IETF64 Review: Plenary Sessions

By: ISOC, Mirjam Kühne

Date: December 7, 2006

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The IETF plenary was organised in two parts: on Wednesday evening more administrative and operational aspects of the IETF were presented and discussed, such as reports from the IETF chair and the IESG, the IETF Administrative Director (IAD) and the IETF Administrative Oversight Committee (IAOC), RFC editor and IANA and finally the Process and Tools Team (PROTO). On Thursday the Technical Plenary session took place with a technical presentation of the Crypto Forum Research Group and reports from the IAB and the IRTF.

Operations and Administrative Plenary

Brian Carpenter, the chairman of the IETF, opened the plenary by reminding everybody that we are approaching the 20th anniversary of the IETF. In January 1986 the first IETF meeting was held in San Diego, US, with 15 attendees. Now, almost 20 years later, there were 1291 attendees from 40 countries.

It is interesting to note that exactly one year ago 1,309 people from only 26 countries attended the IETF in Washington DC.

The IESG has some pretty good tools now, and is planning to review their own efficiency and working methods before IETF65.

Narrative minutes of IESG meetings can now be found at:

There is also a new IESG projects page at:

At IETF64 Brian organised the pesci BoF (Process Evolution Commitee for the IETF) to operate in design team mode as a way to bootstrap some progress on IETF process change. The outcomes will be submitted to the rough consensus process. The initial goal was to identify a list of principles for the change process:

Brian ended his report with the announcement that Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn received the US Presidential Medal of Freedom (together with Muhammad Ali, Aretha Franklin, Alan Greenspan and others). According to the official press release ( they were awarded the medal as a result of their having “designed the software code that is used to transmit data over the Internet”.

The next IETF meeting (IETF65) will be held in Dallas, Texas, USA, 19-24 March 2006. The Summer IETF will be held 9 – 14 July. The venue has not been finalised yet.

Host address

Ed Juskevicius, representing Nortel, the host of this IETF, gave some insight into the tasks and challenges of an IETF host. They range from finding a suitable venue, fulfilling extensive network requirements all the way to providing tee shirts and an exciting social event. Ed thanked the many sponsors, advisors, volunteers and the NOC team.

IAD update

Ray Pelletier, the IETF Administrative Director (IAD) presented the IETF budget for 2006. Of note is the increase in budget for the RFC editor provided by ISOC. By providing these additional resources, it is expected to reduce the RFC editing backlog.

Ray also confirmed that Foretec, the organisation that has provided secretariat and meeting support to the IETF since 1998, is being acquired by Neustar. A service contract between Neustar and the IETF Administrative Support Activity (IASA) for taking on the secretariat functions and the meeting organisation is under negotiation. Editor’s note: an agreement is now in place – see the article on page 1 for details.

In December, the IAD will visit the RFC Editor and IANA for further discussions on improving efficiency and integration with IETF secretariat operations.

In 2007 a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the secretariat and meeting support will be issued. An RFP for the RFC editor function will be issued in 2006.

IAOC update

Lucy Lynch, the chair of the IETF Administrative Oversight Committee (IAOC), followed with an update on the IAOC activities. Recent activities include negotiations of the terms of the IETF trust and setting up a model license agreement for the trust assets. With respect to the IETF trust, the IAOC reached substantial agreement with CNRI and ISOC.

Right after the meeting the IAOC chair sent a call for consensus to the IETF mailing list asking for community affirmation of the IETF Trust document.

A list of frequently asked questions on trust matters has been developed by the IAOC:

More information on the structure of the IASA, the IAOC members, minutes of IAOC meetings and more details about the IETF trust can be found here:

RFC Editor update

Joyce Reynolds, representing the RFC Editor, reported on recent activities. Since the last IETF 105 documents (3000 pages) were published. People are working hard to reduce the backlog and results can be seen now. The RFC Editor collaborated on an experiment to introduce editing earlier in the IETF process. The results were presented during the techspec BoF at this IETF. Joyce further reported that delays introduced by normative references to as-yet-unapproved documents have become a major problem. Therefore the RFC Editor has decided not to work on a document until those references have been resolved. The publication queue is now automatically updated at

IANA update

Barbara Roseman, operations manager of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), gave an update on IANA’s recent activities.

David R. Conrad joined the IANA as General Manager in October. IANA now has seven staff members. Most requests are now handled within 30 days. There are still a number of older requests though. Barbara encouraged everyone who has a request pending that is older than 30 days to contact the IANA at [email protected].

The IANA will be working with the IESG to agree on time frames in which to complete requests and will report back to the community on the performance against those goals. With the new staffing level, Barbara said she is confident that the IANA is in a position now to address the full diversity of their responsibilities.

Process and Tools (PROTO) team update

Allison Mankin, one of the team leaders of the Process and Tools (PROTO) team, reported on the work of the team. Operational guidelines for WG chairs have been developed and many WG chairs are in fact using them. Since the guidelines have been published about a year ago, a lot of useful feedback has been received by the PROTO team.

In fact, during this IETF new tools have been used to allow WG chairs to upload presentations and proceedings directly to the IETF web site.

The PROTO team is encouraging all WG chairs to review and use the guidelines (current version: draft-ietf-proto-wgchair-doc-shepherding-05.txt) and to provide feedback to [email protected]

The PROTO team is also looking for two or three additional team members.

More information about the PROTO team can be found at:

A new web page directly linked from the IETF web site is under development.

NomCom update

Ralph Droms, the chair of the NomCom 2005, introduced this year’s Nominations Committee and encouraged people to provide nominations for open IESG and IAB positions.

More information can be found at

Open mike

After these updates, the IESG, as well as the IAD and IAOC chair, joined moderator Fred Baker on stage for a period of open mike discussion.

A number of different issues were raised. The first was related to individual submissions to the RFC editor and how they could be handled more efficiently. Bob Braden from the RFC Editor pointed out that it is IETF policy that IETF documents take precedence and with the current backlog, it is difficult to process individual submissions faster. Some suggestions were made to either lower the level of review for non standards documents or possibly create a lable or page for documents that would show the status of a document.

The next comments were addressed to the IAOC. Some people felt that there is not enough transparency and that the community is not involved in the decision making process early enough. Others disagreed and stated that prior to the formation of the IASA the IETF community was never involved in decisions regarding IETF operations. The IASA was specifically formed to take responsibility for these administrative matters, and the way in which the IAOC is working with the community is a great improvement. Lucy Lynch, the IAOC chair, pointed out that all minutes and other IAOC documents are published in a timely manner on the IAOC web site. However, some decisions involve negotiations with third parties and cannot be discussed openly.

Another issue that was raised was that whether a WG chooses solution A, B or both often depends as much on how the WG is run as on the technical merits of A versus B. There are more inwardly focussed WGs with narrow objectives vs WGs that consciously look outwards at the big picture. And even though RFC 2418 makes it clear that every WG can chose their method of working depending of the amount and the type of work, this issue should not be underestimated and might be a topic for the IAB and the IESG to look at.

Technical Plenary

After Leslie Daigle, chair of the IAB, opened the technical plenary session, Aaron Falk, the chairman of the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) gave an update on the work of the IRTF.

As reported at the last IETF, the IRTF is reaching out to the research community. In order to attract more researchers to actively work in the IRTF, Aaron published an article in the ACM Computer Communication Review:

Two new Research Groups have been set up: one on Transport Modelling (TMRG) and one to work on Internet Congestion Control (ICCRG). In addition to that there are currently ten Research Groups active in the IRTF. In the future there might be new work on small-group multicast.

The Routing RG held a meeting with the IAB to review the status of the research. Aaron has also been working with the IETF attorney to find out if the IETF Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) policy could be applied to the IRTF.

Finally, the IRTF started to use the Friday afternoon slots for RG meetings. At this IETF the Host Identity Protocol Research Group (hiprg) met.

The next presenter was David McGrew who gave a report on recent findings of the Crypto Forum Research Group (CFRG). The discussion on specific cryptography mechanisms concluded with a suggestion for people active in the security area to publish a document with recommendations for specific mechanisms (also see the article by Eric Rescorla in this issue of the IETF Journal).

The IAB Chair Leslie Daigle provided an expanded update at IETF64. Taking the opportunity of the NomCom cycle (looking for next year’s IAB members) she provided an overview of the IAB’s documented responsibilities and used that to give context to reported IAB activities (see ‘News from the IAB’ for a full IAB report).

IAB Town Hall Session

During the open Town Hall session following the techncial presentations, a number of issues were raised and recommendations made to the IAB.

During this IETF week, IAB members took an active role in BoF meetings. In fact all BoF meetings are attended by at least one IAB member. It has been suggested though that the IAB would be even more actively involved in the formation on BoFs to get an early architectural review of new work brought into the IETF.

Overall, the community appreciates the IAB taking a more active role in the early stages of BoF and WG meetings. Also the IAB documents are seen to be useful.

A suggestion was made to create clearer guidelines for the formation of BoF meetings. Sometimes people who bring new work into the IETF think they have to shape the BoF or WG by themselves whereas in fact, it is a community issue. It is important to understand the architecture and the big picture early on in the process. It was felt that a closer partnership between the IESG, the IAB and the BoF organisers is needed.

This was followed by a discussion on increased complexity in the transport layer and the risk to lose interoperability of various protocols. Some people felt however that this is an integral part of the IETF: “We don’t do systems, we do pieces. We never say that all this works on the same box.” said Bob Hinden. This has to be considered carefully when implementing. “If we want to change this, this would fundamentally change the work of the IETF,” Bob Hinden added. He suggested to document this clearly (possibly as an IAB document?).

Pekka Nikander, a member of the IAB believes that in this context the identifier/locator split is the right approach. “If we want to have mobility and multi-homing at the same time, we need a new layer of indirection,” said Pekka. He suggests to continue this disucssion on the new mailing list: [email protected].

The last topic brought up during this plenary session was related to the work and charter of the cross registry information service protocol (crisp) WG and the question if crisp can also be applied to Routing Registries. Leslie pointed out that crisp is focused on domain and address, but not on routing registries. Kurtis Lindqvist added that “there is a fundamental difference between an address object and routing objects.” The Regional Internet Registries are actually working on a certificate mechanism to address the issue of route authentication.

In that context one should not forget that the routing topology looks different in different parts of the world: “In the ISP community in Japan hierarchical route management is an accepted concept.” stated George Michaelson, co-chair of the crisp WG. But globally this is not the case.

In closing, Alex Zinin, one of the Routing Area Directors reminds people not to confuse hierarchy of routing and hierachy in address allocation: “For routing, hierarchy is not needed, aggregration is what is important. As far as address allocation goes, the address space has to be managed.” Alex said.

All presentations given during the IETF 64 plenary session can be found at: