IETF Ornithology: Recent Sightings

By: Mat Ford

Date: November 6, 2015

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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 review the BoFs that took place during IETF 93, including their intentions and outcomes. If you’re inspired to arrange a BoF meeting, please read RFC 5434: Considerations for Having a Successful Birds-of-a-Feather (BoF) Session.

Captive Portal Interaction (capport)

Description: Captive portals are used to control wireless Internet access in many locations (e.g., coffeeshops, hotels). With the ongoing move to a more secure Internet, the interception techniques employed by these portals become increasingly problematic. The user experience also leaves much to be desired. This BoF meeting sought to understand if there is sufficient energy to work on the problem and design a protocol for interacting with captive portals.


Outcome: The meeting attracted a number of relevant technical experts who write code for captive portals or operating systems that have to deal with captive portals. More work is required to both narrow the scope of the problem and obtain more data about the types of captive portals and the extent of their deployment. A taxonomy document may be a good first step.

Education and Mentoring Next Generation (edunext)

Description: This meeting was to obtain community input on the future direction of the IETF education ( and mentoring ( activities.


Outcome: Lots of good ideas were proposed and discussed to improve both the education and mentoring programs. See the article on p.XX for details.

Deterministic Networking (detnet)

Description: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802 has defined Audio Video Bridging as “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 example, 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: A very well-attended meeting that strongly supported the need for open standards in this space. A large number of use cases were identified and discussed leading to some concerns about the need to narrow the scope of proposed work items to make them tractable. There was support in the room for the IETF to work on this problem in a DETNET WG. (The DETNET WG was chartered on 5 October 2015,

Simplified Use of Policy Abstractions (supa)

Description: The SUPA WG defines a data model to be used to represent high-level and possibly network-wide policies that, in turn, can be input to a network management function (within a controller, an orchestrator, or a network element). Processing that input likely results in network configuration changes. SUPA, however, does not deal with the definition of the specific network configuration changes; it deals with how the configuration changes are applied (e.g., who is allowed to set policies and when and how the policies are activated, changed, or deactivated).

Practically, SUPA defines base YANG data models to encode policy that will point to device-, technology-, and service-specific YANG models developed in other working groups. The WG focuses on a single management domain, and is designed to work with device, protocol, network, and service-data models.


Outcome: A reasonably well-attended meeting that identified work for the IETF and demonstrated that the right people to do the work are available. Further discussion is required to narrow the scope and clarify expectations for a working group on this topic. (The SUPA WG was chartered on 2 October 2015,

Interface to Network Security Functions (i2nsf)

Description: The primary goal of I2NSF is to define an information model, a set of software interfaces and data models for controlling and monitoring aspects of physical and virtual network security functions (NSFs). Other aspects of NSFs, such as device or network provisioning and configuration, are out of scope. Controlling and monitoring of NSFs should include the ability to specify, query, monitor, and control the NSFs by one or more management entities. Since different security vendors support different features and functions on their devices, I2NSF will focus on flow-based NSFs that provide treatment to packets/flows, such as IPS/IDS, Web filtering, flow filtering, deep packet inspection, or pattern matching and remediation.


Outcome: The charter for this proposed WG is now more focussed than when this proposal was first made at IETF 91. Lots of support was shown in the meeting for forming a working group and several meeting participants indicated that they were interested in either implementing or deploying an I2NSF solution.  (The I2NSF WG was chartered on 18 September 2015,