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IETF 91 Summary

21 Nov 2014

Our meeting in Honolulu is over. How did it go? Let us know. In the following I have collected some of my own observations.

IETF 91 Sunset
IETF 91 Sunset

I thought the meeting and all facilities worked very well this time. All the practical arrangements worked smoothly. An easy place to have both our official meetings and all those hallway and side discussions that many of us find important. I would like to thank all the volunteers, our contractors, the host Cisco, all the sponsors, and you all for making the meeting a success. Thank you! I also want to thank Cisco for the great social event and NBCUniversal for the welcome reception. Both events were very much appreciated by all the attendees.

We had 1100 participants from 50 countries. That is a good turnout, though slightly less than we predicted. This may be partly explained by some visa trouble for Chinese participants that we reported earlier. We’ve also heard other similar meetings in the industry having issues this fall. We are doing everything we can to avoid getting into a similar situation in the future, but there are no easy solutions.

We also had seven remote hubs throughout Latin America, which was great. And we had 25 presentations held by people attending remotely, a new record! Remote attendance will be growing in the future, of course due to technologies that IETF and others have worked on. This is good, because it enables more participation, and lowers barriers to being involved in the IETF.

But what about our technical work? Here are some of the highlights from my perspective:

  • Privacy – Our work on the difficult problem of improving security and privacy of the Internet continues in multiple working groups. For me the highlight of this effort was the newly chartered DPRIVE working group that addresses DNS privacy. Their meeting systematically walked through various design alternatives to allow DNS queries to be done in a private manner.
  • Encryption – The Internet Architecture Board (IAB) released a statement indicating how important confidentiality is for Internet communications. Of course, while that gives a direction for us to aim, we already know from past experience that getting to the end result is not easy. We need deployable security solutions, we need technology that enables the network to do its work (addressing, caches, …) while protecting privacy, and we need algorithms that we know we can trust. Hard work ahead!
  • Video codecs – The RTCWeb working group made some long-awaited progress on the question of what codecs are required for implementations. In the proposal, some system components still have to implement multiple codecs, and the decision itself is still in the process of being confirmed on the mailing list. However, if confirmed, it will greatly help interoperability.
  • IANA transition – The IANAPLAN working group had a very active discussion about the IETF’s transition plan regarding the role of US government in overseeing IANA services. As often happens in IETF meetings, a broader set of participants follow the discussion during the meeting. The participants were clear on how they wanted the proposed plan changed, with less focus on contractual details and more focus on maintaining the current operational model.
  • Open source – Dave Ward gave an excellent presentation about working with standards in an increasingly open source world. We’ve certainly recognised this in the IETF, but there’s so much more that we could and should do here. Dave’s presentation slides are here and a recording of the presentation here.
  • Data models – One clear growth area (and one with a lot of open source relations) is data models, building schemas of information that can be used to control and monitor routers and other devices.

We also used the IETF network to run a MAC address privacy experiment. Could MAC addresses change, and what implications would that have for the rest of the traffic? Juan Carlos Zuniga describes some of the learnings in his blog article. I would love to see more experiments like this in future IETF meetings. If you have an idea, let us know about it!

And what’s next? Dallas, in March 2015. In the meantime, back to the mailing list for the important work on many of the above issues.

There is also a short video version of this summary here.

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