Date: June 1, 2010
By Carolyn Duffy Marsan
Issues surrounding the nomination of new leaders and the availability of day passes at meetings were two of the hot-button issues discussed at the IETF Plenary session in Anaheim, California.
Mary Barnes, chair of the IETF’s NomCom for 2009-10, gave a presentation about the many new appointments made to the Internet Engineering Steering Group and the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) this year. She urged the IETF community to get more involved in the NomCom process. “Approximately 10 percent of the IETF community participated,” Mary said, asking plenary attendees to consider volunteering to be NomCom members or to contribute nominations or feedback on candidates.
Mary added that she’d like to see a more diverse set of candidates, including representatives from different regions of the world, from service providers as well as vendors, and of both genders. “We have multiple nominees and sitting members with the same affiliation,” she said, pointing out that two area directors as well as the IETF chair receive security-related funding from the U.S. government. She said it’s been a challenge to find nominees with certain kinds of expertise, particularly in the transport area.
Mary told attendees that lobbying for a particular candidate tends to backfire. “Lobbying for a specific nominee doesn’t work,” she said, adding that the NomCom must keep information confidential throughout the process. “The outcome and decisions for NomCom09 were not compromised by this activity, but lobbying and leaks have the potential to severely damage the process,” she warned.
NomCom issues also were mentioned at the open-mic session. “Lobbying really indicates that the person doesn’t understand how this process works and the environment here,” said one IETF participant.
Another issue that generated discussion during the open-mic session concerned day passes. IETF Administrative Oversight Committee chair Bob Hinden said the IETF sold 124 day passes for the Anaheim meeting, adding that total attendance at the meeting was 1,234. “We were expecting [day pass buyers] to be people who had not been to an IETF meeting before,” Bob said. “We were expecting to see a large number of additional attendees in Hiroshima, but we were surprised to see the numbers here. We actually sold more day passes here than in Hiroshima.”
At the open-mic session, several IETF participants expressed concern about the selling of day passes at the Anaheim meeting, pointing out that this practice prevents newcomers from getting integrated into the organization.
Several attendees at the Open Authentication Protocol (OAUTH) working group meeting used day passes. “They had a very limited perspective of how we negotiate with each other in terms of the documents,” said a member of this working group. “Many flew off with a negative impression of the group. I’m very concerned that they won’t come back, actually.”
Another problem with day passes is that they prevent working groups from accomplishing enough business during the weeklong IETF meeting because so much work is done during informal hallway conversations. “One person who used a day pass was a chair of a working group. Another was a prolific writer of Internet-Drafts,” said an IETF participant. “They were all in a financial position to pay for the week.”
Bob said he’d look at the data covering who bought day passes and that a decision would be made about whether to allow day passes in the future.
IAB Plenary Addresses Internet Consolidation
The trend toward the consolidation of traffic and aggregation of privacy information in the hands of a few Internet infrastructure players was the topic of the IAB Plenary session in Anaheim.
Craig Labovitz, chief scientist at Arbor Networks, disclosed the latest data from his two-year study of the Internet traffic carried by 110 Internet service providers (ISPs). Arbor Networks and University of Michigan researchers monitored 14 terabits per second of traffic-approximately 25 percent of all interdomain traffic on the Internet.
What researchers found is that a massive build-out of data centers by leading Internet content providers such as Google and Comcast has changed the topology of the Internet. Traffic no longer flows from national backbone operators to regional access providers, to local access providers, to customers. Now, traffic is carried by large content providers and content delivery networks-dubbed “hypergiants”-which pass it to Internet exchange points or directly to consumers.
The research shows that instead of having ISPs be the top 10 carriers of Internet traffic, Google is now third and Comcast is now sixth. Google alone represents 6 to 10 percent of the Internet’s interdomain traffic, Craig said. “Companies like Google are delivering more traffic than global transit carriers are,” he said. “What we’re seeing quickly evolve is a much flatter, much more densely interconnected Internet. There are significant routing, traffic, security, and economic implications.” Craig said that that trend is causing new commercial models to evolve such as paid content and paid peering.
Another shift in Internet traffic that researchers noted is that the fastest-growing applications are video (up 67 percent), secure shell (up 47 percent), the virtual private network (up 36 percent), games (up 29 percent), and Web (up 25 percent). Applications that are declining most include peer to peer, news, and file transfer.
Nomcom Voting Members
Joel Halpern, past year chair
Henrik Levkowetz, Tools advisor
Jon Peterson, IAB liaison
Tim Polk, IESG liaison
Henk Uijterwaal, IAOC liaison
Bert Wijnen, ISOC BoT liaison
“There’s a growing volume of Internet traffic that uses Port 80,” Craig said. “We’re seeing a rapid concentration of application traffic over an ever-smaller number of ports.” Overall, Internet traffic is growing at 45 percent per year, which Craig called a significant but manageable growth rate. He said IPv6 traffic represented only 0.4 percent of Internet traffic as of last year.
Craig summed up the implications of his research for the IETF community, noting that he’s seeing the “slow death of end to end” due to network address translation, firewalls, and siloed ecosystems.
In a separate presentation, privacy researcher Balachander Krishnamurthy from AT&T Labs-Research spoke of a similar consolidation trend whereby an increasing amount of personal information about Internet users is being gathered and stored by a smaller number of Internet companies. Balachander conducted a five-year study of 1,200 of the most popular consumer websites to see the cookies, Java scripts, and other mechanisms for gathering personal information about visitors that is sent to hidden third parties. Those third-party sites include ad networks, analytics companies, and content delivery networks.
Balachander found that the top 10 authoritative Domain Name System servers (ADNSs) connected to 78.5 percent of the visible information-gathering nodes on popular websites. Those top ADNSs were operated by ad-serving and traffic-measuring companies such as Doubleclick, Google, Yahoo! and Omniture.
Those top 10 domains have grown from 40 percent to nearly 80 percent of all hidden nodes over the past five years. “This situation is grimmer in the face of acquisitions,” Balachander said, pointing out that Google purchased Doubleclick in 2007 and Adobe purchased Omniture in 2009. “In September 2009, the Google family reached over 70 percent, which is the highest by far among all third parties.”
Balachander said that through such tools as the InPrivate Filtering feature of Internet Explorer 8.0, it may be possible for users to improve their filtering of third-party sites that gather privacy data.
This article was posted on 26 June 2010 .