Home»Documents»IAB Correspondence, Reports, and Selected Documents»1999»Ad Hoc Group on Numbering
The IAB has posted this comment to ICANN on its proposed Ad Hoc Group on numbering (see http://www.icann.org/adhoc-charter-draft-19oct99.htm ) IAB preliminary comments on proposed Ad Hoc Group ================================================= The Internet Architecture Board has reviewed the proposed terms of reference for ICANN's proposed Ad Hoc Group, with the assistance of the Internet Society's Vice President for Standards, Scott Bradner. Due to the excessively short comment period, we cannot prepare a full analysis, or even reach complete consensus among ourselves, but we are concerned that, despite our assumption of the best of intentions on the part of all involved, these terms of reference can easily be misconstrued in ways that create significant risks for ICANN and the Internet. Attempting to forecast the future evolution of the Internet and determine the implications of that evolution has become a popular, and important, activity. Different groups, working from different perspectives, have reached widely different conclusions. If one examines the history of such work, the main thing most of those sets of conclusions have in common is being wrong: other than consistent rapid growth, the evolution of the network has proven extremely difficult to predict, and our own predictions have been no exceptions in this regard. Nonetheless, we believe that any sincere effort to try to look forward, enumerate scenarios, and identify issues that may need to be addressed is worthwhile. It is not clear to us that it is desirable for ICANN to expand its charter to include such work, but the work itself is clearly worthwhile. We are concerned that the scope statement can be read sufficiently broadly to invite the ad hoc group to propose particular types of technical solutions to the problems they see and then, given the prestige of some of the companies and organizations represented, try to force ICANN, or Internet-related standards development organizations, to adopt them. The Internet has survived and expanded despite the unpredictability of its evolutionary path by adherence to a few basic principles including: * Avoiding optimizing the basic architecture to the needs of any particular group of applications, no matter how important they may be at a particular moment, or to the projected needs of a set of applications whose proponents believe will dominate the network in a year or two. * Development of all basic protocols --including the inexorably-intertwined basic address structures, routing architectures, and routing policies-- in an extremely open environment in which any technically-able individual can contribute and participate. The IETF has historically been the most effective provider of environments of the type needed but, in principle, need not be the only one. However, closed committees with appointed or externally-selected memberships are quite different from the history of successful Internet protocol work; the output of such committees has tended to not survive either operationally or in the marketplace. Stated differently, the experience with the network is that appointed committees, not matter how representative of a list of enumerated groups and constituencies, do not produce adequate protocols or even protocol requirements. The draft scope statement, as well as some of the discussions reported to us from the Santiago meeting, imply that some of the proposed participants in the ad hoc effort are unaware that most of the issues in the statement have been addressed before. Indeed, all of the topics listed under Phase 2 are current active areas of work in the IETF. The IAB brought together a diverse group of experts for a multi-day workshop in Utrecht in July to jump start the process of understanding some of these issues: A report from that workshop is circulating in draft now and should be published within the next few months. (http://www.ietf.org/internet-drafts/draft-ietf-iab-ntwlyrws-over-01.txt) The IETF also has active liaisons with other concerned standards bodies such as the ITU-T, the W3C, and the ATM Forum. We are unconvinced that yet another body, especially an ad hoc one, looking into these matters can lead to anything more positive than confusion. It is even unclear to us how we could identify IETF representatives to such a group. Its scope as currently defined is broad enough to involve multiple IETF Areas, with hundreds or thousands of participants. No one person, or even three or four people, has all of the perspectives and expertise such a group should have available. As suggested above, having another group forecast the future, critically examine their own view of it, and suggest the special issues that should be addressed if their vision comes to pass could be helpful if it adds to the range of perspectives available. With suitably adjusted terms of reference in place, the output of the Ad Hoc group could thus be forwarded to the approprate groups working on Internet standards. We do want to note that the process of developing such a list of special issues is an activity clearly different from generating and ratifying technical solutions to the problems that are identified or even from balancing the concerns of one group against those of another. It is the IAB's view that parties who wish to contribute to the very active technical debate on these topics should do so by participating in the work of relevant IETF Areas and Working Groups. Their participation has always been welcome and will continue to be welcomed in the future.