The IAB held two workshops in 2006, and the San Diego technical plenary included presentations reporting on both of them. I’ll say a bit more about each of them below, but first a few thoughts on IAB workshops in general.
As described in its charter (RFC 2850), a major role of the IAB is to pay attention to important long-term issues in the Internet, and to make sure that these issues are brought to the attention of the people or groups that can address them. The IAB works to fulfill that mandate in several different ways, one of which is to occasionally convene an invitational workshop. In addition to bringing issues to wider attention, such workshops aim to gather more input on an architectural topic than is represented by the IAB members’experience alone.
The workshops themselves are usually limited to participation by invitees in order to allow for focused, small-group discussions. However, the only accepted formal output of the workshop is a public report, published as an RFC. As a report of the workshop, the document is a reflection of the attendees’ collective understanding at the time of the meeting – not necessarily either the IAB’s as a whole or that of individual attendees. The less formal outputs include any follow-up work attendees may pursue, including the proposal of further work within other IETF-related groups such as the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF), the IETF, and working groups.
At the IETF 67 Thursday evening plenary, Loa Andersson and Danny McPherson presented a report from the IAB’s March 2006 workshop on Unwanted Traffic (see draft-iab-iwout-report). As noted previously, the IAB had organised that workshop to recognise (1) that there is plenty of unwanted traffic on the Internet today – in the form of ((D)DoS, Spam, viruses, worms, and the like; (2) that the trend is not decreasing; and (3) that the persistence of infected hosts is considerable. This is causing significant economic losses already, and that trend is increasing as well. The purpose of the workshop was to assess the state of affairs, examine existing counter measures, and collect input for action planning. The plenary presentation and the workshop report provide details of the specific findings and conclusions, but one of the main takeaways of the workshop was that there is an “underground economy” that is real and that is driving a lot of the unwanted traffic. This makes the motivation and possible remediation activities different from traditional methods for dealing with unwanted traffic: it’s no longer driven by script kiddies with nothing better to do; it is a financially motivated, illegal activity. The technology and global connectedness of the Internet are just the enablers of the effort. Further work is needed to determine what can be done to address the growing trend – and not all of itis technical work.
During the same plenary session, Dave Meyer and Chris Morrow provided a preliminary report from the IAB’s October 2006 workshop on Routing and Addressing (now documented in draft-iab-raws-report). The purpose of the workshop was to explore the issues that the large backbone operators are facing regarding the scalability of today’s Internet routing system. In the report, you will find that the key workshop findings include an analysis of the major factors that are driving routing table growth, constraints in router technology, and the limitations of today’s Internet addressing architecture. In particular, an important takeaway from the workshop was that there is a need to ensure a scalable routing and addressing system in the face of multihoming and the existence for a wide spectrum of traffic engineering (TE) requirements. Scalability is typically measured in terms of the size of the default-free-zone (DFZ) routing table, but the implications are felt in terms of the computing cost of recomputing routing information in the face of updates, concerns about the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) convergence times and the required power/heat dissipation properties of the hardware needed to route traffic in the core of the Internet.
The IAB & IESG have announced plans to establish a “Routing & Addressing Directorate” that would facilitate the continued coordination and promotion of activities to analyse and address the aforementioned problems. And you, too, are invited to join the already lively technical discussion on the RAM@iab.org public mailing list!