Re: IETF areas re-organisation steps

Alissa Cooper <alissa@cooperw.in> Mon, 12 January 2015 23:50 UTC

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Subject: Re: IETF areas re-organisation steps
From: Alissa Cooper <alissa@cooperw.in>
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Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2015 15:50:24 -0800
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To: Robert Sparks <rjsparks@nostrum.com>
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Robert,

I’d like to share a few thoughts on the proposal to merge the upper layer areas and then respond to your note below.

From my perspective, there are three issues that the merger helps to resolve:

1) Declining amount of work in the current APP area
2) Increasing amount of web-related work in the RAI area
3) Ongoing difficulty in finding multiple willing candidates to serve as TSV AD for the last 5 years at least

To my mind fixing that third item in particular should be a key goal of the re-org, and is the reason why leaving the areas largely as they are now, or just merging APP and RAI without changing anything about TSV, is not a good enough solution.

Furthermore, I think folks might be reading more into the three-merged-areas proposal than is really there. The main benefits I see from an organizational standpoint are threefold. First, in any given year we can ask the nomcom to help us fill in the expertise gaps that exist on the IESG without being stuck into rigid RAI/APP/TSV buckets. IMO, across those three areas there are certain areas of expertise that absolutely must be represented on the IESG (or where at least one AD has enough clue to appropriately leverage a directorate), e.g., congestion control, internationalization, web protocols, and job descriptions could be tailored to make sure those areas were always represented while being more flexible about what other expertise to seek out or accept.

Second, the ADs in the merged area can share WG responsibilities according to their areas of expertise (just like the out-of-area AD proposal, except confined to the three areas). There are plenty of groups in all three areas that could be just as capably shepherded by any of the other five currently seated ADs — why create artificial barriers to that? And it’s not obvious to me that this will require much more inter-AD conference calls or coordination as has been suggested elsewhere on the thread. Granted I’ve only been serving for less than a year, but as far as I can tell excessive inter-AD coordination is only necessary when some crisis arises, not on any sort of regular basis.

Finally, the AD job can possibly obtain more appeal as something employers want to support because the job has a slightly more general purview. An AD mostly focused on transport might be able to pick up a web-focused group or two, making the time commitment easier to justify and more appealing to an employer.

All of these benefits concern the role of the AD vis a vis the area, not the other aspects of “areaness” (scheduling, directorates, DISPATCH/TSVWG/APPSAWG, etc.). That’s why I don’t think these other aspects need to fundamentally change.

More below.

On Jan 6, 2015, at 1:15 PM, Robert Sparks <rjsparks@nostrum.com> wrote:

> I'd like to focus for a moment on another part of Jari's original message.
> 
> On 12/25/14 1:16 PM, Jari Arkko wrote:
>> Dear Community:
>> 
>> In October, we let you know that we would be coming up with some proposals
> <trim/>
>> 
>> 
>> III.  MERGING OF UPPER LAYER PROTOCOL AREAS
>> 
> <trim/>
>> DISPATCH, TSVWG, and APPSAWG
>> would continue to function much as they currently do.
>> 
>> 
> I see this as problematic.
> 
> RAI is currently operating following RFC 5727, where dispatch is defined. It is a consensus document describing how the area decided to behave. It does not seem right to say _parts_ of the new combined area will follow that consensus. How are you planning to avoid "well, that's the APPs part of <newareaname> and we do things like this over there”?

Will it really be so much harder to avoid than it already is? We haven’t merged the areas yet, and yet we just went through this exact debate with webpush. DISPATCH is the mechanism we use for dispatching real-time application work — I don’t see the need to change that. There is fuzziness at the edges now, and there will be with a merged area too. Nothing we do organizationally will rid us of the fuzziness.  

> If you're not planning to avoid that, then it's not really clear what problem the organization is really going to solve - the resulting ADs will have to behave the same regardless of their label.
> 
> The arguments in the past about whether a group belonged in transport or RAI, while occasionally silly, were _usually_ helpful in clarifying the problem that the proposed group was starting to circle around. Some of the comments from active TSV members have touched on aspects of this already. As proposed, we will lose that tension, and I think we'll end up with muddier charters as a result. (There are other ways to preserve that tension, of course, but we would need to explicitly put them in place).

I have not personally found the “which area will this group live in?” discussions to be useful. And honestly there are lots of existing groups where the rationale for having them in their current areas is just as weak/strong as the rationale for having them in other areas. We’ll end up with muddier charters if the people involved in the chartering let them become muddy, not if they have different area labels on them. 

> 
> If the thought of developing something like dispatch-related parts of RFC 5727 to describe how a new combined area (whatever its ingredients) plans to operate seems onerous, or too heavyweight, I'd take it as a warning that we're headed for something unpleasant, or that has no real effect on organization, improving the efficiency of making standards, making recruiting ADs easier, or reducing AD load.

It’s not that it’s too onerous or heavyweight, it’s that it’s unnecessary. DISPATCH works well now. The three items I listed above are not working well now, or could be improved. The merger proposal tries to fix the things that are broken and leave the things that are working in their current state.

Alissa

> 
> Rather than that, I hope we could fairly quickly come up with a good description of how such a combined area would behave, and I hope that's not "just like the pieces do now".
> 
> RjS
> 
> 
> 
> 
>