Message from the IETF Chair

By: Jari Arkko

Date: November 1, 2015

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IETF 93 in Prague was a record meeting in terms of attendance: 1,384 people from 65 countries were on site, and many more attended remotely. While our European meetings are always popular, this kind of attention is a testament to both how we are growing and the variety of interesting projects underway.

Another striking aspect of this meeting was the amount of coding that was done. The IETF Hackathonwas held the weekend prior to the meeting; so many people showed up, we could barely fit them in one room. We also had a ETSI Plugtest to test 6TISCH protocol implementations, the Code Sprint to work on tools for the IETF, and the CrypTech meeting to hack on open-source hardware designs. I estimate over 150 people participated altogether—many were first-timers to the IETF, others were from major open source efforts, such as OpenDaylight, OPNFV, and RIOT. We look forward to more coding activities in the coming meetings. When you book your tickets to Yokohama, make sure to include time for some programming the weekend before the meeting: 31 October–1 November.

The IAB technical plenary addressed vehicular networking. Christoph Sommer and William Whyte explained how networking in vehicles is developing and the security challenges it brings. I found this topic interesting, as I recently have been working on some related prototyping. It will be fascinating to see how the area develops in the future. I can see both local applications that run between vehicles, as well as Internet-based applications that use it to communicate with Internet-based servers or connect vehicles.

This was the first meeting of the NETVC Working Group. This group works on video codecs for Internet applications, the basis of browsers and other applications being able to exchange video streams in an efficient and interoperable manner. Work on security and privacy continued, essentially touching all the Working Groups to some extent.

The Bits-N-Bites event was very active this time. I spent some time trying to understand how I could install and test one of the open source projects that participated. This is the sort of thing that is exceptional at Bits-n-Bites: you can talk directly to effort leaders and programmers, and obtain first-hand knowledge.

We also had occasion to observe ways in which the IETF meeting is intentionally different than a traditional industry conference. Although promotional models are still common at some trade shows, they were not received as a constructive addition to the technical Bits-n-Bites session. The IETF failed to be clear enough that this wasn’t appropriate. I have asked the IETF Administrative Oversight Committeeto develop policies and practices to ensure that future meetings have clear guidelines to communicate expectations to sponsors and exhibitors.

We also had a visit from ITU Secretary-General, Houlin Zhao at the technical plenary. He put on the IETF t-shirt from his previous visit; we gave him a Hackathon t-shirt from this IETF. I’m looking forward to the code focus at ITU and the collaborative spirit that Zhou clearly represents.

A side event at IETF 93 (outside the official meeting and organized by a group of individuals) was a screening of the movie, Citizenfour, followed by a surprise Q&A with Edward Snowden.

Our local sponsor, CZ.NIC, gave us a warm Czech welcome at our social event at the Žofín Palace. The event ended with fireworks!

Finally, I thank all the participants, our hosts CZ.NIC, Brocade, and all the other sponsors for their help in making IETF 93 work so well. This was one of our best meetings. As always, there is still much to do. Most of the work at the IETF happens on the lists and virtual meetings, so for now, it is time to go back to those. Our next face-to-face meeting is in Yokohama. Interestingly, OpenStack and W3C are also meeting there around the same time, so I’m looking for even more possibilities for joint work.