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Diversity and Equal Access at the IETF A Personal View Adrian Farrel IETF Routing Area Director Old Dog Consulting.

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Presentation on theme: "Diversity and Equal Access at the IETF A Personal View Adrian Farrel IETF Routing Area Director Old Dog Consulting."— Presentation transcript:

1 Diversity and Equal Access at the IETF A Personal View Adrian Farrel IETF Routing Area Director Old Dog Consulting

2 The IETF The Internet Engineering Task Force “To make the Internet work better by producing high quality, relevant technical documents that influence the way people design, use, and manage the Internet.” A loose confederation of people working together across commercial and international borders – Technical competence – Volunteers Open to everyone – Open process – Open access – Open standards “Rough consensus and running code” 2 of 29

3 The IRTF The Internet Research Task Force “Promotes research of importance to the evolution of the Internet by creating focused, long-term research groups working on topics related to Internet protocols, applications, architecture and technology.” Equally open Aim is coordination and advancement of research on Internet issues – Published documents are not standards 3 of 29

4 A Little Context The Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG) – Responsible for technical management of the IETF standards process Process Facilitation Quality – Made up of 2 Area Directors (ADs) from each of 7 technical Areas, and one chair Appointed for 2-year terms Can stand for multiple terms Appointments are alternating – Appointments are made by the Nominating Committee (NomCom) A strange and wonderful process! Takes into account the opinions of the community 4 of 29

5 A Little More Context Adrian Farrel – In my 6th (and final!) year as Routing AD – I am a consultant (unusual for an AD) Currently funded by Juniper Networks Previously funded by Huawei – Many customers from China, Japan, Korea, and Europe Gave me an insight into some of the issues around IETF participation – Language – Culture – Travel – Many customers were service providers Helped me understand the need and the problems in the IETF – Made this a personal concern in the IESG IESG Workshop on language and culture Training for WG chairs on non-native speakers and non-US culture Attended IETF events in Central and South America Leading IETF work on “anti-harassment” – I am married to an interpreter 5 of 29

6 What is Diversity? diverse – Pronunciation: dʌɪˈvəːs, ˈdʌɪvəːs – adjective Showing a great deal of variety; very different (Oxford English Dictionary : In the IETF… – Diversity is the involvement of people from different groups and backgrounds – At all levels of the IETF – To get different perspectives – To get all the best technical input Quotas and “affirmative action” – Tools to increase diversity – Can cause unhappiness – Sometimes a risk in a technical group Diversity and Equal Access are not the same – Equal access may enable diversity, but there are no guarantees 6 of 29

7 What is Equal Access? Remove barriers to participation in the IETF – Examine what makes it hard to participate Combat prejudices – Conscious and subconscious Actively encourage wider participation – From under-represented regions – From all sectors of industry – From academia Make a “safer” less hostile environment – Make sure we do not drive away newcomers – Ensure the reputation is good Done right, equal access should enable diversity 7 of 29

8 We don’t care about diversity for the sake of diversity! We want to understand the issues in the Internet – We need to hear from users and operators around the world – Must not forget technical issues are very different in different continents We want the best technical solutions – They must be solutions to real problems – The US vendors do not have a monopoly on good ideas! We want good and constructive discussions – A variety of viewpoints and approaches will help Why Do We Care? 8 of 29

9 What Can We Measure? Measurement of diversity is a tool to assess equality of access – But maybe some people simply don’t want to participate Measurement of diversity is a tool to assess participation – Are we getting the right level of input From stakeholders? From those with skills and knowledge? We can count lots of attributes about IETF participants and draw some conclusions 9 of 29

10 Meeting Location Policy Very many constraints on location – Hotel size – Meeting venue – Convenient transport – Health and safety – Long planning cycle (3 or 4 years ahead) – Sponsors Shared pain of travel – Based on participation levels – But participation levels depend on location! Policy was 3:2:1 (North America : Europe : Asia) Transitioned through 2:2:1 Now closer to 1:1:1 – But this is a running average, not a fixed rule! – As many Canada meetings as USA (partly for visa restriction issues) Last 16 meetings – 7 North America : 6 Europe : 3 Asia Next 7 meetings – 2 North America : 2 Europe : 2 Asia : 1 South America (Honolulu is as close to Asia as it is to North America?) 10 of 29

11 Last 16 and 6 Next Venues 11 of 29

12 Participation by Nationality Different ways to measure participation – Contributions on mailing lists Possible to get rough figures, but hard work Often masked by generic email addresses – Attendance at meetings Very easy to measure Highly dependent on location – Skewed by travel cost – Geopolitical influences as well (e.g., visas) – Posting of Internet-Drafts and publication of RFCs Gives good countable results Naturally lags behind actual participation 12 of 29

13 Meeting Attendance by Region 13 of 29

14 Africa, Oceania, South America, etc. 14 of 29

15 Attendees IETF-87, Berlin, July 2013 IETF-90, Toronto, July 2014 IETF-85, Atlanta, November 2012 IETF-79, Beijing, November 2010

16 Toronto (IETF-90) Attendees Quick scan-by-eye shows – Fewer than 15 {South America, Latin Caribbean} – Fewer than 15 from Africa ISOC fellows make up large proportion of attendees from these countries No clear understanding of correlation to mailing lists – Are meetings poorly represented? – Is South America not contributing or not travelling? 16 of 29

17 All Time Contributors to Documents 17 of 29

18 Annual Contributors to Documents Note the logarithmic scale! 18 of 29

19 Cultural Concerns The IETF culture appears to be American – English language – Confrontational But really the IETF has its own culture… – Focused on technical correctness through reasoned debate – Lots of clever people have trouble communicating! – Rough consensus is radically different Many people from other cultures find it hard – No respect for age or seniority – Anyone can question your ideas – Questions are blunt and to the point – Broken ideas are thrown out without apology – Acknowledgement is only for actual work done (text written) Cultural issues are hard to measure – They are mainly handled through education… – The IETF has no plans to change its culture! 19 of 29

20 Handling Language Issues The IETF’s working language is English – That is tough for non-native speakers I am incredibly impressed by their ability I know how lucky I am – This has been debated several times and the IETF always agrees that having only one working language is a benefit There is a responsibility on native speakers – Use simple and clear language – Speak slowly and clearly – Listen hard and try to understand – Don’t reject ideas because the English is poor – Publish meeting materials in advance Most of these rules apply to non-native speakers as well Provide assistance in document editing – Volunteers to review and assist – RFC Editor tutorials Note that some people from Texas are not native speakers of English 20 of 29

21 Representation of the Sexes in the IETF Recently started asking people to state their sex when registering – Shows roughly 70% male, 10% female, and 20% non-responsive Leadership – IESG has 3/15 women (20%) – IAB has 1/13 women (7.5%) – These figures vary year-to-year Statistical norms from an 10% pool range from 0% to 20% Depends on candidates and other considerations – Leadership is selected by NomCom from pool of volunteers NomCom randomly selected from volunteers – Currently 1/10 which is approximately representative Working Group chairs – Varies by Area – Routing has 4/41 women (10%) Just appointed Alia Atlas as my co-AD which ruined our figures (was 6/41) 21 of 29

22 Where Are The Network Operators? Attendance at the IETF by operators is too low – They are mainly too busy operating networks! – Some come from R&D – A very small number of hands-on operators attend – They look to the vendors to solve their problems We need operators to keep us honest – Vendors love to invent technology Creating a “safe space” for operators – Internet Engineering Providers Group (IEPG) Informal gathering before IETF meetings “The intended theme of these meetings is essentially one of operational relevance “ – Operations and Management Area – Carefully constructed BoFs with operator-only presentations SFC at IETF-88 ACTN at IETF-90 Other ways to encourage operator participation? 22 of 29

23 Where Are The Academics? There is good and valuable participation, but… – RFCs are not counted as peer review papers Why not? – Academics may prefer to bring completed work rather than contribute to the pool – IETF documentation cycle may be too long The IETF has a strong academic history so… – We are looking for ways to engage more – CodeMatch (see later) – Discussions with specific universities about protocol specification review and analysis projects EU projects (FP7) increasingly look for standardisation outcomes – This fits nicely with longer-term research projects Don’t forget the IRTF – But don’t think that rules out participation in the IETF – Bridging the Gap between Internet Standardization and Networking Research 23 of 29

24 Governments, Civil Society, Users The IETF if an engineering community – We work on technical problems Problems are often raised from governments, civil society, and user communities – When this happens, the IETF can look to solve them Attempting to shape the solutions for a non-technical reason – Is a bad idea – Usually fails and attracts bad publicity Participation from these communities is welcome – A good example is PAWS working group Protocol to access White Space database Involvement from several governments All participants are treated as equals 24 of 29

25 What Is the IETF Doing? : Work In Progress Background information for newcomers – Ever more information and training material Translations of the Tao – Recognise Julião Braga Mentoring program – Available for everyone at meetings and on-line – Newcomers’ reception ISOC fellowships Training for working group chairs – Improve work-patterns in meetings and on mailing lists IETF work is mainly by email Internet-Drafts and RFCs freely available Meeting locations Publish meeting materials in advance English language review teams – MPLS working group – Routing Area – Editorial help sessions from RFC Editor Harassment process – IESG statement – Ombudsperson – Formal process and policy draft-farrresnickel-harassment We record statistics on attendance 25 of 29

26 What More Should We Be Doing? Outreach (me, here) – Regional IETF discussion meetings? – Contact points for questions? Increased accessibility to IETF meetings – Preparatory meetings? – Language-specific jabber rooms? – Remote hubs? Increased accessibility to IETF participation – Language-specific mailing lists? – Peer review for pre-contribution support? Your idea here… 26 of 29

27 Why Should You Contribute to the IETF? It is your Internet You can make important and positive contributions We need you! – Development of new applications and use cases – Help to describe problems – New ideas and proposals – Technical review of solutions – Implementation Running code is fundamental Proof of documentation through implementation process Analysis of protocol stability and scalability – Research into new topics Spans IETF and IRTF It is fun and rewarding 27 of 29

28 How Can You Contribute to the IETF? How did I start? – Read the RFCs, internet-Drafts, and mailing lists – Ask technical questions – Make suggestions for text or ideas – Write Internet-Drafts to launch new ideas – Document what you have done in an Internet-Draft – Build alliances with other participants Sign up for a mentor – Research (IRTF) – – Applied Networking Research Prize ( – Global Access to the Internet for All (GAIA) CodeMatch initiative (a new project just starting) – An online matching service where IETF working groups could post needs for code, and where computer science students and researchers could find opportunities to write open source coding projects to improve their resumes. – Can the spec be coded? – Do independent implementations interoperate? – Does the specified function work / scale / cause other problems? – Beneficial feed-back loop to the IETF Specify  Implement  Test  Report  Specify 28 of 29

29 The IETF is a Community Implementation is often by volunteers – The translations of the Tao – The mentor program – Nearly all of the tools used by the IETF – All of the technical work The best ideas come from the community – What are your ideas? – How can the IETF engage more with a wider community? Contact me for more information or with your ideas – I will forward you to the right person – 29 of 29

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