drc at virtualized.org
Thu Feb 19 07:27:16 UTC 2009
On Feb 18, 2009, at 11:13 AM, Tony Hain wrote:
> The bottom line is, if you want something to be defined in a way
> that works for you, you have to participate in the definition.
Well, yes. But there is an impedance mismatch here.
The IETF still seems to operate under the assumption that the folks
who run the networks are the same folks who implement the code the
network runs on top of. I figure this (mostly) stopped being the case
(at least for the "production Internet") sometime in the mid-90s.
Today, network operators and end users are the folks who are
specifying requirements. Folks who go to IETFs are the ones who are
trying to figure out the protocols to meet those requirements, or at
least what they believe those requirements to be. Unfortunately,
that's not what we have. We have network operators in their own
little world, trying to keep the network running and protocol
developers in their own little world, trying to come up with cool
features that will make their protocols relevant, based on their own
beliefs as to what is important or not. These two camps seem to
As such, it isn't particularly surprising when IETF protocol
developers tell network operators who go to the IETF they aren't
relevant. In the specific definition of protocol bits on the wire,
network operators actually aren't that relevant. Network operators
care about the functionality and multi-vendor interoperability,
whether it is bit 8 in the second octet or bit 4 in the third octet
that results in that functionality isn't a big concern (as long as
everyone agrees). The network operators tell the vendors what sort of
functionality they need, and the vendors go to the IETF to push their
particular approach to address those requirements (or block another
vendor's approach). This may be where Randy Bush derives his "IVTF"
The problem is, since around the mid-90s, it seems we've taken it too
far. The fact that the IETF has demonstrably ignored network operator
input in stuff like DHCP or routing scalability means the IETF has
developed protocols that don't meet network operator requirements.
And because network operators can't be bothered to learn and argue the
bit patterns, their ability to provide input into protocol definition
is reduced to yelling from the sidelines or communicating via proxies
with their own agendas.
Yes, there have been attempts to bridge the two camps, but I suspect
the only way to really address this is a fundamental shift in the way
the IETF does business, taking into account the fact that network
operators and end users, by and large, are not the implementors of
protocols and don't actually care how they are implemented, but rather
the folks who define what the protocols need to do. I'll admit some
skepticism that such a change is actually feasible.
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