Off to Receive Liberally and Send Conservatively at IETF 83

IETF is back in Europe for its 83d meeting starting Monday and I’m going. These are pretty interesting times for standard defining organizations in general and the venerable Task Force that created everything you use to read this post (except the browser markup language) is no different in that area.

With the networking industry in an unprecedented state of hype-driven flux it is no surprise that many SDOs are thinking about how to keep relevant. How this thinking manifests itself depends on the cultural roots of the organization. Some try to “pivot” (or whatever it’s called these days) away from being marginalized and spend marketing (!) resources on things like membership brainstorming sessions, general cloudification and virtualization activities, or simply raising the cost of exhibitors booths during events. Very few of these activities lead to better, more well timed and more useful standards.

I’ve always felt that IETF is the FreeBSD of the standards industry. It may not be first to publish specifications for emerging challenges, but when working group drafts eventually pass through the eye of the needle (which is IESG approval) it usually provide specifications with enough detail and quality to actually make it into implementations and interoperability.

Much of the criticism of the IETF comes from lack of understanding the principles and processes it is built on. Ironically enough this is in humorous symmetry with the classic “I haven’t read the document we’re discussing, BUT…”-comment that is a very well known faux pas inside the IETF. The processes are informally introduced in The introductory Tao of the IETF document and the RFC process is described in detail RFC 2026. Personally I think it’s best summarized in the following quote from David Clark:

We reject kings, presidents and voting. We believe in rough consensus and running code

So, for Paris I’m particularly looking forward to:

  • The dinners and hallway discussions which is always where the most exciting conversations and napkin sessions are held
  • The NETCONF and YANG contributors meeting where REST access to resources described in YANG is on the agenda
  • I’m guessing the “Overlay Networking (NVO3)” and the “Infrastructure-to-application information exposure (i2aex)” birds of feather (BoF) sessions will be crowd pleasers and will provide ample opportunity for some good grey-beard action

Reach out (@cmoberg or calle@tail-f.com) if you want to (mail|meet|tweet)up at the Le Palais des Congres de Paris starting in a couple of hours.

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