In about two weeks, it’s time for the Internet Engineering Task Force 102 meeting in Montreal. The IETF is a large community that aims at making the internet better, and the IETF meeting is a prime opportunity to contribute to building the internet of tomorrow. Even more so since several other, related events are also taking place.
We’ve put together an overview of what will happen and how it all contributes to the internet evolution – with some extra advice to newcomers.
The summers of 2018 and 2019 in Montreal will be quite exciting for the internet community. The city will be the venue for two IETF meetings – the IETF 102 July 14-20 2018 and the IETF 105 July 20-26 2019 – followed by an Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) meeting November 2-8 2019.
While IETF meetings are essentially focused on standardization efforts, that is, designing protocols to make the internet work better and to build the internet of tomorrow, they are also considered as an umbrella for technical experts to meet across all their diverse fields, creating opportunities for cross-pollination and exchange of ideas between technical communities.
For developers and the open source community, there is the IETF hackathon as well as the Linux Networking Netdev0x12 before the IETF. For the research community there is great opportunity as the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) organize meetings during the full IETF week. IRTF and IETF sessions are well integrated in the agenda with roughly two days full of exciting topics! And then internet policies are covered right before the IETF with a joint meeting between the Root Server System Advisory Committee (RSSAC) co-chairs and the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), the RSSAC caucus meeting as well as the ICANN DNS Symposium (IDS). You can find more details on the Netdev0x12 and the ICANN meetings below.
The fact that Montreal hosts IETF meetings for two consecutive years also creates additional incentive for the local community to meet startups, universities, research institutes, and developers.
Working out of the Ericsson research facility in Montreal, my colleagues and I are excited to get involved in several ways in these events. In addition to preparing for the technical discussions on our prioritized topics, we have been in close contact with universities to get them on board.
IETF meetings represent a great chance for newcomers to be introduced to the IETF and technical internet community. However, with more than 1,000 participants, IETF meetings are intense and it is easy to get lost, but this should not prevent anyone from joining the community! For a good start, newcomers are strongly encouraged to join the Mentoring programs. Complementary to those programs, we have met multiple universities, initiated the IETF Montreal Hub, and delivered presentations to ease the onboarding.
Another opportunity for first-time participants to actively participate in the IETF is the Hackathon – an activity more recently associated with the IETF. While we worked on engaging universities, the Hackathon raised a lot of interest from students and professors.
The IETF Hackathon
The hackathon takes place the two days prior to the IETF meeting. It has become so successful that many IETFers now consider it as the starting point of the IETF meeting.
The hackathon encourages developers to collaborate and develop utilities, ideas, sample code and solutions that show practical implementations of IETF standards. While hackathons in general are often very competitive events, the IETF Hackathon is friendly and collaborative in its aim to:
- advance the pace and relevance of IETF standards activities by bringing the speed and collaborative spirit of open source development into the IETF
- bring developers and young people into the IETF and get them exposed to and interested in the IETF.
One way to engage in the Hackathon is to join a team on a topic you have experience in or are willing to gain expertise on. This also presents the opportunity for students or researchers to bring their developments to the IETF and engage in discussions with other IETFers. You can easily advertise your work as well as get feedback that directly benefits your projects.
In our case, the Hackathon represents a chance to have our protocols challenged and scrutinized by people more focused on formal verifications.
While there are many technical events going on, I would like to highlight two of them: (1) the Linux open source network community conference Netdev 0x12 – THE Technical Conference on Linux Networking; and (2) the ICANN related meeting. Both these events bring different perspectives to IETF attendees.
Netdev 0x12 is a community-driven conference focused on the Linux networking user and kernel open source software. In the Linux world, network related stuff is anything under net/ and drivers/net. Though this may appear scary and too geeky, Netdev 0x12 represents a great opportunity to meet the people working with Linux networking and to get a sense of the direction the Linux technical community is heading. There are a good number of discussion topics that intersect IETF protocol related activities. Collaboration is broken down into a set of talks, tutorials, workshops and keynotes.
ICANN is also considering a number of opportunities to meet the IETF technical community. First, ICANN is organizing the ICANN DNS symposium (IDS) on the Friday prior to the IETF hackathon. This symposium is expected to include discussions on where the DNS is now and where its future is heading. Such reflections are necessary considering the recent changes in DNS with the introduction of DNSSEC to secure the DNS data and DTLS to address the concern of privacy, as well as DNS over HTTPS/QUIC.
Second, a number of discussions will also take place regarding the Root Server System (RSS). The RSSAC Caucus, which consists of technical experts that lead the technical work provided by RSSAC, will meet on the Sunday prior to the IETF week. In addition, RSSAC recently released RSSAC037 “A Proposed Governance Model for the DNS Root Server System” and RSSAC038 “RSSAC Advisory on a Proposed Governance Model for the DNS Root Server System“, publications which provide RSSAC’s perspective on how the RSS governance meets more rigorous requirements in terms of accountability and transparency. These considerations will be presented by the RSSAC co-chairs to the IAB as one of the main stakeholders of the RSS. Being an IETF liaison appointed by the IAB to RSSAC, I have been involved in the elaboration of these documents, and I can hardly wait to attend this meeting!
Security is a big part of the discussions during the IETF week. Earlier in this blog series, Jari Arkko outlined some of the high-level challenges for Internet security, and an upcoming article will focus on LURK, a security solution for content-delivery networks.
Acknowledgments: The author would like to thank Jamal Hadi Salim, Joel Halpern, Michael Cameron, Makan Pourzandi, Charles Eckel, Yosr Jarraya, Frederic Fieau, Polo Garcia Jesus Alberto Sanjay Mishra, Stere Preda, Amine Boukhtouta, Jari Arkko, and Zaheduzzaman Sarker for their feedback.