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IETF 107 Highlights

  • Alissa Cooper
  • IETF Chair
  • 3 Apr 2020

Last week the IETF held its first-ever all-virtual meeting in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

IETF 107 Virtual

On March 10, 2020, the Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG) and the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) Chair announced the cancellation of the in-person IETF 107 Vancouver meeting based on input gathered from Working Group (WG) and Research Group (RG) chairs. To accommodate a meeting that was more convenient across more timezones, a compact schedule developed by the IESG prioritized Birds-of-a-Feather (BOF) sessions, WGs meeting for the first time, and dispatch-style working groups. 

Given the short amount of time to plan, the meeting week was successful overall. The Webex web conferences for the sessions were stable enough to host productive discussion and advance the work of the groups on the schedule. The IETF demonstrated its community spirit, with participants offering advice and guidance to others who were having difficulty connecting or finding the meeting materials they needed. 

We gathered data from the etherpad blue sheets and Webex rosters and cross-checked it with the IETF 107 attendee list to yield estimates about how many people participated in the virtual meeting. We estimate that 701 unique individuals participated in virtual sessions throughout the week. Participants hailed from at least 39 countries. Between 82 and 235 people participated in each of the working sessions and 282 people joined for the plenary. Under the circumstances, this was an impressive turnout! Several of the sessions likely saw higher participation than they would have had at a regularly scheduled in-person meeting.

Given the selection of groups on the agenda, several of the discussions were heavily focused on how new technologies and protocols will take advantage of the long-awaited standardization of QUIC and HTTP/3. The WebTransport (WEBTRANS) WG, Multiplexed Application Substrate over QUIC Encryption (MASQUE) BOF, and Realtime Internet Peering for Telephony (RIPT) BOF clearly have some overlap in terms of interests and requirements, and determining the best ways to leverage QUIC to support tunneling, bi-directional data streams for web applications, and real-time communications will be fodder for significant further discussion. Both BOFs saw commitments from participants to make further contributions; discussions about how to tighten the respective charter scopes are ongoing on both groups’ mailing lists.

The Security Area hosted the other two BOFs of the week: Transactional Authorization and Delegation (TXAUTH), where a bit more refinement is taking place on the group’s charter that specifies the standardization of a fine-grained delegation protocol for authorization, identity, and API access; and Privacy Pass (PRIVACYPASS), where participants showed much enthusiasm for standardizing a privacy-preserving attestation mechanism once the scope of the effort is better defined. The remaining new WGs that met last week—Adaptive DNS Discovery (ADD), Drone Remote ID Protocol (DRIP), Reliable and Available Wireless (RAW), and Web Packaging (WPACK)—had typical first meetings, with initial Internet-Drafts presented and lots of clarifying questions and discussion to help participants develop a shared understanding of their respective problem spaces.

Recordings from the meeting sessions are available via the IETF website and on the IETF YouTube channel

Many more WGs and RGs that were not on the agenda last week will be meeting in the coming weeks to advance their work. The schedule of upcoming virtual interim meetings and a downloadable calendar are available in the IETF Datatracker. We plan to solicit feedback about the virtual interim meeting experience in the near future but in the meantime feedback by email is welcome at [email protected].

Although the in-person IETF 107 meeting was cancelled, our original Meeting Host Huawei graciously offered to serve as Host for the virtual meeting, for which we are deeply appreciative. We also owe huge thanks to our Connectivity Sponsor Telus, who expended tremendous efforts to increase the capacity of our meeting network prior to the cancellation of the in-person meeting, as well as the IETF NOC team for their efforts.

The IESG and the IETF LLC are working together to plan for future meetings in light of the ongoing pandemic. Stay tuned for further communications and solicitations of community input in the coming weeks, and stay safe!