IETF100 – Time for celebration, introspection and prognostication

Blog 08-11-2017

By Monika Ermert, eLance Journalist – Next week, the Internet Engineering Task Force celebrates its 100th meeting birthday. There was much discussion on the meeting venue for the occasion (Singapore) because of the “Asian tiger” state's policies towards homosexuals. It even spurred the formalization of the “meeting venue selection” process – but this is only one of the issues the organization will be assessing en route to its next decade.

Clearly, a “father of the internet” had to be invited to bring some flowers to and the honour will go to a “father” from Asia, highly decorated Japanese researcher and long-time root server operator Jun Murai.

For the party plenary talk, Murai will be joined by two other highly decorated speakers. One is a father of SIP, the ground-breaking protocol for Voice over IP, Henning Schulzrinne. The other is engineer and researcher Monique Morrow, who looks into some pressing issues related to the future of networking and its ethics. Monique Morrow is President and Co-Founder of the NGO Humanized Internet, an associate researcher, co-chairs the IEEE Ethics in AI and Autonomous Systems Mixed Reality Committee, and started her career at one of the IETF’s long-time major sponsors, Cisco.

The three birthday-party panellists will talk about (what else!) how the future internet will look like, and they were allowed to look “only” 30 years ahead, two years less than the IETF will turn on 16 January 2018.

It seems only fit that during the meeting, the IETF will also touch upon the reform of its administrative structures, the IETF Administrative Support Activity (IASA), which was originally set-up a decade ago from less formalized earlier structures. The IETF plenary meeting venue selection process will also be discussed and is on its way to finalization.

(DNS) work to be done

The Singapore meeting will certainly not be all about partying: in fact, IETF100 has a dense agenda. The Working Group of the new transport working protocol Quic, a potential competitor to good old TCP, will see yet another fight over how much encryption should be embedded into the protocol and basically how much privacy by design should be dared.

And while Quic is headed into this discussion, another effort to provide a little more DNS security/privacy, especially for web applications, is trying to overtake the Quic effort. After an initial presentation during IETF99 by Paul Hofmann, engineer at ICANN's CTO office, DNS over HTTPS was made the sole milestone of a new tiny Working Group. It meets for the first time at IETF100. Regardless of the question of if the work might be superseded by Quic in the future, the goal is, according to the Charter, to “standardize encodings for DNS queries and responses that are suitable for use in HTTPS. This will enable the domain name system to function over certain paths where existing DNS methods (UDP, TLS [RFC 7857], and DTLS [RFC 8094]) experience problems.”

Other DNS work, that seemed for some time to be at the end of development, is suddenly back with a considerable number of work items. Nearly all working groups related to the Domain Name System (DNS) are meeting: DNSOP, DNSSD and the very much registry-oriented RegEXT. RegEXT will be discussing RDAP, the WHOIS follow-up protocol. New TLD ideas also are on the agenda of the IETF, with Warren Kumari of Google presenting a proposal for a “.internal” TLD, and both the Homenet WG and DNSSD will be carrying on with their simple naming architecture proposal. Another potentially interesting presentation by Wes Hardaker during the DNSOP group could be the one on how to localize the Root zone “to serve a copy of the DNS Root Zone from your recursive resolver”.

IoT and other fashionable stuff

No technical standards meeting can be held without touching upon the IoT topic. This time, the long-standing Internet Research Task Force's things2things research group will look into the interesting topic of small crypto for small IoT. In addition to the existing WG working on standards for “constrained environments”, a Birds of a Feather (BoF) meeting will look into one of the security issues of the IoT by talking about Software Updates for the Internet of Things.

Another must next week will be the topic of quantum crypto, which is back (after a highly entertaining and doubtful talk at the last meeting) with a presentation during the Crypto Forum session on the transition from classical to post-quantum crypto.

There will be more new ideas and BoFs ongoing in Singapore (see the IETF Chair's blog post) and for those who are early, the Hackathon is on Saturday and Sunday. Happy birthday, IETF100!