Internet Architecture Board


Update from I* Meeting

On 30 April and 1 May 2015, Ted Hardie and I participated in a meeting of several Internet organizations. Jari Arkko and Barry Leiba brought an IETF perspective to the meeting; other participants came from ISOC, the various RIRs, the W3C, several ccTLDs, and ICANN. All these involved organizations share an abiding, firm commitment to the open Internet.

The IAB has, as part of its responsibilities, the job of providing a useful interface to the world outside the IETF. I think sometimes we don’t do as good a job as we might at linking up with others in the technical community, and this meeting was my first opportunity as IAB Chair to work on that job.

This is a recurring meeting that operates at a pretty high level; it’s mostly chairs and CEOs, who are looking at broad issues, rather than detailed work. The meetings are not for making decisions or taking action as a standalone group, but to help coordinate a set of groups interested in cooperating with each other. But the discussion is extremely frank and direct, and the meetings help make sure the different organizations don’t surprise each other.

In a couple of sessions we talked about the IANA transition, and how far along the Internet community is. There’s been an enormous amount of work towards that from many of the organizations who attended the meeting. We all know about the good shape the IETF’s proposal on IANA transition is. We were happy to hear about the completion of the number resource community’s work, and to get a better sense of the efforts of the names community as well, since it has recently submitted its proposal.

The overall progress reflects the fundamental strength of our various community- and consensus-based processes. This network of different processes shows off the great strength of the Internet. We’ve evolved slightly different special-purpose ways of working appropriate to each community, but all using the same basic approach of listening to our communities and trusting them to get work done. That is what makes this community-based process so much more robust than tightly controlled policy systems. The Internet’s operational stability depends on that mature, distributed model, because the approach we have is at once vital enough yet stable enough to grow to face new challenges in the future.

The group did not talk only about IANA transition. From our own corner, we explored some of the consequences of the “IAB Statement on Internet Confidentiality” for the Internet operations community. That led us to discuss some of the things we’ve been hearing from mobile operators. We also started to ask one another about the consequences of increasingly closed services being built on top of the open infrastructure.

The IAB has raised this issue in its own discussions, and it cuts across some of our programs. Both in that context and more generally, Ted and I also reported to the others about IAB programs: what they are, how they work, and what we’re trying to achieve with them. We learned about various initiatives in other communities, allowing us to keep the IAB up to date on what else is going on in other organizations. We similarly collaborated in thinking about communication goals for upcoming inter-governmental activities.

Jari had more to say about the meeting, but I wanted to give my own view of it to the community. I think it is good for the organizations who support the open Internet to share insights from time to time. While we certainly aren’t trying to fully align our organizations, the extent to which we are singing from the same song book is heartening; while we’re not aiming for unison, the apparent harmony is pretty sweet.

– Andrew Sullivan, IAB Chair

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