Re: [arch-d] On the (f)utility of prescriptive architecture

Marie-Jose Montpetit <> Sun, 22 March 2020 13:14 UTC

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From: Marie-Jose Montpetit <>
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Date: Sun, 22 Mar 2020 09:14:50 -0400
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To: "Brian Trammell (IETF)" <>, Stewart Bryant <>
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Subject: Re: [arch-d] On the (f)utility of prescriptive architecture
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Stewart: I think you that you are a bit unfair about the IETF not being as
worthy of 3GPP or IEEE but I will not launch a polemic on this. But I will
suggest you may want to be looking at what is happening in the IRTF wrt
looking at Internet evolution. I actually smiled at your "We work on the
basis that the data plane we designed many years ago is unchangeable” as we
are looking at programming that data plane in the COINRG group not changing
a few bits in the header.

mjm (with my coinrg co-chair hat)

Marie-José Montpetit, Ph.D.

On March 22, 2020 at 5:20:47 AM, Stewart Bryant (

> On 21 Mar 2020, at 15:21, Brian Trammell (IETF) <> wrote:
> Hi Stewart, all,
> I’ll leave the question of the appropriateness or this side meeting
announcement to the side, but I did want to respond to the notion that the
IAB should have some top-down master plan for the Internet, and that the
lack of such is evidence that the IAB is not properly tracking changes in
the Internet itself.
> Architectural guidance from the IAB has admittedly been somewhat meta:
5218, 6709, and 8170 on how protocols themselves emerge and evolve in a
multi-protocol, multi-implementor, multi-operator environment; 6973, 7754,
and 7624 on privacy, access control, and confidentiality concerns of
protocols up the stack; 8546 and 8558 on the implications additional
confidentiality on the wire has on transport design and operations, and so
on. Each of these efforts has been in parallel to related efforts in the
IETF (I would argue that the design and deployment of QUIC, for instance,
is influenced, in some cases deeply, by all of the cited RFCs).

Maybe I have missed it, but I have not seen any IAB work with the community
on the de facto fundamental restructuring of the Internet into a series of
walled gardens with best effort global traffic on a path to become a
minority interest.

For those that have not noticed it, I recommend reading Geoff Hustons work
on the death of transit. This points to a huge elephant that is sitting on
the middle of the room that we completely ignore.

Even if the IAB is not able to directly design the architecture of the
Internet, it ought to at least be the body that reminds us all what it
actually is, and provides some insight into both the opportunities and the

>From my perspective, and it is one that we articulate in our draft, the
change is very much an opportunity in that it returns the Internet into an
Inter-net and provides mechanisms that allow us to divide and conquer the
intractable technical, operational and economic problem of advancing the
capability of a global scale network.

> True, there is no overarching prescriptive “architecture for the
Internet”, because IMO developing such a thing would be a colossal waste of
time. In the absence of a lever with which to impose architectural will, in
the best case the broad and diverse community that builds and runs the
Internet would look at such a thing, maybe read the abstract, say “yeah
that’s nice” then go back to the business of keeping things running. What
is more useful is descriptive architecture in the small: looking at the way
things are and drawing insights toward evolutionary change; the RFCs cited
above are all examples of this sort of thing.

Those RFCs largely concern things that run over the Internet data paths,
not the way the we might align those paths with future needs.

There is no Internet equivalent of what 3GPP does, and continues to do for
wireless networks. Nor the continuous evolution process that the IEEE has
with Ethernet. We work on the basis that the data plane we designed many
years ago is unchangeable except in maters of relatively minor detail such
as changing the length of an IP address.

> Most of the problems the long history of IP replacements (including the
ones I’ve worked on, and continue to work on) over the years have
identified aren’t really technical, or at least are not technical in
tractably addressable ways (the speed of light and the fact that all
operations one can do in a network have strictly nonnegative latency are
problems as old and hard as the non existence of perpetual motion
machines). Rather, they are issues of inter organizational relationships
and business models: rethinking inter domain routing or end to end QoS
require an alignment of incentives that seldom emerges organically in a
multi operator network.

The point we make in the draft, and is one we need to develop in future
versions, is that there is an evolution in the Internet architecture that
make it feasible to implement change in a way that has hitherto not been
possible. Furthermore there is an opportunity for an economic model that
supports such change.

> If you’d like the IAB to address these authoritatively, you can talk to
your friendly local NomCom about appointing some economists, but it’s not
clear to me that that’s the best business for the IAB to be in.

I had not thought of economists per se, but now you mention it that might
be a good idea,

We, the IETF do need to understand the economic and, for that matter,
governmental (taken from the perspective of a global exert rather than a
particular government) impacts of our technical decisions and it would make
sense for them to be part of the long term oversight role the IAB is
chartered to take.

- Stewart

> Cheers, Brian
> Sent from my iPhone
>> On 21 Mar 2020, at 12:11, Stewart Bryant <>
>> ...and also when the IAB fails to drive the changes needed in the
Internet to support the evolving applications requirements or to properly
track the changes in the Internet itself.
>> I did kind of think that the IAB would have had a 10 to 20 year
evolution plan front and centre of its thinking, but I have never seen any
evidence that it regards that to be one of its core responsibilities.
>> I also thought that the IAB ought to be an enabler of this thought
process by encouraging input form others, but rather than that it seems to
be a tightly closed community.
>> ... just saying.
>> - Stewart
>>> On 20 Mar 2020, at 23:15, Tony Li <> wrote:
>>> And I hate to see the IAB stomp on discussions.
>>> T
>>>>> On Mar 20, 2020, at 4:09 PM, Melinda Shore <> wrote:
>>>> On 3/20/20 3:03 PM, Stephen Farrell wrote:
>>>>> AFAIK this is basically an initiative driven by one or
>>>>> a small set of vendors. It is not an IAB activity and
>>>>> this list is. ISTM somewhat cheeky to cast this as if
>>>>> it were sort-of "official" by sending ICS invites to
>>>>> this list and suggesting this list be used for follow
>>>>> ups. I'm saying that as an individual and have not
>>>>> asked other IAB folks what they think, but again
>>>>> speaking personally, I'd be much happier if people
>>>>> and organisations had a bit more style.
>>>> That was close to my reaction, as well.
>>>> Melinda
>>>> --
>>>> Melinda Shore
>>>> Software longa, hardware brevis
>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>> Architecture-discuss mailing list
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> Architecture-discuss mailing list
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>> Architecture-discuss mailing list

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