Message from the IETF Chair

By: Jari Arkko

Date: November 1, 2013

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IETF 87 was a very successful meeting. We had 1,426 on-site participants from 62 countries—more attendees than we’ve seen in a long time from more countries than we’ve ever had. There were 12 new working-group proposals, and although many were taken to the discussion stage quite early, many of those seem to have experienced positive results. I anticipate that about two-thirds of the proposals will soon be up for approval as working groups.
In addition to new work, IETF 87 attracted a record 316 first-timers. This is great news—an influx of new people is vital to ensuring we understand the myriad challenges of Internet technology.
IETF 87 also saw the debut of our new mentoring system. Approximately 50 IETF attendees volunteered to mentor new attendees: help them navigate the meeting and, most important, establish connections with others. For me, an important aspect of each meeting is the interaction I have with people who are building devices on the Internet. Specifics aside, this kind of like-minded networking is a crucial part of setting up new, interoperable Internet technology and a vital part of each new attendee’s IETF experience.
We had a great social event, thanks to DENIC, our platinum sponsor. I’ve yet to meet an engineer who doesn’t love trains. Everyone in attendance had a wonderful time. Thank you, DENIC! In addition, this meeting’s Bits-n-Bites was so well attended that at times it was difficult to get to the demo tables. Many thanks to the other meeting and Bits-n-Bites event sponsors: A10 Networks, ADVA Optical Networking, Comcast, Deutsche Telekom, Dyn, ECO, EURid, Huawei, ICANN, the Internet Society, IPSO Alliance, and Nominum. We couldn’t do it without you.
The practical meeting organisation worked well. In fact, participants liked the hotel and the facilities so much that many suggested we return to Berlin soon.
From a personal perspective, some of the most interesting work that occurred this meeting included work related to the Internet of Things (many of the new work proposals were in this space), home networking (also some new proposals and a lot of running code), and multimedia communications from browsers (WebRTC). I also liked the new Advanced Queue Management (AQM) work proposal, which attempts to keep bad router buffering practices from wasting capacity. This group has a real chance of improving how responsive the Internet feels to individual users without requiring an increased broadband connection speed.
During the meeting, we continued our discussion of technical and organisational issues. In our administrative plenary, Kathleen Moriarty and Suresh Krishnan updated us on the diversity design team’s activities (page XX). These discussions are on a productive path and I’m looking forward to the improvements we’ll make in this space.
But the IETF is about more than specifications and papers—it’s about running code. I was pleased to see so many instances of running code both during the meeting itself and around it, including an interop event on 6LowPAN technology, an XMPP hackfest, NAT64 live testing on the IETF network, using the Opus audio codec for remote attendees (p. XX), home networking demos, a distributed mobility demo, Code Sprint working on IETF tools, the Bits-n-Bites demos, and probably a host of other places that I’m not aware of. I’d like to see even more code at the next meeting. If you have a test or demo in mind, let’s talk.
As usual, much collaboration occurred outside the open meetings: engineers talked to each other, implementers shared experiences, operators explained their needs, and so forth. It was also a pleasure to note so many attendees from outside our traditional demographic, such as root server operators, network operators from developing countries, regulators and policy makers, ICANN specialists, and students. Participants of all types were engaged in discussions that certainly appeared to be useful, particularly those meetings between the IAB and meeting attendees.
How did you find IETF 87? As always, your thoughts are welcome.