An IRTF Primer for IETF Participants
draft-dawkins-irtf-newrg-05

The information below is for an old version of the document that is already published as an RFC
Document Type RFC Internet-Draft (individual)
Authors Spencer Dawkins  , Spencer Dawkins  , Spencer Dawkins  , Spencer Dawkins  , Spencer Dawkins  , Spencer Dawkins  , Spencer Dawkins  , Spencer Dawkins  , Spencer Dawkins 
Last updated 2014-12-12 (latest revision 2014-09-23)
Stream Internet Research Task Force (IRTF)
Formats pdf htmlized (tools) htmlized bibtex
IETF conflict review conflict-review-dawkins-irtf-newrg
Stream IRTF state Published RFC
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Document shepherd Lars Eggert
IESG IESG state RFC 7418 (Informational)
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IANA IANA review state IANA OK - No Actions Needed
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IRSG                                                     S. Dawkins, Ed.
Internet-Draft                                                    Huawei
Intended status: Informational                        September 23, 2014
Expires: March 27, 2015

                  An IRTF Primer for IETF Participants
                    draft-dawkins-irtf-newrg-05.txt

Abstract

   This document provides a high-level description of things for
   Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) participants to consider when
   bringing proposals for new research groups into the Internet Research
   Task Force (IRTF).  This document emphasizes differences in
   expectations between the two organizations.

Status of This Memo

   This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the
   provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
   Task Force (IETF).  Note that other groups may also distribute
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   Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
   and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any
   time.  It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference
   material or to cite them other than as "work in progress."

   This Internet-Draft will expire on March 27, 2015.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2014 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
   Provisions Relating to IETF Documents
   (http://trustee.ietf.org/license-info) in effect on the date of
   publication of this document.  Please review these documents
   carefully, as they describe your rights and restrictions with respect
   to this document.

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Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction and Scope  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   2.  The IRTF is not the IETF  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
     2.1.  Research and Engineering  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
     2.2.  Scope . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
     2.3.  Timeframes  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
     2.4.  Alternatives  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
     2.5.  Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
     2.6.  Charters  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   4
     2.7.  Deliverables  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
     2.8.  Completion  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   3.  Now That You Know What Not To DO  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5
   4.  Security Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
   5.  IANA Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
   6.  Acknowledgements  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
   7.  References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   6
     7.1.  Normative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
     7.2.  Informative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7
   Author's Address  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   7

1.  Introduction and Scope

   This document provides a high-level description of things for
   Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) participants to consider when
   bringing proposals for new research groups into the Internet Research
   Task Force (IRTF).  This document emphasizes differences in
   expectations between the two organizations.

   IRTF research group guidelines and procedures are described in
   [RFC2014] (BCP 8), and this document does not change those guidelines
   and procedures in any way.

2.  The IRTF is not the IETF

   A number of proposals from experienced IETF participants for new IRTF
   research groups have encountered problems because the IETF
   participants were making proposals appropriate for the IETF, but not
   for the IRTF.  [RFC2014] describes the origin of IRTF research
   groups, but doesn't provide much detail about the process, which is
   intended to be flexible and accommodate new types of research groups.
   Lacking that detail, experienced IETF participants fall back on what
   they know, assume that chartering an IRTF research group will be
   similar to chartering an IETF working group, and follow the
   suggestions in [RFC6771] to gather a group of interested parties, and
   then follow the suggestions in [RFC5434] to prepare for a successful
   BOF and eventually, a chartered working group.

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   Both of these documents are excellent references for proposals in the
   IETF, but their suggestions may result in a proposal that is almost
   the opposite of what the IRTF Chair is looking for in a proposal for
   an IRTF research group.  The mismatches fall into some consistent
   categories, and this document lists the ones that come up repeatedly.

   The target audience of this document is IETF participants bringing
   proposals to the IRTF.

   It's worth noting that the IRTF Chair has substantial autonomy on
   what research groups are chartered and how they reach that stage.
   This document reflects Lars Eggert as IRTF Chair.

2.1.  Research and Engineering

      "To me, the fundamental outcome of research is understanding, and
      the fundamental outcome of engineering is a product" - Fred Baker.

   In some ways, research is about a journey, and engineering is about a
   destination.  If a researcher answers a question in a way that opens
   another question, that can be success.  If an engineer keeps working
   on a product without finishing it, that is usually a failure.

   Research can be open-ended, while engineering can come to a stopping
   point when the result is "good enough" - good enough to ship.

      "If it has to work when you're finished, it wasn't research, it
      was engineering" - attributed to Dave Clark.

2.2.  Scope

   IRTF research groups have a scope large enough to interest
   researchers, attract them to the IRTF, and keep them busy doing
   significant work.  Their charters are therefore usually much broader
   than IETF working group charters, and research groups often discuss
   different topics underneath the charter umbrella at different times,
   based on current research interests in the field.

   IETF working groups are chartered with a limited scope and specific
   deliverables.  If deliverables and milestones are known, the proposal
   is likely too limited for the IRTF.

2.3.  Timeframes

   IRTF research groups bring researchers together to work on
   significant problems.  That takes time.  The effort required by a
   research group is likely to take at least three to five years,

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   significantly longer than IETF working groups envision when they are
   chartered.

2.4.  Alternatives

   IRTF research groups are encouraged to explore more than one
   alternative approach to the chartered problem area.  There is no
   expectation that the research group will "come to consensus" on one
   approach.  The research group may publish multiple competing
   proposals as research produces results.

   IETF working groups normally use the IETF consensus process (as
   described in [RFC7282] to drive interoperable solutions into the
   market place.  That often includes reducing the number of approaches
   to something manageable for an implementer, preferably one, whether
   that means starting with an approach the working group participants
   agree on, or considering alternatives with a view to picking one
   rather than spending significant effort on alternatives that won't go
   forward.

   The IRTF as an organization may also charter multiple research groups
   with somewhat overlapping areas of interest, which the IETF tries
   very hard to avoid.

2.5.  Process

   All IRTF participants have the obligation to disclose IPR and
   otherwise follow the IRTF's IPR policies, which closely mirror the
   IETF's IPR policies, but in all other aspects, IRTF research group
   operation is much less constrained than IETF working group operation.

   Each IRTF research group is permitted (and encouraged) to agree on a
   way of working together that best supports the specific needs of the
   group.  This freedom allows IRTF research groups to bypass
   fundamental IETF ways of working, such as the need to reach at least
   rough consensus, which IRTF research groups need not do.  The mode of
   operation of IRTF research groups can therefore also change over
   time, for example, perhaps becoming more like IETF working group
   operation as the research the group has been progressing matures.

2.6.  Charters

   The purpose of charters in the IRTF is to broadly sketch the field of
   research that a group is interested in pursuing, and to serve as an
   advertisement to other researchers who may be wondering if the group
   is the right place to participate.

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   IETF working group charters tend to be very narrow, intended to
   constrain the work that the working group will be doing, and may
   contain considerable text about what the working group will not be
   working on.

2.7.  Deliverables

   There is no expectation that IRTF groups must publish any RFCs,
   although many do.  Some IRTF research groups produce IRTF-stream
   RFCs, while others produce Internet-Drafts that form the basis of
   IETF-stream RFCs, and still others may deliver reports, white papers,
   academic journal articles, or even carry out relevant high-level
   discussions that aren't ever published, but influence other research.
   IRTF groups are successful when they stimulate discussion, produce
   relevant outputs and impact the research community.

   IETF working group deliverables tend to be specific protocol,
   deployment and operational specifications, along with problem
   statements, use cases, requirements and architectures that inform
   those specifications.  Almost all IETF working groups are chartered
   to deliver Internet standards, which isn't an option for IRTF
   research groups.

2.8.  Completion

   IRTF research groups may produce the outputs they expected to produce
   when they were chartered, but it also happens that researchers
   consider what they've learned and start work on better solutions.
   This can happen whether or not research underway has been completed,
   and the process can continue until the research group itself decides
   that it is time to conclude, or IRTF chair determines that there is
   no more energy in the group to do research.

   IETF working groups will typically conclude when they meet their
   chartered milestones, allowing participants to focus on
   implementation and deployment, although the working group mailing
   list may remain open for a time.

3.  Now That You Know What Not To DO

   The current IRTF Chair, Lars Eggert, is fond of saying, "just act
   like an IRTF research group for a year, and we'll see if you are
   one".

   There are many ways to "act like an IRTF research group".  [RFC4440]
   contains a number of points to consider when proposing a new research
   group.  Some possibilities include:

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   1.  Identify and recruit a critical mass of researchers who can
       review and build off each other's work.

   2.  Identify other venues that may overlap the proposed research
       group, and understand what value the proposed research group
       provides beyond what's already underway elsewhere.

   3.  Hold a workshop to survey work that might set the stage for a
       research group on questions of interest, perhaps in concert with
       existing academic events.

   4.  If the proposed research group expects to have outputs that will
       ultimately be standardized in the IETF, identify and recruit
       engineers who can review and provide feedback on intermediate
       results.

   But every proposed research group is different, so e-mailing the IRTF
   Chair to start the conversation is a perfectly reasonable strategy.

4.  Security Considerations

   This document provides guidance about the IRTF chartering process to
   IETF participants and has no direct Internet security implications.

5.  IANA Considerations

   This document makes no requests of IANA and the RFC Editor can safely
   remove this section during publication.

6.  Acknowledgements

   Thanks go to Lars Eggert, who became IRTF Chair in 2011 and has been
   carrying this information around in his head ever since.  Lars also
   provided helpful comments on early versions of this document.

   Thanks especially to Fred Baker for sharing thoughts about the
   motivations of research and engineering that resulted in a complete
   rewrite of Section 2.1.

   Thanks also to Scott Brim, David Meyer, and Stephen Farrell for
   helpful review comments, and to Denis Ovsienko for careful
   proofreading.

7.  References

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7.1.  Normative References

   [RFC2014]  Weinrib, A. and J. Postel, "IRTF Research Group Guidelines
              and Procedures", BCP 8, RFC 2014, October 1996.

7.2.  Informative References

   [RFC4440]  Floyd, S., Paxson, V., Falk, A., and IAB, "IAB Thoughts on
              the Role of the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF)", RFC
              4440, March 2006.

   [RFC5434]  Narten, T., "Considerations for Having a Successful Birds-
              of-a-Feather (BOF) Session", RFC 5434, February 2009.

   [RFC6771]  Eggert, L. and G. Camarillo, "Considerations for Having a
              Successful "Bar BOF" Side Meeting", RFC 6771, October
              2012.

   [RFC7282]  Resnick, P., "On Consensus and Humming in the IETF", RFC
              7282, June 2014.

Author's Address

   Spencer Dawkins (editor)
   Huawei Technologies

   Email: spencerdawkins.ietf@gmail.com

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