Re: [sidr] WGLC for draft-ietf-sidr-algorithm-agility-03

Eric Osterweil <eosterweil@verisign.com> Mon, 07 November 2011 22:45 UTC

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From: Eric Osterweil <eosterweil@verisign.com>
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To: Stephen Kent <kent@bbn.com>
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Subject: Re: [sidr] WGLC for draft-ietf-sidr-algorithm-agility-03
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On Nov 7, 2011, at 2:46 PM, Stephen Kent wrote:

>> ...
>> 
>> I can appreciate that this document represents some long standing thought and effort.  However, the fact that I believe there is a flaw does not seem to need the support of an alternate design, right?  I'm pointing out an operational misalignment in _this_ design.  I think to offer an alternative at the same time as we are discussing a shortcoming here would be an inappropriate conflation (i.e. I think that would confuse this issue with another).
> 
> The authors do not agree that the global coordination requirement is a flaw.
> 
>> So, more specifically: I think that trying to mandate global coordination at this scale is an operational non-starter.  Why can't the design be made to accommodate different choices of algorithms and different operational schedules?  I think this is actually a requirement: that operational entities be able to choose their own schedules and make their own configuration choices.
> 
> If there is not a schedule when old algs die and new ones MUST be supported, then one at least doubles the size of the repository system, and imposes a burden on all CAs and RPs to support old algs forever.

Sorry, but I think freedom from global coordination is more than an inconvenient, or unpalatable, concept.  It is something that (afaict) has been an inherent requirement in those Internet-scale systems that have survived to date.  I don't think there is any precedent of an operational system of this scale that requires this level of global coordination of its configuration, is there?  What Internet-scale system of a scale remotely as large as BGP has this kind of global coordination model?  What is the evidence that such an approach will work here?

I think this may be suggesting that more requirements analysis is needed before we can have total faith in the design work.  If this particular design implicitly requires something that seems to be a non-starter, then I would say that seriously undermines the design and more design work is likely required.  I have a specific example below...

> 
>>> 2- Not exactly. The milestones, as well as the alg suite spec, will appear in a revised version of draft-ietf-sidr-rpki-algs. Any operational problem that requires a delay in any transition phase would be brought to the attention of the IESG (if the SIDR WG is no longer active) requesting that a this RFC be re-issued, with new milestone values for the affected phase(s).
>> 
>> I'm sorry, but I really think this is likely to have trouble in a real operational setting.  I don't think anyone would claim that the IETF's processes operate at the same pace as operations.  For instance, if there is an emergency at the last minute of this roll, can the working group be expected to mint a new RFC and disseminate in short order (say, days)?  There is a vey fundamental misalignment here: creating standards and managing operations are very loosely coupled.  I think this is a very inappropriate place to try to enforce operational schedules.
> 
> I think you overstate the problem. The intervals for each phase are not expected to be short, and there are phases that accommodate both old and new als in a fashion that allows considerable CA and RP flexibility.
> 
> Nonetheless, I think Terry's suggestion has merit. I can imagine having the milestone RFC be coordinated through the NRO and IANA, and published by the IETF, to help ensure that there is appropriate ISP input to the milestone
> development.

Sorry, but this really misses the issue I was trying to describe.  Suppose you have a very well-planned / longterm schedule in place.  As you march towards one of these cutover dates, suppose there is any operational problem (hardware failure, software failure, network partitioning of part of the system, newly discovered problems with the plan, etc).  At the "last minute" at least one operational body cannot meet the deadline.  How do you even securely verify that an operator needs to stop (as opposed to an impostor trying to halt things)? Then what? A new RFC in the 11th hour?  How is this overstating the problem?  There are two very different processes at play here: standards and policies get hammered out in their own time, operations happen whenever a problem feels like rearing its head.  I really think that conflating the two is a non-starter because they are governed by fundamentally different things, and so are their schedules.  Honestly, if someone needs to call a screeching halt to a rollover, how should that happen just days or hours before an RFC's deadline?  I think this is complicated by the fact that even if the NRO or IANA or anyone else actually can mint an RFC in a matter of hours (is that possible?), how would you guarantee that anyone else trying to respect the original RFC date even knows of the change?  Since global coordination is a requirement, they all have to be in sync either way, right?  I suppose if some portion of the operators don't get the message and start the rollover anyway, then we have another problem, yes?

Eric