Internet organisations’ coordination meeting

This is a brief report from a meeting between a number of Internet organisations that took place last week in London. You may have heard these meetings being referred to as I* CEO meetings, somewhat inaccurately as, for instance, the regex doesn’t match the actual organisations. From the IESG the participants were Barry Leiba and myself, and Andrew Sullivan and Ted Hardie participated from the IAB. There were other participants from the RIRs, ICANN, ISOC, W3C, and ccTLDs.

The purpose of these meetings is informal information sharing. Occasionally they allow ‘light’ coordination as well, for instance, when one organisation leads an effort and the rest of us can get involved rather than setting up similar efforts ourselves. The meetings do not make decisions, as obviously the processes in our different communities are in charge of that.

Everyone in the meeting highlighted how the strength of the organisations work around the Internet is in their distributed nature – just like with the Internet itself. This ensures stability and that the different communities are served in the ways that they need.

The ongoing effort in transitioning the role US government away from the stewardship of the IANA functions was a key discussion topic in the meeting. The participants highlighted how important the role of the communities is in this process. All the affected organisations have set up processes that are fundamentally about the communities deciding their paths in the the transition. The same is true of the process from IANA transition coordination group (ICG). The IANA arrangements depend on the support of the communities, and their ability to define those arrangements.

The participants thanked the communities that have risen to this challenge, and expressed our commitment to completing the task.

My personal opinion is that while IANA is important and the stewardship transition is significant, at the same time we should put things in perspective. IANA services as provided today are working very well. We at the IETF have always worked on the continued evolution of the IANA services, and the transition is “just” an additional step in that evolution. Furthermore, the IANA services are clerical, and for the case of the IETF and RIRs, any changes resulting from the transition are minor. The system continues to run as it has done for decades, which is good. Boring and uneventful is good. We should treat this as business as usual, and avoid adding aspects that have little to do with the clerical work or its oversight.

My opinion is also that we at the IETF are largely ready and can proceed with remaining parts. One of our next steps is yet another set of yearly changes to our existing agreements. These changes have not yet been executed [1,2,3] but eventually will. Wearing my engineer hat, I think the overall transition effort should be thought of as a project rather than an instantaneous change at some point in time. In any case, we’ll get there, and everybody in the meeting re-affirmed their commitment to getting the community plans about the transition executed.

The meeting also discussed a number of other topics, including the continued growth of mobile networks as the most common form of accessing the Internet. Just last year, 800 million smartphone subscriptions were added and the growth is accelerating. The meeting discussed the fast pace of evolution in web technology (such as with HTTP/2) and the Internet of Things, open source and other collaborative methods of developing technology, and efforts around improving security and privacy. The meeting also highlighted the importance of having an open Internet in light of the fast evolution and growth. The ability to freely create new innovations and services on top of the Internet is a key to its utility for the world.

Other participants from the meeting have provided additional perspectives, for instance, Andrew here, the NRO here, and APNIC here.

Jari Arkko, IETF Chair