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ISOC Fellows Enjoy In-Person IETF Experience

By: Carolyn Duffy Marsan

Date: January 1, 2010

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Meeting other network engineers who are facing and solving similar problems-that’s the main benefit that technologists from developing countries said they’re receiving as a result of the Internet Society’s fellowship programme. ISOC awarded fellowships to 12 technologists from developing countries to attend the IETF meeting in Hiroshima, Japan, in November 2009.
Participants from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Fiji, India, Mauritius, and Pakistan were able to experience the Internet standards process in person. The ISOC Fellowship Programme receives significant financial support from leading Internet companies, including Afilias, Google, Intel, Microsoft, and the Nominet Trust.

While the IETF conducts most of its standards development work via e-mail, ISOC fellows said they valued the experience of face-to-face meetings with their counterparts from around the world.

Hassan Zaheer, manager of IP core at Worldcall Telecom Ltd. in Pakistan, said the most useful aspect of attending the IETF meeting in Hiroshima was being able to talk freely to industry veterans with whom he had exchanged e-mails in the past. “The informal atmosphere is the most benefitting and at the same time very interesting,” said Hassan, who’s been working in IP network operations for a decade. “It can’t be possible to write down all of [the knowledge I gained] from corridor meetings and discussions at social gatherings.”

Hassan discovered that Comcast is facing the same problem of increasing demand for bandwidth from its broadband customers that Worldcall Telecom is seeing. He gained insight from Comcast that will help as Worldcall Telecom deploys DOCSIS 3.0, a cable television industry standard. “Comcast has the same problems as we are facing here, and I found good examples of how they resolved it using DOCSIS Quality of Service, which I can implement here also,” he said.

Hassan said it’s an honour to be an ISOC fellow. “For someone like me, who has been working on network technologies for so long and communicating with peers and involved in technology evolution, it’s the best opportunity to meet them in person and exchange views,” he said.

The free-flowing exchange of ideas and information at IETF meetings is what Gargi Bag, an Indian doctoral student at Ajou University in South Korea, said she valued most from her ISOC fellowship. Gargi’s area of research is the provision of mobility support for low-power, low-bandwidth devices that use the IETF’s 6LowPAN protocol. “The meeting provided me an excellent opportunity to meet people in both the 6lowpan and NETLMM [Network-Based Localized Mobility Management] working groups and attend their sessions,” she said. “This helped me [resolve] the technical issues and gave me a clear direction to proceed with my ongoing research.”

IETF 76 Fellows and Mentors
Zartash Afzal Uzmi (Pakistan)
Mentor: Daniel King
Gargi Bag (Korea, Republic of)
Mentor: Sri Gundavelli

Fernando Gont (Argentina)
Ali Tufail (Korea, Republic of)
Mentor: Hamid Mukhtar

Muhammad Yousaf (Pakistan)
Mentor: Fred Baker

Hassan Zaheer (Pakistan)
Mentor: Mat Ford

Returning Fellows
João Marcelo Ceron (Brazil)
Sandra L. Céspedes (Colombia)
Subramanian Moonesamy (Mauritius)
Terry Rupeni (Fiji)
Hugo Salgado (Chile)
Carlos Alberto Watson Carazo (Costa Rica)

Gargi said she found the other IETF meeting participants to be approachable and helpful. “IETF is attended by experts from every field related to networks, and it is relatively easy to approach anyone for technical discussions,” she said.

Gargi added that she has shared with her colleagues much of what she learned about the hierarchy of the IETF and how the standards body works. “I gave a talk to my fellow lab mates in the lab seminar related to this,” she said. Hugo Salgado, who’s with NIC Chile, said he was able to gain practical information about how best to deploy Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) from early adopters in the IETF community. “We’re preparing to launch DNSSEC for the .CL zone,” Hugo said. “With DNSSEC, we’re following all the current and future work, clarifications, and operational best practices.”

Hugo added that he also found it interesting to hear the thoughts of IETF leaders about the issues of network neutrality and how best to deal with congestion control. “In Chile, there’s an ongoing discussion about network neutrality, where the government presented a law that the parliament is analyzing,” Hugo said. “This is a topic that is being discussed in many working groups.”

The Hiroshima meeting was Hugo’s fourth IETF meeting and his second as an ISOC fellow. “For my company, the IETF meeting is a great source of advice with the technologies that we use,” Hugo said. “Other people’s DNSSEC experiences are the things we need right now to launch this technology.”

Subramanian Moonesamy, a consultant for Eland Systems in Mauritius, said attending the IETF meetings makes it easier to resolve issues that flare up on the working group e-mail lists. Subramanian’s work involves implementing the protocols developed at the IETF. “Attending the IETF meeting allows me to have face-to-face discussions with the authors of the specifications and raise any issues I may have,” Subramanian said. “An IETF meeting offers an informal venue to resolve differences of opinion. That works out well in an IETF meeting as people are generally open and friendly.”

Subramanian attended both IETF 76 in Hiroshima, Japan, and IETF 70 in Vancouver, Canada, as part of the ISOC Fellowship Programme. “I can participate actively in the IETF because of the ISOC Fellowship to the IETF meeting, and I have improved my technical knowledge,” Subramanian said. “They offer a glimpse of the Internet of tomorrow from a technological perspective.”

Subramanian said the recipients aren’t the only ones to benefit from the ISOC Fellowship Programme. “The ISOC Fellowship Programme provides people from developing countries with the means to contribute to the IETF and make their voices heard,” Subramanian said. “It is also a benefit to the IETF to have more participants from developing countries.”

This article was posted on 20 January 2010

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