Last March, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced a plan “to transition key Internet domain name functions to the global multistakeholder community.” The NTIA’s plan is to do this in conjunction with the expiry of its contract with ICANN in September of 2015.
NTIA asked the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to convene various stake-holders, including the IETF, to develop a proposal for how to complete the transition. ICANN did that, and various organizations appointed members of the IANA Stewardship Transition Coordination Group (ICG). The IAB appointed two (Russ Housley and Lynn St. Amour), and the IETF appointed two (Jari Arkko and Alissa Cooper).
Given those activities going on outside the IETF, the IESG concluded that it needed to know what the IETF community thinks. The IAB has a program for IANA evolution, but the IAB isn’t tasked with representing IETF consensus. The goal of the BoF was to understand whether an IETF working group is needed to respond to the NTIA’s request and to work on the overall questions related to the IANA transition. To me, at least, the BoF was successful in learning what we needed to know.
There were three clear messages from the BoF. The first, clarion message was that we have an existing, working, well-functioning system, and we should take extreme care to avoid changing it, while documenting how it satisfies requirements from the NTIA. It appears that this was a value already shared, but it was good to have it confirmed.
The second message was that, because there are changes to the overarching framework in which our existing system fits, we need to understand how those changes might affect us by accident. We need to have a complete analysis of that, and ensure that anything that could affect us is addressed. That way, we can avoid unwanted changes to our smoothly-functioning existing system.
The final message was that, given the very short time we have, it would be best if the IAB’s IANA evolution program undertook most of the work. At the same time, we need a newly-created working group to review that work and achieve (and demonstrate) consensus.
What is particularly heartening about this is that the apparent strong consensus in the BoF is itself a clear example of the existing IETF procedures working. There is a question — in this case, a policy question, and not a protocol one — that needs a decision, and the community comes together and makes a decision based on both rough consensus (the agreement displayed in the room) and running code (the actually functioning procedures we have today). This gives us the opportunity both to state how we wish to proceed, and show how well that works in practice.