Reducing the Standards Track to Two Maturity Levels

Versions: 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 rfc6410                         
Internet-Draft                                                R. Housley
Updates: 2026 (if approved)                               Vigil Security
Intended Status: BCP                                        19 June 2010
Expires: 19 December 2010

          Reducing the Standards Track to Two Maturity Levels


   This document proposes several changes to the Internet Engineering
   Task Force (IETF) Standards Process defined in RFC 2026, primarily a
   reduction from three IETF standards track maturity levels to two.

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Housley                                                         [Page 1]

INTERNET DRAFT                                                 June 2010

1.  Introduction

   This document proposes several changes to the Internet Standards
   Process defined in RFC 2026 [1].  In recent years, the Internet
   Engineering Task Force (IETF) has witnessed difficulty in advancing
   documents through the maturity levels: Proposed Standard, Draft
   Standard, and finally Standard.  The proposed changes are designed to
   simplify the process and reduce impediments to standards progression
   while preserving the benefits of the IETF engineering approach.

   During May 2010, the Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG)
   discussed the possible ways of reducing impediments to standards
   progression.  The IESG mad the following observations:

    o Since many documents are published as Proposed Standard and never
      advances to a higher maturity level, the initial publication
      receives much more scrutiny that is call for by RFC 2026 [1].

    o When implementation reports are developed, protocols are improved
      by removing the complexity associated with features that are not
      used in practice.

   The intent is to provide an environment where the IETF community gets
   a "second bite at the apple" so that "good enough" documents are
   published as soon as rough consensus is achieved.  Further,
   subsequent revisions to the document should easier, with advancement
   in maturity level being based on achieving interoperable

2.  The First Maturity Level: Proposed Standard

   The requirements for Proposed Standard are unchanged; they remain
   exactly as specified in RFC 2026 [1].

3.  The Second Maturity Level 2: Interoperable Standard

   This maturity level is very similar to Draft Standard as specified in
   RFC 2026 [1].  The name is changed for two reasons.  First, the new
   name properly places the focus on interoperability.  Second, the
   change avoids confusion between "Draft Standard" and "Internet-

   The criteria for advancing from Proposed Standard to Interoperable
   Standard are roughly the same as the current criteria for moving to
   Draft Standard.

   Along with documentation of interoperability testing, the
   documentation must include information about the support of each of

Housley                                                         [Page 2]

INTERNET DRAFT                                                 June 2010

   the individual options and features.  Guidance on documenting the
   specific implementations which qualify the specification
   Interoperable Standard status is provided in RFC 5657 [2].  This
   documentation should be submitted to the Area Director (AD) with the
   protocol action request, which is described in Section 6 of RFC 2026

4.  No Third Maturity Level

   The final "Standard" maturity level is simply abolished.  The benefit
   associated with third maturity level has proven insufficient to
   justify the effort associated with document progression.  The
   "Interoperable Standard" becomes the final maturity level.

5.  Timing Requirements

   The requirement for six months between "Proposed Standard" and
   "Interoperable Standard" is removed.  If an interoperability report
   is provided with the initial protocol action request, then the
   document can be approved directly at the Interoperable Standard
   maturity level without first being approved at the Proposed Standard
   maturity level.

   In practice the annual review of Proposed Standard documents after
   two years has not taken place.  Lack of this review has not revealed
   any ill effects on the Internet Standards Process.  As a result, the
   requirement for this review is dropped.  No review cycle is imposed
   on standards track documents at any maturity level.

6.  Downward References Permitted

   Interoperable Standards are allowed to make normative references to
   Proposed Standards.  The current rule prohibiting "down references"
   is a major cause of stagnation in the advancement of documents.  This
   change allows an Interoperable Standard to reference features that
   have not been formally agreed to be demonstrably interoperable.  This
   change enables expeditious promotion of Proposed Standard documents
   to Interoperable Standard documents by removing a significant
   impediment.  Down references to Internet-Draft documents continue to
   be prohibited.

7.  STD Numbers

   Under current practice, a STD number is assigned only when a document
   (or document set) reaches the full Standard maturity level.  In
   several situations, a Standard is obsoleted by a Proposed Standard,
   causing great confusion about the specification that ought to be
   implemented.  Further, the assignment of an STD number offers little

Housley                                                         [Page 3]

INTERNET DRAFT                                                 June 2010

   value.  As a result, the STD numbering system is abandoned.

8.  Transition to a Standards Track with Two Maturity Levels

   On the day these changes are published as a BCP, all existing Draft
   Standard and Standard documents automatically get reclassified as
   Interoperable Standard documents.  Corresponding changes would be
   made to the RFC Index and other features of the RFC Editor web site.
   Also, the STD index will be marked historic.

9.  Security Considerations

   This document does not directly affect the security of the Internet.

10.  IANA Considerations

   This document requests no action by the IANA.

   {{{ RFC Editor: Please delete this section before publication. }}}

11.  Acknowledgements

   A two-stage standards track proposal has been proposed many times.
   Spencer Dawkins, Charlie Perkins and Dave Crocker made a proposal in
   2003.  Another proposal was made by Scott Bradner in 2004.  Another
   proposal was made by Brian Carpenter in June 2005.  Another proposal
   was made by Ran Atkinson in 2006.

   In May 2010, the IESG discussed the topic at length and came to the
   conclusion that the current situation was becoming more and more
   difficult.  This proposal takes ideas from the IESG discussion as
   well as many of these prior proposals.

12.  Informative References

   [1]  Bradner, S., "The Internet Standards Process -- Revision 3",
        BCP 9, RFC 2026, October 1996.

   [2]  Dusseault, L., and R. Sparks, "Guidance on Interoperation
        and Implementation Reports for Advancement to Draft Standard",
        BCP 9, RFC 5657, September 2009.

Housley                                                         [Page 4]

INTERNET DRAFT                                                 June 2010

Author's Address

   Russell Housley
   Vigil Security, LLC
   918 Spring Knoll Drive
   Herndon, VA 20170 USA

Housley                                                         [Page 5]