IETF 97 Hackathon: Improving Open Standards through Open Source

By: Charles Eckel

Date: March 19, 2017

line break image

Originally posted by Charles Eckel in the DevNet Open Source Community on 17 November 2016.

IETF 97 met in Seoul and got off to a great start with the IETF Hackathon, 12–13 November. This sixth Hackathon event drew approximately 120 participants on site, plus more than 20 remotely. Work covered a broad range of IETF topics, and the results were both valuable and inspiring.

The IETF Hackathon series started in March 2015 at IETF 92 with the following goals:

  1. Advance the pace and relevance of IETF work.
  2. Attract young people and developers to the IETF.

Confirmation of the second goal was evident from the start of this Hackathon, as a show of hands indicated this was the first IETF experience for a few dozen participants and the first IETF Hackathon for many more. Evidence of achieving the first goal would need to wait until the results presentations at the end of the Hackathon.

Not Your Typical Hackathon

The IETF Hackathon is not a typical hackathon. Participants are motivated by a desire to improve the Internet rather than prize money. The spirit is collaborative rather than competitive. Participation is free and attending the IETF meeting that follows is not required. Individuals volunteer to “champion” projects related to IETF work, and teams form around these champions. The list of projects for this Hackathon were as follows:

  • ACTN
  • Capturing and analyzing network data features – Joy
  • Interface to Network Security Functions (I2NSF) Framework
  • Interface to the Routing System (I2RS)
  • LoRaWAN Wireshark dissector
  • Multipath TCP
  • PCE
  • Service Function DevKit
  • SFC
  • TLS 1.3

One of the ways the Hackathon increases the pace and relevance of IETF work is via running code. Implementing evolving standards and producing running code validates the standards and highlights things that may be missing, wrong, or ambiguous in draft versions of these standards. Better still, if the code is open source, viewing and sharing the source code aids in understanding of a standard, makes it easier to use, and promotes its adoption. Open source projects that featured prominently this Hackathon included OpenDaylight, ONOS, VPP, Joy, and many others. For a list and brief description of the Hackathon projects, see the wiki at

Winners and Winners

Despite a lack of big prize money, participants engage in friendly competition for bragging rights and first shot at a set of gadgets donated by sponsors. Teams present their results to a panel of judges, who have the difficult job of choosing winners. The winners and categories this round were as follows:

  • Best Overall: Multipath TCP team

This team was composed of a set of professors and students from Ecole Polytechnique de Louvain in Belgium. Since some team members travelled to Seoul and others participated remotely from Belgium, the team had the benefit of working in shifts around the clock. .

  • Best Input to a Working Group: ACTN team

The Abstraction and Control of Transport Networks (ACTN) team produced important feedback for both the Traffic Engineering Architecture and Signaling (TEAS) and Interface to Routing System (I2RS) Working Groups, and their code will become an upstream contribution to the ONOS project.

  • Best Group Work: I2NSF team

The Interface to Network Security Function (I2NSF) team, powered by energetic professors and students from Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea, used RESTCONF and NETCONF together with YANG data models to implement network security services using OpenDaylight and mininet. In doing so, they validated the approach defined by the I2NSF Working Group.

  • Best New Work to IETF: Service Function Dev Kit team and SFC team

The award was given to two separate teams that both did work related to Service Function Chaining (SFC). The first added support for Network Service Headers (NSH) to VPP and the Service Function Dev Kit, making it easier for developers to integrate with service function classifiers and forwarders. The second demonstrated hierarchical SFC with flow stateful classifier using OpenDaylight and intent based SFC with ONOS.

Other teams had fantastic achievements, as well. All project presentations have been uploaded to One pervasive theme was the continued work involving YANG, NETCONF, and RESTCONF aimed at improving operations through automation. Benoit Claise, one of the operations and management area directors, posted a summary here:

Join the Next IETF Hackathon!

The next IETF Hackathon will be at IETF 98 in Chicago, 25-26 March 2017. As always, participation is free and open to everyone. It is a great way to experience firsthand the far reaching work the IETF does and the people that make it happen. It invites open source communities to join the IETF and other standards organizations to improve the functionality, security, and operation of the Internet we all know and love. The stay up-to-date with all things related to past, present, and future Hackathons, including the opening of registration for the IETF 98 Hackathon, subscribe to [email protected].