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Timeliness, Effectiveness, Quality and the IETF Aaron Falk

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Presentation on theme: "Timeliness, Effectiveness, Quality and the IETF Aaron Falk"— Presentation transcript:

1 Timeliness, Effectiveness, Quality and the IETF Aaron Falk

2 The IETF standards process is largely serial… Pre-working group tasks Pre-working group tasks –Write draft –Propose and negotiate BoF –Hold BoF –Negotiate charter Working group tasks Working group tasks –Document production –WG Last Call IESG tasks IESG tasks –AD review –IETF last call –IESG approval RFC Editor tasks RFC Editor tasks –Editing –Authors’ final review –Publish a Standard

3 …and interrupt driven Two apparent interrupt types Two apparent interrupt types –IETF meetings  ID cutoff drives draft publishing  “I’ll do this as soon as I get home…” –IESG telechats  Decisions get made bi-weekly (right?)

4 There is frustration in the community about how slow this process seems.

5 Where are we slowest? WG worker bees occasionally drop offline for months and have a real life WG worker bees occasionally drop offline for months and have a real life Responsible ADs sometimes take months to do initial review Responsible ADs sometimes take months to do initial review Sometimes it takes months for DISCUSS comments to get to WG Sometimes it takes months for DISCUSS comments to get to WG

6 Other bad things that slow us down Mailing list ratholes Mailing list ratholes Creeping featurism Creeping featurism Authors/editors who don’t know how to write Authors/editors who don’t know how to write No/slow/too late feedback from ADs No/slow/too late feedback from ADs Working groups fundamentally unable to reach consensus Working groups fundamentally unable to reach consensus Documents don’t get read (until last call) Documents don’t get read (until last call) Administrative indeterminism Administrative indeterminism

7 How long should standards development take? Need timeliness Need timeliness –Want to be responsive to industry, other standards bodies Need quality Need quality –Architectural quality of Internet standards are the reason our technology has succeeded There is tension here. Balance is needed…

8 If the IETF is too slow, we become less effective.

9 If we sacrifice timeliness… New technologies may go elsewhere New technologies may go elsewhere –People will find other ways to ensure interoperability May lose control of (pieces of) the Internet architecture May lose control of (pieces of) the Internet architecture –Other standards bodies are very interested IETF clue can come too late IETF clue can come too late –IDs can become effective standards Working groups forget what they are doing Working groups forget what they are doing –Start looking for problems to solve

10 If the IETF rushes standards, we may end up with lower quality technology. (Of course, other things can reduce quality.)

11 If we sacrifice quality… Ill-defined charters Ill-defined charters –WGs get into the weeds, distracted by research Too many working groups get chartered Too many working groups get chartered –Dilute valuable resources, poorly monitored, insular Bad idea BoFs and WGs proliferate Bad idea BoFs and WGs proliferate –Solving the wrong, or non-existent, problems Unclear documents are written Unclear documents are written –Reviewers, implementers have to divine authors’ meaning

12 If we sacrifice quality… Missing architecture in protocols Missing architecture in protocols –E.g., Security, Congestion Control, Scaling, Internationalization, Naming, Robustness Inappropriate or missing technology reuse Inappropriate or missing technology reuse –Diverse expertise in IESG helps Insufficient community buy-in Insufficient community buy-in –Many communities converge Un-implementable specs Un-implementable specs –Lack of running code hides problems

13 All these things happen now in the IETF.

14 Looking for fixes… Need to address unnecessary slowness (and perceived slowness) Need to address unnecessary slowness (and perceived slowness) –Increased transparency will help spot root causes Need to remain mindful of risks of expediency Need to remain mindful of risks of expediency –Too fast is probably worse than too slow

15 In closing: RFC 2026 “These procedures intentionally and explicitly do not establish a fixed maximum time period that shall be considered "reasonable" in all cases. The Internet Standards Process places a premium on consensus and efforts to achieve it, and deliberately foregoes deterministically swift execution of procedures in favor of a latitude within which more genuine technical agreements may be reached.” Making wise decisions takes time


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