IRTF Update

By: Aaron Falk

Date: June 1, 2010

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Aaron Falk
ISOC's Karen O'Donoghue (left) and Lucy Lynch take a break during IETF 77
IETF 77 attendees enjoy a break
IETF 77 participants attend the opening plenary
SIDN, which will be hosting IETF 78, prepares for the next meeting while at IETF

By Aaron Falk

At each IETF meeting, the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) chair presents a short status report. This article summarizes the report made to the IETF 77 plenary.

Seven IRTF research groups (RGs) met at IETF 77, including Delay Tolerant Networking RG (DTNRG); Internet Congestion Control RG; Host Identity Payload RG; Peer2Peer RG; Routing RG; Scalable, Adaptive Multicast RG; and Virtual Networks RG. The Internet Architecture Board reviewed the scope and progress of the Scalable, Adaptive Multicast RG. Ten of the 13 RGs are meeting, have active mail lists, or both. The three quiescent groups are Mobility Optimizations RG, Network Management RG, and Public Key Infrastructure-Next Generation RG.

An RFC series for the IRTF was created in 2009 by way of RFC 5743. However, some necessary changes in copyright policy and other boilerplate prevented publication of RFCs in the series for many months. The logjam was removed in March 2010, and eight IRTF RFCs have since been published, including documents from five different RGs. Seven additional drafts, mostly from the DTNRG, are in review and should be submitted to the RFC Editor soon.

A new RG on virtual networks (VNRG)-chaired by Martin Stiemerling of NEC and Joe Touch of the University of Southern California Information Sciences Institute (USC/ISI)-was chartered this spring. Virtual networks are appearing in test beds, data centres, the GRID, and cloud services as a way of providing flexible resource allocation and management. However, the approaches used in the global Internet, as part of the test beds and within business and organizational enterprises, are quite different. One question the group is examining is how to identify and bind processes and virtual machines to virtual networks. The VNRG also hopes to establish a common framework and terminology for virtual networks.

The IRTF sponsored a tutorial on NetFPGAs in conjunction with IETF 77. The NetFPGA platform enables researchers and instructors to build high-speed, hardware-accelerated networking systems. The platform can be used in the classroom to teach students how to build Ethernet switches and Internet Protocol routers by using hardware rather than software. Researchers can use the platform to prototype advanced services for next-generation networks. More information about NetFPGA.

The End-to-End RG closed after 26 years. Among the many significant contributions the group made to the IETF are slow start and improved round-trip time estimation, Random Early Drop, Integrated and Differentiated Services, Weighted Fair Queuing, PAWS, and Transaction TCP. While the End2end RG was a closed group, it maintained an active and open mailing list. The list will continue as an independent service to the community at USC/ISI’s Postel Center. More information.

We are trying out some new ideas for improving the IRTF. A new mailing list, [email protected], has been created to encourage community input on proposed research groups. (See Another proposal being considered is the creation of a regular open IRTF meeting (similar to an IETF area meeting) as a venue for research topic proposals and other related discussions that do not necessarily fit within the context of an RG meeting. Finally, we are adding dots to IRTF RG chair badges.

An informal Bar BoF (birds of a feather) was held at IETF 77 on the research issues in the broad area of Internet of Things. There are many ways of viewing this topic, but one way is to look at two classes of use cases: The first is silicon cockroaches, which are small, ubiquitous objects, such as embedded sensors, RFIDs, asset tracking systems, and biomedical devices, and the second is machine-to-machine systems, such as cyberphysical systems, actuators, building networks, energy systems, and automotive systems/networks. Some of those systems have interesting characteristics that influence how the devices interact with the network, such as:

Order(s) of magnitude bigger than the Internet, in number of endpoints
No computers or humans at endpoint
Inherently mobile, disconnected, unattended
Given those characteristics, many possible research topics were identified, such as security, privacy, authentication, naming, authority (by people and by devices), discovery, management, maintenance, policy, preferences, presence (of people and of devices), location, capabilities, services, information model, and coordination. One group has gone off to try to sketch out a charter for an RG.

Finally, a few additional proposals are cooking for new RGs on social informatics and Internet protocols; on economics, law, and policy; and on privacy in the cloud. Look for updates on those topics as they mature.

This article was posted on 26 June 2010 .


Full Caption Text:
Image 1: Aaron Falk, IRTF Chair;  Image 2: ISOC’s Karen O’Donoghue (left) and Lucy Lynch take a break during IETF 77 Photo/Peter Löthberg;  Image 3: IETF 77 attendees enjoy a break Photo/Peter Löthberg; Image 4: IETF 77 participants attend the opening plenary Photo/Peter Löthberg;  Image 5: SIDN, which will be hosting IETF 78, prepares for the next meeting while at IETF 77