Establishment of Temporary Sub-IP Area

NOTE: This statement formed the Sub-IP Area, and this Area has subsequently been closed.

Date: 21 Mar 2001

There has been some concern over the scope of the IETF sub-IP effort. This is an attempt to help clarify the view of the IESG on a number of issues.

RFC 2026 defines the Internet as:

"a loosely-organized international collaboration of autonomous, interconnected networks, supports host-to-host communication through voluntary adherence to open protocols and procedures defined by Internet Standards. There are also many isolated interconnected networks, which are not connected to the global Internet but use the Internet Standards."

RFC 2026 also says that the Internet Standards processes (the IETF)

"is concerned with all protocols, procedures, and conventions that are used in or by the Internet, whether or not they are part of the TCP/IP protocol suite."

The IETF sub-IP effort will conform to these descriptions and deal with the measurement and control of sub-IP technologies with the aim of supporting their use in the Internet or private IP networks. Extensions to this effort to support other purposes are out of scope unless they require no additional compromise or significant effort. The sub-IP directorate, consisting of the Area Directors for the Operations and Management, Internet, Routing and Transport Areas, the chairs of the sub-IP working groups and other individuals that the directorate feel would be helpful, will be maintained for the duration of the sub-IP area. This body, like other directorates, is a set of advisors to the area directors. The ADs will also seek advice from other members of the IESG, especially those tasked as technical advisors to specific working groups. These advisors will participate in decisions made concerning the area.

By their nature the working groups in the new area have some overlaps in what they are working on, which was a major reason to form the area in the first place. We attempted to clarify the individual working group charters as much as we could and to allocate tasks to the working groups in a way that seemed best. Some reallocation of tasks may happen as the work progresses.

The IESG has decided to incorporate the sub-IP working groups, which are currently chartered in the General Area, into a temporary area. It is temporary because the IESG believes that this concentrated sub-IP effort will likely be of short duration, on the order of a year or two. We feel that much of the work will be done by then, and the working groups closed. Any working groups that have not finished when the IESG determines that the area should be closed will be moved into existing the IETF areas where they seem to have the best fit. Because of the short duration, we have not asked the nominating committee to select additional area directors; instead two current Area Directors have been asked to temporally manage the sub-IP area in addition to their current area. The area directors will be Scott Bradner and Bert Wijnen. With that change, and perhaps some jiggling of IESG Technical Advisers, the current working group charters remain unchanged.

The IESG expects to review the development process and charters, however; if we conclude that this expectation is incorrect, we will need to make this area more formal. At that point, the nominating committee will be asked to supply dedicated area directors.

Part of that discussion will have to be the meta-question of exactly what the boundaries of the IETF's role are. Clearly, the Internet Engineering Task Force is interested in the Engineering of the Internet, which we define as including any network, private or public, metropolitan, local, or global, which content embedded in an IP packet crosses between two domains. It includes a discussion of any link or intra-network technology IP uses, as in the past it has included discussions of Ethernet and extended Ethernets, occasional and continuous serial links, X.25 networks, Frame Relay, and ATM. But it does not necessarily include all aspects of those technologies, or all of their users. Clearly, we need to be prepared to step in when nobody else is doing a bit of work that the Internet depends on. Equally clearly, we do not presume expertise in every area, and are willing to capitalize on work done by other bodies such as ITU-T and IEEE. This dividing line is fuzzy and needs clarification.

The arguments that bring us to accept sub-IP work in the IETF are principally that

  • The work depends on IP expertise, which is here,
  • That it is critical to the development of the IP infrastructure, and
  • That it directly or indirectly affects operations or routing at the IP layer.

For example, optical networking is clearly a next generation requirement for service providers and for fiber consortia. However, the obvious next hop router in a general network may differ from the obvious next hop router in an optical network. Therefore, the use of optical networking may change the results that we need to get from routing protocols. It would be better for us to determine how the routing protocols should model those networks than for another body to arbitrarily change them or substitute others.

That is our plan. Specific questions may be sent to the area directors (Scott and Bert), or to the IESG.