Decentralized Internet Infrastructure Proposed RG

Document Charter Decentralized Internet Infrastructure RG (dinrg)
Title Decentralized Internet Infrastructure Proposed RG
Last updated 2017-11-11
State Approved
RG State Active
Send notices to (None)


The Decentralized Internet Infrastructure Research Group (DINRG) will
investigate open research issues in decentralizing infrastructure services such
as trust management, identity management, name resolution, resource/asset
ownership management, and resource discovery.  The focus of DINRG is on
infrastructure services that can benefit from decentralization or that are
difficult to realize in local, potentially connectivity-constrained networks.
The objective of DINRG is to 1) investigate (understand, document, survey) use
cases and their specific requirements with respect to implementing them in a
distributed manner; 2) to discuss and assess solutions for specific use cases
with a focus on Internet level deployment issues such as scalability,
performance, and security; 3) to develop and document technical solutions and
best practices; 4) to develop tools and metrics to identify scaling issues and
to determine whether components are missing; and 5) to identify future work
items for the IETF. Other topics of interest are the investigation of economic
drivers and incentives and the development and operation of experimental
platforms. DINRG will operate in a technology- and solution-neutral manner,
i.e., while the RG has an interest in distributed ledger technologies, it is
not limited to specific technologies and or implementation aspect. We expect
DINRG to advance the state of the art with respect to fostering a better
understanding of the merits and constraints of specific technologies with
respect to the DINRG use cases.

The internet was designed as a distributed, decentralized system.  For example,
intra- and inter-domain routing, DNS, and so on were designed to operate in a
distributed manner.  However, over time the dominant deployment model for
applications and some infrastructure services evolved to become more
centralized and hierarchical.  Some of the increase in centralization is due to
business models that rely on centralized accounting and administration.

However, we are simultaneously seeing the evolution of use cases (e.g., certain
IoT deployments) that cannot work (or which work poorly) in centralized
deployment scenarios along with the evolution of decentralized technologies
which leverage new cryptographic infrastructures, such as DNSSEC, or which use
novel, cryptographically-based distributed consensus mechanisms, such as a
number of different ledger technologies.

The evolution of distributed ledger technologies and the platforms that
leverage them has given rise to the development of decentralized communication
and infrastructure systems, and experiments with the same.  Some examples
include name resolution (Namecoin, Ethereum Name Service), identity management
(OneName), distributed storage (IPFS, MaidSafe), distributed applications, or
DApps (Blockstack), and IP address allocation and delegation.

These systems differ with respect to the problem they are solving, the specific
technologies that they apply, the consensus algorithms that are employed, and
the incentives that are built into the system.  Now is a good time to
investigate these systems from an Internet technologies perspective, and to
connect the domain expertise in the IRTF and IETF with the distributed systems
and decentralized ledgers community.

Research Challenges
While intensive there is currently intensive research and development taking
place around decentralized applications, the problem of decentralized
infrastructure is receiving relatively less attention, despite the research
challenges in this space.  Some of these challenges include:

Scalability - what are the problems that prevent decentralized infrastructure
services from achieving global scale? Trust management in decentralized
communication settings Privacy and targeted, verifiable disclosure
Applicability of distributed ledger and related technologies to different use
cases and environments Consensus algorithms for specific scenarios with a focus
on Internet infrastructure services The ability of constrained nodes to benefit
from elements of a consensus item that they cannot process or store as a
complete set Distributed Trust and Delegated Computing Economic drivers and
roadblocks for decentralizing network infrastructure Identification of common
requirements and properties of selected technologies Design and implementation
of one or more general-purpose infrastructure systems Deployment and operation
of one or more actual implementations

Selected Related Activities and Communities
Ethereum project
IOTA project
W3C Blockchain Community group
IPFS and

DINRG provides an open forum for the exchange and analysis of Decentralized
Infrastructure-related research. Work that is based on implementation
experience is given preference. DINRG uses an open mailing list as the main
collaboration tool, and will hold regular several physical meetings per year.
DINRG will meet at least once per year at IETF meetings but will also reach out
to other communities and hold meetings at their respective events such as
conferences, project or standards meetings etc.

DINRG will coordinate and leverage synergies with other IRTF groups such as
T2TRG, ICNRG, and Crypto Forum RG. Also, DINRG intends to establish a
productive working relationship with experts from IETF working groups in
different areas, specifically in the Security, Internet, and Operations areas.