IETF Ornithology: Recent Sightings

By: Mat Ford

Date: November 1, 2014

line break image

Getting new work started in the IETF usually requires a birds-of-a-feather (BoF) meeting to discuss goals for the work, the suitability of the IETF as a venue for pursuing the work, and the level of interest in and support for the work. In this article, we’ll review the BoFs that took place during IETF 90, including their intentions and outcomes. If you’re inspired to arrange a BoF meeting, please be sure to read RFC 5434: Considerations for Having a Successful Birds-of-a-Feather (BoF) Session.

Abstraction and Control of Transport Networks (actn)

Description: Network operators build and operate multidomain networks. These domains may be collections of links and nodes, each of a different technology, administrative zone, or vendor-specific island. Establishment of end-to-end connections spanning multiple domains is a perpetual problem for operators, both because of operational concerns and because of interoperability issues. Due to these issues, the introduction of new services, often requiring connections that traverse multiple domains, needs both significant planning and several manual operations to interface different vendor equipment and technology.

The aim of ACTN is to facilitate virtual network operation: the creation of a virtualized environment enabling operators to view and control multiple multisubnet, multitechnology networks as a single virtualized network. Network abstraction of transport networks is also necessary for operators who consolidate their network services into multitenant virtual transport networks. This will accelerate rapid service deployment of new services, including more dynamic and elastic services, and will improve overall network operations and scaling of existing services. Discussion with operators has highlighted a need for virtual network operation based on the abstraction of underlying technology and vendor domains.

This BoF was not intended to form a working group. It was intended to give operators an opportunity to express their current operational practices, highlighting operational pain points, network virtualization requirements and objectives, short-term goals, and longer-term aspirations.


Outcome: Discussion enabled operators to express their needs and issues, and some common threads were visible, e.g., end-to-end services over multidomain or multilayer networks. It was less clear what that would mean in terms of protocol work. Discussion of use cases, potential solutions, scoping the problem etc. will continue on the mailing list.

Virtualized Network Function Pool (vnfpool)

Description: This is the second BoF meeting on this topic, the previous session having taken place during IETF 89. The main goal of this meeting was to come to consensus on a charter for a vnfpool working group. Since the previous meeting, the proposed charter was updated to focus on pooling within an individual VNF, not reliability for the whole service graph; to clarify the relation of vnfpool to the service function chaining working group, and; to leave service state synchronization out of scope in the initial phase of work.


Outcome: It remains unclear whether or not standardization of new technology is needed here, and further discussion with a broader community is required to answer some of the outstanding questions. More work on the mailing list is expected.

Delay Tolerant Networking Working Group (dtnwg)

Description: The meeting investigated interest in transitioning technologies developed in the IRTF DTN research group into standards-track activities through the formation of a new IETF working group. The meeting was presented with a draft working group charter, including work items based on the DTN Bundle Protocol. The goal of the meeting was to discuss the draft charter and present the candidate work items, as well as to determine the level of support for conducting the work in the IETF. The desired end state was the formation of a new working group soon after IETF 90.


Outcome: Although further work is required to refine the charter, this was a productive and positive session in which several people expressed willingness to work on documents in a DTN working group.

Use Cases for Autonomic Networking (ucan)

Description: See “Autonomic Networking,” on page 1 of this issue of The IETF Journal.


Outcome: This meeting was not intended to form a working group. Many different use cases were presented and the chairs and other interested parties will continue the work of developing a more focused working group charter on the mailing list.

IANAPLAN (ianaplan)

Description: This was a working-group forming BoF meeting. It began by recapping the outcome from the IETF 89 igovupdate session, and then discussing both the NTIA transition in the larger Internet community and the Coordination Group. Finally, the impact for the IETF and proposed plans for action were discussed, including a draft working group charter. For more discussion of the IANA transition, see “IANA Transition Update,” from IETF Chair Jari Arkko on page 22 of this issue of The IETF Journal.


Outcome: This discussion went well. There was agreement in the room to support formation of a working group with a slightly tighter charter than was presented during the BoF.