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Message from the IETF Chair

Jari Arkko

The IETF 91 meeting had 1,100 participants from 50 countries. In addition, we offered seven remote hubs throughout Latin America, and 25 presentations were held by people attending remotely. We expect remote attendance to grow even more in the future, thanks to technologies that the IETF and others have been working on. They will enable more participation and lower barriers to increased IETF involvement. 

With more than 120 working groups, there are always many interesting things going on both at meetings and after them. Following are highlights of where large and important changes are happening. 

  • Work on the Web protocol stack improvements reached a major milestone, when the HTTP/2 specification was approved in February 2015. The new specification builds on the foundations of existing HTTP protocols, but improves on it in many ways. For example, HTTP/2 should measurably speed page loads, and thanks to compressed headers, use less network bandwidth. I expect this technology to be in very broad use in the coming years—there are already 30 implementations and a fair amount of experience with it. 
  • The IETF, the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs), and The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) have been working together to transition the role of the US government in the stewardship of IANA functions to the Internet community. In January 2015, the proposed plans for  IETF and RIR parts of this transition were completed by the communities confirming how they want to address the transition. Both proposals have received positive feedback from the broader Internet community. In the case of the IETF, the plan largely is to continue with the arrangements we’ve already built up over the years. The community processes and roles for various organisations already work well.
  • We are seeing a surge of YANG data models submitted to the IETF. YANG is a data modeling language for the NETCONF network configuration protocol, and these models are needed to manage network nodes in operator networks in centralised fashion. Working groups across the IETF, and particularly in the Routing Area, are working on these models to ensure that the industry has the interoperable standards it needs.
  • Work on the difficult problem of improving Internet security and privacy continues in multiple working groups. For me, the new highlight of this effort at IETF 91 in Honolulu was the newly chartered DPRIVE working group, which addresses Domain Name System (DNS) privacy. Their meeting systematically walked through various design alternatives to enable DNS queries to be done in a private manner. Other efforts on the general problem continue, as well. The Transport Layer Security (TLS) working group is working on version 1.3 of the TLS specification, a fairly large redesign of the protocol. None of this work is easy: we need deployable security solutions, technology that enables the network to do its work while protecting privacy, and algorithms we know we can trust. 

Lastly, the Internet Engineering Steering Group is working hard on ensuring that the IETF structure matches today’s needs. The intent is to increase flexibility as IETF work evolves and to balance and reduce the workload across our steering group. We have changed the roles of area directors to match current work areas and have a proposal out for merging the applications and real-time applications areas.

Next up, Dallas, Texas, in March 2015. Until then, back to the mailing list for work on many of the above and other important issues.