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IETF 90 BoFs

17 Jun 2014

For every IETF meeting, the steering group receives a number of proposals for new work. Not all new work in the IETF has to go through a public meeting to be accepted.

Continuation of previous work and many obviously needed efforts have just been chartered as new working groups. However, the common method for starting new work at the IETF is to organise so called Birds-of-a-Feather (BoF) session. These sessions discuss a topic, and attempt to determine whether the IETF community believes a successful standards project can be launched on it.

The IETF steering group (IESG) and the architecture board (IAB) look at the received proposals and have to decide which ones are stable enough to move forward to a public discussion in the meeting. We had that discussion last week for IETF-90, and here are the BoFs that you will see in the meeting in July:

UCAN (Use Cases for Autonomic Networking)

This meeting will discuss further automation for the configuration and management of IP networks. The meeting is not intended to immediately form a new working group, but rather to discuss use cases for such automation. I think this work is obviously interesting, though there are question marks on whether such automation is achievable, and if it is, whether it comes as a part of a general approach or more targeted solutions for more constrained problems (such as prefix configuration).

The proposal is discussed on the anima list.

ACTN (Abstraction and Control of Transport Networks)

The aim of ACTN is to facilitate virtual network operation: the creation of a virtualized environment allowing operators to view and control multiple multi-subnet, multi-technology networks as a single virtualized network. The list for this this meeting can be found here.

TCPINC (TCP Increased Security)

This proposed working group wants to extend TCP so that it would be able to automatically encrypt all TCP communications between two TCPINC-capable nodes. While no authentication similar to how HTTPS and TLS work would be provided, this would provide a way to prevent passive attacks on Internet communications. The list for discussion of this topic is here.

DTNWG (Delay Tolerant Networking Working Group)

This meeting discusses whether Delay Tolerant Networking (DTN) technology developed for a long time in the research side would be ready to become a standard through the IETF. Join the dtn list for the discussion!


In the last couple of IETFs, we have had an IAB session to talk about recent events in Internet Governance. This time we are creating an IETF BoF session, eventually a working group, that will host discussions around the transition of the NTIA role associated with IANA operations. The IAB and its IANA program continue to provide a significant part of the materials. We will hear about the ongoing transition process as well as discuss IETF thoughts on the matter. While the IETF structures around this topic are being set up, the main discussion forum is the IAB internetgovtech list.

VNFPOOL (Virtual Network Function Pool)

Network functions such as firewalls or load balancers are conventionally deployed as specialized hardware servers. There is a trend to implement such network functions as virtual software instances running on general purpose servers. These virtualized functions are called Virtualized Network Functions (VNFs), which can be used to build network services. In order to achieve higher reliability, a VNF may adopt a pooling mechanism, where a number of VNF instances with the same function can be grouped as a pool to provide the function. This proposed working group plans to look at ways of managing these pools.

The vnfpool list hosts the discussions.

TAPS (Transport Services)

Transport protocols such as MPTCP extend the number of transport services to applications, in addition to the long-standing two services provided by TCP and UDP. But for an application programmer, it is hard to use protocols other than TCP or UDP: not all protocols are available everywhere, hence a fall-back solution to e.g. TCP or UDP must be implemented. Any approach to provide a richer set of transport services to applications will have to begin with the identification of the services that current transport protocols provide. This proposed working group look at that effort and consider ways for applications to discover and use the services that exist on a given platform.

This topic is being discussed on the taps list.


Several proposals were found to fit better elsewhere or not ready for a full-blown discussion yet. The TIME (multi-layer, transport-independent OAM) and NFVCON (configuration of network virtualisation) proposals will be discussed as a part of the OPSAWG meeting. Another proposal, AECON, suggested better ways for networks and applications to communicate with each other, but potential overlap with other proposals, as well question marks about use cases, led to the conclusion that more work needed to be done before holding a BoF. Finally, the APONF proposal dealt with ways of setting up network paths for applications, but it would be good to have a clear idea of how this can be deployed, as similar previous efforts (such as NSIS) have been difficult to deploy.

We will be working on these topics as well, but they were not ready for full BoFs yet.

In addition to the above BoFs, the IAB will be holding the RFCFORMAT session. As the entity responsible for the RFC Series, the IAB is hosting a discussion of the evolution of the format used in the RFCs. The session will be chaired by Heather Flanagan, the RFC Series Editor, and the appropriate list to discuss this topic is the rfc-interest list.

Be sure to join us in Toronto to discuss these and other interesting topics! Meeting registration and other practical information can be found from the meeting page.

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