[clouds] Cloud-APPS BoF request and list status

Peter Saint-Andre <stpeter@stpeter.im> Wed, 02 February 2011 16:29 UTC

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Date: Wed, 02 Feb 2011 09:32:17 -0700
From: Peter Saint-Andre <stpeter@stpeter.im>
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Subject: [clouds] Cloud-APPS BoF request and list status
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Folks, during yesterday's BoF Coordination Call, the joint IAB and IESG
decided to reject the request for a "Cloud-APPS" Birds of a Feather
(BoF) session at IETF 80 in Prague.

In essence, numerous IAB and IESG members expressed concerns about the
lack of a clearly defined engineering problem that would be appropriate
for solving within the limited scope of an IETF working group.

Furthermore, many IAB and IESG members also are not confident that the
lack of a clearly defined engineering problem can be overcome on this
list, given (a) the unfocused nature of the discussions here and (b) the
overly broad topic (anything to do with "clouds").

Therefore, as one of the Area Directors for the Applications Area (under
which the clouds@ietf.org list is slotted), I shall ask the IETF
Secretariat to close this list.

I (or other IESG/IAB members) might be open to starting a new list in
the future devoted to a specific engineering topic (e.g., a virtual
desktop protocol). However, before starting such a list I for one would
need to see that the proponents of such work have learned some of the
lessons that knowledgeable people with IETF experience have been trying
to impart to folks on this list over the last year, including:

1. Focus on a problem statement and proposed charter, not on early
solution work or wide-ranging surveys.

2. Focus on protocols, not on services, frameworks, or architectures.

3. Focus on what protocols you can reuse, what protocols you need to
extend, and what protocols you might need to invent from scratch.

4. Focus on engineering in a 12- to 18-month time horizon.

5. Focus on a modular approach, identifying modules that (mostly) fit
into one IETF area.

When working groups get formed at the IETF, it's usually because the
proponents have been focused in the ways just described. As mentioned,
one of the primary concerns about the clouds list has been the unfocused
nature of the discussions.

Although some IAB and IESG members appear to agree that cloud computing
presents an interesting and important deployment scenario, IETF people
are engineers and tend to focus on engineering problems. It's not enough
to say "we need to do this work because it's cloud-related"; it's better
to say "here is an interesting and important engineering problem that
just happens to arise in cloud computing deployment scenarios". Once
you've gotten that far, you really need to demonstrate the following (to
quote RFC 5434):

   - there is a problem that needs solving, and the IETF is the right
     group to attempt solving it.

   - there is a critical mass of participants willing to work on the
     problem (e.g., write drafts, review drafts, etc.).

   - the scope of the problem is well defined and understood, that
     is, people generally understand what the WG will work on (and
     what it won't) and what its actual deliverables will be.

   - there is agreement that the specific deliverables (i.e.,
     proposed documents) are the right set.

   - it is believed that the WG has a reasonable probability of
     having success (i.e., in completing the deliverables in its
     charter in a timely fashion).

That is a relatively simple checklist, but over the past year there has
been very little progress toward completing those tasks. Rather than
leave this list open indefinitely, it seems more appropriate to close
the list and encourage folks who are interested in engineering problems
that happen to arise in cloud computing deployment scenarios to (a) do
some hard thinking, (b) continue to write Internet-Drafts if they so
desire, and (c) perhaps work to propose a very tightly defined working
group at some point in the future. Continuing to flail about is not
productive for the proponents, for people who are currently serving in
IETF leadership roles (IESG and IAB members), or for IETF participants
as a whole.

If you have any questions regarding rejection of the BoF request or
closing of this list, please let me know.

Peter Saint-Andre, as co-AD of the Applications Area