IETF99: QUIC, TAPS, PAN(P)RG, MAPRG, ACME, BANANA, IPPM, … a busy week in Prague!

Two weeks ago, 16-21 July 2017, the IETF returned to Prague, as it apparently does every few years now, and the MAMI project went with it.

Charles Bridge at night

Piet de Vaere presents new results with PATHspider at ANRW ’17

As with last summer’s IETF (96, in Berlin), our meeting started a day early with the ACM/IRTF Applied Networking Research Workshop (ANRW), with two MAMI papers on the program: Korian Edeline presented copycat, a differential TCP/UDP treatment tool; and Piet De Vaere presented our latest results with PATHspider on ECN, DCSP and TFO measurements. In addition, putting the “applied” in ANRW, discussions at the final panel may lead to efforts to do some simple standardization for data interchange formats for very simple measurements; watch this space for future announcements.

The IETF meeting proper kicked off on Monday morning with TCPM where most discussion was focused around TCP’s Explicit Congestion Nodification (ECN). The MAMI project is working on an extension for more accurate ECN feedback (AccECN) that can be used as input for future, more advantage congestion control schemes. With the ECN deployment efforts from Apple and hopefully ECN support by default in QUIC, this can provide an interesting new space for research and experimentation.

Also on Monday, Brian Trammell of MAMI partner ETH co-chaired a second BoF on bandwidth aggregation approaches for multiply connected networks (BANANA); the discussion was much more focused than that in Seoul, and we anticipate a decision as to whether a working group will be formed soon.

Work on Post Sockets-related drafts continued at the TAPS working group meeting on Tuesday. Discussions in the working group focused on how to add security to the model of transport services worked out in RFC 8095. It has also become clear that discussions about the details of transport policies (addressed in depth by our sister NEAT project) will be central to the usability of a flexible transport layer (FTL) as envisioned by the MAMI project, and we will work together with the TAPS working group to define common policy models for future APIs. The authors of the Post Sockets draft also met after the WG meeting to discuss next steps with the document and bringing it up to date with our recently published paper. In addition, the MAMI project started new work in operation with Apple on security features in the transport stack.

The most important track at the IETF is the hallway track: meeting in the atrium about Post Sockets

Going on, the IPPM working group decided on Wednesday to attempt to change its charter to allow it to work, among other things, on the OAM work discussed in Chicago, which, as we noted, addresses some of the goals of MAMI MCP.

Wednesday afternoon marked the first meeting of the Path Aware Networking (PAN) proposed Research Group, co-chaired by Brian Trammell of MAMI partner ETH and Jen Linkova, a Google network engineer. PAN expands the question addressed by the MAMI project somewhat: what can we do with network architectures, protocols, and applications, when the endpoints are made explicitly aware of the paths between them and their properties? The creation of an IRTF research group as a venue to have these discussions will, we believe, be a major unanticipated outcome of the MAMI project, so we’ll go into more depth about PAN in a future blog post.

Thursday morning started with the usual MAPRG session chaired by Mirja Kühlewind, the MAMI project coordinator. Other than the last time, there was no Call for Contributions as the list of proposed presentation was just growing continuously. Check out the agenda for various talks on IPv6, DNS hijacking, or latency measurements. Or watch the recording. Please also consider to announce your measurement work in the maprg mailing list or use the mailing to check out if someone has that to share that might help your research work!

While the MAMI project was initially focused on the definition of a common wire image for encrypted transport protocols, it has become clear that QUIC is the currently-important such protocol under standardization in the IETF, so we focus our efforts on applying the principles we work out in the project to QUIC, as well. Thursday’s QUIC session was largely focused on discussion of the addition of explicit round-trip-time measurability to the protocol. For such a basic observable metric as latency, this discussion was surprisingly contentious, showing that emotions continue to run high in the IETF on the question of support for network management functions. On this particular question, we anticipate closure at the next IETF meeting in Singapore in November; watch this space for a future blog post on the details of the question.

While you might already got the impression that the meeting was packed, there was  more stuff to report also on Friday. Beside a second QUIC meeting where among other things ECN support in QUIC was discussed, there was the ACME session. Work on certificate delegation that was adopted by the working group at the last interim was presented there. Further it should be noted that the MAMI project was also presented at the IETF hackathon on Sunday, with ACME STAR and LoLa.

MAMI partners and advisors at a project lunch in Prague

It was, as always, an interesting, enlightening, and exhausting week. We’ll see the IETF again in November in Singapore, and we look forward to the IETF’s return to Prague in 2019.

Project coordinator Mirja Kühlewind waves goodbye to IETF99 in Prague.

About Brian Trammell

Brian Trammell is an Internet measurement and architecture geek, a senior researcher at ETH Zürich's Networked Systems Group, and a member of the Internet Architecture Board.