Re: "why I quit writing internet standards"

Andy Bierman <andy@yumaworks.com> Mon, 14 April 2014 16:56 UTC

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Date: Mon, 14 Apr 2014 09:56:16 -0700
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Subject: Re: "why I quit writing internet standards"
From: Andy Bierman <andy@yumaworks.com>
To: Alia Atlas <akatlas@gmail.com>
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On Mon, Apr 14, 2014 at 9:07 AM, Alia Atlas <akatlas@gmail.com> wrote:

> On Mon, Apr 14, 2014 at 11:57 AM, David Meyer <dmm@1-4-5.net> wrote:
> > On Mon, Apr 14, 2014 at 8:08 AM, George, Wes <wesley.george@twcable.com>
> wrote:
> >> I'm surprised that no one has sent this out yet:
> >> http://gigaom.com/2014/04/12/why-i-quit-writing-internet-standards/
> >>
> >> "Summary: After contributing to standards organizations for more than
> seven
> >> years, engineer Vidya Narayanan decided it was time to move on.
> Although she
> >> still believes that these organizations make the Internet a better
> place,
> >> she wonders about the pace of change versus the pace of organizations."
> >>
> >> My thoughts-
> >>
> >> There are some nuggets of truth in what she says in this article, and in
> >> some of the comments. I think that the problems are real, so there's
> value
> >> in taking the criticism constructively, despite the fact that the author
> >> chose to focus on the problems without any suggestions of solutions.
> >>
> >> "while the pace at which standards are written hasn't changed in many
> years,
> >> the pace at which the real world adopts software has become orders of
> >> magnitude faster."
> >> ...
> >> "Running code and rough consensus, the motto of the IETF, used to be
> >> realizable at some point. ... In the name of consensus, we debate
> frivolous
> >> details forever. In the name of patents, we never finish."
> >> ...
> >> "Unless these standards organizations make radical shifts towards
> >> practicality, their relevance will soon be questionable."
> >>
> >> I don't have too many big ideas how to fix these problems, but I'll at
> least
> >> take a crack at it in order to spur discussion. My paraphrase of the
> problem
> >> and some discussion follows.
> >>
> >> - We've lost sight of consensus and are too often derailed by a vocal
> >> minority of those willing to endlessly debate a point.
> >>
> >> Part of the solution to that is reiterating what consensus is and is
> not,
> >> such as draft-resnick-on-consensus so that we don't confuse a need for
> >> consensus with a need for unanimity. Part of the solution is IETF
> leadership
> >> helping to identify when we have rough consensus encumbered by a debate
> that
> >> will never resolve itself, without quieting actual disagreement that
> needs
> >> continued discussion in order to find a compromise. I don't have good
> >> suggestions on how to make that second half better.
> >>
> >> - We don't have nearly enough focus on running code as the thing that
> helps
> >> to ensure that we're using our limited cycles on getting the right
> things
> >> out expediently, and either getting the design right the first time, or
> >> failing quickly and iterating to improve
> >>
> >> The solution here may be that we need to be much more aggressive at
> >> expecting any standards track documents to have running code much
> earlier in
> >> the process. The other part of that is to renew our focus on actual
> interop
> >> standards work, probably by charter or in-group feedback, shift focus
> away
> >> from BCP and info documents. Perhaps when considering whether to proceed
> >> with a given document, we need test as to whether it's actively
> >> helpful/needed and ensure that we know what audience would be looking
> at it,
> >> rather than simply ensuring that it is "not harmful" and mostly within
> the
> >> WG's chartered focus.
> >
> > My friend @colin_dixon pointed this out to me yesterday, and I've been
> > giving it quite a bit of thought since then (I have a nascent blog on
> > the topic of how open source and standards orgs might
> > productively/efficiently work together; follow up to
> >
> http://www.sdncentral.com/education/david-meyer-reflections-opendaylight-open-source-project-brocade/2014/03
> ).
> >
> > What I can say is that after seeing the kind of progress that several
> > open source communities make (they do epitomize the best of the IETF's
> > running code/rough consensus ethic), one does have to wonder if
> > traditional standards making is either obsolete or in dire need of a
> > make over. What is needed, IMO, is a reimagining of how the standards
> > process interacts with the open source movement specifically focused
> > on how they can compliment one another.
>
> [Alia] It would be very useful to have a functional model for how the
> two can compliment each other.  We also tend to talk about open-source
> as a single monolith - when it can have very different models for
> accepting in changes, how and who runs the community, who is really
> participating (open source doesn't mean non-corporate) etc.   Some of
> what the IETF does is the architecture and requirements thinking about
> how the solution should fit in - while some of the open-source is
> about getting a solution implemented ASAP.   IMHO, a spiral is useful
> with an easy way of interaction.  With I2RS, as a WG chair, I
> suggested having experimental drafts describing solutions that were
> being implemented - but haven't seen any.   A question is what is
> needed to encourage the interactions.
>
>

+1

I was going to mention OpenDaylight as a cooperation model.
I think their goal is to provide implementation feedback to
the I2RS, NETMOD, and other WGs.

The corporate acceptance of open-source software is the key trend.
I would not characterize any of these well-funded projects as
quick-and-dirty, or "solution implemented ASAP" (any more than
every commercial project I've worked on in my career. :-)


[Alia] Diversity of implementation is important as is stability of a
> standard and it being understood how to change/upgrade for different
> versions.  These don't come automatically via open-source.
>
>
Right.  Vendors have to decide to contribute engineering hours to a project,
similar to the decision to let engineers contribute to SDOs.

Open-source software can move the "standards boundary"
and achieve multi-vendor support at the north-bound API only.
For example, a vendor can provide a proprietary Python plug-in
(e.g. OpenStack Neutron) for an open-source platform, without
standardizing the south-bound protocols.

Regards,
> Alia
>
>
Andy