Words from the IAB Chair

By: Andrew Sullivan

Date: November 1, 2015

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It always surprises me how little time there seems to be between IETF meetings, at least by the time the meeting is upon us. IETF 93 in Prague was no exception. Still, the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) had plenty to report to the community.

Plenaries and IAB Engagement with the Community

We have heard people say that plenaries are too long and include too much reporting. Yet the plenary, the reporting we do, and our open microphone sessions are our basic accountability mechanisms. In Prague, the plenaries were in the morning. We shortened the technical plenary by 30 minutes to give people more “hallway time,” and the session turned out to be somewhat crowded. But we’re going to try again in Yokohama, in a combined plenary with the Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG). While we don’t expect to do this every time, we think it is worth trying these different approaches to see whether we can concentrate on protocol work, keep the meeting week as short as possible, and still engage with the IETF community.

One of the IAB’s jobs is to be the interface between the IETF and other standards bodies. We were pleased to welcome Mr. Houlin Zhao, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). We don’t expect regular visits of other standards bodies to the technical plenary, but we were happy that Mr. Zhao paid a visit, and look forward to future successful collaboration with the ITU.


The IAB handles appeals when someone disagrees with an IESG appeal decision. The IAB takes this job seriously. Part of that job is to ensure that participants work within the IETF processes. In this case, the IAB concluded that the appellant needed to work within those other processes. See the full decision at

When You Speak, We Listen

Because the IAB supervises the Request for Comments (RFC) Editor (via the RFC Editor Program and the RFC Series Oversight Committee), we publish documents pertinent to the RFC series. A recent change to the RFC series was the addition of Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs). The IAB asked for comments early, but DOIs were implemented before the IAB proceeded with publication of draft-iab-doi-04. It seemed to many that the IAB was asking for rubber-stamp feedback. That was not the goal, but the IAB could have done better and we’re grateful for the comments to that effect. In the future, we will use a new process for developing these RFCs:

The proposal for the relevant change will be an Internet Draft (I-D) that outlines the plan and so on. We will process this like any other IAB stream document, with the appropriate community comment period.  The draft will call out areas that could vary due to implementation. When the comment period is over, we will proceed as usual toward publication (assuming it is warranted).

Implementation will follow the resulting RFC, but any variances due to implementation will be called out to the community on relevant IETF lists.

When everything is ready, a new I-D will be prepared to obsolete the earlier RFC and document what happened. It will be subject to community comment just to ensure it conforms with what people think has been implemented.

More changes will come as the RFC series evolves. We’re listening carefully to ensure we’re managing this well.

Other Highlights since IETF 92

The IAB made a statement on Trade in Security Technologies (, and sent comments to the US Bureau of Industry and Security about it. The IAB also sent comments to the US Office of the Chief Information Officer and to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) Cross Community Working Group on Enhancing ICANN Accountability (CCWG). We undertake these sorts of communications as part of our job to interact with external bodies. All our communications are at

With the Internet Society and in collaboration with FIRST 2015, the IAB sponsored the Coordinating Attack Response at Internet Scale (CARIS) workshop. The IAB undertakes workshops like this as part of its external liaison responsibility and because we are supposed to offer architectural guidance for the Internet. Attack response on the Internet is a critical part of the operational environment. The workshop aimed to strengthen the links among different organizations across the attack-response community. In the long run, attack response must grow as vigorously as the capabilities of attackers on the Internet. Kathleen Moriarty, a Security Area Director and the program chair for the workshop, gave a quick report about the workshop during the IETF 93 technical plenary. Look for the workshop report Internet Draft in an I-D repository near you.

The IAB also announced another workshop: Managing Radio Networks in an Encrypted World (MaRNEW). The workshop was held on 24–25 September; the IAB will share more on it at IETF 94.