Words from the IAB Chair

By: Olaf Kolkman

Date: June 7, 2009

line break image

olaf kolkman

Spring is in the air . . .

During spring’s IETF meeting, the red dots that appear on nametags, which indicate Internet Architecture Board (IAB) membership, are passed from outgoing to incoming members. I had to say good-bye to a number of folk I had not only enjoyed but also had the honour of working with: Loa Andersson, Barry Leiba, Kurtis Lindquist, and Lixia Zhang. Fortunately, people I’m looking forward working with-Marcelo Bagnulo, Vijay Gill, John Klensin, and Jon Peterson-are replacing them.

Springtime is also the time for the IAB to hold its retreat. The main goal of the retreat is for people to get to know each other and to set direction for the IAB’s work over the coming year.

This year we met in the Verizon offices in Ashburn, Virginia. Even during spring, the location did not allow for frivolous distractions. It is in the middle of fields that surround Dulles airport and far away from the vices that can be found in Reston, Herndon, and Leesburg. Without those distractions-and others, such as sunlight-we could concentrate on what we’d come to accomplish. The first day, we focused on administrative duties. We discussed some perennial matters but also had a detailed discussion about the various liaison relationships overseen by the IAB. During those discussions we appointed Patrik Fältström to be the liaison to the ITU-T [International Telecommunication Union-Telecommunication Standardization Sector]. Patrik takes over from Scott Bradner, who has been serving the IETF in this role for many years. We also took a significant step forward in approval of the RFC Editor model.

Approval of the RFC Editor model is a milestone in a process that began at last year’s retreat. The next major milestone occurs in January 2010, when the RFC Editor functions that are now being executed by the Information Sciences Institute (ISI) of the University of Southern California will be turned over to other people and organizations. The turning over of the RFC Editor function is momentous, particularly when one stops to consider that the RFC series has been edited by ISI for more than 40 years.

The second day we talked about Internet architecture and tried to pick a number of topics to work on in the coming year. The process we used for defining our agenda was to have each IAB member formulate an architectural topic that the member would be willing to lead together with a clear set of milestones and deliverables. We can’t be certain that all of the plans we discussed will come to full fruition, so I will not go into detail about the individual efforts discussed. However, most of the topics can be put into three major buckets:

  • IPv4 and IPv6 coexistence and how to work toward the best results in IPv6 transition
  • Security of the routing data and the routing control plane
  • Internationalization issues within the DNS and the application layer, as well as between the DNS and applications

In addition, the IAB has expressed a desire to work on certain topics therefrom, and by studying them, we can learn more about the major architectural questions that may face us in the near future. Two areas of interest were (1) technologies for IP in aviation and (2) an Internet populated by large numbers of low-power, autonomous devices.

All of the various projects bring with them different deliverables, some as vague as identifying the actual questions to begin with. This column is not the place to commit to specifics; however, it is clear there are some important issues that need attention.

During spring the seeds have been planted. May the flowers bloom.