IETF News

Plenary Report

By: Mirjam Kühne

Date: July 7, 2008

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We have made substantial progress in our efforts to develop Internet technology,” announced John Schanz, who spoke about Internet developments from the past 15 years on behalf of Comcast, the host of IETF 71. “And those efforts have not only had a substantial impact on most industries; they have also enhanced global capabilities for all.”

Mirjam Kühne
Mirjam Kühne

As John described, Internet and communications technologies and their related applications have undergone considerable transformation since the early days of the Internet. In a few short decades, those changes made it possible for electronic communications to become a fact of life for many. In most of the developed regions of the world, the current generation of users is growing up with personal computers, cell phones, broadcast television, and access to digital media. On one hand, that kind of easy and affordable access means it’s possible to work from nearly any location, it’s easier to pursue an education, and it’s simpler to get everything from medical information to movie times. On the other hand, not only are we suffering from information overload, but 24-7 access to e-mail, instant messaging, and text messaging have blurred the line that separates our work and school lives from our personal lives. In fact, for many of us, it has become less about how to manage our online availability and more about how to manage our unavailability. This enormous capacity to internetwork and interoperate among devices through IP also has implications for the IETF and its work.

One of those implications is the need to provide higher-speed connectivity. To that, John answered the call by an-nouncing an industry first: Comcast and Nortel are supporting a production demonstration of the industry’s first 100Gbps DWDM (dense-wavelength-division-multiplexing) IP link. The link was tested at IETF 71 in Philadelphia and provided Internet connectivity for attendees for the final three days of the meeting. “The new focus is ensur-ing that everything going forward interoperates well with IP and the Internet from its very beginning,” said John.

Russ Housley and John Schanz
Russ Housley gives John Schanz of of Comcast a thank you plaque for hosting IETF 71

The line meant a bit more preparation than usual, said Morgan Sack-ett, representing the Net-work Operations Centre, but he thanked the Comcast staff, the VeriLAN NOC staff, and all of the volunteers who had contributed to the success of the meeting’s networking capability.

Updates and Administration

IAOC chair Kurtis Lindqvist reported that the IAOC has opened up discussions with the IAB about future RFC Editor functional components. As a result of those discussions, the IAOC has decided to start negotiations with the University of California’s Information Sciences Institute (ISI) for a continuation of its contract as the RFC Editor. The IAOC is aiming for an RFC’ed request for information followed by a request for proposal in approximately one year. Revenues consist of meeting fees (56 percent), hosting contributions (12 percent), and contributions from the Internet Society through its Organizational Members and the Public Interest Registry (32 percent). Expenses consist of meeting expenses (40 percent), secretariat services (30 percent), RFC Editor services (17 percent), and IASA operations (13 percent). An IAOC Call Tech Committee has been set up to look into reducing the costs associated with conference calls – for example, by using videoconferencing tools and VoIP technology. In addition, the IAOC now has a funding model subcommittee and a new revenue design team to look into other sources of income.

The Nominations Committee (Nom-Com) report was presented by Nom-Com chair Lakshminath Dondeti, who published a detailed report in the form of an Internet-Draft prior to the meeting. This served as a good precedent for future NomCom chair.

During the recent NomCom process, a conflict arose between the NomCom and the IAB when the IAB requested from the NomCom certain additional information about the candidates, and the NomCom, in an attempt to protect the privacy of the candidates, refused to provide the information. Scott Bradner was brought in as an arbiter, represent-ing the first time the NomCom arbitration process had ever been applied within the IETF. Scott described the process as it is defined in the document titled IAB and IESG Selection, Confir-mation, and Recall Process: Operation of the Nominating and Recall Commit-tees (RFC 3777).

Ultimately, it was decided that the NomCom would provide redacted versions of the responses to one section of the questionnaire and that it would include testimony about anything the NomCom learned that would enhance the IAB’s understanding of the responses. Scott further suggested that a new NomCom working group (WG) be formed to make recommendations about how best to clarify the role of the confirming body (in this case the IAB) as well as what data it can expect to see and what data will not be made available. He also suggested the questionnaire contain a section meant only for review by the NomCom and another one that can be used to provide additional information for the confirming body in the event that additional information is requested. This distinction, Scott suggested, should be made clear to the applicant on the form. In general, he expressed concern that the definition in RFC 3777 is too broad.

Rob Austein, who served on the IAB for six years, agreed that the current standard for nominations raises more questions than it answers. “One is often handed a slate with very little information,” he said. “The IAB can either rubber-stamp it or ask for more information. At the moment the rules are very fuzzy. This has to be fixed.”

Gregory Lebovitz, a new IAB member, said he appreciated that the IAB is trying to make the right decision and that all parties tried to do the right thing. “This is all healthy behaviour,” he said. “I am proud to be part of a community that is behaving like that.”

While some attendees expressed dissatisfaction with the outcome of the arbiter process, it was generally agreed that to test that part of the dispute resolution process and to involve an arbiter were good decisions.

There were quite a number of personnel changes again during IETF 71. Sam Hartman, who served as Security Area director for three years, and Kurtis Lindqvist, who served as chair of the IAOC for the past two years, received plaques and thank-yous from the Internet Society and the IETF in honor of their service .

Pasi Eronen will take over as Security Area director, and Ole Jacobsen will join the IAOC as a new member. Jonne Soininen will be the new IAOC chair. Ed Juskevicius will act as chair for the IETF Trust. The NomCom also appointed four new IAB members, including Gonzalo Camarillo, Stuart Cheshire, Gregory Lebovitz, and Andy Malisplus Dow Street who will act as the Executive Director.

IETF administrative director Ray Pelletier gave an update on the financial status of the IETF Administrative Sup-port Activity (IASA).

IAOC Q&A

Comic BoF

A number of questions regarding the secretariat transition from NeuStar to AMS were addressed during the IAOC question-and-answer session, with some attendees raising concerns about the IETF Web site as well as security issues related to the transition of the IETF secretariat from one organization to the other. “While I’m extremely pleased by the efficiency with which AMS and the support/advisory team recovered from problems,” said John Klensin, “I’d like to be sure that (1) we do enough analysis of what happened so we are much better prepared for any future transition not just in terms of quality of software and operations but also in terms of transitional procedures and (2) we continue to work on being sure that the IETF is setting a proper example for the community by following the kinds of good practices we recommend to others.”

Kurtis agreed that the transition was fairly smooth. However, security-related issues need to be discussed with the IETF administrative director, and the infrastructure needs to be in place to address unforeseen events.

On a separate subject, the issue was raised about how increasingly difficult it has become to enter the United States, especially for those participants who are required to have a visa. One participant expressed concern that visa problems might also affect one’s eligibility for positions such as membership on the NomCom (NomCom members are required to attend at least three out of the previous five meetings) and raised the possibility that the rules be changed to reflect a distinction between becoming eligible and staying eligible. It was also suggested that meetings be held in locations outside the United States, such as Canada.

Unfortunately, visa issues are common even outside the United States, and there will always be people who will not be able to attend an IETF meeting. To accommodate them, IETF meetings need to be held in a diversity of places. Another solution to this problem would be to make it easier to participate remotely.

Welcome message
The cheesesteak capital offers a warm welcome to visitors

Jonne Soininen said the IAOC is aware of the problem but explained that the IETF meeting is often restricted by what the host has to offer. It would be good to have a better idea of how many people are affected by visa problems. Everybody who has visa problems is encouraged to inform Ray Pelletier, who is collecting this data.

During the IESG open mic session, concern was raised that when evaluating individual submissions, the IESG uses a different set of criteria from the set it uses when it reviews documents that come out of a WG, but that those criteria are not explicitly defined. There seem to be certain assumptions: that WG documents undergo a more formal review process by the WG before being submitted to the IESG and that individual submissions must therefore be evaluated more strictly by the IESG.

Ted Hardie raised another issue related to IESG activities by noting that there had been a recent series of decisions in which the IESG appeared to be enforcing its technical agenda or preferences without fostering community consensus. While he said he understood the history of those decisions, his concern was that this practice could become a pattern. He added that he was afraid “this will frustrate people and move activity out of the IETF.”

Sam Hartman, who was an IESG member until IETF 71, agreed it is important for the IESG to ask the community, “Are you sure about this? Is this consensus? and Did you talk to other parts of the community?” After that, the area director must be convinced that there is, indeed, informed consensus.

Another participant agreed that the IESG serves a valuable function in making sure that new protocols don’t break the Internet but said that at times the process appears arbitrary. “We fixed the problem that the process was too long, but now we have the problem that people feel it is too risky to bring work to the IETF because things sometimes get held up for unclear reasons,”? said Randy Gellens.

It was also suggested that a document be drafted for authors, describing good practices on how to read an IESG review and how to reply. Direct dialogue often helps as well.

IAB/Technical Plenary

After Aaron Falk gave an update of the work of the Internet Research Task Force (see page 21), Olaf Kolkman gave a summary of recent IAB activities.

There are a number of IAB documents in process. Principals of Internet Host Configuration and What Makes for a Successful Protocol are almost finished. The IAB has also reviewed DNS Choices and is intending to publish it. It is now soliciting such feedback from the community. RFC 4845 describes a method for soliciting feedback from the community. It is not a Last Call, but all community input is taken seriously.

Scott Bradner
Scott Bradner speaking about the NomCom process at IETF 71

A large part of the IAB’s work goes into administrative issues and interorganizational relations. The IAB responded to a request for information by the U.S. Department of Commerce regarding the possibility of private-sector handoff. It restated its relation to and interest in the IETF protocol parameters, as maintained by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority. During the private- sector handoff, the role of the IETF must be recognized. The IAB also provided feedback to a request for public com-ments on the stability of the DNS while adding new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDSs). The IAB provided reference to RFC 2620 and suggested review by ICANN on a per gTLD basis.

The IAB also continued to work with the ITU-T on transport multiprotocol label switching (T-MPLS). After IETF 70, an ad hoc group was established to work with ITU-T Study Group 13, and a lot of work has been done since to en-sure beneficial outcomes for both organizations. The coordination was a success, and the ad hoc group has concluded. A joint project team has been established consisting of roughly 20 specialists and an ITU-T and MPLS interoperability design team sponsored by the routing area. It was set up to assist the ITU in choosing between two op-tions: to move T-MPLS into the IETF (taking into account mutual requirements) or to establish a clean separation of name, EtherType, and other code points. Find more details on page 16. Fred Baker thanked the outgoing IAB members Leslie Daigle, Eric Rescorla, Elwyn Davies and Kevin Fall and gave each of them a plaque.

Technical Presentation on IPTV

Members of the IAOC
Members of the IAOC

By way of introduction, Barry Leiba mentioned a newspaper article that described a partnership between TiVo, a producer of digital video recorders, and YouTube. One aspect of the two presentations is that this technology is using a protocol stack that was developed in the IETF to provide video over a private network.

Barry introduced Marshall Eubanks from AmericaFree.TV as well as Keith Ross, professor of computer science at Polytechnic University in Brooklyn, New York.

In the discussion following the presentations, people have asked why most developments in this area happen in Asia (China in particular) and Europe. One explanation is that there are many more local TV stations and channels in China. The channels are not centralized, which encourages people to distribute more data. Furthermore, the govern-Members of the IAOCPhoto by Peter Löthbergment operates TV stations, and peer-to-peer (P2P) systems are not illegal.

Another topic that interested people was the tit-for-tat algorithm Keith described in his presentation. Originally developed in gaming theory, this algorithm is now used also for P2P systems like BitTorrent. The tit-for-tat algorithm works between two trading parties – for instance, when two parties want the same video and one has pieces the other wants and vice versa. So far, this is the only successfully implemented algorithm. There is some research about incentives in P2P systems, and the incentive “I trade with you only if you trade with me” seems to be the one that is working best. “There is no trust required because it is immediate,” said Keith.

IAB Open Mic Session

A large part of the IAB open mic session was devoted to the IPv4 outage experiment. Most participants were pleased with the experiment and suggested similar exercises at future IETF meetings. Someone suggested it would have been useful to conduct such an experiment six or eight years ago, and in fact it was then being signalled as an important topic by the IAB; however, it was difficult to get attention at that time. Now there is enough critical mass. In addition, the technology has moved on since then. “We could have talked about it in the past only hypothetically; now we can get our hands dirty,”? said Leslie Daigle.

Lixia Zhang agreed that there are many differences between then and now. Then the limitations of network address translation were not as obvious; there were not as many P2P applications; and, perhaps more important, there was not as much pressure because the IPv4 address space was not as scarce as it is now.

Fred Baker hands Eric Rescola an especially large cookie from IETF 71
In response to concerns expressed at previous meetings about the lack of food during IETF meeting breaks, Fred Baker hands Eric Rescola an especially large cookie from IETF 71

Most of the open issues now are deployment issues and not related to the protocol as such or to the network architecture.

Another topic raised was a perceived lack of operational experience in the IAB and the IETF as a whole. This has been a concern for quite a while now, and the IAB continues to actively reach out to the operational community. There will be a survey to find out more about operational requirements. On the other hand, it seems to be the case that operators are well aware of what is going on at the IETF, and they comment when they feel the need.

Dave Oran urged the IAB to look at the problem that peer-to-peer applications will always find new bandwidth and that “they will suck it up as soon as they find it.”? The payback for new bandwidth is much less clear today. Dave proposed the IAB should look at that from both operational and architectural points of view. “Otherwise, it could happen that providers block applications versus users’ trying to work around that,” he said.

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