6.3.b Implement and troubleshoot network time protocol

6.3.b [i] NTP master, client, version 3, version 4

NTP is designed to synchronize the time on a network of machines. NTP runs over the User Datagram Protocol (UDP), using port 123 as both the source and destination, which in turn runs over IP. NTP Version 3 is used to synchronize timekeeping among a set of distributed time servers and clients. A set of nodes on a network are identified and configured with NTP and the nodes form a synchronization subnet, sometimes referred to as an overlay network. While multiple masters (primary servers) may exist, there is no requirement for an election protocol.

An NTP network usually gets its time from an authoritative time source, such as a radio clock or an atomic clock attached to a time server. NTP then distributes this time across the network. An NTP client makes a transaction with its server over its polling interval (from 64 to 1024 seconds) which dynamically changes over time depending on the network conditions between the NTP server and the client. The other situation occurs when the router communicates to a bad NTP server (for example, NTP server with large dispersion); the router also increases the poll interval. No more than one NTP transaction per minute is needed to synchronize two machines. It is not possible to adjust the NTP poll interval on a router.

NTP uses the concept of a stratum to describe how many NTP hops away a machine is from an authoritative time source. For example, a stratum 1 time server has a radio or atomic clock directly attached to it. It then sends its time to a stratum 2 time server through NTP, and so on. A machine running NTP automatically chooses the machine with the lowest stratum number that it is configured to communicate with using NTP as its time source.

This strategy effectively builds a self-organizing tree of NTP speakers. NTP performs well over the non-deterministic path lengths of packet-switched networks, because it makes robust estimates of the following three key variables in the relationship between a client and a time server.

● Network delay

● Dispersion of time packet exchanges— A measure of maximum clock error between the two hosts.

● Clock offset— The correction applied to a client’s clock to synchronize it.

NTP avoids synchronizing to a machine whose time may not be accurate in two ways. First of all, NTP never synchronizes to a machine that is not synchronized itself. Secondly, NTP compares the time reported by several machines, and will not synchronize to a machine whose time is significantly different than the others, even if its stratum is lower.

The communications between machines running NTP (associations) are usually statically configured. Each machine is given the IP address of all machines with which it should form associations. Accurate timekeeping is made possible by exchanging NTP messages between each pair of machines with an association. However, in a LAN environment, NTP can be configured to use IP broadcast messages instead. This alternative reduces configuration complexity because each machine can be configured to send or receive broadcast messages. However, the accuracy of timekeeping is marginally reduced because the information flow is one-way only.

The time kept on a machine is a critical resource and it is strongly recommend that you use the security features of NTP to avoid the accidental or malicious setting of incorrect time. The two security features available are an access list-based restriction scheme and an encrypted authentication mechanism.

Adam, Paul (2014-07-12). All-in-One CCIE V5 Written Exam Guide (Kindle Locations 5875-5881).  . Kindle Edition.

http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/support/docs/availability/high-availability/19643-ntpm.html