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Open Internet Standards 19 February 2014

IETF 89 Briefing Panel – The Evolution of End-to-End: Why The Internet Is Not Like Any Other Network

Leslie Daigle
By Leslie DaigleFormer Chief Internet Technology Officer

Does the idea of “smart endpoints, dumb network” still make sense? Much of the reaction to pervasive surveillance by national security agencies has focused on cryptography, authentication, and preventing unwanted access to private resources. In our Briefing Panel on “The Evolution of End-to-End: Why the Internet Is Not Like Any Other Network,” taking place on Tuesday, 4 March at IETF 89 in London, we decided it’s time to think about what does work.

The Internet is a network of networks, thriving on diversity – of technologies, operators, services, and users. Resilience and reliability come from the network’s ability to “route around damage” because of redundant routes, etc. Maybe we should also be looking at how to ensure the Internet itself continues to grow and thrive through diversity?

So, we thought we’d take our traditional IETF briefing panel back to first principles. In Internet technology, the granddaddy of all technology principles is the so-called “end-to-end principle.”

In 2004, the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) published RFC 3724, “The Rise of the Middle and the Future of End-to-End”. The document reviewed the important aspects of “smart endpoints, dumb network,” and articulated some perspectives on how Internet engineering was evolving to address those key aspects. From its introduction:

One of the key architectural guidelines of the Internet is the end-to-end principle in the papers by Saltzer, Reed, and Clark [citations]. The end-to-end principle was originally articulated as a question of where best not to put functions in a communication system. Yet, in the ensuing years, it has evolved to address concerns of maintaining openness, increasing reliability and robustness, and preserving the properties of user choice and ease of new service development as discussed by Blumenthal and Clark in [citation]; concerns that were not part of the original articulation of the end-to-end principle.”

Ten years later, we’re assembling a panel of three experts to discuss:

Does the “end-to-end principle” still matter in today’s Internet?

The panelists – and the perspectives they’ll bring – are:

  • Fred Baker (Cisco) – Smart network
  • Harald Alvestrand (Google) – Smart endpoints
  • Andrew Sullivan (Dyn) – Infrastructure in the middle

Join us (in person or virtually!) for the briefing panel. Watch http://www.internetsociety.org/internet-society-briefing-panel-ietf-89 for webcast information and the online registration link. Pre-registration is required and begins on Monday, 24 February 2014. Registration opens in two phases for global fairness: 09:00 UTC and 21:00 UTC. We hope you can join us!

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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