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IETF Journal April 2016

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The IETF Journal is an Internet Society publication produced in cooperation with the Internet Engineering Task Force.

Spanish Translation: IETF Journal April 2016 (PDF, 1.8MB)

Russian Translation: IETF Journal April 2016 (PDF, 2.1MB)


The 94th meeting of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) was held in Yokohama, Japan, and was hosted by the WIDE Project. In this issue of the IETF Journal we present some of the highlights of the week and offer a peek at the many interesting people and discussions that comprised the meeting.

For only the second time in its history and on the event of its 30th anniversary, the IETF’s next meeting will be held south of the equator in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

For the technical community in Latin America this is an important milestone: the Buenos Aires meeting will provide visibility to the technical work in the region that keeps the Internet humming. Many also anticipate that a meeting in the region will motivate a new generation of Latin American engineers to take up protocol engineering.

Perhaps the uppermost thing on my mind is how friendly and welcoming Japan was. I thoroughly enjoyed the incredibly well-working network, the wireless that covered all the way to the Ferris wheel, the ceremonies, the food, the modern facilities, and the long list of supporters for our meeting. Thank you!

We had a very good turnout in terms of participation: more than 1,300 participants on site at the end of the week.  

IETF 94 was in Yokohama, Japan, and as usual, the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) had some things to report. But this time, instead of using plenary time for it, we sent a report in advance to the community (see This was inspired by a change to the way the meeting worked, and the IAB has concluded that it is a positive approach for our reports. Expect to see this kind of advance report again before Buenos Aires.

On 16–17 January 1986, in San Diego, California, 21 people attended what is now known as IETF 1. Several participants of that meeting are still active contributors, and some of the topics mentioned in the proceedings from that meeting still surface at IETF meetings. And although the IETF has evolved over the past 30 years, its goal of addressing challenges to improve the network via meetings and other means has remained.

Can the IETF adopt measurement-driven engineering in the design of Internet protocols? That was the technical topic at the IETF meeting held in Yokohama, with presenters Brian Trammell, who leads the Internet Architecture Board’s (IAB’s) IP Stack Evolution Program, and Alberto Dainotti, a research scientist with the Center for Applied Internet Data Analysis (CAIDA). 

JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) [RFC 4627, RFC 7159] is a very popular method for exchanging data in protocols. Where Extensible Markup Language (XML) was once considered the go-to choice for data serialization, now JSON is the preferred format. As with XML, there are a number of JSON-centric building blocks, standards, and conventions and tools for using JSON to create applications and protocols. But where XML has a handful of data definition languages, JSON has none (that have been standardized).

In late 2004, members of the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) working group (WG) gathered to discuss how SIP-based devices could place emergency calls (e.g., 1-1-2, 9-1-1). Around the same time, SIP-based phones started making such calls. In the case of North America, the calls were received with concern at public safety answering points (PSAPs, the call centers where emergency calls are answered).

In October 2015, just prior to IETF 94, publication of “The .onion Special-Use Domain Name” (RFC 7686) put an end to intense debate within the Domain Name System Operations (DNSOP) working group (WG) and the wider IETF community. RFC 7686 added the “onion” label to the Special-Use Domain Names registry[1] maintained by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). This was  the second addition to that registry after RFC 6762 to reserve “local” for the Multicast DNS protocol.

Simplified use of policy abstractions (SUPA), a new working group (WG) in the OPS Area, held its first meeting at IETF 94. The rapid growth of traffic flowing over service provider networks brings new challenges in network operations and management applications. Policy-based service management is one efficient approach that uses policy rules to manage the behavior of one or more managed entities.

A true Internet of Things (IoT) requires “things” to be able to use Internet Protocols. Various “things” have always been on the Internet, and general-purpose computers at data centers and homes are usually capable of using the Internet protocols as they have been defined for them. However, there is considerable value in extending the Internet to more constrained devices that often need optimized versions or special use of these protocols.

IETF 94 in Yokohama was my first IETF meeting. While subscribing to specific Working Group lists offers exposure to the IETF’s work, to obtain a true overview of how the organization works you must attend one of its meetings. The Yokohama meeting was my first such opportunity.

During IETF 94 in Yokohama, five of the nine chartered Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) research groups (RGs) held meetings:

The Applied Networking Research Prize (ANRP) is awarded for recent results in applied networking research that are relevant for transitioning into shipping Internet products and related standardization efforts. The ANRP awards presented during IETF 94 went to the following two individuals:

Getting new work started in the IETF usually requires a Birds-of-a-Feather (BoF) meeting to discuss goals for the work, the suitability of the IETF as a venue for pursuing the work, and the level of interest in and support for the work. In this article, we review the BoF that took place during IETF 94, including its intentions and outcomes. If you’re inspired to arrange a BoF meeting, please read RFC 5434, “Considerations for Having a Successful Birds-of-a-Feather (BoF) Session.”

Participants: 1,320

Newcomers: 278

Number of countries: 52

IETF Activity since IETF 93 (19 July–1 November 2015)

New WGs: 6

WGs closed: 6

WG currently chartered: 146

New and revised Internet-Drafts (I-Ds): 1590