of a control packet (byte)
Size of data packet (byte)
Unit cost of binding update with LMA or HMAG
Unit cost of lookup for MN at LMA, HMAG, or MAG
Unit transmission cost of packet per a wired link (hop)
Unit transmission cost of packet per a wireless link (hop)
Probability of inter-cluster communications or movements
4.1. Network model
4.2. Cost analysis
In this section, the total cost (TC) is derived depending on the model presented in  with some modifications to make it suitable for comparison with the proposed CSPMIPv6. These modifications consider both the authentication cost and the distance between HMAGs and their attached MAGs. The TC is calculated as the sum of the Binding Update Cost (BUC) and the Packet Delivery Cost (PDC).
4.2.1. PMIPv6 cost analysis
4.2.2. SPMIPv6 cost analysis
4.2.3. CSPMIPv6 cost analysis
In the proposed CSPMIPv6, two scenarios are used for communications and movements, namely, the intra/inter-cluster handoffs and communications, respectively. In the calculations, both cases are analyzed separately and then the TC is computed by setting the probability parameter (p = 0.5). In addition, the BUC is reduced by integrating the AAA services within the HMAG.
4.2.4. LMA load
In PMIPv6, the involvement of LMA in all handoff and communication processes may lead to significantly increase the load on LMA. Consequently, the high load of LMA results in longer queuing delays and increases the packet loss ratio.
Basically, the LMA load p can be expressed as p = λ/μ, where λ is the average packet arrival rate and μ is the average service time. Taking the processing capacity of LMA into consideration, the threshold θ is the maximum acceptable load on LMA. If p > θ, LMA gets overloaded, and hence, the packets will experience a long queuing delay which results in increasing both the end-to-end delay and the packet loss ratio .
In CSPMIPv6, the TC is less than that of other protocols and varied with the number of inter-cluster operations. The cost increased with the increase in the probability of the inter-cluster mobility. However, the TC of the CSPIMPv6 is still less than that of PMIPv6 and SPMIPv6 even when the probability (p) is 1 (i.e., all the nodes perform inter-cluster operations). The low CSPMIPv6 cost can be attributed to the optimal communication path and the low handoff latency.
The SPMIPv6 meets the demands of energy efficiency in terms of reducing signaling and mobility costs because it avoids the involvement of MN in mobility signaling. However, the SPMIPv6 inherits most of the PMIPv6 problems because of its dependence on a single and central LMA. Therefore, this study proposes the CSPMIPv6 to enhance the SPMIPv6 architecture, where the proxy domain is divided into sub-domains that form as clusters. Each cluster comprises a number of MAGs, with one HMAG as a cluster head. Dividing the proxy domain into clusters reduces the load on the LMA, allows the HMAG to perform the intra-cluster handoff locally, and optimizes the communication path, eventually reducing the packet loss ratio. In addition, the use of HMAG provides sufficient buffers for storing the data packets during the handoff and an efficient place for deploying the load balancing and the binding request scheduling algorithms. The HMAG is one of the PMIPv6 MAGs elected to play the role of a cluster head. Thus, introducing the HMAG does not violate the PMIPv6 principles of localized mobility management and exhibits significant impact on total performance. The analysis and numerical results prove that the proposed CSPMIPv6 outperforms both PMIPv6 and SPMIPv6 in terms of the LMA load, local handoff latency, and transmission cost. Future investigations could focus on the implementation of the CSPMIPv6 protocol to validate its scalability using a high and random mobility environment. The next step is to deploy efficient algorithms for both MAG load balancing and binding scheduling. Also, the performance of the CPSMIPv6 needs to be compared with other schemes which have been designed to reduce the handoff latency and to optimize the communication path, such as Fast PMIPv6 and the route optimized PMIPv6. In addition, calculating the packet loss ratio needs further investigations. However, the packet loss ratio is expected to be reduced because the handoff latency time becomes shorter, the path is optimized for the intra-domain communications, and the HMAGs may provide sufficient buffers to store the packets destined to the moving nodes. Moreover, the HMAGs load under random movements and random number of MNs also needs much research to evaluate the benefits from introducing the HMAG.
In this article, the analytical model which has been used by Jung et al. , is adopted with the respected extensions to compare the performance of the proposed CSPMIPv6 protocol with the basic PMIPv6 and the SPMIPv6 protocols. The TC, which is expressed as the sum of PDC and BUC, is derived using Equations (1-9) and is used for the performance comparisons. We have studied the impact of the wireless link delay, wired link delay, and the distance between MAG and LMA on the TC. In addition, we have deliberated on how the TC is affected by the intra- and inter-cluster mobility. The LMA load is also estimated using Equations (12-14) and used to compare the performance of the protocols in solving the LMA bottleneck problem. According to the numerical results, the proposed CSPMIPv6 performs better than the basic PMIPv6 and the SPMIPv6 in terms of LMA load, handoff latency, and the transmission cost.
We would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their invaluable comments that helped us improve the quality of the article.
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