We recommend the use of the widely available, standards-based RADIUS Status-Server capability to monitor the health and availability of the top-level US RADIUS proxies. Status-Server is designed for monitoring the health and availability of RADIUS servers and can be used without the need for user credentials on a remote Identity Provider (IdP).
Ideally, a proxy monitoring solution would have the following attributes:
- It should not be necessary for an eduroam subscriber to have user credentials from a remote IDP in order to determine the status of the top-level RADIUS proxies.
- Determining the status of the top-level RADIUS proxies should rely on as little other infrastructure as possible, to avoid fate sharing and false negatives.
- Monitoring should use a widely available, standards-based mechanism with a well-supported open-source implementation.
- The monitoring mechanism should check availability and health of the RADIUS proxy, not just the network reachability of the proxy host.
We recommend that eduroam subscribers use Status-Server messages to monitor the US eduroam top-level proxies, rather than sending requests using user credentials from a remote IDP or using lower-level mechanisms, such as ICMP echo requests (i.e., “ping”).
Status-Server messages are a standard RADIUS monitoring mechanism defined in RFC 5997 [RFC5997]. They allow an authorized monitoring system to query the availability and health of a RADIUS server without the need for a remote IDP or user credentials. The US eduroam top-level RADIUS proxies are configured to respond to Status-Server messages directly with an Access-Accept packet, as described in the standard. The only credential required to use the Status-Server mechanism is a valid RADIUS secret shared between the RADIUS server and the originator of the Status-Server requests. This secret can be configured by an eduroam administrator in the Federation Manager by configuring the monitoring host as a Service Provider (SP).
Comparison to RADIUS Access-Requests
There are several reasons why Status-Server messages are a cleaner solution for RADIUS proxy monitoring than the use of RADIUS Access-Request messages to a remote IdP:
- Status-Server messages do not contain user credentials and are not sent to an IdP.
- There is no requirement for remote user credentials;
- There are no false negative results when the IdP server is unreachable or non-responsive; and
- They avoid extended or false outage reports caused by proxy/IdP interactions, such as silently discarding requests to a home server that is considered “dead”.
- Status-Server responses may contain statistics that provide greater information about the health and status of the RADIUS server than an Access-Request authentication response.
Comparison to “ping”
The “ping” command can be used to determine if a particular host is available on the Internet. However, it has multiple failure modes that make it unsuitable for monitoring the availability of the US eduroam RADIUS proxies:
- The US eduroam servers are part of a complicated network topology within AWS. A successful ping response does not necessarily indicate that the RADIUS proxy container is running, at all.
- Even if you were able to ping the container’s IP address directly, response to a ping does not necessarily indicate that the RADIUS server is available and healthy.
The “radclient” tool in FreeRADIUS is a well-supported open source tool that can be used to send Status-Server messages and process their responses [RC-MAN, RC-MON].
[RFC5997] “Use of Status-Server Messages in RADIUS”, A. Dekok, August 2010. https://www.rfc-editor.org/info/rfc5997
[RC-MAN] radclient Man Page, https://freeradius.org/radiusd/man/radclient.html
[RC-MON] Status of FreeRADIUS Server, https://wiki.freeradius.org/config/Status