Directory Services Work coordination proposal

"Erik Huizer (SURFnet BV)" <> Thu, 11 November 1993 12:21 UTC

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To: RARE & IETF OSI-DS wg <>,
Subject: Directory Services Work coordination proposal
Organisation: SURFnet bv
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Date: Thu, 11 Nov 93 12:52:44 +0100
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From: "Erik Huizer (SURFnet BV)" <>

Here's a new version of the document I worked on during the Houston IETF. I
think I incorporated all comments I received, and thankfully there were
many. Rather than starting a discussion on further refinements of the doc, I
suggest we use it as the basis for further discussions. That should lead to
a set of WGs that work on issues common to all IETF Directory Services

As a follow-up to this note I'd like to ask Sri to send out the list of WGs
that OSI-DS identified so far, so we can get input on this from the WNILS
people. Furthermore, I suggest that we try to finalise what we can thru
E-mail discussions. Experience has shown that face to face meetings are
needed however. I therefore propose that in Seattle we reserve a slot on
monday morning where we (if still necessary) discuss the common issues, and
create (:-) concensus. Whatever WGs we spin-off will benefit from this later
that week.

  Coordination of IETF Applications Area White Pages 
                A paper for discussion
                      Erik Huizer


A white pages service (WPS) is a distributed database service 
that contains (contact) information on people and that is 
accessible to users over the network. There is an increasing 
demand for such a WPS on the Internet. One possible solution to 
offering a WPS is the ISO/CCITT directory service X.500. Although 
X.500 can be used as a WPS, the cost of installing a X.500 WPS 
and the lack of available and interworking products is perceived 
by many to be inhibiting. The usage of X.500 as a WPS on the 
Internet is growing, though currently the high entry cost prevent 
it from being used ubiquitously.

Parallel to X.500 several other efforts are starting to take 
place on the Internet to provide a low entry cost WPS. The IETF 
cannot enforce a ubiquitous WPS for the Internet based on a 
single protocol. (Maybe that opportunity was there several years 
ago; it certainly is no longer there). This paper suggests a way 
in which some of the common ground in WPS efforts within the IETF 
can be coordinated to hopefully minimise interworking problems, 
and thus maximise functionality for an Internet WPS. 

Note: This paper does not propose to create THE final WPS 
protocol, it tries to provide a framework in which common issues 
(like data structure) in various proposals (specifically WHOIS++ 
and X.500) can be solved by a common pool of experts.

Current situation

With respect to WPS there are currently four separate efforts 
going on in the Applications and User Services areas of the IETF:
-    IDS; This WG deals with issues pertaining to deployment of a 
    WPS that are protocol independent; e.g. Data management, 
    organizational and legal issues.
-    OSI-DS; This WG deals with technical issues concerning 
    deployment of X.500 on the Internet for WPS and Yellow Pages 
    Service usage.
-    WNILS; This WG deals with extending the existing whois 
service (WHOIS++).
-    Finger.

Both X.500 and WHOS are used (either as a pilot or as a service) 
by various sites on the Internet. In addition other WPS (not IETF 
originated) are being deployed like netfind, whois and CSO. 
These, mostly unconnected, WPS do not provide the user with the 
ubiquitous service that he or she wishes for.
Two approaches

This section describes two approaches that can be followed in the 
IETF to produce common standards to allow the deployment of a WPS 
that does meet the users requirements.

The meta-WPS approach. (suggested by M.T. Rose and others)
The rationale for this approach is that it builds on current 
practices, while striving to provide a ubiquitous directory 
service. Since there are various efforts going on to develop WPS 
based on various different protocols, one can envisage a future 
with a meta-WPS that uses a combination of an intelligent User 
Agent and a distributed indexing service to access the requested 
data from any available WPS. The user perceived functionality of 
such a meta-WPS will necessarily be restricted to the lowest 
common denominator.  One will hope that through "market" forces, 
the number of protocols used will decrease (or converge), and 
that the functionality will increase.

The common ground approach.
This approach aims to provide the ubiquitous WPS with a high 
functionality and a low entry cost. This is done by singling out 
issues that are common for various competing WPS and coordinate 
work on these in specific and dedicated WGs (e.g. datamodel 
coordination). The IETF will continue development of X.500 and 
WHOIS++ as two separate entities.  The work on these two 
protocols will be broken down in various small and focussed WGs 
that address specific technical issues, using ideas from both 
X.500 and WHOIS++.  The goal being to produce common standards 
for information formats, datamodel and access protocols. Where 
possible the results of such a WG will be used in both WHOIS++ 
and X.500, although it is envisaged that several WGs may work on 
issues that remain specific to one of the protocols. The IDS WG 
continues to work on non-protocol specific issues. To achieve 
coordination that leads to convergence rather than divergence, 
the applications area directorate (apples) will provide guidance 
to the Application Area Directors as well as to the various WGs 
and the User Services Area Council (usac) will provide the 
necessary user perspective.

It is obvious that these two approaches are not mutually 
exclusive. As there is already a constituency for  WHOIS++ and 
for X.500, work on the second approach seems feasible. Work on 
the first approach may be taken up whenever there is constituency 
in the IETF to persue this.

Suggested workitems

The following non-exclusive list of issues will need to be 
addressed in the second approach as described above:
-    Lightweight protocols for access, and synchronisation.
-    Data stucture and schema(management)
-    Use of indexing servers (centroids/indexed DSAs)
-    (Cross system) searching
-    Data management (data entry and maintenance)
-    Legal issues
-    Deployment guidelines
-    Authentication and accesscontrol

And some non-WP issues
-    Use of Directory for storage of data for network Management
-    Use of Directory for URN to URL resolution

How to proceed

The IETF IDS, WHOIS++ and Internet X.500 WGs should start a 
discussion using the list above as a starting point, to identify 
the "common ground" issues and spin off WGs to work on these. The 
IDS WG could add to the discussion by publishing a list of 
available tools for White Pages Services.