Plenary Report

By: Wendy Rickard

Date: February 7, 2009

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In a departure from its usual agenda, IETF 73 merged the administrative and technical plenaries into one session. Internet Architecture Board (IAB) chair Olaf Kolkman described the change as serving two purposes: One was an at-tempt to “try and open up more time in the agenda” and the other was to miti-gate some of the venue logistics associated with rearranging rooms for the plenaries.

Google’s Chris DiBona (left) accepts a plaque from IETF chair Russ Housley. Photo by Peter Löthberg
Note: This is not a complete report of the plenary sessions; rather, it is a summary of the highlights of the discussions. All IETF 73 presentations can be found here.

Following a few opening comments, Olaf introduced Chris DiBona of Google, which served as the host of IETF 73. “We’re proud to be hosting this event,” said Chris. “I use that term carefully and deliberately. We’re proud be-cause of the important work you do.” Chris described the IETF as a place where open source and open standards are enhanced. “The work you do,” he said, “is what keeps the Internet free.”

The technical plenary was turned over to IAB member Dave Thaler, who gave a presentation on the history and evolution of the IP model. (See article by Dave based on his talk.) The presentation, which generated overwhelmingly positive feedback among attendees, elaborated on Dave’s recently sub-mitted Evolution of the IP Model Internet-Draft (draft-iab-ip-model-evolution-01.txt). “A couple of years ago,” said Dave, “Lixia [Zhang] once commented that while we talk about these assumptions, maybe someone should write down what this service model is. That is partly what got this started.” In addition to his detailed discussion of the IP service model and how it has evolved over time, Dave described how the Internet-Draft documents the properties of the IP layer as they are seen by upper-layer protocols and applications. The document also looks at properties that, if changed, could cause problems, and it provides much-needed guidance for protocol designers and implementers.

“This work is well done,” said Dave Crocker during the question-and-answer portion of the technical plenary. “It is reflective, integrative, and practical. By turning out a paper with lessons learned, we are reminded that there are indeed lessons we need to learn.”

John Klensin agreed, emphasizing the importance of taking a pragmatic and sober approach to the creation of a historical record. “Too often, institutional memory can get lost and be replaced by mythology,” he said.

Drawing heavily on the wisdom of the late Jon Postel, Dave Thaler encour-aged IETF participants to frame their understanding of the evolution and future development of the IP model around Jon’s oft-repeated quote: “Be liberal in what effects you accept, and conservative in what effects you cause.”

Administrative Updates

As part of the administrative portion of the IETF 73 plenary, IETF chair Russ Housley announced that the “code sprint” on the Saturday before the meeting “was a big success.” Deployed during the week were Datatracker 2.09 and then version 2.12. Russ pointed out that the interface “has a new look and feel” and that even more would be happening in the coming weeks. He publicly thanked all of those involved, including Glen Barney, Lars Eggert, Pasi Eronen, Bill Fenner, Jelte Jansen, Tero Kivinen, Henrik Levkowetz, Alexey Melnikov, Chris Newman, Robert Sparks, and Magnus Westerlund. Russ also announced that all of the royalties of the soon-to-be published book Beautiful Security by John Viega, et al, are being donated to the IETF.

IAOC Report

An IAOC operations report from the IETF Administrative Oversight Committee (IAOC), which was put together by IAOC chair Jonne Soininen and IETF ad-ministrative director Ray Pelletier, reviewed the IETF’s financial position for the past year and announced that the organization is expected to break even in 2008. Unfortunately, registration revenues have been underperforming over the past few meetings, due mainly to a reduction in registrations. Jonne and Ray noted that registration revenue for IETF 73 was down sharply, approxi-mately USD 115,000 below budget.

The revenue forecast for 2009 is expected to be USD 3.6 million. Meeting attendance is expected to decline, and registration fees are expected to increase from USD 635 to USD 675. Interim meetings could add approximately USD 328,000 in registration revenue. Ray and Jonne anticipate expenses in 2009 to reach USD 5.4 million, due in large part to the impact of several extraordinary expenses, such as USD 261,000 in interim meeting expenses and a USD 210,000 increase in IT infrastructure enhancement costs.

IETF 73 participants meeting in the hotel lobby
IETF 73 participants meeting in the hotel lobby. Photo by Peter Löthberg

Given the uncertainties of the global economy, the IAOC has proposed contingency plans for 2009. Assuming that meeting attendance falls by 20 to 30 percent, expenses can be cut in some areas, such as food and beverages; some equipment costs and support travel; and credit card fees. It was pointed out, however, that a number of other expenses couldn’t be reduced, such as expenses for the Information Sciences Institute contract for RFC Editor services, expenses for the Association Management Solutions contract for secretariat services, the Network Operations Centre (NOC) expenses for meetings, and the IETF Trust expenses.

The discussion over dealing with budget shortfalls generated a number of comments by attendees. Dave Crocker expressed the need to increase opportunities for remote meetings, as opposed to relying so heavily on the larger IETF meetings. Russ responded that while there is a lot of work going into a remote meeting scheduled for the Real-Time Applications and Infrastructure area in January 2009, in the Internet area the interim meeting was creating a significant burden for the organizers. “We want to experiment with shifting this burden away from the working-group chairs to the secretariat,” he said.

Meeting hosts are being sought for all meetings beginning in 2010. Companies interested in hosting an IETF meeting should contact Drew Dvorshak at [email protected].

IETF Trust

Ed Juskevicius delivered a report on the IETF Trust, beginning with an announcement of legal provisions pertaining to IETF documents. Work on a new policy, as requested by the community in RFC 5377, has been completed, and the effective date of the new policy was set for 10 November 2008 (to coincide with the publication of RFC 5377 and RFC 5378). Read the newly published Legal Provision policy…

New boilerplate language, which is now required for all new submissions to the IETF, was announced, and a transition plan for including the text in new submissions was approved. According to the policy, new submissions can use either the old or the new copyright text through 16 December 2008. After 01h00 UTC on that day, only submissions with the new boilerplate language will be accepted.

The IETF Trust has started work on the updating of applicable document generating and verifying tools and templates for the new boilerplate text. The new text is as follows: “Copyright (c) 2009 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the document authors. All rights reserved”.

This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust’s Legal Provisions Relating to IETF Documentsin effect on the date of publication of this document. Please review these documents carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect to this docu-ment.

Additional boilerplate text for some documents includes the following:

Submission Compliance for all Internet-Drafts

This Internet-Draft is submitted to IETF in full conformance with the provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

Derivative Works and Publication Limitations

(See Section 6.c of “Legal Provisions” policy.) Two different sets of text are possible for use on some working group documents (but never on any standards-track document.

A brief discussion on the need to police the IETF logo and trademark followed, with some concern expressed by Ed over a handful of cases where the IETF logo is being used in social networking venues. Ed pointed out that it’s necessary to notify the offenders or risk losing the trademark.

While there was general agreement among attendees over the need to police the IETF logo, a few issues were raised in response to the discussion about copyrights. During the question-and-answer portion of the plenary, Sam Hartman questioned the validity of the copyright process. “What happens if I am updating an old document, with the old license, or if I change jobs, and due to an employment contract, I don’t own the license?” he asked. According to Sam, 99 percent of the old documents were developed under the previous intellectual property-rights policy, which, he said, granted fewer rights. “I, as the author of an update, can’t give you rights that weren’t provided in the old document,” he said.

Margaret Wasserman agreed with Sam that the new policy might need to be reviewed. “Let’s say, for example, that at some point someone wants to make a new type of IPv6 address,” she said. “And suppose we can’t find Bob Hinden. How can we give his rights to the IETF Trust for the expanded license when all he gave before were the more restrictive rights?” After some debate over whether the potential glitches in the new policy presented a problem for the IETF process, Jonne Soininen responded that he would look into the issue.

NomCom Report


Nominations Committee (NomCom) chair Joel Halpern said he was pleased with the response to the recent call for volunteers. The IETF NomCom makes appointments to fill open slots on the IAOC, the IAB, and the IESG (Internet Engineering Steering Group). Ten people are selected randomly from a pool of volunteers and there has been a critical need over the past year for volun-teers. For more information…

By November 2008, 99 qualified volunteers had expressed an interest in serving. Of those, 10 members were selected and all are serving. The list of members can be found here.

Currently, the NomCom is collecting feedback on issues related to areas, collective bodies, processes, and individuals, and it invites community feed-back and input on any other areas community members count as important. To date, feedback has been solicited from a number of individuals. Joel ex-pressed interest in hearing from folks the committee might not think to ask. Feedback can be sent to[email protected].

NOC Report

Noah Weis reported that VeriLAN staff and volunteers staffed the NOC. On Sunday, the guest room wireless network was successfully switched on, and all public areas were wireless. Special thanks were extended to the University of Minnesota, including Frank DiGravina, David Farmer, Tim Peiffer, and Dan Westacott, as well as to Cisco, Infobox, and Juniper for the network hardware.

In a question-and-answer session aimed at the IESG, Pete Resnick raised the issue of being better prepared for IETF meetings. Pete expressed concern that too many of the WG meetings are focusing on presentations rather than on interactive discussions. “Presentations are not the same as discussions,” Pete said. “The presentations need to be sent in advance so that the meeting time is devoted to the work.”

IETF 73 participants enjoyed a night out at Gameworks in Minneapolis. Photo by Peter Löthberg

“Pete makes an excellent point,” said Internet Research Task Force chair Aaron Falk, who said it is the responsibility of the WG chairs to make the best use of face time. “Area directors can help,” he said. “They could contact WG chairs in advance to see how they’re doing.”

Not all agreed that this approach was prudent or even practical. Charles Perkins expressed some disapproval. “I don’t understand the emphasis on getting things done early,” he said. “The fact is, people are deadline driven. And they are working like crazy.”

This article was posted on 23 February 2009 .