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The View from Seattle

By: Scott Bradner

The 29th meeting of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) was held in Seattle during the week of March 28th through April 1st. The weather outside was beautiful all week, using up, it was said, a significant portion of the annual quota of good days. This column and the next one are highlights from the meeting.

Over 100 working group meetings were held during the week, covering issues from security to statistics and from resource reservation to printer management. With as many as 9 simultaneous sessions no one person could have attended everything. I was not able to get to many of things I would have liked to, but here are some notes about the things I did get to.

As you might expect, there was quite a bit of activity in the IP: next generation area (IPng). Allison Mankin and I gave a report on Monday morning about the status of the deliberations and there were working group meetings all week including an open directorate meeting on Friday. The chairs of the Address Lifetime Expectations (ALE) working group gave 2008 plus or minus 3 years as their latest estimate of the point at which the current TCP/IP address space will be exhausted. This assumes that there are no major shifts in usage paradigms such as an electric utility deciding that it wants to assign network addresses to all major electrical devices in every home in the U.S. and have them globally accessible. This could cause a bit of a run on the available addresses. Anyway, I'm not sure I want you to be able to telnet to my bedroom air conditioner. This should give adequate time to select and deploy an IPng.

A draft of the IPng requirements document is now available and all of you who would like to comment on it are urged to do so. The document is on in the directory pub/ipng/wp for anonymous ftp and gopher access. The file name is criteria.txt. The other files in the same directory are responses from a request for requirements which the area directors issued a while back. The responses are from a wide range of organizations and make quite interesting reading. If you have comments on the draft requirements or the other documents please send them to the big-internet mailing list. Send a message to to subscribe to this list.

One of the things I've lamented about in the past on these pages is a lack of enabling technology to extend the usefulness of the Internet to additional applications, particularly in business. An example of this type of technology is Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). An EDI birds of a feather (BOF) session was held on Wednesday. The aim of this session, and of a working group that will be formed as a result of the BOF, is to define ways to support the exchange of EDI documents using Internet mail.

This session was very productive and work is progressing on a draft standard. One very positive thing about this session was the number of people who attended who were not normal IETF attendees (if 'normal' is a proper term for an IETF attendee anyway). Quite a number of people attended who do most of their work in other standards organizations, ANSI X.12, for example. This is a good development. The more that standards bodies can work together the better we will all be.

Disclaimer: (from C. Katzman) The opinions offered here are MY opinions and do not reflect anything formally from the University. My crystal ball can be affected by humidity.