Future Identifiers

When I visited the ICANN meeting last summer, they were about to launch a set of panels to advice themselves about strategic topics in coming years. Those panels are now operational. I promised to join one of them, on identifier technology innovation. More information about the panel and its members can be found here; you’ll also recognise a few other IETFers.

The topic for this effort is future evolution of DNS and other identifiers, including relevant security and management aspects. The viewpoint is primarily to look at this from ICANN’s angle, but of course the matter is interesting to us others as well. And the panel is not a place to develop new technology — IETF and other places are.  But the panel should develop an understanding of where the technology is going, either because of an already started evolution or because something new is needed. And perhaps we at the IETF should also understand the same things. Hence this article.

I have some ideas on what some of these trends might be. But what do the rest of you think? Where is identifier technology going, and what new things are on the horizon?

Just to get you started, one obvious trend for me is the way end users identify material on the Internet. This keeps changing rapidly, e.g., through search engines and social media. And new “identifier” spaces are created all the time in different contexts, just consider hashtags as one small example. In other words, applications evolve much faster than underlying networking or domain name technology.

But there are also some technology developments. For instance, identifier-locator split mechanisms, e.g., HIP or LISP. Or new security technology, such as DANE which promises to employ DNSSEC for setting up security for applications. Or information centric networking (ICN) that uses identifiers for data rather than devices. What kind of effect do these technologies have? What other technical developments are relevant?

And there are also many remaining challenges that may need further innovation, for instance in the areas of IDN or DNSSEC or the underlying security solutions.

But these are just initial thoughts. What does your crystal ball say about the future of identifier technology? Tell us what you think on the IETF list.

Jari Arkko