IETF Ornithology: Recent Sightings

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 91, 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.

By: Mat Ford

Date: March 6, 2015

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Deterministic Networking (detnet)

Description: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802 has defined Audio Video Bridging, providing time synchronization and precise scheduling for zero congestion loss and finite latency in reserved Layer-2 streams. The need for equivalent Quality of Service (QoS) features now appears in networks that include routers in addition to, or instead of, bridges, for instance in industrial, vehicular, and public infrastructure applications. The goals of this meeting were to consider whether to form a working group in conjunction with the IEEE802.1TSN Task Group and to specify both how to get these QoS features into routers and how new and/or existing control protocols can be used to control these flows.


Outcome: This meeting was not intended to form a working group. Discussion concluded with a call for a clearer statement of the problems that need to be addressed and a gap analysis to understand what, if anything, is missing.

Archive Top Level Media Type (arcmedia)

Description: The purpose of this meeting was to discuss registering a top-level media type for file archives, i.e. formats that package files and file metadata into a single data stream.


Outcome: Participants concluded that a charter should be drafted to proceed with this work, and that a draft charter would be discussed further on the Applications Area mailing list.

Bit Indexed Explicit Replication (bier)

Description: This BoF was to discuss a new architecture for the forwarding of multicast data packets. The goal is to provide optimal forwarding of multicast packets through a multicast domain without requiring either explicit tree-building protocols or intermediate nodes to maintain a per-flow state.


Outcome: The meeting provided a good overview of the current state of multicast and the nature of the problem to be solved; and input from operators was received. Further work on use cases and a clearer problem statement is needed before this can be chartered as an IETF working group.

Abstraction and Control of Transport Networks (actn)

Description: The aim of this proposed work is to facilitate centralized operation and construction of virtual networks based on multisubnet, multitechnology, multivendor domain networks. The work could enable rapid service deployment of new dynamic and elastic services, and could improve overall network operations and scaling of existing services.


Outcome: The meeting included discussion of the problem-statement draft and options for architectural approaches. Polling at the end of the meeting indicated a lot of interest in this work and a reasonable number of folks willing to actively contribute. It is not clear whether there is new protocol work here that would require the formation of a working group.

Interface to Network Security Functions (i2nsf)

Description: This non-WG forming BoF discussed interfaces for clients (especially enterprises) to request, negotiate, operate, and/or verify network security functions not physically present at the requesters’ premises. Those security functions, hosted by service providers or other third parties, can be instantiated on physical appliances, or as virtual machines instantiated on common computer servers.


Outcome: The meeting covered a lot of ground and concluded that whilst there is probably something useful here to advance into a chartered IETF working group, more refinement is required to focus on a clearly articulated and well-defined activity. Discussion will continue on the mailing list.