IETF Ornithology: Recent Sightings

By: Mat Ford

Date: July 1, 2013

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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 86, including their intentions and outcomes. If you’re inspired to arrange a BoF meeting, please be sure to read RFC5434: Considerations for Having a Successful Birds-of-a-Feather (BoF) Session.

Aggregated Service Discovery (aggsrv)

Description: Service providers and enterprises commonly offer a variety of application services delivered over multiple protocols. A user will often consume these services from several endpoints, requiring service discovery or manual configuration for each service at each endpoint. Some of these services leverage existing standards-based discovery, such as DNS, DHCP, or UDDI, while others rely on some form of proprietary discovery. Still others do not support any form of discovery, requiring the manual entry of service access information. As the quantity and variety of these services grows, it becomes increasingly onerous for administrators to manage the disparate discovery mechanisms, and increasingly burdensome on users to provide configuration where discovery is not supported. This BoF meeting discussed forming a working group to standardise a simplified and efficient means for aggregated service discovery.


Outcome: This was a very productive meeting that helped the group better understand the problem. Work will continue to draft a charter for a WG based on the discussion in Orlando with a view towards getting a working group formed prior to the next meeting in Berlin.

Javascript Object Notation (json)

Description: Javascript Object Notation (JSON) is a lightweight, text-based, language-independent, data-interchange format. It was derived from the ECMAScript Programming Language Standard and was published in RFC 4627, an Informational document. JSON has come into very broad use, often instead of or in addition to XML. This BoF meeting discussed forming a working group to move the JSON specification (RFC 4627) to Standards Track and to handle other JSON-related work in progress.


Outcome: This was a very good meeting, and is likely to result in a chartered working group in the very near future.

History of the Internet (history)

Description: Computer networking, including the Internet, the Web, and mobile technology, is one of the most profound and exciting technologies of our time. It has affected the lives of billions of people, and its use continues to expand around the globe. It is important to record how such a thing came about, what it is, who developed it, how it spread, how it is used, and its impact on society—in short, its history. The online world is now so vast that recording what has happened in it and why is no small task. Many agree that the task could use collaboration and coordination. This BoF meeting discussed whether a working group should be formed to address how best to preserve the history of networking.


Outcome: An interesting discussion took place, although it remains unclear what the charter for this kind of working group would actually look like. This may remain an occasional parallel activity. A research group in the IRTF has also been proposed to address this topic.

IPRbis (iprbis)

Description: Experience shows that BCP 79 needs a few updates. A draft is available with the proposed updates, and this BoF meeting provided the community with an opportunity to discuss the proposed changes. It was not intended to form a WG.


Outcome: A good discussion was had and the sense of the room was taken on multiple topics to get good community feedback on some of the more contentious or difficult issues with regard to revising the intellectual property rights (IPR) policy for IETF.

Large-Scale Measurement of Broadband Performance (lmap)

Description: Measuring broadband service on a large scale is important for network diagnostics by providers and users, as well for public policy. The large-scale measurement efforts that exist today often use proprietary, custom-designed mechanisms to coordinate the measurement agents on user networks, the communications between measurement agents and measurement controllers, and the uploading of results to measurement collectors. Standardizing these mechanisms would make it possible to build interoperable measurement capabilities, both active and passive, into home and enterprise edge routers, personal computers, mobile devices, and other edge devices that are offered and controlled by disparate entities across residential and small-enterprise networks, whether wired or wireless. Standards would help these capabilities become more pervasive, manageable, and directly comparable.

This working-group forming BoF meeting discussed the questions of whether the scope of the proposed working group was clear and whether there was sufficient interest in doing the work from the community.


Outcome: It was a very good meeting demonstrating strong community interest in the problem space under discussion. A high level of operator input to the discussion offered an encouraging sign. A few scope-related clarification questions were outstanding at the conclusion of the meeting; it is likely that a charter will be sent to the IESG for approval once those have been resolved.

Security Automation and Continuous Monitoring (sacm)

Description: Securing information and the systems that store, process, and transmit that information is a challenging task for organizations of all sizes. Many security practitioners spend most of their time on manual processes that relegate those systems[MS2]  to ineffectiveness. The key to escaping this rut is security automation to collect, verify, and update system configurations with the ability to prioritize risk based on timely information about threats. This BoF meeting discussed whether to form a working group to develop security automation protocols and data format standards in support of information security processes and practices.


Outcome: This was a more focussed discussion than was had during the first BoF meeting on this topic. There is clearly interest from the community on working on this topic, although there is still further work to be done to clearly articulate the scope of any potential working group.